Archive for ‘Famous people in modern Japan’

January 28, 2012

Ikuko Kawai is an internationally acclaimed violinist: elegant and caring

Ikuko Kawai is an internationally acclaimed violinist: elegant and caring

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Ikuko Kawai is an internationally acclaimed violinist who was born in Japan and she also does work to highlight poverty and other important global issues. While the main focus of her career is firmly based on the classical field this doesn’t prevent this talented lady from venturing into other forms of music. Therefore, the exuberance and stylish nature of Ikuko Kawai can transcend many styles of music.

The broad nature of her talents apply to acclaimed violinist, professor in the department of music at Osaka University, composer, human rights works, and other areas. Ikuko Kawai fuses her amazing violin talents with techniques in theatrical art and the creativity of her performance is a wonder to behold.

In the past Ikuko Kawai performed under Chung Myung-Whim who is a world famous conductor. Also, while many famous orchestras in Japan have been graced by her stunning ability, the same applies to the international arena. Therefore, just like Kaori Muraji who is an internationally acclaimed classical guitarist from Japan, it is clear that many talented classical performers from this nation are in the forefront of classical music and setting amazing standards.

Not surprisingly, the gracefulness of Ikuko Kawai inspired the figure skater Michelle Kwan who performed to “Red Violin” during her skating program. The natural correlation between the artistic nature of ice skating and the attributes of Ikuko Kawai who performs with so much grace and panache, meant that the music worked perfectly for Michelle Kwan. Also, the international community throughout the world who witnessed this ice skating championship was also blessed because the talents of Ikuko Kawai became known to new fans.

Another important angle which highlights the caring nature of Ikuko Kawai is her involvement in human rights work. In the past she visited refugees from Myanmar (Burma) in Thailand and clearly the impact of this experience opened her eyes to the reality of poverty, international wars, lack of opportunities, and so forth. Her visit worked wonders both ways because in a world of beauty, extravagance, and freedom for many; you also have another world of oppression, alienation, lack of opportunities, and other negatives.

Ikuko Kawai began her UNHCR work in 2007 and her visit to refugees from Myanmar, raising funds, drawing international attention to the crisis in Darfur, and other important areas, meant that this lady of gracefulness was now also connecting with “the real world” which remains distant for the majority of people. Children first performed and then Ikuko Kawai followed and by the end it was clear that the impact worked both ways.

Ikuko Kawai commented that the “Children’s eyes were shining when they were listening to my violin. Inspired by their vivid reaction, I really enjoyed playing in front of them.” She further commented that “Through my violin performance I wanted refugee children to feel something beyond their daily life in the limited space. I wanted to get closer to them and encourage them. I am glad to feel that we were able to communicate through music”.

Since this time Ikuko Kawai continues to build bridges by performing with her accustomed grace and interacting with people who are less fortunate. This talented individual is a great ambassador for the classical world and for Japan.

Therefore, if you adore Ikuko Kawai, classical music, the violin, or if you are a music lover of many styles, then please check the links below. Ikuko Kawai is a rare gift and thankfully this passionate lady is giving so much to the world of music and in many other areas.

Ikuko Kawai music on Anselmonadir website.

http://www.youtube.com/user/anselmonadir#p/f/775/kEl9tgVIheo Ikuko Kawai

http://www.youtube.com/user/anselmonadir#p/f/100/Xbx2H6mKYH0 Ikuko Kawai – Jupiter from the Symphony the Planets

http://www.youtube.com/user/anselmonadir#p/f/489/ZC-iQXWa0f8 Ikuko Kawai

http://www.ikukokawai.com/prof/prof-english.html Ikuko Kawai website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iUBMOVptrU Ikuko Kawai and “Red Violin”

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

January 18, 2012

Japanese art and Ito Shinsui: bijinga and landscapes

Japanese art and Ito Shinsui: bijinga and landscapes

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The artist Ito Shinsui (1898-1972) left a lasting legacy because he produced many stunning works of art. His art work came to the fore during the Taisho and Showa period in Japan and he became famous for stunning images of beautiful women. However, Ito Shinsui also produced many amazing landscape paintings and he and a few other major artists maintained the rich tradition of Japanese art during this difficult and dramatic time in Japanese history.

He was born in Tokyo and because of his father becoming bankrupt after making rash investments it was clear that he couldn’t remain at elementary school. This event would become a blessing in disguise because Ito Shinsui became a live-in apprentice and soon it would become apparent that he had been blessed with many artistic talents.

Ito Shinsui’s apprenticeship took place in a printing shop and this opened up a new world because now he could learn important printing techniques and study more about the arts. His apprenticeship started in 1911 under Kaburagi Kiyokata and within one year and at the tender age of 14, his paintings became known to the general public because Kaburagi Kiyokata entered them into exhibitions.

Therefore, by an early age it was clear that this young teenager was destined for a bright future. Ito Shinsui belonged to the Shin Hanga movement and the famous publisher, Watanabe Shozaburo, developed his reputation in the commercial area because of his many links and high motivation. This relationship would last many decades and both benefitted greatly.

The “Eight Views of Lake Biwa (Omi)” became highly acclaimed and Kawase Hasui was greatly inspired by this painting collection. Other famous collections by Ito Shinsui include “Twelve Figures of New Beauties,” “Collection of Modern Beauties,” “Twelve Views of Oshima,” “Three Views of Mount Fuji,” and “Ten Views of Shinano.” Also, what is remarkable is that the “Eight Views of Lake Biwa (Omi)” was completed in 1918 when Ito Shinsui was extremely young.

