Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hatsumiyamairi - Baby's First Shrine Visit

Hatsumiyamairi - Baby's First Shrine Visit for a newborn baby is the first in a series of life cycle ceremonies in the Shinto Religion. This is done for the success, happiness, and overall well being of the newborn child. Being that there are no local Shinto Shrines in Little Tokyo, Tinahime and I decided upon our child's birth that for our little Mia-Naoko that make the trek up north to Granite Falls north of Seattle to The Grand Tsubaki Shrine of America for her very own Hatsumiyamairi.

Traditionally, Hatsumiyamairi is generally done on the 32nd day for boys and the 33rd day for girls. This of course can also be set by the Guji as in our case where the Rev. Koichi Barrish allowed us to have Mia's blessing on the 32nd day.

As no photography is allowed during the ceremony, we were given the oportunity to take this photograph and many others at the ceremony's conclusion. We were quite pleased with the ceremony and our little Mia who was wide awake was quite a receptive little angel earning the adoration of the Guji and Shrine staff.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, everyone including the baby partook in the sacred sake which presented a memorable reaction from Mia. At first she smiled then 30 seconds later squinted her eyes then all four limbs stretched instantly. I guess that sake' got the delayed reaction but all was good.

It was a brisk 35 degrees at the Grand Tsubaki Shrine but absolutely beautiful in the winter weather. This was our second visit to the Shrine and byfar a most pleasureable time up at the shrine. If you have a curiosity about Shinto outside of Japan, please visit The Grand Tsubaki Shrine of America. It is one hour north of Seattle and relatively easy to get to and well worth the experience.

We can not thank enough the Rev. Koichi Barrish & Mrs. Barrish as well as the Tsubaki Shrine staff for their warm hospitality. We look forward to our next visit to The Grand Tsubaki Shrine of America. Please enjoy these photos we took on the Shrine grounds kudasai. We enjoyed Mia-Naoko's Hatsumiyamairi and we are sure from our photos you will enjoy them too. Enjoy!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Kotohajime Date Announced for 2012

No New Years in Little Tokyo is not complete without the annual Kotohajime - First Performance of the year put on by the Japanese-American Cultural & Community Center aka JACCC. Due to continued renovations at the New Aratani Theater, this years Kotohajime will be performed outdoors in the JACCC Plaza. We have gone every year for the last six years and have never been disappointed culminating each years performance with the  ritual shooting of the arrow – a purification ceremony –  performed by IKKYU of the Los Angeles Kyudo Archery Group and the annual Sake toast. So if you have never been to one of these performances, here's your chance to see and take part in one of the best and most culturally unique celebrations taking place in the City of Angels in the heart of Little Tokyo.

Kotohajime will take place Sunday, 01.08.12, 1pm in the JACCC Plaza - Free Admission. 

  See you there!

Monday, November 14, 2011

太平洋の奇跡-フォックスと呼ばれた男- Oba The Last Samurai

Oba The Last Samurai came out in Japanese theaters in February of this year. It is the true story of Captain Oba and his men who fight on in the island of Saipan after the Emperor had surrendered. It has a large Japanese cast starring Yutaka Takenouchi as Captain Oba, Toshiaki Karasawa as Kesamatsu Horiuchi, Mao Inoue as Chieko Aono. It also has two notable American actors Daniel Baldwin and veteran actor Treat Williams. I have not found a good english subtitled version yet but from what I can see from the available trailers this looks heavy. It has been said this film told from the Japanese side captures the War's end in graphic detail and the deep emotional punch you can expect from Japanese films depecting the War in the Pacific. If anyone comes across a source for a good subtitled copy please let us know. Arigatou!

Monday, November 7, 2011

こんにちは Konnichi-Wa Mia-Chan!

So you are probably wondering why I have not written so much lately. We'll it's all led up to this beautiful moment some nine months in the making. Little Mia-Naoko Rosas was born today on 11.07.2011. Both mom and baby are doing fine after ceasarian section at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica California. This is my third child and the first for Tinahime who I am now spending a life together with. They say three is a charm and with this little girl I have no doubts whatsoever! Arigatou for your continued support!
American Mishima

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

His Holiness the Dalai Lama looks on as monks from Koyasan chant before his public talk on "The Strength to Overcome Difficulties" held in Osaka, Japan, on October 30, 2011. Photo/Kimimasa Mayama

Monday, October 31, 2011

津波の回復 Japan Six Months Later

Six months later, Japan is still recovering from the black waters that swept away lives but not the resilience of the Japanese people to carry on. Please continue to support the relief efforts for Japan.

