Monthly Archives: April 2006

As Good As It Gets


     The English class I take this year at the university is a psychology class with movies. Students watch the characters in the movie and think about their mental problems. It’s kind of diagnoses. And then we think how people solve their problems and are healed. 

     We are now using an American comedy movie entitled As Good As It Gets released about 10 years ago in 1997. The leading actor is Jack Nicholson, who wan an Oscar by the movie that year. 

     Melvin Udall acted by Jack Nicholson is a sarcastic and selfish writer who lives alone in an apartment in New York, eats the same food at the same restaurant every day. He is afraid of germs because he has a mainly obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. (There’s an interesting episode. Many people who have the same disorders came out with their problems after releasing the movie because Melvin is quite cool on it.) As he generally hates people, he doesn’t get along well with any people, and is always lonely. However, he opens up gradually to the dog who belongs to one of his neighbors, who is a gay artist. Although he and the artist have hated each other, they become friends at last. And Melvin is awaked to fall in love with the waitress who works at the restaurant where he goes every day. And… 

     I saw the movie by DVD four times; dubbed into Japanese, Japanese subtitles, and English subtitles. (I saw two types Japanese subtitles, I mean translate is different between my DVD and the one I saw at the university. ) Frankly, I’m very surprised to have different impressions when I saw the same movies by four difference ways.  

     To tell the truth, I don’t like to watch movies dubbed into Japanese. (I’m sorry, Japanese voice actors!) Their voices are unnatural and always disgust me. (I’m sorry, Japanese scenario writers!) Besides, sometimes translated speeches are terrible! Of course, I understand that Japanese scenario writers and voice actors’ effort are great because Japanese and other languages are different and they have to fit the original actors’ actions.  

     I prefer to watch movies with Japanese subtitles, but I cannot stop being surprised at the differences of the impressions on the movies by the differences of the translators. I saw the same scenes by the two DVDs whose Japanese scenarios are different. I cannot say which is better, but my impression on each is different, and I thought that it’s a little dangerous to understand something by the translated words according to circumstances. 

     By the way, the dog on the movie is really cute! Her act was wonderful! If the producer hadn’t found the dog, the movie might not have hit so much. The dog doesn’t look a dog, looks an alien on Star Wars or Gremlins, though… 

     It is said that the title had been Old Friends until just before the release. The title As Good As It Gets is difficult to understand for Japanese. That’s why Japanese title means a love story writer. It comes from Melvin the main character’s occupation. The translator could think hard about the title when he or she entitled. It’s really difficult to find fit expressions by translating.     

    If I could enjoy movies without subtitles…

A Bamboo Workshop


     I joined a bamboo workshop by people who belong to Meito Shizen Club (Meito Nature Club) the day before yesterday. The members of the club study about things which related to the preservation of the nature, and they do many activities, for example, nature walk, nature game and so on.

     The members who joined the workshop had planned to fix the facilities in a park named Idaka Ryokuchi, and I had been supposed to help them. But it was raining and we couldn’t work outside. So we decided to study something at the indoor instead.

     The reason why bamboo was chosen for the topic is because a member who makes charcoal with bamboo periodically was able to join us that day. He taught other members about bamboo, especially bamboo charcoal.

     The club and Meito ward cut down more than 5000 bamboos a year for preservation of the nature in Idaka Ryokuchi Park. The park is 66.2ha and there’re bamboos in about 40% of the land. And those bamboos are propagating themselves at the rate of about 4ha a year. The forest of the park would be destroyed by the bamboos unless they had been cut because their vitality is very strong and they drive other plants away.

     People have made use of bamboo for a long time. It was normal to make something with it in old days. But it’s tended not so much to make something in person as to buy something at shops lately. The club teaches people, especially kids, about benefits of bamboo and they make charcoals with bamboo in the park for a form a part of the education.

     They burn charcoal every second Saturday in the park except from June to September. It’s hard to make high quality charcoal during those 4 months because bamboo has too much water inside. Usually, you can get about 20 kg charcoals from 80kg bamboo. And you can get bamboo vinegar at the same time when you make bamboo charcoal.

I’d like to introduce some benefits of the charcoal and vinegar here because I studies about them in the workshop.
For water

You can get delicious water by the adsorption after soaking some bamboo charcoals in the water.

     As deodorants

You can use bamboo charcoals as deodorants in the fridge or the closet. Bamboo vinegar also gets rid of foul smell. You can spray it on the toilet or garbage.

     For gardening

You can get nice soil for gardening by adding smashed bamboo charcoals after you used for something. You can spray bamboo vinegar for pest control and for hastening the growth of plants.

     For skincare

Bamboo vinegar has good effects for atopy, tinea and moisture of the skin. 

photo1: the workshop, photo2: bamboo charcoal, photo3: unearthed pottery in the park

Yellow Sand

     Yesterday’s yellow sand attack was terrible! Yellow sand hazed over Nagoya city. People couldn’t look out over about 4 kilometers ahead. Because the sky was covered with yellow sand, I was able to see the sun directly. Now here in Nagoya, cherry blossoms are in full bloom, but they were also covered with yellow sand.
     I took cherry blossoms photos yesterday and the day before yesterday. Let’s compare them! You can find the differences of the color!
     Yellow sand is a phenomenon that the sand of the interior of China such as the Taklimakan Desert and the Gobi Desert which are thousands kilometers away from Japan is wafted up by the prevailing westerlies and move to the east. 
     Yellow sand damaged to vegetables as like cabbages yesterday. Many people, for example, farmers, taxi drivers, car dealers, people who hung the laundry out, must have looked up at the sky reproachful. So did I! I would have liked to go to the cherry-blossom viewing after the Afternoon Tea Concert yesterday!

