Issuu on Google+

Kumamoto EDecember 1st 2010

Issue # 2


Editor’s Note ey guys! Welcome to the second edition of the Kumamoto E-Newsletter. November is always an action packed month and I hope that you all enjoyed the fun and frolics!

Did you know… Sumo!

Please remember that we are always interested to hear from new writers! If you wish to submit anything to the newsletter please submit to kumamotoenewsletter@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

There are currently 55 wrestlers officially listed as “foreigners”.

Have a safe and peaceful Christmas! O’ Grady Jennifer

Editors: Lloyd Ang

Smith Paul

Contributors: Sandoval Cassandra Crooks Andrew Weirich Stephanie Beltramini Marisa Miller Jennifer Andrews Jake Lapinskas Jon Soto Heidi Kolesnyk Yana Ealey Jonathan Hargrave Todd Jelliff Jonathan Vasconcelos Cecelio EXTRA EXTRA ● Mid Year Seminar this year was glorious! Info from the workshops is available here: http:// kumamotopa.pbworks.com ● The Higashi Kumamoto Christ Church Christmas service will be held on 12/19 at 10:40 am. Following that they're planning on having a potluck dinner. They also have a Candlelight Service on 12/24 (Friday, Christmas Eve) at 7 pm.

All sumo wrestlers take wrestling names called shikona which may or may not be related to their real names.

Sumo wrestlers are banned from driving cars, for reasons of tradition rather than safety concerns due to weight. A sumo wrestler has to grow long hair and also form a top knot on their head The sumo tradition is very ancient, and even today the sport includes many ritual elements, such as the use of salt for purification, from the days sumo was used in the Shinto religion. There are 6 divisions in sumo: makuuchi (max 42 wrestlers), jarya (28 wrestlers), makushita (120 wrestlers), sandanme (200 wrestlers), jonidan (approx 230 wrestlers), and jonokuchi (approx 80 wrestlers).


4/5

Halloween in Tamana Spooky fun in Sekia Hills!

6/7

Kumamoto through the eyes of a foodie

8

Book review: “The Corrections”

9

Sumo in Tamana

10-13 14/15 16

Fine Art The inside scoop on our very own local star!

Gaming in Japan Are you in the know? Answers on the back page

17

The GazettE, concert review KumAJET events

18

Let it out: -problems answered!

19

Sending New Year Cards in Japan! My Experience Being Gay in Japan

20/21 22-24

Movie Reviews Back page: Disclaimer and answers to “Are you in the know”


Issue #2 December 1st 2010

This year, the Tamana Halloween Party took place on the night of October 30th, attracting people from as far north as Yamaguchi and as far south as Kagoshima. People came, drank beer and got funky on the dance floor to make it the best Tamana Halloween Party to date. This year, we added some new features, including a best costume contest. Third place went to Andrew Crooks with his Chilean Miner costume. Second place went to Jon Ealey’s “costume” (he was pretty much naked) as Kratos from God of War. Finally, the Best Costume of the Tamana Halloween Party 2010 went to the Amakusa folks: Emily Taylor, Amanda Collyer, Eric Paulson and Erik Smith with their amazing collaborative display of Tetris™ blocks. All these costumes were outstanding and there were still many more that impressed us. If you were unable to attend the party, just ask around about how awesome it was. We hope to see you again next year. Heidi Soto


Some may be wondering, “Tamana, why Halloween?” Simply put, it’s the most magical day of the year, better than all those other lame holidays. It’s a day we’re happy to lay claim to. How does Halloween measure up to the other holidays? Here are some comparisons. Easter:

Dressed in your Sunday best, you “hunt” for eggs that contain a pea-sized amount of candy.

Halloween: Dressed as a serial killer, complete with fake blood and a knife in your head, you can get enough candy to fall into a sugarinduced coma. Valentine’s:

Gag at the reenactments of “Lady and the Tramp” in just about any restaurant you enter. Then, be reminded of how lonely you are.

Halloween: Dance with girls dressed in slutty costumes, including costumes you didn’t know could be slutty. Thanksgiving: As a kid, wasn’t this the one day of the year you were made to see all of your relatives and fight off kisses from your aunt with the Billy Dee Williams mustache?

