Monthly Archives: September 2008

The Crazy Karaoke Party

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     I had a really wonderful time together with my friends last Saturday night! We had a karaoke party at Isona, owned by a friend of mine, between Ikeshiata and Imaike.

     There were 18 people at the party. We started the party at six o’clock in the evening and had it for two and half hours. crazy kara 3

     When we all sat at the table, many foods were served: tori-no-kara-age or fried chicken, dashi-maki or rolled egg, grilled corn, eda-mame or boiled green soy beans, sato-imo or boiled aroid potatoes, vegetable salad, hamburgers, and zo-sui or rice with egg and vegetable soup. crazy kara 2

     A special helper was in the kitchen that day. It seems that he used to work for certain famous Japanese restaurant as a cook. That’s why all dishes were excellent.

     For a while we enjoyed chatting over delicious food and drink. Then a crazy time began…every one song the participants’ feels uplifted. At the very beginning, all the people were sitting, but most of them were standing and dancing toward the end of the party.

     Most of the participants experienced the bubble economy. (Oops! That will date me!) The atmosphere helped us all get back to where we once belonged! That is, we were really excited! crazy kara 4

     One of the participants said by email next day, “That was the first time that I was so excited after the 21th century has begun!” Another one said, “Please do not put the pictures on your web site.” Yeah, exactly he went bananas…

     Anyway I enjoyed myself at the party. Most of the participants told me that they expected to be held the next party soon! Well…when shall we have it?

The Cheat

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     I take an interesting class at a university. It’s about Japan in the U.S. films. The class started yesterday, and the first movie I saw was the Cheat.

     The Cheat was released in 1915, when the world was amid the World War I. Starring actors of the film are Fanny Ward and Sessue Hayakawa. Sessue is said that he is the first Japanese actor who came to the top in Hollywood.  pict6

     There are only three main characters in the Cheat: Tori, the mysterious oriental rich acted by Sessue, Edith, the shopping spree wife acted by Fanny and Richard, her husband.

     Edith loves shopping. She always shops something, especially luxury clothing. Her husband Richard is a kind of workaholic and is always angry about her lavishness. Edith complains about her husband’s meanness to Tori, the rich man. pict7

     Edith is a treasure of Red Cross, which has many charity parties for war casualties in the World War I. She holds a high amount of money to send to Belgium. She, who is frustrated with her husband, put in all of the collected money for investing. But she lost all of the money.

     Edith has to send the amount of money to Belgium next day. It is Tori to come to the aid of her. He presses her to sexual relationship in exchange for money. She agrees and gets money to send to Belgium. 

     That night Edith’s husband Richard tells her to have gained by an investment. Edith takes a lie to him to have lost a game and need money. She sneaks out of the house and goes to Tori with the money and asks him to scrap the agreement between the two.  pict8

     Tori, however, doesn’t accept it and forces a kiss on Edith. He grabs her hair and brands Tori’s mark on her shoulder when she struggles and tries to escape. Edith shoots him. She flees from the place, but Richard follows her and is the site.

     Richard takes the blame and is arrested. But in court Edith shows her shoulder in which there is a Tori’s brand and claims that she shot Tori but it was self-defense. People in court get angry to Tori and try to kill him. After all, Edith and Richard win acquittal.

     As I wrote at the beginning, the world in 1915 was amid the World War I and was unsettled. Those days in the U.S. a growing number of immigrants from Asia come and many white people saw it as a threat, especially after Japan’s victory on Russo-Japanese War. pict5

     The movie has three strong messages:

   1. It’s not good to work too much without seeing their families for husbands. They should be family men. Otherwise, wives may become out of control.

   2. It’s bad to go out for wives. They should stay home and look after their husband. Otherwise they may get into danger.

   3. Foreigners are dangerous, especially Asian. Asian men like Japanese are demonic even if they look like gentlemen. In the film there is such an emphatic message: “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

     The film didn’t appear in Japan, which was angry at it, at that time. And Sessue was regarded as a traitor in Japan. But interestingly he got more and more popular by the film in the U.S. It seems that his mysterious character was an irresistible attraction for American women. pict9

     Movies are useful to learn the age when the movies are made. They mirror the society. It’s interesting to know what people think of Japanese people in the U.S. at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Tai Chi Seminar in Okazaki

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     Because September 23rd is Autumnal Equinox Day, last Tuesday was a holiday. There was a seminar of Japan Health Taijiquan Association Aichi Branch at Okazaki Chuo Sogo Koen Park Gymnasium in Okazaki that day.

     In the seminar, Mr. Yang, the head of the association, came from Tokyo and gave a lecture about the Basic Five Articles. HI351918


    The Basic Five Articles are:

1. You don’t look down.
2. Your tips of your fingers, nose, and toes put the same direction.
3. You move on your lumbar spine as the center of axle. One of your hands leads your action when you go ahead, and one of your feet leads when you go backward.
4. You move the shoulders when you make your arms up and down. You move the hip when you turn the left and right. You bend forward at the hip joint.
5. You don’t put center of gravity over the both legs evenly. You put it over one leg or the other. HI351924

     Hmmm…I’ve heard about those many times…Yes, I understand the words. But I haven’t realized the real meanings. It’s difficult for me to do practically. According to the lecturer, you may not realize all the tai chi by the age of 80…Oh…

     By the way, the lecturer introduced an interesting thing at the beginning the seminar. People are divided into two main categories: Yang and Yin. If you’re interested in new things and in food, and your voice is loud, you are probably Yang type. Those are always energetic. But those often have physical problems, stomachache, stiff shoulders, knee pain, and headache and so on. HI351925

     What? All of the characters and symptoms are true of me! He kept on talking. If you are Yang type and have those problems, it may be that the flow of your energy has been disrupted. So you have to release the old extra energy.

