Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sunday, June 25, 2006


A la Backstreet Boys

A couple crazy kids in China, lip sync'n to the Backstreet Boys. I'm sure most of you out there have already seen this, but since I've only just discovered it I consider it my duty to share it with the world! (Despite the fact that it is not directly related to Japan in anyway, unless it is to remind those of us here in Nihon how far behind the rest of Asia Japan's English education system is. I mean, who needs JETs when you've got the Backstreet Boys)?


Friday, June 23, 2006

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's Pow Wow Time Again...

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An 8 year old Aztec boy in full regalia at Cleveland's annual Edgewater Pow Wow.

Unfortunately I'm back in Japan, just in time to miss it all. Luckily I was able to make a breif cameo at Cleveland's annual Pow Wow at Edgewater Park before getting back to work after a 10 day stay in my home sweet home of Ohio, known to almost every Japanese person I meet as the Good Morning State (^-^)/.

The last time I had the privledge of attending a Pow Wow was almost 2 years ago at Mohican, before begining my new life as a JET in Japan. You can read more about Pow Wows and see a lot more pictures here and here.

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A young girl showing off her wonderfully colorful shawl during the fancy dance competition.

An Aztec teen sporting an impressive headdress at Edgewater's annual Pow Wow.

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A young grass dancer tearing up the arena in some wicked regalia.

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An aztec battle dance.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

誰も知らない: Nobody Knows

At the age of 14, young Yuya Yagira was named Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance in Nobody Knows.

I'm back in the good ol' US of A for my best friend's wedding, which finally gave me a chance to see Daremo Shiranai, or Nobody Knows, a film I have wanted to see since before coming to Japan in 2004.Seems you can take the gaijin out of Japan, but you can't take Japan out of the gaijin (^-^)/

Inspired by the "Affair of the Four Abandoned Children of Nishi-Sugamo," Nobody Knows is based on the true story of 4 children abandoned by their mother in Tokyo in 1988. Each born of a different father, the children's births were never declared, making them legally non-existant. Even in the real world their existance reamined a secret. Never allowed to attend school, only the oldest boy was even permitted to leave their small apartment. Abandoned by their mother, the children lived alone for six months, and were only discovered when one of the young girls, weakend from malnutrition, died in an accident, tragically ending their desperate adventure. Unbelievably, not one inhabitant of the small apartment building was ever aware of the existance of the 3 young children.

For anyone interested in modern Japan, Nobody Knows is an amazing, moving, and heart-breaking work of art, offering a rare and fascinating glimpse into the culture of modern Japan, and a thought-provoking study of human nature.

I have a lot to say about this movie, but no time! Until then, rent it. Watch it. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Suicide: The Enduring Way of the Samurai?

Random picture of the day: A Pontocho geisha perfroming in Kamogawa Odori. Pontocho is one of Kyoto's 5 hanamachi, or geisha districts. This image has absolutely nothing to do with the following post. (^-^)v

Japan's total fertility rate, an indicator used for international comparisons of birth trends within individual countries, fell for the fifth consecutive year, hitting a record low of 1.25.

At the same time, suicides in Japan topped 30,000 (32,552) for the eigth straight year.

Not a good combination.

Japan's suicide rate is one of the highest in the world-- triple that of Great Britain, and double that of the United States. Suicides started to rise in 1998, when the country was mired in an economic slump. Since then the number of suicides has exceeded 30,000 every year. Males account for more than two-thirds of the total, with health problems and economic woes being cited as the most prevalent causes, respectively.

This year the number of students committing suicide reached 861, up 9.8 percent. University students accounted for more than half of the total, along with 7 elementary school pupils, 66 junior high school students, and 215 high school students .

Japan's cult suicide scene is also growing, with the number of Japanese killing themselves in groups rising steadily in recent years, from 34 in 2003 to 91 last year.

No religious prohibition exists against taking one's own life in Japan, condemning it as a sin or affront to god. Confucianism, in fact, sanctions suicide as a form of protecting one’s honor or protesting injustice. Suicide was once a form of ritual atonement for samurai, a poetic, redemptive act of purpose, considered to be both heroic and beautiful. Today it is a means of escaping failure and saving loved ones from embarrassment or financial loss.