Halloween: Socialize with strangers and dance with the aforementioned slutty girls! Christmas:

Some fat bastard climbs down your chimney and eats all your cookies.

Halloween: The Great Pumpkin doesn’t require any bribes and instead, YOU get the sweets.


Kumamoto Through the Eyes of a Foodie… The holidays are here. Excuse to eat more than we already do? I say yes. Regardless if you’re a red-meat eater, vegan. lettuce head, gluesniffer; we all deserve something tasty for holiday celebrations! This month I’m offering up something naughty AND nice. A touch of hippie with a splash of refined sugar. Both are easy to make and accessible to all. And don’t forget to whip-up your own batch of hot apple cider. Throw in a cinnamon stick and your half-way there to tasty town. Anyone know a good replacement for Goldschläger (or a decent cinnamon liqueur equivalent)? Help a thirsty brotha out people!

Broccoli and Tofu Salad by Suzy Lee Ogata

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes for dinner or a bento! It takes just a few minutes to prepare, you can enjoy it warm or cold, summer or winter! Broccoli and Tofu Salad 1 large main or 2 side servings Ingredients: 1 small head of broccoli 2 triangles of fried tofu 1/3 C red pepper, cut into strips handful of toasted, chopped almonds (optional) 2 Tbsp goma dressing 1. Rinse the broccoli and cut into bite size pieces, steam for 5 minutes or until just tender. Add the cut red pepper during the last 1-2 minutes of the steaming. You can steam on the stove, or even in the microwave in a dish with a bit of water in the bottom, microwave time is closer to two minutes. 2. Cut the fried tofu into bite sized pieces and place in the


Rice Cooker Brownies Contrived by Andrew DeMato Perfected byJennifer Miller

Delicious: Always a good time for brownies. Brilliant: Can be made in a rice cooker. Ingredients: 1 cup sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract 1/3 cups flour ½ teaspoon baking powder 1/3 cup cocoa powder pinch of salt ½ cup of butter (can also use oil) chopped walnuts, pecans, mini-marshmallows for an extra kick (if desired, but not necessary) I realize these measurements do not suit all, so please, refer to le Internet or your handy-dandy JET Journal for the proper conversions. Preparation: Whip eggs with either a whisk or a fork until pale yellow and frothy. Add sugar and mix well until sugar is dissolved. Mix in vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Melt butter, or let soften at room temperature or use oil, and add to the batter. If you want to add in anything else such as chopped nuts or mini-marshmallows, add it into the batter at the end. Pour it in your rice cooker for two to three cycles. Could use more depending on your rice cooker. It’ll be done when you stick in a toothpick or chopstick and it comes out clean.


Well hello there, and happy, non-denominational holiday greetings all around to you and yours. In honor of said holidays and the familial dysfunction that at times comes along with them, this month's review is of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. Some may recognize this 2001 book as it won the National Book Award, was critically lauded, and subject to a scandal when Franzen declined to have it included in Oprah's book club. My kind of author, I'd say. The question is, does this book deserve all of the attention and laurels and breathless word of mouth and countless reviews (now including this one) that have been devoted to it? In a word, yes. Very simply, yes. This is a great, big, quintessentially American novel. All of those times when you hear someone rattle on about writing the Great American Novel, this is arguably what they had in mind. And, too late. Jonathan Franzen beat you to it. It is a near perfect account of a midwestern family's tangled and declining lives, their infidelities and eccentricities, all unleashed due to their father's recently diagnosed case of Parkinson's disease. The cast of characters includes Enid, the shame filled and long inhibited matriarch; Alfred, the stoic, controlling father whose life and intelligence is slowly slipping away from him; Gary, the oldest and most successful son who is dominated by a wife he loathes who uses his children against him to reign supreme in the household; Chip, the middle child and former intellectual whose dalliance with a student led to his academic downfall; and Denise, the youngest child, who is a successful chef but on the verge of a nervous breakdown due to interlocking love affairs with her boss and the boss's wife. Each one of these characters gets their own complete section of the book and thus each one is a completely fleshed out character. By the end of the book, you do truly feel as though you know each one and all of their shortcomings, heartbreaks and personal triumphs. These characters seem to live and breathe, and you can fully imagine their lives continuing well beyond the pages of the book. A caveat though. Due to the fact that each of these characters are so very real, this book can be a drastically uncomfortable reading experience. Specifically when it directly deals with Alfred's experience with Parkinson's. Franzen does not shy away from faithfully detailing Alfred's decline from strong, competent, in control ruler of the household, to a man who is unable to differentiate from hallucination and reality. For me, personally, there were several points where I had to put the book down because it hit me too hard. So, if you're sensitive to unflinching portrayals of emotional turmoil and loss of self, you might want to skip this one. But, if you're looking for a truly great, well written, moving and oftentimes extremely funny book, then this is one to get. Stephanie Weirich


