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17 August 2013

Making a novel based on my alma mater's history

Last month I attended my alma mater's alumni event in Tokyo.

A lot of alumni living in Japan gathered at a restaurant exchanging memories and update information of the university. One faculty member from SFSU joined and told me about current situation. I graduated in late 1990's. He said a lot more buildings were constructed on campus.

But most surprising attendees were alumnis who graduated in 1960's. They were oldest in the group. He told us about his experience in that period. There was a student strike movement in those days following civil rights act. Ethnic minority students demanded the university to require all the students take ethnic minority study related subjects. They had been frustrated with racism in the university. Classes were boycotted and school buildings were occupied. The president of the university was changed during that time. It was Dr. Hayakawa, Japanese American. He accepted that demand.

Since then SFSU requires all the students to complete ethnic minority related courses. I did, of course. I remember what I took were Japanese American studies, Black studies, LGBT studies, and history of Japanese and Chinese women. Those were greatest studies in my life.

That ethnic study requirement was what my alma mater first acquired and spread all over the US. It was a good thing that I am proud of as alumni.

So my novel idea is based on what I heard and I research.

One Japanese student who grew up in a conservative family, Hiroshima, 1960's joined the university. He longed for America and American culture. He met a lot of kind of students there and instructors. One of them was an English teacher who was Japanese American, strict and conservative. Because of his instruction his English ability improved faster.

The strike started. The president was changed. It was that Japanese American teacher. The Japanese boy expected him to understand the movement because of his ethnicity but he was actually opposing that movement and trying to supress the students.

The Japanese boy along with his friends who were white, Afro-American, Asian Americans negotiated with him. He used what he learnt and loathed from his childhood to convince the president. Japanese heritage, tea ceremony, Kendo and so on.

Sounds interesting, doesn't it?

The theme song should be "Blowing in the wind." The answer is blowing in the wind.

 

30 July 2013

Film"EMPEROR" Honne (true feeling) and Tatemae (appearance)

I just saw the film. It was not excellent but not bad, actually it was good considering it was made by Americans. It was indeed made from American perspective but thoroughly desriptive about Japanese personality and culture.

The story was based on memoirs of a former military officer who did research on the emperor's responsibility for the second world war. He interviewed with former politicians, military officers, and servants for the emperor to learn about what Emperor actually did before the war and end of the war. He also tried to find where his loved Japanese woman was.  

One of impressive things about the film was one former prime minister said "Japan just followed what US and European nations did in terms of invading China and Phillipine. But why were westerners never convicted?"

The film described difference between Honne (true feeling) and Tatemae (appearance). Japanese seem to be calm in apperance but in their mind they have strong feeling and devotion which can make them brutal.

Emperor's role was very ceremonial so he was not actual starter of the war. It was the nation and militants that led the war.

However, I want to rate this film "B" not "A." It contains love romance essence but the conclusion of the romance was not what I expected. It was reverse and not so good.

Emperor has no responsibility for the war act. Not totally true. Recent research suggests the emperor actively coped with military people.

I just could not be totally satisfied with the film. I wanted more twists and surprises. Kind of clechay for Japanese who has studied this part of history.

Personally it was really helpful to me. I recently started to write a novel on the same period of the history. Mine is gender reverse. American woman and Japanese man. The woman character is inspired by a true character who helped rebuild and democratise Japan in post-war era. She visited Japan before the war.

Hope mine will come out as a film like this film.

01 March 2013

"Les Miserables" Life is in hell

I went to the cinema last night. It was a late show that starts 9 PM.

I was not particulary interested in the story of the film. I was only interested in music played in the film. One of the songs, I dream a dream, has caused a sensation recently by a British middle aged singer, Susan Boyle.

The story was about a man who escaped from probation and became a burgalar but later turned into an innocent man and tried to save others.

"Les Miserables" means "Poor people" in French. The story took place in an era of post-French revolution civil war in 19th century. People who are desperate, and in despair because of condition they were in.

I just could not get what messages the story delivers to the audience. The story goes on like a revue.

I just guess it tells life is not easy. You can't easily overcome. Even though you are desperate to change the world better, things cannot move as it should.

You should just be patient or keep dreaming. Dreams that never come true.

Does it mean we all live in hell and be as we are?

Yes, we are all "Les Miserables."

12:53 Posted in Film, France, Music, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: history, poverty

03 December 2012

"Classic Car Festa" in Jingu Gaien, Tokyo

It might sound Japanese English. It means Retroprospective automobile exhibition. Tens of the old generation cars lined up in one place, called Jingu Gaien on 1 of December 2012.

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It was a great show. I could see a lot of kinds of cars in the old days.

Most notable ones I want to introduce, which I've taken photos of are as follows.

Rolls-Royce

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Buick, the length of the body is 5 metre.

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De Lorean, Car featured in the film "Back to the Future"

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Countach, A car that a driver needs to get his head out of his car when driving back

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Mercedes-Benz in 1970's, this was the model when the same titled song was popular.

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"Oh, Lord. Won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?" Are you rich enough to afford those cars?