Monday, October 24, 2011

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

In this photo an archer of the Japan Equestrian Archery Association of the Takeda School of Horseback Archery taking aim at the ko-kasagake in the Kasagake Festival (horseback archery) October 16, 2011. We hope to one day see this in person!

Monday, October 17, 2011

一日の画像 - Imperial Audience

Emperor Akihito meets with the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup Winning Champion Homare Sawa (seen in kimono), Captain of Nadeshiko Japan last Thursday during an autum garden party. すごいい!

Friday, October 7, 2011

更新 American Mishima E-Store Update!

As you may have read earlier, our American Mishima E-Store has been ressurected thanks to Governor Jerry Brown who repealled a recent law that would forbid California residents from having e-stores through Amazon over tax issues. Now that we got the ok to start up again we have been busy revamping our e-store and stocking it with many new items of Japanese & Samurai interests. We have added many things including Japanese food, Iaito Swords, Home furnishings, Kendo items, and all sorts of Japanese & Samurai collectables. Particularly of interest we have acquired a line of historical Samurai figurine displays that feature many of the famous Samurai heavyweights of the Sengoku Warring States Era such as Takeda Shingen, Nobunaga Oda, Masamune Date, Kenshin Uesigi, and of course Ieyasu Tokugawa just to name a few. For the $24 price, we think it's pretty cool and would look good in any display or collection. So please check out our new wares and help keep The American Mishima E-Store going by spreading the word! ありがとございます!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

American Mishima E-Store Gets New Life!

Thanks to Governor Jerry Brown, our American Mishima Bushidoya E-Store!  is back in business! I've added lots of new books, Japanese accessories, Buddhist statues, and even Kendo armor & uniforms. Please visit and shop!

Monday, October 3, 2011

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

A curious appearence at a recent LA Galaxy Soccer  match by a Robot Boxer to promote the new feature film REAL STEEL starring Hugh Jackman at the Home Depot Center in Carson over the weekend.

Friday, September 30, 2011

残酷な Soccer Fan Cruelty

Heckling an opposing team is nothing new in Soccer Supporter Culture. But there are certain lines one should never cross. Well thanks to Japan Probe we came across this photo of  Korean Soccer fans of Jeonbuk diplaying a sign reading "Let's Celebrate Japan's Big Earhtquake" during the recent quaterfinal of the Asian Champions League against Cerezo Osaka.  なに? Yeah, that's what we said!

Over the years I have heard many cruel taunts from Soccer Supporters even some from my own LA Galaxy Supporter Groups that I felt was in bad taste. But to call for the celebration of over 15,000 peoples deaths and the countless livelyhoods that were destroyed by the combined earthquake & tsunami of March 12, 2011? That is just fucked up and downright cruel. The JFA (Japan Football Association) has lodged a protest with the Asian Football Confederation and I hope they take this up with FIFA. If there is one thing I do not like about Football/Soccer is ばかやろ posing as fans whose sole purpose in being there is to use the "Beautiful Game" as a venue to be a dick. Needless to say the banner went down after 20 minutes following complaints by the Osaka team to organizers. Embarrased, the owners of South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors soccer team did the right thing and apologized for the incident but by then the damage was already done. It's unknown what became of those dickheads who displayed that banner. Hopefully they were escorted out and banned from the game. If they are smart they will never visit Osaka Japan because Fuji TV aired these ばかやろ faces repeatedly on Japanese TV. There are some who may argue "well that's just Jeonbuk fans." It does not matter if it is Jeonbuk, Mexico, or MAN UTD fans. It's just bad taste and poor sportmanship on the part of these "so-called fans." It ultimately displays a total lack of character by the people who engage in such off the pitch cruelty. I am a real Football/Soccer fan and I will not tolerate it and neither should you. Now let's get back to our "Beautiful Game."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

ばか! Co-Pilot Mishap Sends ANA Plane Into Nosedive

In a scene right out of the Airplane movies starring the late Leslie Nielsen & Peter Graves, the co-pilot of an ANA 737-700 accidentally hit the wrong controls to open the cabin door in order to let the captian returning from a bathroom break back into the cockpit sending the plane into a steep nose dive veering off course and nearly sending the airliner upside down. なん-だいよ! The ANA flight is said to have dived some 1,900 meters over the Pacific in 30 seconds near the southern Shizuoka district. It is believed the co-pilot hit the rudder controls instead of the door lock. The crew managed to stabilize the plane and landed safely but not before two flight attendants and four passengers suffered slight injuries and airsickness. The September 6th, 2011 incident is currently being investigated by Japan's Transport Safety Board. Being that the incident took place at night, many of the passengers were likely unaware the plane dipped some 130 degrees to the left before nearly flipping over. 117 people were aboard the ANA plane whose flight departed from Naha in Okinawa and safely landed at Tokyo's Haneda Airport. All Nippon Airlines Officials apologized to passengers at a press conference and is quoted as saying; "We are deeply sorry for causing anxiety to our passengers." It is said that the flight data records have been made public and I would love to see it. I am told the footage is incredible. Even more so the Flight Voice recorder tapes have to be priceless! Here at American Mishima we are just relieved to know that everyone landed safely. And of the co-pilot? Somewhere over in Japan someone is screaming ばか!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