Sumo Festival at Rengein, Tamana On the 3rd of November, the annual Sumo festival was held at Rengein in Tamana. It was a beautiful sunny day and the gaijins were out in number. The main event involved the Yokozuna (sumo grand champion) Hakuho sumo wrestling elementary school children from the local area five at a time, although there was also a tournament of elementary school sumo happening throughout the day. The Yokozuna also took part in two ceremonies – one in which prayers were blessed by the temple’s high priest, then thrown into a heavily smoking fire, and one in which the great temple bell – the biggest bell in Japan (if you’ll excuse the expression) – was rung by the sumo grand champion. This is a very rare occurrence, so it was a very special moment to hear it ring out. As with every Japanese festival in my experience, there was plenty of food to be sampled. However, before eating, a group of us JETs were invited under a gazebo for a free and tasty matcha latte and Japanese sweet. I’m still not sure why these were given out free, but after three months in Japan I have learnt not to ask why. Following this experience, we hit the food stretch. While others ate unknown meats on sticks, I stuck to the safe option of chips and hot green tea. After eating, we were on our way back to the sumo ring when we noticed people had lined up either side of the main walkway. Not wanting to miss out, we joined the crowds, baffled as to what we were waiting for, but knowing it would be something good. After some time, the Yokozuna, along with two other high-ranking sumo players paraded down the walkway sporting their traditional sumo gear. It was a joy to watch, and it was nice not to be the one everyone was staring at for once! We followed them to the sumo ring, where they began their humorous defeat of a couple of hundred elementary school children. Suffice to say, that was enough nappy clad action to see me through the next year! Jake Andrews, Tamana


Any artists out there? Before Japan, I studied art, but since arriving in Japan it seems that life has taken priority. Recently, however, this all changed as I was accepted into my first art exhibition in Osaka called the MIO Photo Award, which will open in February. Since I’m sure most of you won’t be able to make it to Osaka, Jen has given me space to introduce my work here. My general interest in art comes from my love of building things. When I started making art in college, fabrication soon became an important element in my images. I paint large, cartoon-like backdrops and juxtapose them with real-life objects and people. In these images, people become actors and the kitschy environments become the stage. The images look like paintings, but through the detail of the photograph, gaps in the canvas and imperfections are apparent. Photographs, which are often used as scientific evidence or truth, are now understood as a construction. My images allow me to imagine, create, and literally enter another world (much like Japan’s purikura culture ). But unlike purikura, which often corrects skin tone and makes eyes larger, my fantasies leave the flaws as they are. At first, my images seem to promise an escape from reality. But just after entering the fiction, you realize that it’s not right. Flaws and imperfections exist here as well. The human characters are also at odds with this cartoon fantasy, unable to fully escape the world just beyond the backdrop. Editors note!

Andrew was kind enough to send us some of his images to enjoy! I just wanted to personally wish him luck for his exhibition in Osaka on behalf of the Kumamoto E-newsletter team and Kumamoto JET community!


