I was amused to see a recent news story about a 71-year-old Japanese man, Hoji Takahashi, who has sued Japan’s public television broadcaster, NHK. His reason for filing suit? He’s suffering “mental distress” because of what he considers NHK’s excessive use of foreign words.
He’s no elderly gadfly with a silly gripe. He’s a member of an organization that is dedicated to preserving the Japanese language, so this is an organized effort to try and stop the influx of foreign words. What foreign words, you ask? Here are a few cited by news reports including from the BBC:
If you tune into NHK’s news or entertainment shows, you can easily make out words such as “toraburu” for “trouble,” “risuku” for “risk” and “shisutemu” for “system.” I’ve been at my mom’s house when she has NHK satellite programming on and I’ve heard “toppu hoh-ty” for “Top 40” in a story about pop music, and many other words that I can make out as English, albeit somewhat mangled in pronunciation.
My mom isn’t a member of any group fighting this trend, but she’s griped to me plenty about the same issue. Continue reading →
It was the right song for the occasion: Duo Sokyo ended a brief concert marking the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of more than 3,000 cherry trees to the United States as a symbol of friendship, with the traditional Japanese folksong that is probably best-known in the west, “Sakura,” or “Cherry Blossom.”
Duo Sokyo, Yoko Hiraoka playing the koto, a traditional harp-like instrument, and David Wheeler playing the shakuhachi, bamboo flute, were part of the celebration held at the Cherry Hills home of Consul General Ikuhiko Ono and his charming, elegant wife Eiko. Continue reading →
During a recent trip to Los Angeles, Erin and I took the time to visit Universal Studios and play the part of tourists. The highlight — hands down — was “Transformers The Ride-3D,” an immersive thrill ride that took our breath away with its realism and extreme excitement.
The ride takes the characters from the hit series of sci-fi action films and adds a big boost of steroids to get your adrenalin pumping. Riders climb aboard an enclosed transport car that tilts and rolls on command, and once the ride begins, you put on 3-D glasses to become enveloped in the action. Because most of the ride is virtually presented, it’s hard to tell how far you’re traveling in the car — it’s not like a roller coaster or other typical amusement park attraction, where you can see the tracks and know where you’ve been and where you’re going.
The car (which is essentially a state-of-the-art flight simulator), goes around a 60,000 square feet building along 2000 feet of track amidst 3D scenes presented on 14 different screens showing panoramic images from 34 projectors. Being immersed in the set, the 3D effects don’t stop in front of you like they would in a movie theater or on your TV at home. They wrap around you, adding to the immediacy of the experience. Continue reading →
This jaw-dropping shamisen throwdown took place during a free performance sponsored by the Consul General of Japan at Denver, of ABEYA Tsugaru Shamisen Performance Ensemble. It’s an incredible eight-piece group that performs traditional folksongs (and original material) on the shamisen, a three-stringed lute with a tone similar to a western banjo, that’s plucked with a tool that looks like a putty knife.
The two men, Kinzaburo and Ginzaburo Abe, are brothers and both past national champions of shamisen. The woman, Maya Nemoto, who’s also an awesome vocalist, is the current national champion. These musicians are so amazing that it’s like imagining a similar face-off on guitars between rock giants like Jimmy Page, Richard Thompson and Les Paul.
Who do you think is the winner of this competition?