Another stunning piece of work done by Ito Shinsui before he was 19 years of age is “Young Girl Washing.”The composition and passion of this stunning masterpiece is extremely striking. This applies to the sophisticated composition for such a young individual and the innocence that the image portrays.

Dieter Wanczura comments that “Shunsui was a master of bijinga – images of beautiful women in a sensual, refined, technically perfect and appealing manner. The artist’s bijinga are marked by a frequent use of a light gray background and red or blue colors in the garment. Another favorite subject was landscape prints.”

The Shin Hanga movement which Ito Shinsui belonged to left a lasting legacy because of the art form it produced. The Artelino website states that “The shin hanga movement integrated Western elements without giving up the old values of Japanese, traditional woodblock prints. Instead of blindly imitating Western art styles, the new movement concentrated on traditional subjects like landscapes, beautiful women and actor portraits. Inspired by European Impressionism the artists introduced the effects of light and the expression of individual moods. The result was a technically superb and compelling new style of Japanese prints.”

Ito Shinsui left a remarkable legacy because from such an early age it was apparent that he was extremely gifted. Therefore, despite the turbulence of his early childhood when his father faced severe hardship, Ito Shinsui overcame this obstacle and graced the world of art.

 

http://www.artelino.com/articles/ito_shinsui.asp

http://www.hanga.com/bio.cfm?ID=36

http://frclarke.com/shinhanga/shinsui/shinsui.html

http://www.hanga.com/series.cfm?ID=29

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

January 12, 2012

Kaori Muraji is a classical Japanese guitarist of refinement and beauty

Kaori Muraji is a classical Japanese guitarist of refinement and beauty

Walter Sebastian and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Kaori Muraji was born in Tokyo in 1978 and from a very early age her father Noboru Muraji gave lessons to his daughter. Her talent was obvious and by the age of ten she began to be taught by the acclaimed guitarist Shinichi Fukuda. Kaori Muraji won many guitar competitions in Tokyo and in 1993 she performed at Tsuda Hall in the same city.

If you http://www.youtube.com/user/anselmonadir#p/search/0/VLZu0K9jL3U click on this link you can listen to the perfection and passion of Kaori Muraji. Therefore, even if your musical tastes are usually distant from classical guitar, it is clear that she can bridge this gap. Also, the setting on Anselmonadir Channel is extremely soothing because of the pleasant backdrop and you can find many videos which highlight Kaori Muraji on the link above.

Therefore, this talented child from Tokyo blossomed into a talented musical artist of international acclaim within the classical music community and much further afield. Kaori Muraji not only plays with sublime skill but her graceful manor and natural style appeals to the heart.

Also, Kaori Muraji’s performance of This Girl’s In Love With You” which was written by Burt Bacharach is extremely powerful and shows the vast nature of her sublime skills. In the link below the article provided by Anselmonadir Channel you can connect with another generation when you listen to “This Girl’s In Love With You.”

This aspect of Kaori Muraji is what sets her apart from the crowd because her talents feel natural when she performs music from different centuries and decades. Also, she can fuse her talent to transform any piece and then infuse it with aspects of her identity. Clearly talents like this are rare and for this reason her international appeal in cultured musical circles is highly valued.

DECCA for this reason signed an exclusive contract with Kaori Muraji in late 2003 because this company fully understood the unique nature of this exquisite musician from Japan. Since this period her international fame continues to blossom and the richness of her talent keeps on sweeping new admirers of their feet. Therefore, irrespective of your musical tastes, it is clear that Kaori Muraji can overcome the bias of individuals because her music can fit easily in any music collection.

Kaori Muraji stated that “I express what is transmitted from generation to generation. It’s just simple but so precious.” These words speak volumes about the stunning Kaori Muraji.

http://www.officemuraji.com/ – Please visit the official website of Kaori Muraji

http://www.youtube.com/user/anselmonadir (PLEASE VISIT Anselmonadir Channel)

http://www.youtube.com/user/anselmonadir#p/c/7875BF3220C70848/14/zwbK-Ja9NDM 

http://www.youtube.com/user/anselmonadir#p/c/7875BF3220C70848/13/xzYhP1IhThk

http://www.youtube.com/user/anselmonadir#p/c/7875BF3220C70848/22/Zq3rSwX4QHM

http://www.youtube.com/user/anselmonadir#p/c/7875BF3220C70848/1/2KKP5OB0HL4

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

December 10, 2011

Osaka power base to rise under Toru Hashimoto: anti-Osaka comments?

Osaka power base to rise under Toru Hashimoto: anti-Osaka comments?

Pierre Leblanc and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

In an interesting but baffling article by Kevin Rafferty which was published in The Japan Times called “Political Earthquake in Osaka,” the focus was on the need to worry about Tokyo.  Rather strange because the nation of Japan is not solely based in Tokyo and it is vital that other major areas like Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Yokohama, Kobe, and so forth, focus on restructuring in order to galvanize regional economies.

In the Kansai region you have huge potential when you combine Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama, and other parts of this dynamic part of Japan. This applies to finance, manufacturing, heavy industry, tourism, retail, culture, art, information technology, research and development, and many other important areas. On top of this is the enormous potential of the workforce and the vibrancy and diversity of the entire region.

Osaka is the economic powerhouse and the closeness to Kobe means that collectively you have huge potential to attract internal investments and international finance. Therefore, it is essential that major cities like Osaka “wake up” and move forward by focusing on new dynamics which will not only galvanize Osaka but the entire region.

Kevin Rafferty states that “My worry is that Tokyo, and particularly the political and bureaucratic establishment, does not comprehend the tectonic forces working underground.” However, the “my” seems rather powerful but more important why does the author want to maintain the status quo and the language appears to be based on the manipulation of language. This applies to “tectonic forces working underground.”