新しい変更点 New Changes to American Mishima

Three years ago during one of my many layoff's over the last ten years,  I've discovered that I really don't like the computer industry anymore. Every other IT job I have had has been downsized, outsourced, eliminated, or flat out went bust. Nevermind some of the hostile work enviroments I have had to endure, the job interviews in between these bouts of enployment have repeatedly found myself being discriminated against for being out of work or having done so many contract jobs in order to survive. Not fair? I thought so too. It's truly been a frustrating decade and I am tired of the same vicious circle. During this time I had taken up writing and ressurected my dream of returning to the film industry that I had left in 2001 to pursue the "more stable" information technology field. Smart Move? Well yes and no.

Well so far we haven't worked on any new films since the 2009 Mike Shu film Repurcussions but the dream has been kept alive through my many creative endeavors particularly my writing. That being said, I have decided to create stand alone pages located at the top of my page under my banner featuring my Conceptual Art, Interior & Set Design, Writing Samples, Crew Resume, and Storyboards to my American Mishima blog that showcase my creative work in hopes that someone may see this that could either put me to work on thier production or help me produce one of my own. Sure, it's a longshot but you have to try and with a baby on the way and unemployment running out my AMBlog is one more resource I can showcase other than a plain old resume. If you are one of those people that can help me aquire production work in film or television or you would simply like to talk to me about some of my original content feel free to contact me here. Your next big production could be an email away.

Monday, September 26, 2011

高野山 New Sensei arrives at LA Koyasan Betsuin in Little Tokyo

Following the sudden May 2011 resignation & subsequent departure of the presding Bishop Seicho Asahi, the Los Angeles Koyasan Buddhist Temple recently welcomed it's new Sensei Keishin Kako from Japan on September 1st 2011. Kako Sensei has since formally assumed his duties as the new presiding Sensei at the Koyasan Betsuin in Little Tokyo. Though his English is quite limited, he is quite personable and very approachable. Kako Sensei is both young and energetic but do not let his 23 years fool you. He is bright and learned well beyond his years. He has achieved a level of mastery of Shingon Buddhism and is most eager to assist and answer any and all questions one may ask of him. We are pleased to say Kako Sensei is one of the most friendly Sensei's we have met and has instantly made a distinct impression on the Koyasan Temple. We at American Mishima wish him great success.


Friday, September 23, 2011

2011年地震 A Mother's Love

As month's pass by, many untold stories of the March 2011 triple tragedies that hit Japan are only starting to emerge. As is such the case we came across one such heartbreaking story that exemplifies both a mother's love and the overall Japanese Character. One can only be moved by such humanity and self sacrifice made so that others may live.
-American Mishima

-Reposted from the web.
After the Earthquake had subsided, when the rescuers reached the ruins of a young woman’s house, they saw her dead body through the cracks. But her pose was somehow strange that she knelt on her knees like a person was worshiping; her body was leaning forward, and her two hands were supporting by an object. The collapsed house had crashed her back and her head.
With so many difficulties, the leader of the rescuer team put his hand through a narrow gap on the wall to reach the woman’s body. He was hoping that this woman could be still alive. However, the cold and stiff body told him that she had passed away for sure.

He and the rest of the team left this house and were going to search the next collapsed building. For some reasons, the team leader was driven by a compelling force to go back to the ruin house of the dead woman. Again, he knelt down and used his had through the narrow cracks to search the little space under the dead body. Suddenly, he screamed with excitement,” A child! There is a child! “

The whole team worked together; carefully they removed the piles of ruined objects around the dead woman. There was a 3 months old little boy wrapped in a flowery blanket under his mother’s dead body. Obviously, the woman had made an ultimate sacrifice for saving her son. When her house was falling, she used her body to make a cover to protect her son. The little boy was still sleeping peacefully when the team leader picked him up.

