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27 April 2010

Book "America's Poor Class Education field report" by Soichi Hayashi

The author of the book is Japanese sports journalist who worked as a part-time teacher in a chartered high school in Reno, Nevada 2006.

The students come from very poor families and dropped out from regular school. Most of them live with single parents.

They do not have good knowledge nor manner. They grew up in a very bad environment where parents don't have money and time to take good care of them.

The author witnessed the reality of America's poor bottom class. The author himself grew up in the similar environment in Japan so he somehow felt mutual with them. He had guts and loved students so he worked hard to get them know how wonderful and necessary it is for them to learn new things so that they can make a new way of living getting out from ghetto they were in.  

The author taught them Japanese culture as Sumo, Manga, fairy tales. On one class he told them Japan's most famous fairy tale "Urashima Taro" a story of a fisherman who saved a turtle from bullying by children on the beach and later be guided by the turtle to the palace under the sea. But when he came back to the ground, so much more time than he felt had passed, he had no one to know him.

He asked the students what they think about the story. Students were very much impressed by that and one of them replied to him "the story gave us a lesson that we shouldn't expect return from good thing we do."

Recently in Japan, books on America's poor class have been published like the below ones I've already introduced on this blog.

Super Class society, The truth of America 

Empire of Poverty (Hinkon-Taikoku), America!

This one is especially unique since that is hands-on experience of the author as foreign teacher who taught his home culture to troubled students abroad.

I wonder if this book is made into film some day. It should be like "Freedom Writers" or "Take the lead."

23:42 Posted in Books, Society, un-USA | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: education, poverty

27 February 2010

Film"Gone with the Wind" the origin of Hollywood dynamism

Maybe the most famous Hollywood film in history, I think. I bought the DVD of it for 500 yen recently.

The film was 3 hour and half long and all color though it was produced in 1930's. The story of a passionate and selfish daughter of plantation owner who lived through the Civil War period.

The first public showing in Japan was 1950's because of the war. Many say how come we tried to provoke the war against the country which could produce such dynamic film.

Yes, the film was great. I was really impressed when I first saw the film at younger age.

But now I grew up and see the film from different angle. Well, it still impresses me although it is not best film for me any more.

Beautiful, dynamic scenes, georgeous outfit and interior. Actors do very serious and dynamic acts. Easy to understand script to follow the storyline and its background.

It contains basic elements of entertainment film maybe like "Titanic" and current greatest hit "Avater." 

The story was well-done. It was made politically correct as Mammy was taken as a very important character in the story taking into account the time the film was made and in fact a Black actress who played that role won the Academy's best supporting actress award.

However, romantisizing or beautifying the tradition of slavery in the South before the Civil War was not something we should get along. Slavery was wrong. The wealth of the South was consequence of exploitation of Africans. It is like the old western movies that portrayed native Americans as savages and cavalries, the police for white invaders as heroes.  

Furthermore, the story is unrealistic. Scarlett who was born in wealthy plantation owner's family and spoiled could live through the turmoil of the war and managed to revive the wealth. She was really fictional character.

I think the theme of the story is what is real "good." Real "good" person is realist who knows how to survive and prevail in real world getting along with reality. Scarlett played a kind of role model for that. But no one could live like that. Those who could live like that are never impressed by this film because they think it is very common practice.

Interesting fact is when the film was first released in the U.S. It was near the second world war. The situation of its enemy, Japan was similar to the Southern Confederation. People believed braveness could beat the enemy states.

After the war Japan was democratised by Yankees and the old elite class people lost so much of their asset by high rate tax imposed on them. Their glory days were gone with the wind like the Southern plantation owners portrayed in the film. The below photo is former house of the old elite class people in Tokyo. Now it has become museum park for anbody to visit and have tea and sweets.

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Me, having tea and sweets there.

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I like the ending of the film because it is not happy ending. In reality happiness doesn't last so long. If you get something good, you should lose something else. But don't get depressed too much, there is a way out and think to find a new way of living.

