Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Latest Ginjiro Hatamoto Promo

This is the latest promo image from my latest script Ginjiro Hatamoto. This poster depicts the Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu's escape from Osaka Bay aboard the American Warship USS Iroquois. Finding a decent image of Osaka Bay to make this was a task & a half but it works to convey this scene in the script. As soon as I can get my hands on some funds I will make a dedicated film site for American Mishima / Rosasfilm projects.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ginjiro Hatamoto Needs a Producer!

This is the first test poster for Gingiro Hatamoto. We are still looking for an executive producer, and a couple line producers to help make this film. We are looking to make this in both English and Japanese with planned subtitles. The planned running time will be 25 minutes and will be done under 25k.

Ginjiro Hatamoto is set in 1867-1868 during the turbulent Boshin War. See our earlier post for a full synopsis. So far, we have a director, production designer, weapons consultant, one script, two actors, two posters, and no money. If you would like to help us get this made, let us know!

Shinkendo Has Moved

Sayonara Galleria! The Shinkendo Honbu Dojo has now officially moved from its old location at 333 Alameda to it's new location in Little Tokyo. The New Honbu Dojo is located upstairs on the second floor at 320 East 2nd Steet.

We are now in the heart of Little Tokyo directly across from the Japanese Village Plaza. Parking will be a little harder to find given that the local meters have raised their hours to 8:00PM and charge up to $2.00 an hour. There are parking lots close by. The new place is smaller so extended hours are in the works. Please check with the Shinkendo Website for any further details or concern at Shinkendo

Friday, February 19, 2010

男たちの大和, Otoko-tachi no Yamato

Ok now that we have covered the kiddie version of Yamato, I felt it neccessary to cover the story of the real Imperial Japanese Battleship Yamato. This is no kids story but sadly it does involve kids. When you grow up here in the United States, they simplify WWII down to a few catch phrases like "Well the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor" etc. The truth is not so simple. And as tragic and devestating as the war was for Japan their stories are still largely unknown to most Americans and sadly even less known among younger Japanese. This is one of those stories that should be told.

Otoko-tachi no Yamato which literally means "The Men of Yamato" is an epic film that depicts the real historical events of the Yamato's final sortie. Set against this historical backdrop is the fictional story of Makiko Uchida (Koyoka Suzuki) who comes to Kure (The Yamato's home port) to seek out a captain who would take her out to the Yamato's last location on the 60th anniversary of her sinking. No captain will help her until it is revealed to the 75 year old Captain Katsumi Kamio (played by  the legendary Tatsuya Nakadai) that she is a daughter of Petty Officer Mamoru Uchida (played by Shido Nakamura) whom which Kamio pressumed went down with the ship. Moved by this knowledge, the Elder Kamio agrees to take Makiko and his 15 year old apprentice sailor Atsushi to the location of the Yamato's last position and to Kamio's painful memories of a youth long lost with the Yamato.

There are some amazing live action sets and brilliant CGI work that bring the beloved warship back to life. For generations, The Yamato has captured the imagination like no other Battleship in history. To this day Yamato still captures the imagination as was demonstrated when the production opened the live action sets to the public in 2005. Over one million visitors walked atop Yamato's recreated decks before the exhibit was closed down in May of 2006. Along with her sister ship The Musashi, she was the largest Battleship ever built in the world. Tragically, in her final days she was crewed mostly by young sea cadets whose average age was 15. Out of her 3000 crew, 2800 were literally children such as Kamio's character. There are some heavy performances in this 2005 epic that are not to be missed. In all my collection of great war films this is by far one of my favorites.

To see a great site of the Yamato set visit
 Yamato Movie-Set

Thursday, February 18, 2010

やまと2010? - Space Battleship Yamato?

Oh say it isn't so! It appears they are making a live action version of the animae series Space Battleship Yamato. The slated release date is set for December 2010. The live action Toho Studios feature stars Takuya Kimura and is directed by Takeshi Yamazaki. All this on a 2.2 billion yen budget ($22 million). Ok, I'll admit I liked the original animae back when I was a kid in the 1970's but now that I've grown up this doesn't have the same appeal. None the less this Sci-Fi fan rarely turns down a trainwreck so my curiosity has me going. Now will this just be a kids movie or will they make a real attempt to update the story for the adults who grew up on the original Yamato series aka Starblazers here in the US? All I can speculate is that this CGI heavy fan fest will be interesting. But don't take my word for it. Check out the teaser trailer for yourself!