The medical doctor came quickly to exam the little boy. After he opened the blanket, he saw a cell phone inside the blanket. There was a text message on the screen. It said,” If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” This cell phone was passing around from one hand to another. Every body that read the message wept. ” If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” Such is the mother’s love for her child!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

9月11日追悼 Looking Back To 9/11 Ten Years Later

Ten years have passed since that dark day of September 11th, 2001. Ten long years and so many changes. It’s hard to contemplate how different our world was then and how for me how much my life has changed since that day. Ten years ago, I was making a meager existence as a Screen Actors Guild background performer in the film industry. I lived with a female coworker and was smitten with a girl living in Brooklyn. I was in love and thinking about leaving the film industry and returning to college in order to pursue a degree in order to win the hand of that Ukrainian princess that made me believe in the positive in everything. I went to sleep that night of 9/10 unaware of what my dreams of blood raining down from the sky and the color of brown clouds meant. I tried not to look too deeply into them as the uncertain calm before the storm rudely interrupted my first sense of contentment I had known since the ugly breakup with my first wife and the painful and somewhat permanent separation from my two little girls. Bliss that new love brought was brief and the ugliness of a world gone mad would greet me the following morning.

I wanted to sleep in for I had been having heavy dreams of late but this was not to be. The phone rang in my Hollywood bedroom with a panicked Tamlyn hysterically screaming on the phone “It’s gone! It’s gone!” What was gone? “Call Irina quick and turn on the TV!” Just then my morning haze turned into horror as the South Tower collapsed instantly killing some 1500 people still trapped on the upper floors on live television. That sickening feeling hit me like a wall making me want to throw up and call New York as fast as my hand could reach the handset. “All circuits are currently overloaded. Please try later,” read the recording. 90 minutes would pass before I got the call from Brooklyn that she was ok and did not go into Lower Manhattan for a music conference that morning. She had been bugging me about my dreams for days particularly when I had advised her to carry a spiritual talisman for protection two days prior. She was convinced something was going to happen and annoyed that I wouldn’t tell her what. But was it turned out I was not the only one to have strange premonitions of the ominous and unthinkable prior to the event. Strange air someone once said. Strange air indeed!

The shock and the horror lasted for days. It was a Week of Tears. The eerie skies above devoid of planes made people feel uncomfortable. It was a difficult time to be an American and yet it was the only time I have known in my 43 years that the country was united in grief and anguish. The scale of the human tragedy was unprecedented. How the fuck does anyone prepare for such an event? This made the 1993 World Trade bombing attempt look like amateur night. The world suddenly changed. In our grief we lit candles and joined many vigils and unity marches in memory of those lost and those still suffering. For a brief two week period everyone was an American and it felt good. No longer was I just a freak extra or disenfranchised Latino, I was an American and it felt good. That high point was epitomized when my then friend Tamlyn and I held up and American flag and led a march of some 1000 people down the Sunset Strip with people applauding us along the way. It was a beautiful feeling but like all things it did not last.

Phony patriotism took hold about the same time President Bush declared to the world that “You are either with us or against us.” Smugness and arrogance replaced grief and anger. The mood of the nation went sour and paranoia set in and would carry on into the 2004 election. ABC News reported that at Miami International Airport on 9/11 five women and one man of Muslim background were arrested wearing flight crew uniforms and carrying phony credentials. This story conveniently never made the news again. All this while the TV blared the footage of Palestinians dancing in the streets in celebration offering the camera crew cake because the Zionists here in the US suffered a traumatic blow to our financial core. For someone like me who then supported the Palestinian people I was disgusted and shared the dismay of then leader Yasser Arafat when he declared the celebrations were shameful and an embarrassment for his people. Terror alerts and Anthrax scares sent the country into a tizzy. Fear and loathing took hold and as a result my then love in New York broke things off on the grounds that she was afraid to fly and didn’t want me flying out there to see her. She would later have a child with someone else thus ending any chance of us reuniting. I was crushed.