Games News Holiday Edition: Ni No Kuni, Zombies galore, Nintendo 3DS, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Featured Releases Fukuoka developer Level-5 has built much credibility over the last few years with releases such as the Nintendo DS Professor Layton series and it’s work for Sony Computer Entertainment. Even former Capcom executive and developer Keiji Inafune, when not disparaging the rest of the Japanese games industry, managed to spare a few kind words for Level-5’s development acumen in a recent interview. Their newest release, the RPG Ni No Kuni ( ) for the DS is being awaited with high expectations as it’s being co-developed with Studio Ghibli. The game comes packaged with an extensive bestiary and guide that must be used to solve the game’s puzzles. You can see a demo of the game and the book’s gorgeous Ghibli illustrations at Tsutaya. A version is currently being developed for the PS3 as well. Ni No Kuni for the DS will be released December 9th. Just arriving to the Playstation Network is Dead Nation. Like zombies themselves, the zombie genre in popculture just won’t die. But this fresh release from the developer of the super popular Super Stardust HD is getting positive response. Mix of puzzle and action you and friends mow down waves of zombies. It may sounds like a stale formula, but American TV’s The Walking Dead and Valve’s Left 4 Dead series have shown that a little fresh blood and well thought-out execution is all it takes to bring this genre back to life.


Gaming News It should go without much saying that two purchases to absolutely not make right now would be an iPad or Nintendo DS. Both are reaching the end of their product life cycles and both have considerable updates on the horizon. The iPad with its inevitable camera and likely reduction in weight; and the DS will be jumping from 2 to 3D without the need for eyewear. A slew of popular games are expected to be remade for the platform as well. Zelda: Ocarina of Time is already confirmed. Additionally rumor has it that Apple may be offering the new iPad with a card capable of getting online using any cellular network available in any given country… Expect the iPad sometime this Spring with an announcement perhaps in January. The Nintendo 3DS should launch at the end of February. If you’re in Tokyo January 8 – 10 you can attend the free to the public Nintendo World 2011 where you’ll be able to get your hands on the 3DS in person. The event will be held at the Makuhari Messe convention center (home of the Tokyo Game show.) There’s not nearly enough room here to list the massive changes coming to Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition which will hit Japanese arcades this month and sometime after that be released as an update for the consoles. Some highlights would be improvements that should make this writer’s personal favorite, Makoto, a much more competitive player, balancing across the board, and the addition of at least two new characters. No character, save Cody ,it seems has been spared major tweaking. Jonathan Ealey


1) The National Cancer Institute say, women who eat ____ bowls of rice or more daily have a 50% higher risk of becoming diabetic than those who eat one. 2) A court in Amsterdam ruled Sanrio's ______, depicted as a friend of the popular cat Hello Kitty, infringes the copyright for Miffy, the well known Dutch character which has an "x" for a mouth and has inspired several animated television series in Japan. 3) Kumamoto castle contributors of at least ¥10,000 will be called “joint-castle owners” and be able to participate in the coming "treasure-hunting game" in and around the castle fortress to search for _____. 4) An average of 800 people participate in Now Lounge, the biggest international and wine tasting event in Fukuoka, which is held every ___ months at the Granada Suite Fukuoka in Tenjin. 5) Triumph Japan has introduced the “Welcome to Japan” bra and miniskirt, which has removable push-up inserts made in the shape of famous landmarks that stick to the miniskirt’s backside map of Japan, and has buttons that blast welcome in English, Korean and _______, 6) IMS commercial complex in Fukuoka is running an anonymous Christmas gift exchange on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec 25, to pick up and drop off gifts from a locker in the range of ______. 7) In the six months since Japan's first baby hatch known as "konotori no yurikago" (stork cradle), was set up May 2010 at Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto, ____ infants, including one physically disabled, have been left there anonymously. 8) The Japanese Giant Salamander is disappearing because the Chinese Giant Salamander is mating it out, creating an 85% bastard salamander population. Only 3 years ago, ____ were pure Japanese Giant Salamanders. 9) Harry Potter characters Ron, Ginny and ________ came to Japan to promote ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ 10) Japan Forum on International Relations, a Tokyo-based think tank, urged the government to accept more foreign skilled professionals and to ensure / be cautious of the granting of local-level voting rights to foreign permanent residents, claiming it’s "probably unconstitutional". Cassandra Sandoval


