Japan all around

Japan is on my mind and in my life right now.  Recall that I watched the film “The Last Samurai” a few weeks ago.  I then watched it with the director’s, Edward Zwick’s, commentary the other day.  I had a cry-fest the first time, and was utterly touched and in love with samurai even more so than I already had been – I’d respected their skills and revered them as a whole function of class – and then I had a mind-whooshing wonderful exploration and discovery with the second, specifically leading me to appreciate even more the talents and passions of 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe*, the man who plays the lead samurai in the film and who plays ‘the Japanese English-speaking character’ in almost every Hollywood film these days – a man I’d already appreciated for his acting skills in “Inception” and other Hollywood films**.  And so, here I am, weeks after first watching the film, and I’m still thinking about the samurai, and I’ve added 渡辺 謙 (Ken Watanabe).

Therefore, when selecting what to wear for today that was unique and warm – the weather is suddenly chilly here, though it was genuinely hot and humid two days ago – I settled on one of my haori (use 羽織 to search online and get the right pictures on Google), the sort of winter jacket piece for kimono***.  The half turtle neck I usually wear with it was unfindable, and so I selected something else that was the same color, but textured really neatly (and then found the other shirt, but preferred the textured one, anyway).

That’s all my own conscious doing.

Today at work/school, the classroom we were using for the yearbook class for which I was subbing was an English classroom.  I happen to sit in a student desk, instead of the teacher’s, and what is directly in front of me?
This:

image1

I asked the students what book possibly was being read that had this on the board, and they concluded that it was a history book.  That is, students had merely used the board in the classroom during a free period, and had put up notes in preparation for a test or quiz in history class that was on that time period.  I was totally ready to read whatever novel it had been for English class, though… Oh, well…

And then, this evening, I found myself sitting in a coffee shop with my mom – her having the intention to read and I to work on my paper for school, but both of us kind of just chatting and catching up on things for the first almost-hour – explaining my outfit to her, one that she has declared to be genuinely great in terms of style and in terms of how it looked on me (and which multiple people had done throughout the day, including people who never comment on my outfits, which was really funny and cool all at the same time), and it turns out that the textured shirt I’d selected, though I hadn’t realized it when I’d selected it, was also from Japan.  I’d just remembered that I hadn’t worn it yet, but had been wanting to for a long time, and just hadn’t found the right situation and clothing combination, and had genuinely forgotten that it, too, was from Japan.  My mother, as we chuckled about the specific funky shop where I’d bought said shirt, then says that, ‘See, there are things you really liked about Japan.’

I agreed with her entirely, and mentioned how I know I want to go back and visit plenty; I’m just not so sure about ever even considering living and working there again.  However, I’ve just had a lot of Japan on my mind lately.  Learning about 渡辺 謙 (Ken Watanabe) and his language situation for the filming of “The Last Samurai”, made me consider whether I could be that kind of person in Japan, in Japanese film.  I have a natural tendency to pick up on accent quite well, and Japanese was no exception to this for me.  Could I go back and model and act successfully?  It’s definitely possible, but is it very likely?  Could I get the visa to give it a go, even?  Hmm… These are the thoughts that have been on my mind the past few days (though not for the first time).  I want to go back to Japan, but I also want to have something to do while there, even though I’ll only be visiting, technically.

And so, I suspect that I’ll just keep this all in mind, and, eventually, I’ll find a way back to Japan (and have a spectacular time while there).  Perhaps, either here or there, I’ll find a way to meet 渡辺 謙 (Ken Watanabe).  Maybe he’ll let me do an interview with him.  That would be stellar.  And possibly a really good idea.  Hmm…  Well, we’ll see.  For now, I’m just surrounded by Japan, intentionally, unintentionally, and even from outside sources… and I kind of like it…

🙂

*Yes, the Japanese version is with the last name first, read Watanabe Ken.  And I tend to say it that way now, though I didn’t do it intentionally and I didn’t used to do it.  I guess it is just automatic for me now, after having lived in Japan, to say a Japanese name ‘Japanese style’, so to speak.  In my head, every time, I say “Watanabe Ken-san”, but I already tend to leave out the -san with people who don’t understand it, and so the same happens with 渡辺 謙.

**When hearing what Edward Zwick had to say in the commentary of “The Last Samurai”, it had me question if that film had been 渡辺 謙’s (Ken Watanabe’s) first real role in a Hollywood film, thinking that it quite likely must have been.  I found it amazing, because I feel like I’ve known him as an actor for so long, that it must have been before 2003 that I first saw him.  After some consideration, though, I realized that, seeing as how 2003 was 15 years ago, it did actually make sense.  Sure enough, after dong a bit of checking, it seems that “The Last Samurai”, in 2003, indeed, was his first Hollywood film.

***Fun Fact: Kimono literally means “wearing thing” or “thing one wears”.

Post-a-day 2018

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The Last Samurai… again

I’m not sure that I have ever watched a film with the director’s commentary, but tonight I did.

I discovered the other week, when I’d watched “The Last Samurai”, that the commentary was likely to prove exciting and valuable, and so I kept it on the list of to-dos until I had the time finally tonight to watch it… and I was right: It is spectacular.