Life took on a serious tone. My plans to become a makeup artist or possibly returning to the graphic arts went in the opposite direction. I enrolled in Westwood College of Technology on October 17th 2001 and placed myself on a career path everyone tried to talk me out of but seemed logical at the time. I chose Computer Networking. I figured after my degree I could still go to New York, patch things up with miss single mother, and possibly find work wiring network cables into the new World Trade Center rebuild. Well, it didn’t happen that way. I would not return to New York until 2003 to formally resolve matters in Brooklyn. Seeing Ground Zero in person was indeed a moving experience. The city noise canceled out once you crossed the street replacing it with silence that was only interrupted by the occasional rattle of a jackhammer. I remembered how in 1994 I visited the World Trade Center wanting to visit Windows on the World, the famed restaurant at the top of the Towers. It just wasn’t to be. Hence I reminded my friend Gia about this when I insisted we go atop the Empire State building. From there particularly at night you could still see the ghostly shadows of where the towers once stood and from the height become filled with vertigo as you imagined the people jumping to their deaths. Being there really hit home.
We were a nation wanting revenge and too blind with rage to reason. Within weeks of the tragedy the US Navy fired missiles into Afghanistan and quickly drove out the Taliban who harbored Bin Laden and his Al Qaida Shopping Network as I called it with a limited invasion with a radically low number of troops. If the Soviets couldn’t control the country with over a half million troops how were we supposed to with 10,000 troops? Well the answer why became clear. George Bush took us to war into Iraq,  a country that did not attack us on 9/11. This became a war of choice. Saddam Hussein was old business that his administration convincingly sold the country on the assertion that Iraq funded the 9/11 attacks. Only France called him on his bullshit and the country resorted to becoming anti-French over it with their “freedom fries” and other slaps at the French sense of logic and general reason. But France was not alone as attempts to rebuild the coalition of the first desert war in Iraq floundered while the war in Afghanistan was settling into a mismanaged quagmire of missed opportunities to capture Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden. The unwarranted attention directed to the Iraqi dictator made no sense. It was like invading Mexico for the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. But unlike previous wars, the president told us to go on with our lives. Go shopping, he said and quickly people forgot the countless 9/11 widows and the families of our returning servicemen and women killed in the War on Terror in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2003 I got my Associates Degree and returned a semester later to pursue a Bachelors degree which I successfully attained in March of 2005.

Life had already changed. Prior to entering college, I refrained and ultimately kicked my substance abuse. I quit smoking and I became a serious student with an eye on technology. I left the film industry and took a job working at a call center for Nextel. Soon after corporate tax breaks were dolled out that job was sent overseas to India along with the next few jobs that followed. I should have stayed with graphics or film but by then I had invested so much into technology I was determined to see this through. For awhile I kept in touch with the girl in New York. The guy who fathered her 9/11 baby didn’t want to raise her and my offers to step in were turned down. I would go on to have a few relationships that didn’t work out so well. First there was the Paris Hilton Lookalike Petra who had a pill popping and honesty issues. Then came Aliaa of Egyptian descent who seemed like a real contender with her immense knowledge of Middle Eastern and World affairs but could not hack living with me after 6 months in LA. It was unfortunate she did not see things through but life goes on. I would see three train wrecks of relationships before Tina would accidentally appear in my quest to find a Japanese wife and seek out Buddhism and Shinto. I did Kendo for a year and attended Osaka Sangyo University Learning Center to study Nihongo. My early childhood love of all things Japanese had returned in full force ultimately squeezing out twenty four years of Gothic culture. By then I became a student of Toshishiro Obata and studied Shinkendo under him. All this took place in the wake of the destructive relationship with a Cuban in 2006. 2007 was my year.

In 2007, I had made my first donation to the Flight 93 memorial fund. I had landed my first true successful corporate Information Technology job and had a new best buddy who we watched Battlestar Galactica and Atsuhime together. But then came 2008. That wonderful job ceased to exist as the company expanded too fast and went out of business. The instability caused many problems as unemployment, depression, and feeling of despair took over leading me to my most unfortunate incident on my birthday where I declared if I could not live Japanese I would die Japanese. I can't go into detail here but it was another life changing event that found me facing my darkest fears and divine judgment. We had elected a new president but things were were still pretty bad on our home front. The wars continued long after they captured the Iraqi dictator. Gone were terror alerts, the sound of George Bush’s laugh, and in was my dedication to Koyasan Buddhism and Shinto. Through the crisis of 2009 Tina and I took our friendship into an unplanned level and became a relationship. She has been my Rock of Gibraltar ever since.

By 2010 the war in Iraq was all but essentially over. Bush’s war of choice and his policies of deregulation nearly bankrupted the country leaving an impossible mess for President Obama to repair. We had seen a mortgage crisis, a  banking crisis and a Republican congress that goes out of it's way to block everything President Obama proposes to fix this battered nation of 14 million unemployed and those losing thier home while the rich continue to enjoy the largest redistribution of wealth the world has ever seen. It's no wonder Red China calls us irresponsible. I had gone 2 ½ years without work when I got the call to go work at Comcast. For a moment I was back in the corporate IT World and it felt good to be earning that paycheck I was promised in college. But of course it wouldn’t last. I had the misfortune of working under some socially dysfunctional Indian named Zubir from Toronto Canada who blocked my permanent hiring and did his best to run me out while I stomached his daily disrespect and cheered for my LA Galaxy in the MLS. My love for football aka soccer had returned and Tina and I joined two supporter groups and became LA Galaxy Season Ticket Holders.

