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Japanese News and Culture Blog Roundup: 12/10/09-12/16/09

December 17, 2009

Japan Probe

12/16/09: Japanese women want scarred, disease-riddled, brutal men of history?
An article was published in the Times on Saturday theorizing that since historical and samurai dramas are becoming more popular in Japan, then Japanese women must want “scarred, disease-riddled, brutal warriors whose kind died out centuries ago.” The author of the blog post takes exception to this statement, instead concluding that many female fans of these dramas are drawn not to the real historical figures, but to their idealized (and much more attractive) versions as portrayed in popular dramas and anime. I think the assertiveness of these figures is probably attractive to the women, but I highly doubt the bloody swordfighting and disfigured faces come into the equation. The video game version of brutal warrior Masamune Date is on the top, historical Masamune is on the bottom.
12/13/09: Japan books – 2009 Holiday season reading list
Looking for some new and interesting books to read about Japan? This list is a good place to start. One that always makes me smile is Solaryman, which is a collection of photographs of salarymen cutting loose and jumping high, turning the working father-figure into a flying hero.
12/11/09: Road to Hajj – Japan
Coverage of an English Al Jazeera report on ethnic Japanese Muslim communities in the Tokyo area who will be traveling to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage. There are only two travel agencies in Japan sanctioned by the Saudi government to allow pilgrims to travel for the Hajj.

Pink Tentacle

12/14/09: Time-lapse video of Mt Fuji, Miyajima, Iwate
A cool, 4-minute video of well-known landmarks in Japan photographed by Samuel Cockedey. Tiny people skitter about, and the clouds roll slowly by for a very soothing image of the country.

F*cked Gaijin

12/16/09: Wacky Japan Is OK To Talk About
Author Lisa Katayama (who wrote the infamous otaku pillow story that appeared in the New York Times in July) has posted an article on Boing Boing about how stories about “crazy Japan” are at heart just harmless fun that people take far too seriously. But like one commenter noted, there’s a difference between understanding a culture and merely being “entertained” by it. When most Americans associate Japan with either geisha and sumo, or perverted videos and obsessive cuteness, I think that there’s a problem.

12/16/09: New Mamoru Oshii Film Opens This Week
Are you a fan of Ghost in the Shell? Well director Mamoru Oshii has a new movie coming out this weekend called “Assault Girls” (click for the trailer). I wonder if it will ever be released in the US?

12/14/09: Fat Prisoners Put On Diet
Does putting prisoners on a mandatory, low-calorie diet constitute cruel and unusual punishment? The prisoners at Osaka Prison in Sakai certainly think so, and their lawyers are on the case. This reminds me of the controversy surrounding Lincoln University’s fitness class requirement for graduation in Pennsylvania.

12/12/09: Gaijin Head Of Dying Kyushu Village
Coverage of an article in the Wall Street Journal about American Jeffrey Irish who lives in the tiny farming town of Tsuchikure, Japan. He has been nominated to be the village chief, and is attempting to bring important services and possible newcomers to a dwindling town of less than 30 people. However, when a young couple seemed interested in renting a house in the picturesque area, the locals balked, saying that newcomers “could upset the delicate harmony of the close-knit community.” Irish, who has lived in Tsuchikure since 1998, is left to wonder what to do in a village that wants to simply “disappear gracefully and on their terms.”
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