I found out that visual kei legends The GazettE were playing Kumamoto City two days before the show. What was even more unbelievable than such a famous band playing in such a small city was that the tickets were not sold out. This was due to the rather steep 6000\ price tag. The show was definitely worth the money. The band played really well, and the show was impressive. They didn't do any crazy stage antics like those done by some western rock bands, but the behavior of the fans more than made up for it. The audience was 90% female. These girls seemed to know all the special moves to all the songs, and the whole audience performed them in unison. I couldn't decide whether this was awesome or just a little creepy. It was really amusing watching girly girls mosh harder than a seasoned metal head to some of the heavier songs. What I didn't like was the gig venue; It wasn't a standing gig. As someone who always manages to elbow my way to the front of the stage, I found this quite frustrating. So there you go, even rock music in Japan is seriously organized Yana Kolesnyk

KumAJET V{tÜ|àç W|ÇÇxÜ ctÜàç All proceeds from the dinner will be donated to Japan's 'Second Harvest`. It is a national organization working to provide Japan with the infrastructure to combat poverty and hunger. These are issues that are rarely talked about in Japan and whenever they are brought up in the media or general discussion, the homeless are quickly referred to. The actual reality is that 99.99% of those living below the poverty line are not homeless. Japan's poverty rate stands at 15.7%. This means that nearly 20 million people in Japan live below the poverty line. At the same time, between 5-9 million tons of perfectly safe, edible food is destroyed each year. You can read more at: http://www.2hj.org/index.php/eng_home. If you are interested in donating toward this wonderful charity please contact any member of the KumAJET team via facebook or listserve. Have a safe and Merry Christmas! KumAJET team


The very best of luck and best wishes to all attempting JLPT in December!

!

Dear Kumamoto E-Newsletter readers, I think I’m trying my best at my schools but every now and then the staff forget about me or call me by my predecessors name. The other day everyone stood up and left the staff room and I had no idea why so I assumed there was a fire and I panicked and ran around the room screaming as I have a terrible fear of fire. Turns out there was an anti-drug seminar in the gym for the students… How do I make my teachers remember me for being more than the foreigner who visits every two weeks? Scared of fire, Kumamoto– City

Do you have advice for “scared of fire”? Email kumamotoenewsletter@gmail.com


It’s that time of year where it is tradition to send Christmas cards to family, friends, acquaintances, etc. There are New Year cards, too. You can even get a two-in-one combo card! There is just so much giving going on this time of year! But in Japan, the tradition is to send nengajō ( = New Year ‘cards’). Of course, there’s nothing to stop us weird and wacky ALTs (as seen by the Japanese) from sending Christmas cards to the locals. Assuming you celebrate Christmas like ALL foreigners do, of course. Nengajō are postcards that the Japanese send to family, friends, loyal and valued customers, acquaintances, pop-culture personalities, and diehard fans/ stalkers (I’m not joking!). Where can you get nengajō? There are various places, such as department stores (expensive) and some convenience stores. Nengajō usually feature the animal of the new year (according to the Chinese zodiac), but they can have anything that is vaguely relevant to the New Year season on them. The easiest way to get nengajō is from the local post office. The price of postage is included when you buy the postcard (\55/ postcard). So now you have your nengajō (blank or otherwise). What do you write on it? One side will have some sort of picture and the “season’s greetings” of choice. If there are no greetings, this is the side on which you will write them. The other side is where you write the names and addresses. The recipient’s address is written on the far right of the postcard from top to bottom, from largest to smallest, i.e. start from ken or shi and end with lot and/ or apartment number. Above this are seven blocks: write the addressee’s postal code here. Next, in the middle, write the name of the addressee (again from the top-down). You should also add the suffix –sama ( ) at the end of the name, but if you forget, the post office will rubber-stamp it in for you. Last, at the far left side of the postcard, write your address and then name (same order as for addressee, no –sama needed). Don’t forget your postal code in the seven blocks at the bottom left corner. Next: season’s greetings.(see below) Nengajō are delivered by post offices throughout Japan on the 1st of January, regardless of weather conditions. DO: send a reply card to those from whom you receive a nengajō but to whom you had not already sent a nengajō. DO NOT: send nengajō to someone who has had a death in the family during the year. Now go forth and get started on writing your season’s greetings on bunnythemed postcards (next year is the Year of the Rabbit). Do it for the students – they need the money! Happy New Year! Cecìlio Vasconcelos

Conventional nengajo greetings include: kotoshi mo yoroshiku o-negai-shimasu ( coming year) Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu ( Kingashinnen ( shoshun (

) (I hope for your favour again in the

)

= “Complimentary New Year Wishes”)

) (literally "early spring")

This card is written downwards and you begin reading from the top right hand side, and down the column. This is the traditional method of card writing, however many people also write cards horizontally now too.


