6.26.2004

lost in egyptian cowfields

After reading Diego's and Dansen's reviews, I would like to add my 2 cents re: Lost in Translation. I thought the movie did a great job of showing Japan - through the eyes of the two main characters. The movie's goal was not to show a true representation of what Tokyo or the people living there are really like - it was showing how it was perceived by Charlotte and Bob Harris. They would notice the aspects that tend to be stereotyped by Americans first (in many conversations I've had lately with people whom I've told about going to Japan, the amount of stereotypes and the number of people who share them are mindboggling, and the more of my own weird preconceptions I become aware of), but then they began to learn about and appreciate Tokyo. When Bob is talking to his wife on the phone late in the movie and mentions that he wants to begin to eat a healthier more Japanese diet, that's him changing and learning and growing because he's been exposed to another culture. That's also him hoping that maybe this new experience can help rescue him from his midlife unhappiness. Many of the jokes that many viewers perceive as racist, I thought were making fun of the Americans far more than they were making fun of any Japanese characters. For example, in the hospital when Bob can't understand the person asking him when he came to Japan, the women in the background are laughing hysterically at him and it's a really comical scene. The scene is poking fun at him and his inability to understand and the goofy way he reacts - not making fun of the Japanese characters in the scene. I'm not saying that other perceptions of it are incorrect - who knows what the director was really aiming for - but that's how I saw it, having watched it probably 7 or 8 times by now. The more I watch it, the more it's about the awkward and touching relationship between Charlotte and Bob, and it could take place anywhere where both of them didn't fit in. And the characters of Charlotte's husband and the actress who is really obnoxious are just as stereotypical as any of the other characters and they are American. Actually, I thought the movie made upper-class Americans look pretty silly overall, and that's who the movie is about - the Americans who would be staying at the fancy hotel and have enough money and time to have crises about what their life means. OK, enough ranting for now...

The fun continues here in the land of furniture made out of antlers... I wish I had a digital camera so that I could post some photos of the weirdness around here. Ah well. Yesterday we drove around past fields of hay, alfalfa, and many many many cows, and in the middle of these fields and absolutely nothing else, there is a new movie theatre with four screens called the PharaohPlex. It's an Egyptian-themed movie theater, with actually some pretty cool Egyptian art and statues inside, and one wall that is a fountain with water streaming down the wall amongst statuettes. But, it's in the middle of cowfields, not even really very near any towns and there were maybe ten cars outside total when we went to see The Terminal (pretty good film by the way). It's quite weird to me that it's in the middle of nothing. And right next to it is a big bio-tech research firm that is doing research on cancer vaccines and treatments. Surreal. Anyway, I never cease to be amazed, as I was today when a rancher wearing no shirt, but just wranglers and cowboy boots walked into the travel agency I was at and proceeded to go through the process of buying a ticket to Oklahoma City, and everyone acted as if it was completely normal for shirtless guys to walk into businesses. One benefit of the rural atmosphere though - a massive ice cream cone from the drive-thru cafe in Stevensville is still only 50 cents.

OK, enough about here, let's talk about there. The high school I'll be teaching at in a suburb of Takarazuka called Nakayama. It's a fairly new suburb built right on the side of a mountain, and there's a forest behind it. We'll have an apartment lined up by the time we get there, I don't know exactly where in Takarazuka it will be, but hopefully fairly close to the school. However, there's only about a 30 minute train ride to Osaka or Kobe from there, so we definitely will be in the midst of civilization. Takarazuka is most well-known for its all-female musical theatre revue, established in 1914 to provide roles for women since kabuki theatre only has male actors. It also has a manga museum for the creator of AstroBoy, who was from Takarazuka. Also some hot springs and temples, and it is described as a resort town for the Osaka area. It sounds completely perfect. Still waiting for some more detailed info, but at least I can now point to a dot on a map!

Sorry for the infrequent updates, but it's hard to have much time to sit down with a house of five people sharing one phone line, and we've been busy driving and driving to various nearby towns to do stuff, shopping for teacherly clothing, that sort of thing. It's a bit nice after my phase at work of checking my e-mail every five minutes for news from JET to have a bit of distance from the net connection actually. And there's actually sunshine out here, so the outdoors calls...

3 Comments:

At 12:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dansen desu... yeah wow, that place in japan sounds more than fantastically cool and 30 mins isnt that far from civ, but its so far, anyway, sounds fabfab... and will cody or u be flying into narita? must say hello to me! anyway, peace yo!

 
At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boku wa Trench: Yes Syrinx will be in Tokyo for orientation. See is planning on seeing you there. She will give details when they are clear. Syrinx no gambate desu yo.

 
At 11:46 PM, Blogger noexit said...

Is that 30 minutes on a regular train line?

 

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