Toru Hashimoto and Osaka leaders have no ill intention towards Japan let alone Tokyo but new dynamics are needed in many parts of this nation. The central forces in Tokyo seem distant and are making it harder for regions to become self-controlling.

Kevin Rafferty clearly enjoys using emotional language given the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. However, maybe he isn’t aware that other prefectures were used in order to feed Tokyo and this is part of the problem with Fukushima. This applies to a distant powerbase which utilizes the resources, environment, workforce, and so forth, of smaller prefectures. Therefore, while TEPCO, which is based in Tokyo, plans to add more radiation to the sea in Fukushima little attention is being given to local fisherman and the fisheries sector in areas hit by the ongoing crisis.

Of course it isn’t only Tokyo which does this because the cold facts are that many major cities utilize smaller regions in a host of nations because smaller regions need fresh capital. However, unlike Germany, for example, Japan is heavily focused on Tokyo and political elites often ignore other parts of Japan.

Many leaders in Okinawa are fed-up with the government of Japan which is based in Tokyo because senior politicians aren’t listening to local people. Also, surely it is in the interest of Hokkaido to look into developing special economic zones with other cities outside of Japan like Vladivostok – the same applies to a special tax on the transportation of oil and gas. After all, many regional areas in Japan need to focus on restructuring because Tokyo keeps on growing at the expense of other major cities. Therefore, given the economic malaise of the past few decades and the “political magic roundabout” in Tokyo, whereby political leaders resign regularly, it is difficult to comprehend the positives of the center over the whole of Japan.

Hashimoto understands all this and he also knows the potential of the Kansai area and how regional economic initiatives could galvanize a powerful region in Japan. Also, it is positive that the traditional political establishment was defeated because it needs to wake up from its long slumber. Or maybe Kevin Rafferty prefers the Liberal Democratic Party and Democratic Party of Japan (many leading figures were members of the Liberal Democratic Party) alongside factionalism to maintain inertia?

Rafferty states that “The election was the start, not the end” and that it could “spark a dangerous squabble between the two biggest regions of Japan that could weaken Tokyo’s ascendancy and the whole country.” Again, note the need to protect Tokyo and why would the rejuvenation of Osaka and the Kansai region threaten the whole country?

This is alarmism to an extreme because Hashimoto wants to see “a new Japan” based on dynamism, economic innovation, attracting new foreign capital, utilizing mega regional zones, and creating a Japan which is focused on its geopolitical reality. At no time does Hashimoto and regional leaders desire to implement policies which are negative for Japan. On the contrary, something needs to change and major cities like Osaka and Nagoya need to find new ways to compete internally and internationally.

The rest of the article is even more confusing by Rafferty because it is tinged with negatives towards Hashimoto but understanding that he also makes sense. However, other striking negatives were given based on anti-Osaka statements or mass generalizations.

For example Rafferty comments that “Local lore has it that a cultured person goes to school in Kyoto, works in Osaka and lives in Kobe, the main city of Hyogo.” Rather than focusing on childish comments it is factual that many people work in Tokyo but reside in Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama. It is also factual that many people who work in London reside in Surrey, Kent and other counties.

Also, Rafferty then takes a jibe at Kansai International Airport by stating that “Anyone who has to use expensive, distant Kansai airport with its slow immigration and suspicious customs officials would wish instead that Itami became a second expanding Haneda.” Again, this appears rather childish and one of the co-writers of this article must have passed through this airport at least ten times and had no problems whatsoever. More important, immigration officials are individuals irrespective of what nation or city they are based in and the vast majority are positive but some maybe over-zealous in any given airport.

The fact remains that you have approximately 20 million people based in the Kansai region and it makes sense to create a powerful area which can compete internally and internationally. All politicians, like people, will have shortcomings and maybe Hashimoto is or isn’t the right person to create a new vibrant engine in Japan – only time will tell.

However, a powerful Osaka metropolis would boost the regional economy and increase the visibility of this city in the international arena. Also, at no time would this endanger “the whole country” even if it would challenge“Tokyo’s ascendancy.”

In the final paragraph Rafferty comments that “Populist politics would be a dangerous game that Hashimoto might be tempted to play if frustrated. It could unleash a tsunami of popular discontent on Japan’s political process.” Again, this seems alarmist to an extreme because the leader of Tokyo is a populist who often espouses strong comments. However, local people on the whole appear to support Shintaro Ishihara because he keeps on getting re-elected. Therefore, if Ishihara couldn’t threaten the status quo it is abundantly clear that many constraints would be put on Hashimoto.

Overall, Hashimoto and other regional leaders who support him desire to create a new vibrant mega-region which can compete openly against Tokyo and other major cities throughout the world. Therefore, the rise of Hashimoto in Osaka is based on him connecting with the majority of people in this important city. However, the next step will be the hardest and this applies to creating a dynamic Osaka metropolis and a Kansai region which works together in order to create a new powerful engine in Japan.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/eo20111207a3.html Article by Kevin Rafferty – The Japan Times

http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/ – Osaka information

http://www.investosaka.jp/en/index.php Invest Osaka

http://o-bic.net/ Osaka business news

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

December 7, 2011

K-pop in Japan: BoA releases the stunning new song Milestone

K-pop in Japan: BoA releases the stunning new song Milestone

Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

BoA released her new track called “Milestone” and this song highlights the sheer quality of this talented lady from South Korea. The track was released on December 7 in Japan and the lyrics are truly beautiful. Therefore, if you are familiar with K-pop, new to K-pop or you are a lover of international music, then this is the track to listen to and add to your collection.