My Experience, Being Gay in Japan Our experiences here are invaluable, but our youth isn’t infinite. I told myself, when I came to Japan, that if it turned out that I couldn’t live openly gay while living here I would return home after a year. While a more glamorous life in Tokyo often sits in my thoughts, like the salt on the rim of a shot glass that tempers bitter tequila, I haven’t regretted my time on Kyushu at all. After growing up in Chicago, America’s third largest city, I spent my university years in a rural college town in Indiana. I often grimaced at my friends’ recommendations of this or that lazy restaurant with its ersatz cuisine and puzzled over the sartorial tastes of my classmates. But ultimately I couldn’t help but feel I found a lot that was redeeming about experiencing a life outside of Chicago and its cultural refinement. So when I came to Japan I was already well equipped with methods to cope with rural life. My sexuality however was a compromise that I wasn’t willing to make this time as I more or less had during university (where the dating pool consisted largely of men traumatized by their conservative rural upbringings, struggling to both understand and accept themselves). When one describes one’s self in terms of their sexuality as I just have, it sometimes causes others to question the need for such distinction. The reality is that our sexuality (straight or gay) defines how we interact with the world around us but goes unmentioned by most because it’s assumed one is heterosexual. So in essence sexuality is always on the table but goes unnoticed by those who aren’t different. I often wonder about the person I may have been if I weren’t born gay. Might I, coming from a conservative black American family, grown up to hate gays myself? So when I say I wasn’t willing to compromise my sexuality this time, it doesn’t just mean “sex” but entertaining trite questions about girlfriends, or seeding conversations with small white lies to appease expectations and not being the person that my experience has caused me to develop into. After some homosexuals struggle for years, amid wasting youth, to finally come out, they travel abroad and are sometimes forced back into the closet. Adults left to relive our childhoods often filled with deceit, half-truths, and ineffable feelings.


Those of us coming from relatively liberal Western countries, or regions (read: big cities) within certain countries may find it difficult to appreciate that there are many places in the world, where despite your passport, you must acquiesce to legal and social expectations that often not only openly disdain homosexuals, but offer no protections and encourage prosecution. Despite such, I figured I could survive anywhere for a year. Luckily, it seems that Japan is largely indifferent to homosexuals (in particular foreigners; I’d leave it to a Japanese citizen to write about Japan’s attitude towards Japanese gays.) My two years here so far have been some of the most unique in my life and traveling throughout Asia I’ve had the opportunity to meet many fascinating people. I made a goal to learn about the lives of gays in Asian and to learn how my experience fits into theirs. Amongst some interesting people was a man in Indonesia whose partner (clearly his much older wealthy Canadian benefactor more than boyfriend) had recently died of a heart attack leaving him destitute and with no path out of the country as he had been hoping. I learned about him as he took me on a tour of a small island by motorcycle one evening. There was also the man who told me of his affair with an ALT years ago, and the perfunctory married salary man who saw no other choice than to live a double life so as to protect his career and please his family. I’ve also met people unabashedly proud, positive, and open about their sexuality and defying my expectations I’ve had a great dating life here in rural Japan with relationships whose ups and downs have been memorable. In a moment of supreme fickleness I ended a relationship when as I watched my date’s interpretation of petting a kitten resemble wringing a kitten like a dish sponge I came to the conclusion that despite his seeming kindness I was currently witnessing his true nature. These experiences have erased any doubt in my mind about my choice to experience life in Japan. For those of you reading this that are queer in any of its meanings I’d like to say give your life here a chance and have an open mind and it can help you understand yourself and the people around you. There are teachers, ALTs and students who, too, understand your experience. Jonathan Ealey

The JET line is available for advice or counseling Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 17:45, (03) 5213-1729. AJET Peer Support Group (PSG) - 050-5534-5566, open to all JET Programme participants every night of the year, from 8:00 pm to 7:00 am. http://www.stonewall.org.uk/. Stonewall is a Special Interest Group of AJET for the GLBT community, you can also contact the group at stonewallsig@ajet.net


