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Tatsumi

Tatsimi is the autobiography of Yoshihiro Tatsumi, a famous manga artist in Japan. Manga are Japanese comic books, a literary genre differs significantly from American comic books. Tatsumi is interspersed with short stories by Tatsumi which gave me a sense of how this graphic genre handles mature themes and experiences with insight, irony and

Tatusmi grew up during the war and took to drawing professionally to help his mother make ends meet. His father was good-for-nothing and once Tatsumi started selling his work, his father destroyed his drawings.

The film follows Satsuma’s career from his teenage to middle age years. We see is popularity grow, his career stall when he outgrows the genre of teen manga and finally goes on to develop a new genre, called gekiga, which targets middle aged readers. It’s the story of the career of an artist and doesn’t go into much detail into Satsuma’s personal life once he’s grown. I found it a terrific introduction to an art form. In addition, since Tatusmi’s life spanned WWII and the ensuing years so full of change for Japan, it was an excellent way to learn about modern Japanese history.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Wanderlust

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Shanghai

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Outside of Melbourne

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Kyoto, Japan

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other themed photos:

Bridge over the River Kwai

How did I miss this one? I just finished watching the classic The Bridge over the River Kwai starring William Holden and Alec Guinness. I’m blown away. Every scene was perfect in this story of Holden’s Shale, a jaded American officer who’s at odds with Guinness’ a British commander’s absolute, unstinting adoration of following codes and rules.

I remember the whistling and the powerful ending from my childhood. I was no more than 6 and annoyed at a family party where all the adults were enthralled by this film. Now I appreciate why as Holden and Guinness deliver perfect performances in these two characters, who couldn’t be more different. They’re conflicts aren’t direct as they’re rarely in the same scenes, but they’re central to the film’s theme.

Both characters are prisoners of war in a Japanese camp run by the brutal Satoo who must get a bridge built in a few weeks. The work is far behind schedule. Satoo operates on the Japanese ancient military code of Bushidoo. which runs contrary to the Geneva Convention, which Guinness insists upon. Guinness shows his dedication to duty when he refuses to let his officers work on the bridge. He’s willing to spend days in a metal box, called the “Oven” to stand up for this belief. You have to admire his courage.

Holden’s Shale looks for short cuts and sees the futility of the war. He has his points, but neither character is clearly right or wrong, which is the key to why the film is so absorbing.

(I wonder how my students would view this film which shows the Japanese as cruel not just to the Chinese, but to the Allied soldiers. I wouldn’t show it because I don’t want to spread anti-Japanese sentiment, which made sense in the early part of the 20th century, but is outmoded now.)

The Last Princess

The Last Princess (2016) captivated me with its dramatic history. It’s a film about a Korean Princess named Deok Hye, who lived from 1912 to 1989. Her father was Emperor when Japan was invading most of Asia. The Japanese wanted to control him, but couldn’t so they poisoned him. A few years later when Deok Hye was 13 she was sent to Japan to be educated. Though she didn’t want to go, she did to protect her mother.

As she grew, she realized she would never be allowed to return to Korea. The Japanese feared that this young, determined woman would stir up rebellion. When she was young, her father had hoped she’d marry Jang-Han Kim comes to Japan hoping to find a way to save her. He’s an officer in the Japanese army, but works with a group of underground rebels, who’re plotting to get the princess and her uncle back to Korea and to attack the core leaders of the Japanese army.

Throughout the film, the main villain isn’t a Japanese officer, but rather a Korean turncoat, Han Taek-soo, who was behind the emperor’s poisoning and will stop at nothing to please the Japanese by manipulating and spying on the Korean royals.

It’s decades before Deok Hye has a real chance to return to her home country. Along the way she bravely faces hardship, sorrow and betrayal.

US Embassy Tokyo says Merry Christmas

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia

Kyoto

Kyoto

You can guess this locale

You can guess this locale

 

London

London

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Edward Hopper, USA

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other themed photos:

Tokyo Godfathers

tokyo-godfathers

By Satoshi Kon, Tokyo Godfathers shows three homeless misfits–a gambler, who’s lost his family, a transvestite and a runaway teen–who discover an abandoned baby. These outsiders, though flawed and somewhat to blame for their situation, come to get the audience’s sympathy and respect. They bicker as they seek the baby’s parents, which is a wild odyssey full of surprises against a gritty backdrop I rarely see in Japanese films.

The misfits have interesting backstories and as the story progresses they are forced to come to terms with their mistakes and history. They lead us through Japan’s shadier sides and the artwork is realistic.

Unlike the other Kon films I’ve seen this one sticks to the story with no departures into the character’s subconsciouses. Tokyo Godfathers/em> is a film I’d watch again and again.

Japanese Ice Cream

Ice cream is a summer delight, but somehow Japan adds its own spins, usually cute ones, to icy treats. I just happened upon Simon and Martin because YouTube thought I’d like them. Maybe because I’ve been watching 2Hearts1Seoul videos by a couple in Korea.

I just read that in a given week more video minutes are uploaded than were produced in the last 30 years of television. I’m not sure whether they’re counting all the television produced worldwide, while counting all worldwide YouTube videos. (Statistical problem there if they are.)

It’d be cool if a couple or family in China had a YouTube channel, but how could they with the sanctions and censorship?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up

Gate, Beijing

Gate, Beijing

Shandong, China

Shandong, China

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So July’s City Daily Photo theme was Look Down, which I posted for on my Beijing Daily Photo blog. So it’s weirdly coincidental that WordPress has chosen Look Up as a theme this week.

Anyway, here’s my post for the week.

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other themed photos:

Miniso

miniso

Miniso shops started popping up around Jinan last spring. They have a bright upbeat look that beckoned me inside. At first I just walked around trying to figure out what the store was. They have gadgets for computers like earphones, cleaners, and chargers. They have snack foods, dishes, clocks, toys, make up, skin care products, shoes, socks and more. Best of all most items cost 10 rmb or about $1.60. Plenty of others are 15 or 20 rmb ($2.50 – 3.30 more or less).

The shops look a lot like the Japanese clothing store Uniqlo with their white decor with red signs and their cheerful, multi-lingual announcements. A lot of the packages say “Miniso Japan” so I thought the company was Japanese. I soon became a regular shopper as the quality seemed good and the prices were great. It was a way to reconnect with Japan. Why pay $10 and up for toner when you can get it for $1.60? Why pay $11 for a neck pillow for my flight home when I can get one just as good for $2.50? Why buy a new bag for toiletries for probably $10 when you can get one that’s just as cute and functional for $2.50?

Then my students informed me that Miniso is a Chinese chain that apes a Japanese look, certainly inspired by Uniqlo. Their packaging had Japanese labels with Chinese ones pasted over them just as all imported products do. I felt quite hoodwinked, swindled. How dare you, Miniso. I wanted to make sure so I went to the Miniso website and figured out it is Chinese. They’ve got thousands of shops throughout China and just a couple in Tokyo and no where else in Japan. A Japanese company would certainly have stores in Osaka or Hiroshima before they’d open one in Jinan.

For quite sometime I stopped going to Miniso, but now I have gone back. I won’t by their skincare or food because if they’ll be deceptive with their origins, why wouldn’t they use inferior, untested ingredients in make up or cleansers? I no longer feel as good about shopping at Miniso, which is a shame. It’s rather pathetic that they want to appear as if they’re from Japan. I understand the idea about distancing a brand from China, but isn’t it sad that China has such a reputation for schlock that it has to?

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