In recent times the K-pop scene is in increasing vogue throughout the world but BoA appeals internationally when she sticks to her strengths. This certainly applies to “Milestone” which is one of the classiest tracks to hit the music scene globally in 2011. Therefore, it is an honor for the Japanese market to have this track released in Japan.

The more BoA sings throughout the track you can feel her passion, emotion, and many truths within the lyrics. Also, being released in December suits this fantastic track because soon another year will end and then it will all start all over again in January.

The career of BoA in Japan replicates aspects of her career internationally. This applies to many highs and lows which is natural for the vast majority of talented artists who have so much to give. On top of this is the fusion of South Korea, America, and Japan respectively, when applied to her target market. Therefore, this would stretch any international talent but when BoA makes a track like “Milestone” then all is forgotten because this stunning lady can win people over easily.

In an earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times it was commented that “BoA is a fantastic singer who continues to grow and her new single which will be released on December 7 in Japan is one of her best. Therefore, the new single “Milestone” should hit the heights because the lovely melody is backed by her exquisite voice.”

“Milestone” is a million miles away from “Eat You Up” but her new single shows the exquisite talent of BoA.  Therefore, many Tokyoites and music lovers throughout Japan should certainly add this new track to their chart once it is released.”

“In truth, “Milestone” shows the real class of BoA and only her challenging schedule is preventing this stunning lady from reaching her true potential.”

Therefore, the track “Milestone” is a clear reminder to her fans in Tokyo and throughout Japan that BoA may sometimes seem distant from the music scene in this country, but at heart she is only one track away from igniting a strong spark. At the same time, tracks like “Milestone” are real gems because they appeal across all music spectrums and have no international boundaries.

Also, BoA and her rich talents highlight the vibrancy of K-pop because you have many amazing groups and soloists. Fans in South Korea remain close to their favorite soloists and groups and at the same time they are awaiting new talents to emerge. The same applies to music lovers in Japan and internationally because the depth of talent coming out of South Korea isn’t a flash in the pan. On the contrary, the style and sophistication is growing and the foundations which began with individuals like BoA is enhancing K-pop throughout the music world.

Overall, the music track by BoA called “Milestone” is a real gem and for people who want to feel passion and who love in depth lyrics, then this is a must buy irrespective of your nationality. After all, music can break down barriers when artists have so much panache and this certainly applies to BoA when she focuses on her abundant talent.

Simply put, the music track “Milestone” is an amazing track and one of the best of 2011 without a shadow of a doubt to come out of the international music scene.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYKhmcNo3C8&feature=related BoA and new track “Milestone”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd2Cvxrxpfc BoA and “Eat You Up”

 

http://moderntokyotimes.com

October 29, 2011

K-pop in Japan: BoA and her new song Milestone set to hit the heights

K-pop in Japan: BoA and her new song Milestone set to hit the heights

Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

BoA will release a lovely track called “Milestone” and her fans will be so happy to hear her lovely voice and this powerful track should do really well. K-pop artists are now in vogue but for artists like BoA and Kan Mi Youn they hit the heights at a very young age and continue to impress by their changing styles and sheer quality.

“Milestone” will be released in Japan on December 7 and BoA will certainly hog the headlines because of her rich following.  The track itself is very emotional and the melody is pleasing on the ear. Also, like always her voice blesses the richness of the lyrics and the lovely melody.

Boa Kwon (Kwon Boa) adopted the name BoA and despite her young years this lady is multi-talented and truly international. The Beat of Angel (BoA) is just that with her angelic voice and classy style.

BoA was discovered by SM Entertainment and like always they nurtured the extremely beautiful young lady with an adorable voice. After her debut album ID; Peace B was released in South Korea she ventured into the Japanese market in 2002 with her debut album Listen To My Heart.

The international nature of BoA led her to debut in America in 2008 with the single “Eat You Up” and this hip track suited the American market. The video style was clearly designed for the market in hand and this was followed in 2009 by her first English language album titled BoA. However, in Japan the growing power of K-pop in mega-cites like Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, and throughout Japan, means that the new track “Milestone” should reach the heights because it is one of her best tracks and BoA’s history in Japan is deep.

The Japanese music market was clearly a great boost to her early career because the album Valenti in 2003 sold more than 1.2 million copies in the second largest music market in the world. Her next album in Japan called Love & Honesty in 2004 did well but not like the album Valenti. However, BoA’s compilation album in 2005 called Best of Soul did very well and more than one million copies were sold.

The changing nature of BoA and the complexity of different music markets meant that between 2004 and 2005 the number of albums sold from new material had gone down in South Korea. Also, her venture into China was mixed but BoA was still very young and with no settled style then a tad of uncertainty was confusing some of her original fans.

It must be remembered that Boa Kwon was born on November 5 in 1986 and in many other music markets, for example in the United Kingdom, it is rare to have someone so young who enters so many challenging markets.  Any misfortune of sales, despite still being good, should go down to the people who guided her because not only was BoA entering challenging and diverse markets but the changing nature of her style was creating teething problems.

In many ways her sixth album in Japan called The Face in 2008 saw a new confident BoA because now she was taking control over the music she performed. Therefore, with her rich and diverse background before this period the final pieces of the “real” BoA began to emerge.

However, the one weak spot was that by not focusing on one main market, then her sales and fan base was confused. Again, this would not have happened with a major British and Japanese singer/group because they would have a firm base. Therefore, in 2010 her album called Identity suffered in Japan because sales were weak compared with the startling success of Valenti in 2003.