Official Movie Website

すごいい! View from our Awesome Archives!

Here's Tinahime being fitted for a Kimono.
Japan Expo, Los Angeles じゅにがつ 2007
ティナ-ひめ わ すごいい です!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

あらし なか に いきます - Inside the Storm

There is a storm that rages within.
It is a stirring in the soul.
It is felt by all men who hear its call.
It is a timeless call to arms.
It is a summoning to the warrior within.
Rise and seek the power one can only feel.
It is a power drawn from the forging of mind and steel.
It is the drawing of the sword and that of the mind.
It is intellect put forth into action that draws us ever closer.
Closer and yet still, to an inner calm.
It is the eye of the storm.

Listen, and hear it well.
The serenity of the sword cutting though the wind.
It is of no body or mind.
It is of no consequence and yet driven by action.
It is thought put into deed and set to its course.
The blade dispatches the air and cuts through the senses.
No delusions, No feelings.
Only clarity of purpose resides here.
A purpose of sought perfection.
A single act in a moment of time.

It is a procession as one enters the training hall.
Be it the acclimation to armor to the donning of a mask.
A stated intention wrapped atop one's brow.
And yet calm as we seek the emptiness in seiza.
It returns us to an earlier time.
A time where honor was worth its weight in gold.
And yet there you are with your hands swept forward.
A Kamae readied stance following a respectful bow.
The outside world can no longer exist.
For the motion begins and takes forth.

Thoughts convert into focus.
Like Musashi in the Book of Void.
The Budo spirit merges with storm and seeks the calm.
Mind does not matter.
There lies the speed of ones breath.
It governs the grip made true.
Focus and summon the courage to fight as one struggles to train.
There is a power which is drawn here.
The swift of a staff, the throw made forth.
Mind and body fears no more.

Be it Sempai or the enemy at hand.
Fear must be conquered by courage.
It is not the sole domain of the strong.
It can preside in all who have heart.
And with heart one continues on.
Exhaustion or moments of doubt are the only enemies here.
Train to fight and fight with heart.
It is heart that forms ones convictions.
It is one's conviction that calms the storm.

It matters not that one does not conquers all.
What matters is that one returns to live and train.
To train and fight on that is courage over self doubt and defeat.
It is to be one with that Budo spirit that brings us back.
There is no abyss that can make us forget Who we are within.
The sword has become an extension of the self.
It is beyond ego and archaic symbolism.
It is an understanding that is clear before all who hear its call.
To train is to fight to forge the soul, body and mind.
To become perfectly clear distinguishing all right from wrong.

It is here that I am Samurai.

Monday, February 8, 2010

侍映画 - Ginjiro Hatamoto

During yesterday's Hoshi Matsuri, another story came to me. I haven't written a screen play since I started writing the first act of Dorama Haiku until now. It's enough for a short thirteen minute film and I believe we could film it here with many of the Interior scenes shot on a sound stage. Here's a breif synopsis in case anyone wants to help me produce this screenplay.

Ginjiro Hatamoto is the tale of a foreign mercenary who comes to the service of the 15th Tokugawa Shogun. He is mostly accepted by his Clan's Retainers but one. Nobutomo stands opposed to Ginjiro's title as an affront to Samurai Tradition. He is the Clan's best swordsmen and the brother of Ginijo's new wife the Lady Kusaga. Division erupts within the Clan as the country becomes embroiled in the heat of the Boshin War. Ginjiro is sworn to serve his Lord who favors the Shogunate while Nobutomo now an Officer in the Imperialist Forces hunts the Loyalist Forces in their long retreat North. Honor knows no birthright.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Old Wounds Part II - A View From Behind the Wire

If you read my previous post I mentioned the film Come See The Paradise, For those of you who have never heard of this film it is one of Dennis Quaid's most underrated work. It shows the plight of Japanese Americans during WWII and the impact it had on the Little Tokyo Community here in Los Angeles.


Toyo's Camera is a documentary of what really happened in America's Concentration Camps. If it doesn't break your heart it will make you take a hard look at what's going on today.