I grew up in a world of theatre, often sitting next to a spectacular director, having him ask me questions and tell me little important tidbits about everything he was doing throughout rehearsal and preparation (and everything else, actually), and then, at other times, sitting with my mom as she worked on costuming or props for a show, and sometimes working on sets, myself…, and so I have not only an eye for many things in theatre and film, but also an extreme appreciation for what it takes to accomplish different aspects of a production.

Combining that with my experiences and understanding in Japanese culture, I found Edward Zwick’s commentary beautiful and deepening for the film’s overall power and impact… he and his crew were no surface-level group, but intentional, informed, respectful, committed, and honest workers in the task of making this beautiful, respectful, multicultural film.

Thank you, all of you, for all that you did in making that film. 🙂

Post-a-day 2018

The Last Samurai

I just watched the film “The Last Samurai”, and it was the first time I’d seen it all the way through, as well as the first time I’d seen any of it post-Japan (remember that I lived in Japan for a while).

I balled my eyes out over and over and over again, and mostly for things I never would have considered before having lived in Japan.

As Katsumoto-San says, ‘There are many of our customs/traditions that seem strange to you… Yours are the same for us.’

And now I see both sides of it all, and I wonder at how anyone could consider that only one side to anything in life is good enough, satisfactory enough, adequate… for anything beneficial to anyone or anything.

It can be terrifying, but seeing through the eyes of ones we don’t understand creates a solution to any problem, because, as Ender Wiggin said, once we understand our enemies, we can’t help but to love them.

Post-a-day 2018

Sniffingly a homemaker

Walking through Target tonight, I found myself moving in a sort of comfortable, meditative state… It was late, and I was rather tired from the day… I took several times over the usual time it takes me to obtain an equal number and variety of items at the store… and I somehow didn’t mind it…  I guess this just supports my theory that I secretly – read ‘subconsciously’ – want to be a homemaker-housewife.  When I first moved into my own apartment several years ago, and then again in Japan (when I had to start from, basically, scratch), I felt a certain flow of mental chemicals that delighted me through and through, in a comfortable, this is where I belong sort of way whenever I was shopping for apartment-related items, house items.  And it isn’t to say that I belong only as a homemaker or anything, but simply that it is somewhere of many somewheres where I do belong.

Tonight was no exception.  I moved into a new home and with a new person yesterday, you see.  She has most everything that goes in a house, and I have very little of that sort of stuff, so the match-up is rather good on that front (not to mention that we actually get along really well in the first place, because that isn’t the point).  However, my whole OCD compulsions have me need my own cleaning supplies. —You see, it isn’t enough just to have cleaning supplies.  They must also be nice to the planet, nice to the nose and eyes, and themselves clean (their containers), while kept in a clean space.  Show me a bottle of cleaner that has been under a cabinet and has a thin layer of dust on it, and I won’t even touch it until you have cleaned the bottle.  I probably also with have slight inner daytime terrors of the fact that the bottle is dirty.  Anyway, back to the main point of this all… —-  So, I was at Target, seeking out these cleaning supplies for me for my new home.

I walked calmly, despite the inward thought of how late it must be.  I felt confidence every time I set down the basket and gave a once-over to a certain type of product.  I gracefully selected bottles whose scents I wanted to test, and euphorically sampled their natural essential oil-filled smells.  I smiled at each, and even mmm-ed a few, closing my eyes to embrace the scent.  I usually take my time with scents – I even stop to smell flowers much more often than is common, just to smell them and to indulge myself.  It’s alway sa bit of a bummer whenever I find flower bunches at stores that don’t even smell (or don’t smell good).  Whole Foods is one of those stores.

Anyway, so I take my time with (good) smells, enjoying them, allowing my brain to do any work it feels appropriate whenever it crosses a familiar scent.  I was told when I was quite young that scent was the strongest sense for recalling memory, and I’ve always kept that in mind for some reason, delighting in the silly scents that bring back memories.  (Like how the hand soap in this one bathroom in the house where I once nannied smelled like my grandmother on my dad’s side.  She hadn’t been alive for years at that point, and yet I had no doubt that it was the same smell that was usually on her, though I never seemed consciously to have noticed her having a specific scent before that moment.)

So, I was smelling slowly and comfortably, and enjoying all the familiar and new scents.  One in particular, though I definitely didn’t want it as a cleaning supply, was the replication of some regular smell from some point in my childhood.  I took a picture and sent it to my mom, telling her to go find one and to sniff it, so she could help me figure out why the scent is so specifically familiar.  It was labeled as being scented “radish”, however it was not merely the scent of radishes that was familiar – it was that specific combination.  Perhaps my mother had used that cleaning supply brand and scent at some point.  Though, I’m not too sure of that being very likely, because it seems to be a newer scent from this brand, and because it relates to a specific summer-type memory for me, as opposed to just lots of childhood cleaning days.  I’m looking forward to figuring out that one.  It might take me a little while, a few months’ even, but I am confident that, as with others in the past, I will figure it out.

Post-a-day 2018

 

Pallet Ingenuity

I’m spending tonight on a little pallet of pillows on the floor, and it is reminding me of that night I had in Japan, where we had all only just moved to Japan, and so, when I spent the night at a friend’s apartment, she had to make me a pallet out of her clothes, since there was nothing else to use for sleeping on the hard, wood-like floor.

We got creative and resourceful, and it was great.

😛

Post-a-day 2018