Well by 2011 Obama announced we finally got Bin Laden. The country relished at the news of his demise as if we won the World Cup. The man who had masterminded the deaths of thousands on 9/11 was finally brought to justice with two rounds at the hand of a US Navy Seal Team 6 Member. Bittersweet as it was, life continued on. Over the last three years I had started writing several screenplays, three novels, this blog, and my latest screenplay. I had the fortune of meeting actor Michael C. Hall who after I asked his opinion on my bad career choices he encouraged me to write. Anyone can fix computers but few people can really write. I'm passionate about it and it’s what I want to do. I want to publish books and ultimately turn them into movies. But until I make a penny from my writing endeavors, the hunt for more dreadful technology work continues and with it comes dealing with the Zubirs of the world.

So where are we now? Saddam Hussein is dead. Osama Bin Laden is dead. The Taliban & Al Qaida, not so dead. The 9/11 babies are almost teenagers, the Freedom Tower is partially built, the 9/11 memorial opens in a year, and we are expecting a baby due November 8th 2011. The wars have wrecked our economy and the bagpipes continue to play in memory of the 365 first responders who risked everything and paid the ultimate price so that others may live. Many US Servicemen and women have returned from Iraq missing limbs and some are even homeless yet those who cut soldiers pay and health benefits all rally and say they support the troops. And despite it all politicians are more concerned with who wears a flag pin or not. Afghanistan is still a mess and people still distrust Muslims in this country. Will the lessons of 9/11 every really be learned? Probably not but I would like so for some people. Will we as a country ever be the same? Given the indifference after the 1993 bombing I sure hope not. 9/11 taught us how much we take things for granted. Buddhism taught me how to relect on it and find peace. My life as many others have taken so many twists and turns over the last ten years. In some ways, for the better and others not so much. But years from now we’ll all still be asking where were you on 9/11? And for others, how has your life changed since 9/11. Hopefully, you will all one day say it has changed for the better.

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

A view of one of Little Tokyo's hidden treasures, The James Irvine Japanese Garden located at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center 244 South San Pedro Street Los Angeles, CA 90012. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

地震!The Great Quake That Wasn't

If you live in California or Japan, you know about earthquakes and the dangers they bring about. In earthquake zones and particularly on along the Ring of Fire they are a fact of everyday life and in many cases no laughing matter. Any quake over a 5.5 is a cause for concern but not for dire panic. On the otherhand, in the general sense of US East Coast residents more accustomed to hurricanes, earthquakes register on the bottom of expected natual disaters to hit the region. In fact there are no earthquake drills or any preperations of any kind there. So when the reports of the US Pentagon being evacuated and hundreds of paniced calls to emergency service after a 5.8 quake hit the news, it amused those of us living in earthquake country how much panic this non-tragedy caused.

The media here has a knack for over sensationalizing minor non-tragic events. But before anyone has laugh at the expense of people unaccustomed to earthquakes under 6.0 or higher, take into consideration that in Japan and in California buildings are constructed to meet strict earthquake building codes which are non-existant in the US East Coast. Whereas in the West Coast or in Japan where a building would roll and sway with the quake as designed, the buildings in the East Coast are more likely to shake violently. As rockstar Sansei physicist Dr. Michio Kaku pointed out on ABC News, plate tectonics of the region differ from California whereas a quake would run along fault lines, the East Coast is on one big solid sheet meaning a relatively small quake could be felt as far away as Georgia to Toronto Canada. Luckily no one was hurt and only minor damage was reported. Compared to the recent quakes in Japan, Chile, & Haiti which brought about much death and devestation. We are happy that no one lost their life and damage was realatively minor. But with the way the media has overplayed it here, this minor quake will be remembered as The Great Quake That Wasn't.