Clearly, her move to America had mixed results and BoA was overstretched when it came to maintaining a firm base in America, Japan and South Korea respectively. Therefore, you had a highly talented K-pop artist who had matured into a stunning young lady and who was blessed with a lovely voice, however, something was amiss.

After all, BoA couldn’t match her early success in Japan despite the BoA of 2010 being vastly superior to her early period. Yet 2010 did show that her fans in South Korea remained loyal because her album Hurricane Venus did well.

BoA is a fantastic singer and continues to grow and her new single which will be released on December 7 in Japan is one of her best. Therefore, the new single “Milestone” should hit the heights because the lovely melody is backed by her exquisite voice.

“Milestone” is a million miles away from “Eat You Up” but her new single shows the exquisite talent of BoA.  Therefore, many Tokyoites and music lovers throughout Japan should certainly add this new track to their chart once it is released. 

In truth, “Milestone” shows the real class of BoA and only her challenging schedule is preventing this stunning lady from reaching her true potential.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9J6zsvcvhaU BoA and new track “Milestone”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd2Cvxrxpfc BoA and “Eat You Up”

http://leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

October 18, 2011

Mishima, Murakami, the Dalai Lama and CIA: genius, banality and the closet

Mishima, Murakami, the Dalai Lama and CIA: genius, banality and the closet

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Yukio Mishima

Haruki Murakami is clearly popular and sales of his new book, 1Q84, will hit the roof because of huge demand. It is therefore abundantly clear that Murakami is a writer who appeals to millions of people throughout the world. However, one of the most iconic food chains in America is equally popular for different reasons but in a sense you do have a connection.

The connection is banality but an enjoyment all the same and both the American iconic food chain and Murakami are in huge demand but sometimes it is difficult to understand why they stand out against other options.

In truth, this world is complex and often contradictory beyond reasoning. After all, the Dalai Lama is a man of peace but was sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency of America (CIA). This certainly doesn’t fit the imagination but the $1.7 million dollars a year in the 1960s and early 1970s certainly helped to boost his profile.

However, in the world of reality and unreality, then the Dalai Lama being sponsored by the CIA does make sense.  After all, the United States spends vast sums of money on redeveloping Afghanistan and propping up the Karzai regime and many soldiers have died for “freedom” and fighting for their country.  However, all apostates from Islam to Christianity face the death penalty in Afghanistan and clearly the Dalai Lama would have difficulty in building a Buddhist temple.

This may appear to be getting away from the point but actually it is meant to be getting nearer.  Therefore, while the appeal of Murakami continues to grow and nobody can doubt this based on sales, it still doesn’t hide the banality of Murakami compared with Yukio Mishima.

It is not only the placid nature of Murakami’s writing when compared with Mishima but also the richness, passion and mystery of Mishima which pales the other author into oblivion.  Yes, it is factual that intellect means little if people ignore and if the individual can’t connect but Murakami certainly can connect despite his lack of creativity.

It must be remembered that Leon Trotsky was an intellect unlike Joseph Stalin but we all know that an ice pick awaited Trotsky while Stalin manipulated power control mechanisms.  Therefore, just like many great artists who lived in poverty and died in debt or with little money to their name (their art today costs untold sums of money), intellect and genius didn’t spare Trotsky and countless artists who struggled to survive.

Therefore, reality and unreality is very difficult to define with so much chaos. However, the passion of Mishima is rare even if this passion turned against “the self” and ultimately led to his brutal death which he desired.

In Mishima’s novel, Runaway Horses, he writes on page 236 that “Isao’s young lips had yet touched no other lips, and he brushed them delicately against the petals of this withered lily with all the exquisite sensitivity that they possessed.”

“Here is the source of my purity, the warrant for my purity,” he told himself. “I am certain that it is here. When the time comes for me to turn my sword against myself, lilies will surely rise from the morning dew and open their petals to the rising sun. Their scent will purify the stench of my blood. So be it! How can I have any more doubts?”

This passion is what made Mishima special and the fact that he had high intellect is secondary because without this creative spark then his novels would still be of high quality, just like Murakami, but they wouldn’t stand out or hit a raw nerve.

Also, while Mishima is tainted by “progressive liberals” for being too nationalistic it is ironic that many of the same “progressive liberals” will revere the Dalai Lama.  However, Mishima had no CIA closet or links with an organization which sometimes went to extremes via covert and bloody operations.

Michael Backman in The Age commented that “The government set up in exile in India and, at least until the 1970s, received $US 1.7 million a year from the CIA.”

“The money was to pay for guerilla operations against the Chinese, notwithstanding the Dalai Lama’s public stance in support of non-violence, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.”

“The Dalai Lama himself was on the CIA’s payroll from the late 1950s until 1974, reportedly receiving $US 15,000 a month ($US 180,000 a year).”

“The funds were paid to him personally, but he used all or most of them for Tibetan government-in-exile activities, principally to fund offices in New York and Geneva, and to lobby internationally.”

Therefore, whatever the failings of Mishima and his nationalist leanings which are reviled by “progressive liberals,” at least you see and feel the “real” Mishima unlike the closet of the Dalai Lama.

In literary terms Murakami is “progressive” and unlike Mishima he doesn’t veer to the right-wing mindset. However, the image of Murakami suits the style that he writes and unlike the “CIA closet” of the Dalai Lama, you don’t have any bombshells within his books and this is what is so disappointing.

Yes, books by Murakami appeal to vast numbers of people and clearly he thinks deeply about his writing. However, I fail to see a spark or “a bigger picture” but maybe Murakami is correct on this point because it could be that all “bigger pictures” are illusions.