Yes, you can because tomorrow is another day.   

12 February 2010

Film"The Barbarian and the Geisha" John Wayne in Japan

John Wayne played as U.S. diplomat, Townsend Harris who arrived in Shimoda, Japan 1850's. All the scenes were filmed in Japan 1950's.

Surprised to know John Wayne, a famous cowboy actor was in Japan for filming such historical story.  

I do not know if the film was based on accurate historical facts. The movie overall was not bad but the actress who played as Geisha serving Harris did not act well.

It is a story of US diplomacy which forced or persuaded Japan to open up door to the rest of the world. That was the beginning of Japan's modernization after more than 2 centuries of Seclusion period. Ending seclusion was a big controversy at that time and there was pros and cons among the government. Some politician tried to assasinate pro-open Japanese politician and Harris.

This film made me think what was the relationship between two countries. After the first treaty was signed between the two, the both worked together to counter Russia in 1904-1905 but in 1940's the two entered the war. U.S. won, occupied and democratised Japan.

After the second world war, the world went through the Cold War Period, Japan sided with the U.S. That gave Japan favourable position against the U.S. The U.S. had to treat Japan nicely to prevent communism from spreading in Asia. Japan could receive great financial aid from the U.S. and export goods to the U.S. market.

The U.S. won the Cold War. The U.S. became only superpower of the world.

But 911, the war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lehman shock changed the things.

The U.S. is no longer dream world nor role model for the democracy. 

I, myself recently stopped being very much familiar with the U.S. The U.S. has become one of foreign countries I know.

Especially since military issues such as deployment of CVN 73 in Yokosuka and relocation plan for Futenma base in Okinawa were raised.

I don't like America any more even though I lived there for more than 5 years as college student and know good people over there.

Things changed.

Japanese attitude towards American has really changed recently, the number of Japanese students studying in the U.S. has dropped almost by half from the period I was there and sales of Hollywood films dropped drastically in recent years. Now more than half of the sales comes from Japanese films, but a few years ago it was opposite.

Well, any diplomacy among states is purely based on pragmatism unlike personal relationship.

We have things owing to the U.S. but America is America. Japan is Japan.

After all, most people like to live in their homeland because that is where they get used to living.  

24 January 2010

US military base Relocation Plan was rejected by local citizens

A candidate who opposes US military's relacation of Futenama Marine base in Okinawa to Henoko located on the same island won the mayor election of Nago city which includes Henoko area. Former mayors all agreed the relocation plan. The below photo is Henoko beach. The relocation plan is to landfill beautiful beach and ocean that endangers dugongs and other wild life. More than 30 of new species were found by WWF Japan in this area. Even U.S. environmetalist groups oppose the plan by suing their government. S.F. Federal Court ordered the military to review the plan.

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This relocation plan has been controversial since new ruling party took power in September. New ruling party, Democratic Party of Japan announced alternative plan but it has yet reached agreement with the U.S. 

This mayor election result proved to be Henoko plan is no longer feasible.

 

So where would Futenma be relocated to? Well, that is their business, not ours. To Guam where local citizens have no right to choose American President or mainland or reduce the marines.

The U.S. military is useless in this country. It was important during the Cold War era because its presence functioned as deterrent to Soviet Union and we could get financial aid from the U.S. and export Japanese goods to the U.S. market in exchange for providing bases to the U.S. which countered communism.

Now Soviet Union fell down, the Cold War ended. Not just Futenma, Kadena, Yokosuka, Yokota, Atsugi, Zama, Misawa, Iwakuni, Sasebo, all should be gone. We can protect our country ourselves, in fact we have to anyway.

 

The below photo is sign near the beach that says "Beach is our treasure. Take garbage (and base) to your home. Environment and Sanitation Department of Nago City." (and base) is handwritten.

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 U.S. military, GO HOME where you belong!!