Although it probably wasn't the box office hit of 2009, there is unique appeal, fun, and genius to be found in Yoshihiro Takamura's Fish Story ( ). I am hesitant to recommend a Japanese film to your already Japan-saturated lives, but Fish Story is quite an uncommon example of the genre, and an uplifting, eclectic trip through a Japan quite unlike the one we experience day to day! Fish Story is based on a novel of the same name by Isako Kotaro, yet it feels completely natural and complete as a film. Said “Fish Story” is also the title of an unknown song and LP made by the punk band Gekirin, a catchy punk song written just for the film. Arriving on the Japanese scene a year before the Sex Pistols popularize the genre, Gekirin is woefully unsuccessful and know that the music they love will never sell. Still, the band decides to release the record without making compromises with their record company, in hopes that it will affect at least one person in the future. Fish Story is the tale of how that song saves the world, and if that sounds crazy, then I suggest you look up the title in a dictionary. The story of the band is central to the film, but there are four stories interwoven to tell this unlikely tale. As such, the film has no real main character, and the significance of each story is not unveiled until the end. Rather than rapidly switching between stories however, the scenes are quite long and focused on character development. A unifying theme is standing up for yourself, and most the characters have to deal with some pretty unpleasant situations. A wimp who's ordered around by a bully, a stranded high school student, a server whose boat is hijacked by terrorists, two guys just wanting to listen to their favorite music and hold onto hope at the end of the world. The humanity of the characters is universal, and the only lasting antagonist in the movie is the fear and despair that exists in the heart. There is a comet headed to earth in the final chapter of Fish Story, but beyond that there is little to tie this movie to the science fiction genre. Indeed, the movie alludes any convenient categorization by the breadth of its content. Though varied and competently shot throughout, I would not call it a perfect movie. Some of the scenes could be told more quickly, and in those times the acting feels a bit flat or awkward. I think this is more of an issue of the script than the actors themselves though, and the film's many good points keep you watching regardless. This is a story of the power of music, of the unknown and uncertain, and of the will of the one or of a small band of heroes like Japan's infamous Go Rangers, if you believe in these things, you'll be enthralled from the first chords of the eponymous punk song, until the final “aha” moments at the finale.

Todd Hargrave


As a long term devoted fan to the J.K Rowling phenomena I considered it an absolute honor to pay to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1” last Saturday; an honor, that is, until I watched the movie. Clearly someone felt that making a quick buck at Christmas time was a clever thing to do and thus had no problems scanning the novel to the “best bits” and changing them into a movie. Bad move Warner Brothers. The final novel captures the growth and development of all the intricate relationships throughout the novels brilliantly, and that is where the movie falls short. I have many issues with the final novel itself as far as credibility and originality go but what I loved about it was how well it answered all my questions about the characters and how so many of the “subcharacters” emerged as three dimensional, ordinary, heroes through J.K`s words. This movie, however, should be re-titled as “Harry Potter = amazing, yes?” I was particularly upset by the submissive approach toward the “Creature” storyline, and the genuine lack of effort on the part of the director towards developing the Ron/Hermione relationship further. The entire film was focused on explosions, angst and anger, common Harry Potter themes, but when you overlook the apathy of the hardback storyline all you have left is a vengeful teenager controlled by the power of his wand… so basically any other man movie. In short, this movie had all the flash and none of the heart that has previously made the Harry Potter brand so appealing. It was, in my honest opinion, a most dreadful way to set the scene for the climatic chapter next year which will have to struggle to thoroughly re-introduce the characters if it has even a slight chance of matching the raw emotion of the paperback. Jen O Grady


Kumamotoenewsletter@gmail.com

The contents of this newsletter are strictly for entertainment purposes. The newsletter can not be held accountable for any action taken as a result of its content. The viewpoints published herein are those of the authors and do not represent or reflect the viewpoints or philosophies of the Kumamoto Board of Education, the JET Programme, CLAIR or any of its affiliates.

1)3 2)Cathy 3)hidden money 4)2 5)Chinese 6)1,000 - 3,000 yen 7)8 8) 47% 9) Luna LoveGood 10) be cautious of


Issue 2