Month: January 2009

Okuribito nominated for Academy Award

Okuribito nominated for Academy Award

The Japanese film Okuribito (おくりびと)has been nominated for an Academy Award (Best Foreign Film). It stars Motoki Masahiro (aka Mokkun), an actor in his mid-40s.

The story revolves around a cellist who loses his job in a New York orchestra, and becomes an undertaker in rural Japan.

Motoki became famous as one of the earliest Janny-su (discovered by Johnny Jimusho, the boy band king of Japan, who also promoted Kimutaku and SMAP) to soaps, songs and a nude photo book called the “White Room” in 1991.

Has anyone already seen the movie? I am super-curious to see it. Here’s the trailer and official website in Japanese:

http://www.okuribito.jp/

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Moe in America: Saddlebacking

Who says there’s no moe in Amerika? In honor of Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church,  popular homophobe, and inaugural preacher, Dan Savage has created a new word, saddlebacking.

Saddlebacking: sad•dle•back•ing \ˈsa-dəl-ˈba-kiŋ\ vb [fr. Saddleback Church] (2009): the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities
After attending the Purity Ball, Heather and Bill saddlebacked all night because she’s saving herself for marriage.

For more information on Rich Warren, author of Purpose Driven Life, and his Saddleback Church:
http://saddleback.com/index.html

Hotness in liberated America

Hotness in liberated America

Dorothy, I think we’re in Camelot!

Not to mix metaphors too much, but arriving in the United States after the election has been startling. A hot First Lady, and a liberation regime! No more torture, anti-family crusading, pro-pollution policies?!

Economic disaster, political corruption and American religious fervor will certainly constrain the new government’s actions. Still, this regime change is dramatic and captivating.

For more info on First Lady Michelle Obama’s stunning inauguration fashion, please click:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bonnie-fuller/its-official-michelle-o-i_b_159511.html

Thanks, Ericthefez, for the photo and link for this post. Michelle, you have charmed everyone!

Moving day at the White House

Betty Ford gets ready to leave White House

I love this photo of Betty Ford getting ready to check out of the White House.

Enough already about politics, global financial disaster and this so-called hope. Let’s focus on domesticity, first ladies, and the first kids in the White House. Sasha and Malia are super-cute, and the most photogenic since John-John and Caroline.

The New York Times also helpfully reminds us that at 12:32 pm on January 20, 2009, Laura and George Bush will lift off from the Capitol by helicopter. Good riddance!

And good luck with rehab, Laura. Give Betty a call. You deserve better!!

An ancient house in Akasaka, central Tokyo

An ancient house in Akasaka, central Tokyo

What seems like an ancient wood residence sits incongrously on the main street of Akasaka. I visited this central Tokyo neighborhood twice recently for work. Each time I was amazed by this particular house, directly next door to an up-to-the-last-minute McDonalds, dwarfed by a few street trees, and modern high-rise towers. The owners must have turned down many offers for developing their land.

Here’s another view of this small home next to fast food modernitee.

An ancient house in Akasaka, central Tokyo, next to McDonalds

The street contains a Metro station and a number of buildings from the 1960s to this decade. My favorite is the one in the middle of the next photo. The glass facade looks like shards jutting in and out for 15 stories.

Akasaka modern

Akasaka has a wonderful mix of the slick newest building styles, the banality that you see everywhere in Tokyo, and bits and pieces of old Tokyo charm.

My work colleagues took me into an ugly mid-rise building where there was a restaurant that looked like a throw-back to the 1960s. We sat on a tatami mat, with no floor cut-outs to make sitting easier, and the stout and friendly proprietress served up delicious bento box of sashimi and tempura for me, aji-don for my new friends. The per person cost, including service, was $11.

On a smaller side street, I saw two fancier restaurants with interesting gardens. The first is incredibly simple and mostly obscured by the wall.

Akasaka small garden

The second is wonderfully fussy, including the bamboo hat that is both decorative and a means to train a pine tree.

Akasaka small garden 2

Kids’ anti-drug manga in Nakano

Kids' anti-drug manga in Nakano

In the exhibit cases of the JR Nakano station underpass, this week features middle school kids’ manga of anti-drug messages. Some of the kids are pretty talented at drawing, and the local exhibit is better than most on an artistic level. Somehow, though, I am not convinced that these images will encourage kids to avoid forbidden temptations. Maybe it will give the artists and viewers some new ideas.

A new year in Japanese men’s hair

A new year in Japanese men's hair, Daigo

My posts about Japanese male hair are always popular. In an elegant neighborhood close to Kokyo, I was drawn to this poster and its English caption “2009 New Hair.” The Japanese says, “It’s OK to be selfish, more mysterious and elegant.” So true, no?

And apparently the model is Daigo, a Japanese tarento, singer and grandson of a former prime minister. He’s now in a television soap Love Shuffle, about boy-swapping.

Do you think this image adequately sums up the new year in Japanese male hair? I am always happy to see no effort being spared for male vanity! What do you think?

Captain Hillary and Chelsea the Fierce

Captain Hilary and Chelsea the Fierce

Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton are looking formidable at the Senator’s confirmation hearings for Secretary of State. The title (and photo) are contributions from the husband.

I am excited for Hilary and, even more so, in anticipation of Chelsea’s imminent rise to public leadership. Watch out, world!