Friday, August 19, 2011

ばか! Baka in America

Baka in America! Yes, that's right! On a day that saw a 6.8 magnitude quake hit Fukushima Japan, a brutal military crackdown against pro-democracy protesters in Syria, and a day that saw the release of the West Memphis Three; what most important news occupies ABC's Good Morning America? The Kardashians! No, not those hideous villans from Star Trek but those annoying E! Entertainment Channel reality "stars" famous for doing absolutely nothing that contributes to society. Shame on GMA for calling the Kardashians upcoming wedding the "Wedding of the Century" and referring to them as "American Royalty." Seriously GMA? I could imagine the newlywed Duke & Duchess of Cambridge having a good laugh at that the notion of being trumped by some trash tv personas from across the shallow end of the pond. Being a useless t*** whose fame is solely based on making sex tape's and endless self gratification that benefits no one but themseleves on endless shopping escapades on reality TV does not make them "American Royalty." Just because they are making sickening amounts of cash from all the "haters" out there as one of the Kardashian sisters is quoted saying in her own E! Channel reality tv promo doesn't buy them an ounce of class. If this is the new standard for "American Royalty" then may I borrow from an old Japanese curse and say: If this is what it is today to be called American Royalty then may the Kennedy's of Camelot look down and weep from heaven.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

うちゅ せんかん ヤマト – Space Battleship Yamato Movie on DVD

Earlier last year we had announced on American Mishima news of the making of the 2010 Live Action film of the 1974 anime Space Battleship Yamato. Not to be confused with the 2005 Japanese war epic Otoko Tachi no Yamato, this $23.9 million dollar film debuted on Japanese screens to awaiting die-hard fans that helped knock out Harry Potter 4 out of its first place rankings for that week.

Now why all the fuss about a kids space movie? We’ll if you were a kid like me during the 1970’s, this was your first introduction to both Japanese anime and Sci-Fi drama. Up until that point animated films were largely harmless cartoons to entertain children. This of course was not the first anime to arrive from Japan. Kimba the White Lion, Speed Racer, and G-Force had already screened to American audiences. But when Space Battleship Yamato appeared, the game changed in ways no one could have expected or anticipated.

Just prior to the first Star Wars and subsequent Battlestar Galactica films mesmerized audiences starved for Sci-Fi Action Adventure, Space Battleship Yamato appeared bringing with it a drama set in space for survival of the human race whose storyline was previously unheard of. After its initial reception it was repackaged as the anime soap-opera Star Blazers which was heavily imitated by later anime shows. Sure, there had been Star Trek on television but what Space Battleship Yamato did was to usher in the first Sci-Fi Soap Opera 35 years before Battlestar Galactica had been re-envisioned. It had a story of desperate survival. death, epic battles, and a continuous plotline previously unheard of in any science fiction drama or anime. And this was made for kids of all things!
Ok, so we have given you enough background and now let’s go back to the 2010 Live Action Space Battleship Yamato that just arrived in the USA on DVD with English Subtitles. Now taking a kids story to the big screen is a risky proposition hence I cite the horrible Wing Commander film from 1999. Then there is that old anime saying “Everytime you drag real physics into a debate about Sci-Fi anime, God Kills a Cat Girl.” Well, I am pleased to say that God didn’t kill a Cat Girl but my have spanked her once or twice in this film. Inspired by the original design of the famed Imperial Japanese Battleship Yamato, Space Battleship Yamato does a careful dance around real physics and real life history. They never explain how they came to the ship’s design unlike the anime which suggested that the original Yamato was dredged up from the sea bottom and rebuilt as a space battleship. Of course that is impossible considering that Yamato sits two miles on the ocean bottom split in two. But then again they didn’t know that back in 1974. But to tie into the original Yamato that for generations has conjured the imagination, Kodai Susumu (played by Kimura Takuya) makes a speech where he invokes; “On April 1945, The Yamato was sent on a desperate suicide mission to save Japan.” In this speech he compares their desperate mission to save the Earth from the deadly radiation that has forced Earth’s population to seek shelter underground pushing mankind to the brink of extinction at the hands of the unknown enemy the Gamilas. Their only hope for survival lies in a message from the planet Iscandr the promises to restore the Earth. But to get there, the decimated Earth Defense Force must send a skeleton crew aboard Earth’s last space battleship, Yamato.
Joined by Mori Yuki (played by Kuroki Maisa) and a crew of young volunteers and the survivors of Black Tiger Squadron, Kodai Susumu inherits the Yamato from their ailing Captain and embarks on their interstellar journey to Iscandr in the faint hopes to retrieve the device that can restore the Earth. There will be a lot of comparisons to the new Battlestar Galactica right down to the Yamato’s Hangar Deck and story for survival against incredible odds and little hope. It is possible to say the new Space Battleship Yamato may have been inspired by the new BSG or the other way around. I’ll leave that up to you. If you are a fan of the original anime classic you will love this. Sure there are the real physics errors such as sounds in space but at the same time they do show spacial decompression scenes which are never pretty no matter how big the budget. But what they do get right is the narrowness of Yamato's hull and the issue of power supply. In order to "warp" or to fire their main weapon the "wave cannon," they can only use one at a time and must recharge before using either which leaves the Yamato vulnerable in battle. Now on an engineering scale this makes for a believable scenario. The film starts off strong and at times gets typical Japanese on the human drama lines and will make you think of films like the Matrix and the new Battlestar Galactica. But if you carry the nostalgia for the original anime film you may truly enjoy this. As far as Science Fiction films go I will give Space Battleship Yamato a B+. This film is now available in the United States on DVD. Check Ebay and other Japanese sources for listings.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