敬意〔点〕Senkei – Old Wounds and Questioned Loyalties.

It seemed like it happened yesterday. One early morning in the darkest of places that I have even been, I was confronted with the age old question of why am I not among my own people? Why am I so loyal to a culture that is not my own? Some went as far to say I was J-washed. Some people would go even further to say I am a disloyal American. Frankly, I was unaware we were still at war with Japan. At least in the minds of some people, they will never understand. It is easy to judge from the sidelines of history of who did what and who can claim that they are righteous and true. And while the controversy remains over what goes in history books in Japan, an equal travesty of the truth takes place in books of our own. Every anniversary of the Hiroshima bombings people will come out of the wood work to remind me not to forget Pearl Harbor and more so every December 7th. The generation that fought that war is dying by the thousands and many of whom on the Japanese side have long put aside their differences yet here people can not. I find it sad just as much as I find the old adage that history is written by the victors. Hence as the actor Robert Wuhl loves to call “The Liberty Valance Effect – When the myth becomes legend, print the legend.” In any case to continue this debate is rhetorical and controversy without end. People really get bent with me about it. I can’t say I have ever met anyone who lived through any Japanese bombing of an American City but I can tell you I have met a few people who survived Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And oddly enough they hold no grudges. So what, every time someone brings up the war I am somehow a disloyal American for not taking a side against the Japanese? And we are not just limiting that to people who fought for Japan. They want to include those who were born here. That’s like Chewbacca. That makes no sense!

I like to think back to the days when I was a kid cruising air shows to see the war machines that fought in the pacific. My father had spent his life working both in the military and as a civilian employee for the military. As the son of a Vietnam Veteran, views on such issues carried a degree of bias. To this day we still do not agree on his view of history (which is always right no matter how wrong it can be) and because I did not fight for this country he believes my opinion has zero credibility. He’s entitled to his opinion and so am I. I am glad I have grown up to grow independent of such militarist ideology. I wish though it had happened sooner. Looking back to those air shows I used to run into an old Japanese man selling paintings of Japanese Zero fighter planes. I didn’t appreciate it at the time but I may have been in the presence of a real Japanese war ace. I was told that was Saburo Sakai, Japan’s leading fighter pilot. I have no way to verify that now but the odd chance that was really him put the sink on me. It made me wish I had the courage to talk to him as he sat alone hoping someone would appreciate his artwork. I guess I will never know. It was like this past week at the Koyasan Temple luncheon. We were talking with Kenny Ito’s mother about a film called “Come see the Paradise” that depicted the forced evacuation of all Americans of Japanese descent into concentration camps right here in the good ole’ USA. She told us how she lived through that experience. I could not imagine what it must had been like to be told your are no longer an American and you must turn over any cooking knives, scissors, and any other sharp objects that could be used to harm Americans right here in Los Angeles. Imagine that! The LA City Attorney tried that same number on me in 2009 because I am not Japanese therefore I must be crazy or so was their reasoning. Even more so for reading the works of Yukio Mishima and taking Samurai Arts. But then again the Prosecutors were Chinese and Korean with some score to settle that didn’t involve me. Baka!

All this talk reminded me of when I took Tina to the Japanese American Museum to show her the box cars and stacks of luggage left behind in Little Tokyo. She could not believe that her country could do this to people especially her own countryman. It made us sick to know that while we were taught about how the Nazi’s forced people into camps that no one ever talks about similar events that took place right here at home. Truthfully I didn’t really know until I was a teenage Punk Rocker and came across a song by CH3 called Manzanar. Now that we live in the information age the record taken from Toyo’s Camera and from those who lived it can tell you. It hits you in a weird place when you see those stacks of luggage with numbers on them. If I did not know any better I would have thought I was at The Museum of Tolerance over on Pico. I would find it hard for anyone not to be moved. Unless of course you are some culturally insensitive idiot Senator like that of Lindsey Graham. Yes I am talking about you. Shame on you for comparing Japanese Americans to Al Qaida live on CNN! And yet it happened. People like George Takaei of Star Trek fame spent a month with his family in a horse stable at Santa Anita Park. I now find it ironic that they now have an annual Japanese day there. Ok, Manzanar wasn’t Auschwitz but still! Come on guys! The ironies floor me. Some how I can not see Chabad doing their annual telethon at Bergen-Belsen. Yet at Santa Anita they don’t mention what really happened there. And why would they? Bad for business? Or could it be an inconvenient truth? Regardless of history and all latent conjecture, lingering discrimination against Japanese Americans continues.