It may well be that 1Q84 by Murakami is very special but given past novels, I hesitate to believe that he can break free and reach a new height.  Therefore, while it is difficult to put Mishima’s book down it is equally difficult to believe that a fresh book by Murakami will be unique based on past novels.

In an earlier article I wrote about Mishima I state that “The book Sun and Steel relates to Mishima throwing away his earlier novel, Confessions of a Mask.”  Now Mishima was building up to be a man of strength and the Nietzsche “ubermensch” was born within the ego and spirit of Mishima.” 

Further down in the same article I comment that “The boy from Tokyo was enigmatic and had a raw passion and sadly the passion of Mishima is missing today and maybe this is where his genius belongs.”

“In Mishima, you can imagine the energy of the past and where the individual is visionary; therefore, the failings in his life, like the failings of all people; must be brushed aside because to ignore Mishima’s writing is to ignore a potent force within the literary energy of Japan.”

“Mishima, unlike the majority of writers, transcended the nation he belonged to because his writing hits a raw nerve within the “inner soul” and he will continue to be read by millions of people all over the world.”

Of course individuals are different and the energy of Mishima and the self-destructive nature of his thinking is rare, to say the least.  Therefore, while Murakami connects with millions of people all over the world, which is amazing by itself, it mainly applies to a mindset based on commonality and un-uniqueness.

Mishima, however, can be felt in the fervor of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the communist take-over in China, the disillusioned in all societies who see a crumbling indigenous culture being swept away by globalization and a growing monoculture.

The first aspect, the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the communist take-over in China, was based on self-made illusions and both events unleashed suffering, brutality, and mass persecution, especially in the early stages.

However, the second aspect, fearing the destructive nature of globalization, a growing monoculture, societies disconnecting with past history and culture, is more understandable, irrespective if people disagree.

It is easy to visualize, even if incorrectly, cosmopolitans and “progressive liberals” championing a writer from a different culture. After all, what could be more hip and internationalist?

Yet with Mishima, you feel “the shadow” and “the marginalized” and his books can appeal to people on many different grounds.  Not only this, Mishima’s writing style is on a different wavelength when compared to Murakami.

Turning back to the Dalai Lama and taking money from the CIA and relating this to this article, then unlike the reality and unreality of life, the action by the Dalai Lama was all too real.  The unreality about the Dalai Lama is the myth behind the hidden agenda.

Mishima equals complexity, intrigue, creativity, and chaos. However, Murakami represents normality, safety, and predictability but he is a writer who appeals because he delves deeply into the reality of the characters he writes about. The Dalai Lama represents “unreality” because the picture is clearly not the real image which is being provided. Despite this, it could be argued that his realistic approach serves the Tibetans well because CIA funding enabled the Tibetan cause to become known but it shatters the “peace myth” about the Dalai Lama.

It could be that the over-hype about Murakami is correct and that I am mistaken and maybe I am just an ignorant individual? However, the passion and spark of Mishima was potent, irrespective if people welcomed or liked his thinking.  Therefore, the unreality of the Dalai Lama’s image which based his CIA funding on reality is the best way to sum up the popularity of Murakami – that is, I fail to see what makes him stand out unlike the genius of Mishima.

http://www.nytimes.com/1998/10/02/world/world-news-briefs-dalai-lama-group-says-it-got-money-from-cia.html  Dalai Lama and CIA 

http://www.theage.com.au/news/business/behind-dalai-lamas-holy-/2007/05/22/1179601410290.html    Dalai Lama and CIA cloak  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRXFyOh6yzQ&feature=related   Video of Dalai Lama and CIA

http://www.vill.yamanakako.yamanashi.jp/osusume.php – Yukio Mishima Cyber Museum

http://dennismichaeliannuzz.tripod.com/index.HTML   – Tribute to Yukio Mishima

http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/mishima.htm    – Yukio Mishima

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/oct/14/haruki-murakami-1q84 

Haruki Murakami

http://www.murakami.ch/main_4.html  Haruki Murakam i

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com 

http://moderntokyotimes.com   

September 4, 2011

Korean Pop Music continues to hit the heights in Japan

Korean Pop Music continues to hit the heights in Japan

Michel Le Bon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

South Korean sexuality is being fused within K-pop (Korean pop music) in order to make further inroads into the Japanese market.  This is a sure-fire winner in Japan and a very obvious market ploy. Alongside this traditional route you have catchy tunes and a more mature outlook with pouting looks and sexy outfits to appeal to many fashion conscious youngsters of both sexes in Japan.

The South Korean girl group Shoujo Jidai (SNSD – Shojo Jidai) or Girls’ Generation, continue to prosper and grow in Japan because of catchy tunes, easy on the eye dancing, sexy and fashionable clothing and extremely good marketing.  Therefore, Girl’s Generation is showing the pulling power of K-pop. The same applies to Kara and the male group Toho Shinki who were the forerunners of making K-pop so popular despite not being the first K-pop group to hit Japan.

Girls’ Generation is a group which is easy on the ear and eye because of sweet voices, sultry looks, nice movement, look petite, and dress stunningly.  Even if pop music is not your flavor you can still appreciate and understand why this group is making inroads in Japan and other nations outside of South Korea. 

Also, given the size of the music market in Japan then it makes good business sense for J-pop groups to target Japan because the South Korean music market is much smaller. Not only this, the size of the Japanese music market internationally is one of the biggest in the world and fashion is very potent in Japan.

 

Girls’ Generation consist of nine exquisite and beautiful members and Taeyeon, Tiffany, Yuri, Jessica, Hyoyeon, Sunny, Sooyoung, Seohyun and Yoona, all appear to be not only in love with their trade but more important, it appears that they are genuinely close and this adds to the energy of their performances and videos.