二世ウィークリトル東京 - Nisei Week 2011

Little Tokyo in Los Angeles is the heart of the Japanese-American Community. This year Little Tokyo celebrates the 71st annual Nisei Week & Tanabata Festival. No summer is complete without this generations long tradition that has survived both wartime and economic turbulence. Throughout the years, this ever growing festival has grown and continues to be a popular event in the City of Angeles. Within the Nisei Week festivities is the traditional Tanabata Festival 七夕 aka Starlight Festival which brings about some of the most colorful tanabata streamers outside of Japan.
During Nisei Week one can sample Japanese food, take in beautiful Ikebana Displays, Samurai Yoroi Displays (from the Samurai Store), Martial Arts Demonstrations (including Shinkendo), Edo-Period Re-enactors, Cosplayers, Lolitas, scores of people in Yukata, and of course the Grand Nisei Week Parade featuring the proud surviving veterans of the 442 Infantry Regimental "Go For Broke" Combat Team of WWII. We didn't stick around for this years parade in consideration of Tinahime's health in the summer heat while carrying our unborn child but we can at least show you what we experienced in the photos below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

A serene view of the floating lanterns at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park ( 広島平和記念公園) from August 6th 2011. It is a sobering reminder of the casualties of war and of the nuclear horror that no other nation had suffered prior or since that fatefull week of August 1945 when both the historic cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were reduced to ashes with their civilian populations vaporized in a flash. This particular yearly comemoration memorializes the memory of the over 140,000 victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 before Japan's catastrophic defeat in the final days of WWII. Similar memorials also take place in Nagasaki. May no other nation ever experience nuclear war again. - American Mishima

*Note: This photo was reposted from Japan Today.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

原子記念 66th Hiroshima-Nagasaki Memorial in Little Tokyo

Sixty-Six years ago, a new horror of unimaginable proportions was unleashed one sunny morning over the beautiful city of Hiroshima, Japan. In an instant, countless people were vaporized in a flash and the historic city reduced to ashes rained down upon with deadly radiation. Every year since then memorials have taken place in memory of those who have past on both in the blast and the time that followed. It is not for us to say what was right or wrong but it is for us to keep the memory of these tragic wartime events that must never be repeated again. It is said there are fewer than 1000 A-bomb survivors still among us here living in the United States. Over the past three years we have been both fortunate and honored to come to know these witnesses to absolute anihilation by an atomic weapons. Together we have prayed with them and offered candles to the fallen at the Los Angeles Koyasan Temple in Little Tokyo. No matter how many times we partake in these memorials, we can not be any less moved by the stories and the warm faces that still bear the scars that still welcome us of those two fatefull mornings in August of 1945.The survivors have done their part to educate us to the horrors of nuclear war. As many of the WWII generation embark in their final journey it is our responsibility to continue to educate the generations that follow to never allow such tragedies to ever occur again. Our hearts and prayers will continue to go to the survivors and those who left us so long ago.

Friday, August 5, 2011

突然死 Former Samurai Blue 2002 World Cup Star Dies.

2011 has been a rollercoaster year for Soccer in Japan. First being the triple tragedy in March. Then  came the Victory of Nadeshiko Japan in the Women's World Cup final. But once again tragedy has returned to Japan. We are saddened to announce the passing of one of Japan's Blue Samurai Blue defenders Naoki Matsuda. It is reported that he suffered a heart attack and collapsed while training with his current team Matsumoto Yamaga FC. Matsuda was rushed to a hospital where he slipped into a coma and was pronounced dead two days later. During his career with the Japan National Team the Samurai Blue, he played 40 caps with one goal to his credit in a friendly match against Kazakhstan played in Yokohama, Japan. Matsuda's sudden death has left many grieving in the Japanese Soccer Community and a world wide outpouring of sympathy and support have been sent including one from FIFA President Sepp Blatter. We at American Mishima would also like to send Matsuda's family our most sincere condolences. Matsuda was a popular player and too young to die. Matsuda was only 34 years old.

Monday, August 1, 2011

お盆の写真 Photos of Obon

These photos were taken July 31st 2011 at the Higashi Honganji Temple, Little Tokyo-Los Angeles, California. Enjoy!