Well back at the luncheon, we had this discussion where the question of who was where during that time came up and it hit me just as deep as when we first met Hiroshima survivors this last summer. One said they were imprisoned in the camps, another said they were in Japan, and another fought for the US and yet there were no issues among them. It was a long time ago for them and they can talk about it. Twenty years from now or sooner they won’t be here anymore to talk about that era so I treasure every moment I am invited to converse with them about that era. So once again I found myself sitting there among the Nikkei who were curious how I came to be part of the Japanese American Community. There is really no one point I could go to say how I became involved other than when I was in that dark place and my life was being threatened by a vicious gang of thugs bent on terrorizing their own people. They question came and it was the same question I have always received from other Latinos. Why are you not with your own people? I was outnumbered 50 to 1 and despite what I had learned in martial arts I went for broke. I answered the same way I have always answered, with my following question. What is the most important thing to any Latino over God, Your Mother, and your family? One word: Respect! My bluff worked and lucky for me the gang backed down. Well then again my demonstration of Tai-Sabaki I learned in Shinkendo likely had a hand in fooling then into thinking I knew more than I did. In any case, I had hit a sore note with these thugs for they knew I spoke the truth. It is undeniable. Among Latinos, respect trumps all other allegiances, ideology, and loyalties. My people kill for it and many times die for it. I am not sure they even understand what it really is. Respect is something my people have never given me and because of that I feel no allegiance. It’s impossible to respect something that won’t give you respect in return. I have had to deal with that my whole life. Being the only son of immigrants and neither accepted for the color of my skin I was too white to be Latino, and not white enough to be American. But if there ever were one people who consistently given me respect my entire life it has been the Japanese.

Now I am not saying I am universally loved by all Nikkei. I know from my Kendo experience and visiting some of the Jodo-Sect Temples that I have more than once given the unwelcome mat. But in general Japanese have given respect even out involuntary custom or out of appreciation for the respect I have for their culture. Somehow I have blended into the landscape. I am very comfortable in Little Tokyo and West LA. It’s rare now to get the odd looks I used to get. People see me and greet me in Japanese as I do in kind. People particularly at the Koyasan Temple have more than accepted me. Some times I am even asked if I am part Japanese. I take that as a compliment. I have a small group of Japanese friends that seems to be ever expanding. They have since become my adoptive culture. There is nothing Baka about it. It is not being J-washed. It is more like Yamatodamashi – the Japanese Spirit. Evidently I am not alone. The Budo spirit lives on in Dojos all over the world outside Japan. I read a lot of American blogs about Japan and Japanese Culture. It’s not uncommon to see other non-Japanese at the Temples here. Even more so to see Americans in Kimono at the Matsuri’s which tells me I am in good company. Mr. Ito said it was an old compliment was to call someone like me a hardboiled egg. White on the outside, and yellow on the inside. We’ll if that’s the case then the Tamago is on me. It doesn’t matter to them I am not Nisei. What matters is that I demonstrate appreciation and respect for their culture and traditions ranging from Buddhism, martial arts, to Shinto practice and much more. Whether it’s a Yoshida Brothers concert, Matsuri, or Kabuki performance, I am there. And though my own people will never understand this, it matters not. They didn’t want me around in the first place and since then I know where I am welcomed. It is my hopes to one day take this experience to Japan. Until then, I bow in respect to the Buddha, The Kami. My Sensei’s, My numerous Tomodachi, and to the People of the Land of the Rising Sun.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

新しい - Shinkendo on the Move

After the last two months of searching, we are pleased to announce that the Shinkendo Honbu will remain in Little Tokyo. The Shinkendo Honbu Dojo will be moving from its current location at 333 Alameda to a new location. As of February 22nd 2009, we will be located at 320 E. 2nd St across from the Japanese Village Plaza in Little Tokyo.

For more information on Shinkendo, Akibujutsu please visit the official Shinkendo website.

Monday, February 1, 2010

にがついちのしゃしん - First Photo for February 2010

North Tower of the Japanese Plaza, Little Tokyo