K-pop will continue to develop and J-pop groups will notice the more mature outlook and this may alter aspects of the J-pop music scene.  Also, it is great to see South Korean culture growing in influence in Japan and the same applies to Japanese culture influencing the younger generation in South Korea.

Therefore, South Korean dramas, Harajuku fashion in Tokyo, modern technology, social networking, K-pop, J-pop, growing cultural ties, and other major aspects of cultural and business exchanges, are all helping to change the image of both nations in each society respectively.    

Turning back to the music of Girls’ Generation, then “Mr. Taxi” sums up the catchy and sultry nature of this K-pop group because this record track is full of energy.  The record “Mr. Taxi” shows a group which is energetic, vibrant, blessed with lovely rhythm, and a tune which enables their collective dancing skills to show their stunning features and beckoning call to buy the end product.

Kara is another South Korean group which is hitting the headlines and the album Girl’s Talk was a great success. The music tracks called “Sweet Days,” “Love is” and “Binks” gave the album Girl’s Talk a firm foundation and other tunes caught the imagination.

“Jet Coaster Love” by Kara was a huge success this year and because of the earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan badly and killed so many.  Kara donated all their profits from “Jet Coaster Love” and Gu Ha Ra stated “It breaks my heart to think about the pain of the Japanese people, who showed us so much love.”

Girls’ Generation also donated heavily from their hit single and just like Kara these elegant ladies show that they have deep hearts. 

Musically, Girls’ Generation, Kara, and other K-pop groups, have so much to offer and they are blessing Japan with their talent and other new bands will follow in their footsteps in the future.

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/03/23/2011032300710.html (Gu Ha Ra from Kara)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhseD2tRLUY   Girls’ Generation – Mr. Taxi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AwFX_59Ryo KARA – Honey

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfUrnMCLXAc  Girls’ Generation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=na83qZNWX3w&feature=fvwrel  KARA

 

 http://moderntokyotimes.com

August 28, 2011

Ogawa Kazumasa and Nobuyoshi Araki: traditional photos to sexuality

Ogawa Kazumasa and Nobuyoshi Araki: traditional photos to sexuality

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The photography of Ogawa Kazumasa provides a glimpse into the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in Japan.  He and others enable people to grasp aspects of Japanese culture and history in this period and Ogawa Kazumasa shows part of the struggle between tradition and modernization.

Nobuyoshi Araki, on the other hand, shows aspects of the sexual revolution which erupted in cities throughout the world. However, the images of Nobuyoshi Araki have a distinctive Tokyo feel.  The subject theme may be a million miles apart but both photographers are responding to a world which is changing.

Irrespective of the motives behind Ogawa Kazumasa and Nobuyoshi Araki, they both provide glimpses into the world they saw/see around them.  Neither are passive bystanders and their images show rich detail and labels are easy to put on individuals but the images have no labels because people will look at them for different reasons and draw their own conclusions.

Indeed, while most emphasis about Nobuyoshi Araki focuses on the sexual nature of his images this is also an illusion. After all, Nobuyoshi Araki is a very broad photographer and his themes are varied.

Turning back to the world of Ogawa Kazumasa then clearly events were changing quickly and the same applies to society and thought patterns.

Ironically it wasn’t old Japan and the samurai which was a threat to regional nations. Instead it was the modernized and Western influenced Japan which began the darkside of Japan’s militarization and colonial period.  It appears that a duality appeared within the psyche of military and political leaders in Japan and this applies to the threat of being the victim of Western encroachment and at the same time to join the Western club and taking over nations just like Western powers had done.

Ogawa Kazumasa witnessed this changing Japan and the liberal tendencies which also came about because of contact with the outside world.  Therefore, this world provided many opportunities for Ogawa Kazumasa who was born in 1860 and died in 1929.

The power of Ogawa Kazumasa can be witnessed within his images because often it is like looking into a mirror of a different world.  The images even when the theme is simplistic are powerful and time and motion appears to have stopped in order to capture the moment.

In my article called Ogawa Kazumasa: a photographer of style and panache, I comment that “His images remain vivid today and like Nobuyoshi Araki, but for very different reasons, both photographers provide images of a real Japan.  Ogawa Kazumasa provides images of a Japan which is caught between tradition and the onset of Western influence. “

“However, Nobuyoshi Araki focuses on the sexual nature of Tokyo in modern times but he does this with a rare quality and unlike the blandness of Kishin Shinoyama who lacks individuality or genuine creativity; Nobuyoshi Araki provides images which enlighten people to the changing nature of aspects of Tokyo culture and he does this with a rare talent.” 

“It is obvious that Ogawa Kazumasa and Nobuyoshi Araki are like chalk and cheese but in one way both are similar despite the huge differences of composition, style, time in history, techniques, different technology, art forms, and so forth; but both provide a style which opens up the subject matter that they enter and for Nobuyoshi Araki this applies to Tokyo and for Ogawa Kazumasa it applies to Japan.”

I think the analogy with Nobuyoshi Araki is true despite the complexity of both individuals and the images that they have given the world.  In the soul of Nobuyoshi Araki you can witness the hidden and sexual side of Tokyo in modern times but irrespective if this is hidden from most people it is part of reality.

The same reality was being shown by Ogawa Kazumasa but in a more natural form despite this the images of both individuals are powerful for contrasting reasons.  Ogawa Kazumasa shows a world in change but with many people clinging to the old world and others being victims of this changing world. This applies to modern concepts which challenged traditional crafts and obliterated many traditional based companies.