     So he recommended taking some kakkonto for those people. Kakkonto is a Chinese medicine and well-known for cold in Japan. But it is too strong for elderly and/or sick people. And you shouldn’t take it if you’re thin and tired. After coming back from the seminar, I took some kakkonto. Amazing! I’m feeling better!

Kco’s Birthday Party & Concert

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     There was a birthday party for a friend of mine last Sunday. It was not an ordinary party. It was a kind of concert! The friend and some of her friends played the music at a café named Sakura Café in Motoyama.HI351903-a

     There were seven players. One played the clarinet, one played the flute, three of them sang songs, and two of them played the piano and sang at the same time.   

     Various kinds of music were played by them: old hit music such as the Beatles and the Carpenters, and Jazz such as Lullaby of Birdland and so on. 

     According to the clarinet player, she hadn’t even touched her clarinet for a long time and had to repair it and to practice hard for the party. け

     The party organizer, who played the piano and sang at the party, said that she wanted to show people that everyone could do many things if they wanted through the concert. だ

     After we enjoyed ourselves playing and listening to the music, we chattered over some sandwiches, cake and coffee.

     The whale of a time went by before I knew it. I felt like recharging my batteries at the party. I had a really nice time with my friends.

                                                               Happy Birthday, Kco!

The Design History of Wedgwood for 250 years

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     Last Saturday I went to Tajimi, Gifu Prefecture to see an exhibition of Wedgwood. There is a museum named the Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu there. HI351889

     “The Design History of Wedgwood for 250 years” has been held for celebrating Wedgwood’s 250th anniversary and it has 250 items.  2

     Wedgwood is known for its jasperware, which is a kind of stoneware with beautiful colors and Greek and Roman taste medallions, especially its blue and white ware.

     Jasperware doesn’t look like Japanese crockery and ceramic ware at all. It looks like a kind of plaster work or stone work. I think most of Japanese pottery has elevated the beauty of utility to the realm of art, Jasperware, however, has pursued its beauty as decoration.

     Wedgwood, of course, has made not only 1jasperware, but also many kinds of ceramic wares. They made many royal families in Britain and even the Russian empress Ekaterina II presents of their works. That’s why the exhibits have noble atmosphere.  HI351890

     They also have tried to take in Japanese taste. I saw some of those works at the exhibition, but I thought they were completely out of touch with Japan. But for me the perception gap between I as Japanese and non-Japanese designers of Wedgwood is really interesting.

     The Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu is located on top of a mountain in Tajimi and the view from the museum is wonderful, and it has other interesting establishments as well. Why don’t you drop by it once?

Araragi-Kogen Highland

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     Last weekend I went to Araragi-Kogen Highland in southern Nagano to run away from the heat city Nagoya with some of my friends. One of them has a summer house there. In Nagoya it was more than 30 degrees in the daytime, but in Araragi-Kogen it was about 20 last week.

     The days before we left for Araragi-Kogen, we HI351859had heavy rain all over Japan, resulting in big damage. But it was a beautiful day when we left Nagoya. 

     There’re many roadside stations, where you can have some refreshments, take a rest, and buy the area’s specialty goods, on the way to the highland. We enjoyed shopping at some of them when we dropped by for a rest.HI351868

     We arrived at Araragi-Kogen after about a two-hour-drive. There were no tall buildings around us. There were many tall trees instead. It was really cool. The air was fresh. 

     After unpacking, we went to a hot spring nearby. It was wonderful to soak in the hot spring. Maybe it was just my imagination, but my skin got smoother! HI351867

     On the way back to the cottage, we drove to the high top of the mountain. Unfortunately it misted and we couldn’t see anything down below. The fresh air in the forest and the atmosphere made the night’s dinner really wonderful. We enjoyed chattering over food and drink.  HI351872

     The next day it was also a beautiful day although it had been raining at night. Because all of us are learning tai chi, we decided to practice outside together in the morning. While we were doing tai chi, people who passed by looked us suspiciously.   HI351873

     Before going back to Nagoya, we dropped by a museum named Mu Museum of Natural Art. It’s surrounded by woods and looks a little bit European. They exhibit many kinds of works, for example, paintings, glass arts, dolls, wooden arts and etc. You can have coffee and snacks there. We really relaxed and had a nice time at the museum.HI351874

     We had lunch in Gosho-no-sato, where it is about a 10-minute-drive from the museum. The soba, or buckwheat noodle and gohei-mochi we had were really delicious!

     Strangely the place’s name means the Imperial Palace. When I asked the owner of the restaurant, she explained that an Imperial prince had stayed and died there in a war in the 15th Century. It was a surprise that such a small village has a historical drama.

     After lunch, we left for Nagoya. When I got out of the car two hours later, I couldn’t believe the heat. Reality hit. The wonderful time we had had was gone! Yes, I went back to Nagoya…I was about to melt away…