Afternoon Tea Concert


     I hadn’t seen a harpsichord and a baroque violin until today. I was able to listen to the baroque music this afternoon. A tea company named M&P’s Tea held a concert called Afternoon Tea Concert today and I was there. Yes, afternoon tea! After the concert, you can enjoy lots of kinds of tea and delicious homemade cucumber sandwiches, scones, cookies and cakes. M&P’s Tea has such parties several times each year.

     Today’s concert was baroque music played by two ladies, a harpsichord player and a violinist. The latter plays not the ordinary modern violin but the baroque violin. There’re many differences between those violins, for example the shape of each body and bow. The two ladies played the music such as Bach’s. I like the tone color of the harpsichord. I feel elegant when I hear the tone.

     After the concert, I enjoyed some tea, for example, Darjeeling, Dimbra, Uva, Assam and so on, and cucumber sandwiches and sweets.

     By the way, the concert was held at a hall named Yamano Hall in Nisshin City. This hall is small but cozy, and is located in a wonderful place. It’s by a pond, which has many cherry trees around it. I love the place. I had a wonderful spring time there today.

The Red Brick Building


      I was in Handa City today. It was my first visit there. Handa is one of the cities in Aichi prefecture, located in south about 1hour drive from Nagoya. The reason why I visited the city is because that there’s an Eastern medical clinic in it. A friend of mine, who was sorry for me because I’d been suffering from some symptoms, introduced me to the doctor today.

     About seven years ago, I hurt the neck and the right knee when I went skiing. My right arm and hand couldn’t move by numbness because of cervical spine’s damage, and my right knee needed an operation because of the menisci’s injury. And about one and a half year ago, my rib bone was broken and my left knee got injured because I had a bike accident.

     Those wounds themselves have already been healed, but some of the pains have never disappeared and some symptoms as headache or dizziness has been left. Especially for my left knee, I was told by a doctor a year ago that he couldn’t heal the pain.

    As above, I have been suffering from those symptoms for some time. Because I cannot bend my left knee, I always have a trouble when I go to the restroom. I cannot stand up without the pain after sitting on the chair for a long time.

     But I may be released from those troubles. I was able to meet a great healer today! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!


     On my way home from the clinic, I dropped by an old building. It is in the public eye as a red brick building. It was built as a brewery of “Kabuto Beer” in Meiji era, and was used as a depository of Nakajima Hikoki Seisakujo (Nakajima Air Plane Factory) during the World War II. The building has many holes which were made by bombing at that time on the brick wall.

     The friend who took me to the clinic and I found the gate open when we got to the building. We went through the gate and saw the door open. We entered inside. It seemed that no one was there. Inside it was grim and dark, but some rooms had lights. We kept going on the long passage timidly when we met a woman at the bottom. She was startled. So did we!

     According to her, the building is usually closed and you cannot enter inside. You can enter when it’s opened several times a year. The friend and I apologized to enter it without the permission. We were lucky because we were able to see inside with no crowd.

Fact is stranger than fiction.


     At last, my spring courses finished last week. My final course’s subject was American Cultural Studies. In the last class, I saw a video on the Cuban Missiles Crisis, which is the tense confrontation for 13 days between the Soviet Union and the United States for the deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba by the Soviet from October 16 to 28 in 1962.

     Since Cuban Revolution in 1950’s, the gap between Cuba led by Fidel Castro and the U.S has become bigger and bigger.

     According to the video, it was the U.S to make Cuba be Communist. After the overthrow of Batista’s regime, Castro tried to go on the democratic way. But for American people, Cuba was a weekend resort you could go easily, and the Mafia, it was a big business place for gambling and sugar trade. So the U.S didn’t like Cuban freedom. They didn’t like Castro’s policy that he gave lands to poor people or so. Although Castro asked them to help Cuba financially, U.S didn’t and tried to invade instead. Whenever Cuba was threatened by U.S, Castro went to communist way. There may have been nothing for it but to do that for him since America imposed economic sanctions on his country.

     In the video, an agent who took part in an operation for overthrow Castro’s administration testified to a fact, that they had gathered many cats and they had stuck something burning on their tails, and then had released to burn up sugar fields.

     How terrible!

     In the circumstances, it’s no wonder that Castro asked the Soviet to help Cuba. The Soviet was behind the U.S on military development at that time, and for them Cuba would become a nice base. That’s why, Khrushchev gave the green light to deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba. It’s funny that the U.S government hadn’t believed although they had gotten over 5000 reports that the deployment of the nuclear missiles by the Soviet until their reconnaissance plane shot the photo.

     Anyway, the World War III was avoided by the diplomatic skills between the Soviet and the United States. Cuba was the country involved, but it was left out in the cold! Kennedy and Khrushchev, both of the leaders in the two big countries, are dead, but Castro is still now alive in high spirits. And the big gap between the United States and Cuba still remains. And that was made clear at the World Baseball Classic the other day.

     I enjoyed the class because I prefer documentaries to fictions. Fact is stranger than fiction. It was a good opportunity to think about lots of things this time.