Like all societies in change you had many winners and losers and big business and modernization destroyed many. Also, more intensive labor markets uprooted people and when economic depression took route in Germany and Japan it gave the twin forces of fascism and communism a chance.

Ogawa Kazumasa was on the fringe of the real struggle between democrats, militarists, and communists in Japan and at the heart for many you had traditionalists in Japan who wanted to preserve the best of Japanese culture. 

In a way, but based on other factors, Nobuyoshi Araki, shows glimpses into a world where social morality, female emancipation, modern technology, greater freedom, sexual revolution of the 1960s, movement of people from the countryside to Tokyo, and a host of other factors, all merge together within negative criminal forces who saw an opening to exploit once more. 

Of course, for many images by Nobuyoshi Araki the theme also provides glimpses into genuine sexual urges and emancipation from conservatism and freeing the soul from all constraints.  

 

In my article called Nobuyoshi Araki shows the cultural side of Tokyo in the flesh. I comment that “…Nobuyoshi Araki goes much further because this famous photographer opens up a Tokyo which is often neglected or not imagined.  He also fuses his photography with the landscape of Tokyo amidst naked bodies or ladies being tied up and his imagery is clearly powerful.”

“Therefore, Nobuyoshi Araki is also focusing on the emptiness of entertainment districts and the sex industry; albeit from an erotic human form and the energy and visual nature of his photography expresses many emotions.”

“Like any artist; people will see different things within his photography and while some people will gain from his works others may reject him on various grounds.  However, if you look deeper into his work then Nobuyoshi Araki is providing a real glimpse into a Tokyo which exists and not only this, he does this by creating a rare energy within simplistic and complex themes.”

Ogawa Kazumasa was a founding member of Nihon Sashinkai (Japan Photographic Society) and his images show glimpses of the Meiji era and Taisho period. Therefore, Ogawa Kazumasa, Enami Nobukuni, Tamamura Kosaburo, and others in the same period, have provided images of high quality and more important, they have left a legacy whereby individuals can see aspects of old Japan and the changes which were taking place.

Ogawa Kazumasa and Nobuyoshi Araki also provide nostalgia despite their themes being very different.  Nobuyoshi Araki commented about nostalgia that “In a way, I guess so. People say photography should try to avoid being nostalgic, but I simply say photographs are nostalgic. The meaning of nostalgia for me is not sad memories or something that has disappeared; not just memories. For me nostalgia is like the warmth in a mother’s belly.”

Therefore, if you want to witness aspects of both worlds then Ogawa Kazumasa and Nobuyoshi Araki do this with great artistic skill. Irrespective of the motives or themes and the time difference between both individuals, they were blessed with rare skills. Also, they have shared their world and the world around them with vast numbers of people all over the world and Nobuyoshi Araki continues to express aspects of Tokyo.

In life (Nobuyoshi Araki) and death (Ogawa Kazumasa) both artists have connected with the world and when Nobuyoshi Araki passes away in the future he, just like Ogawa Kazumasa, will leave a valuable legacy.

http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/unive/  (Photo gallery and very high quality)

http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/ogawa.shtml  

(Fantastic information about Ogawa Kazumasa)

http://www.artnet.com/artists/nobuyoshi-araki/ Nobuyoshi Araki

http://www.arakinobuyoshi.com/ Nobuyoshi Araki

 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

Please note that Ogawa Kazumasa was born in Saitama prefecture which is near Tokyo but I have entered him under Tokyo because he was based on Tokyo and this is where his career began in the field of photography, printing, and publishing.

August 26, 2011

Kim Tae-hee to play a leading role in Japanese drama

Kim Tae-hee to play a leading role in Japanese drama

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Kim Tae-hee is to play a leading role in a Japanese drama series called “Boku to Star no 99 Nichi” (99 Days of Me and My Star) and this once more shows the influence of South Korean entertainment in Japan.  A host of South Korean dramas have been shown in Japan in recent times and now more and more music groups from this nation are hitting the headlines in Japan.

Kim Tae-hee is elegant, stylish, highly intelligent and extremely beautiful.  The new drama, Boku to Star no 99 Nichi, is reported to share similar themes with Notting Hill which was a hit film from the United Kingdom. Obviously, cultural differences, plot lines, and other realities, mean that Boku to Star no 99 Nichi will be very different from Notting Hill but the angle is within the feel.

My Princess and Iris opened up Japan to Kim Tae-hee because both South Korean dramas built up a strong fan base for this talented lady. Therefore, while this will be her first time in a Japanese drama it is crystal clear that her fans will be waiting for her debut drama in Japan.

Kim Tae-hee will play a role whereby she falls in love with a down to earth Japanese man. The plot therefore is clearly similar to Notting Hill and Han Yu-na (Kim Tae-hee) who is the famous Korean actress in the drama will highlight the passions of two individuals who hail from different walks of life. 

Nishijima Hidetoshi is the Japanese actor that she will be passionate about in the drama. Therefore, everything seems set up for this drama to make impact and it is a great start for Kim Tae-hee to ease her way into Japanese dramas and perhaps further afield in the future.

Tensions still persist because of history and recent demonstrations against Fuji TV in Tokyo and the usual territorial dispute is a reminder that nothing is plain sailing. However, for most viewers in Japan who watch this drama it will be nothing more than a romantic drama and the fans of Kim Tae-hee will get another chance to see their favorite actress.

The plot line is not the most sophisticated but neither was Notting Hill but if the drama can build up passion, sense of humor, uncertainty and other angles, then her fans will be happy and hopefully Kim Tae-hee will grow in even more popularity in Japan.

The drama will hit television and be aired in October this year on Fuji TV.

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com