Tuesday, April 24, 2012

American Mishima Presents - Tamashi no Soba

みんな-さん, Here is our directoral debut for our first promotional video for the first play by American Mishima - Tamashi no Soba aka Soba for the Soul. Tamashi no Soba is a fictional story whose premise is based on a real life incident that occured in Japanese Newspapers in 1965 where an alledged rumor surfaced from an elderly veteran of the First Japan-Sino War of 1895 who claimed he and two of his men were saved in battle by an old Japanese man in Manchuria claiming to be the famous lost Samurai Harada Sanosuke of the Shinsengumi. Our story starts in 1935 and will go back to the Bakumatsu Period of Japan through to the the Japan Russo War of 1905 and back to 1935 Seattle. Fundraising will begin by June 1st 2012 with a slated production start of September 1st and a late September performance.

With our co-producer Kaneda Yoshitomo, we plan to debut this play as part of a charital event to benefit orphans of Fukushima. This event is currently being negotiated with plans to hold it in Little Tokyo. If you would like to help produce or help in some way please contact us here. Work on the novel version is already in progress and hopefully be available in print in time for our theatrical debut. Stay Tuned!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Post Tōhoku Milestone - Soccerball Reaches Alaska

Over the weekend, news spread across the internet that Tōhoku Tsunami debris had reached Alaska. While much of this is another sad milestone, this story caught our attention and we at American Mishima were compelled to share this story with you here.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that soccerballs and other sports equipment washed ashore on Middleton Island which is lies in the Gulf of Alaska 113 miles from the mainland. To the suprise of many, the owner of this one ball has come foward to claim his lost soccerball. As reported on ABC, 16-year-old Misaki Murakami said he was “shocked” to hear his prized possession had floated more than 3,100 miles across the Pacific Ocean. He received the ball from friends when he was in the third grade, as a good luck gift before he transferred from Osabe Elementary school in Rikuzentakata, one of the cities hardest hit by the tsunami last March. On the ball, classmates signed their names in Japanese, along with the date March 2005, and the words “Misaki Murakami. Work hard!” This was washed away with the rest of his home.
As luck would have it the ball was discovered by a radar technician David Baxter whose wife happens to be Japanese who could read the kana on the ball. After quick search revealed that Osabe Elementary was located in the tsunami zone, leading Baxter to believe the balls were part of the debris that had floated across the Pacific. “I tried to get the ball back to him or his family,” Baxter told NHK News. “I just wanted to help a young man try to put his life back together.” Murakami was quoted as saying “I haven’t found any personal items since the Tsunami, so I am overwhelmed with joy. I am so grateful that somebody found it, and took the time to look up such foreign characters and words.” We at American Mishima hope more items are recovered, identified, and returned to their owners who have endured so much since the Tōhoku Triple disaster of March 2011. We ask that people continue to help in this process.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

An Afternoon with The Dali Lama

His Holiness The 14th Dali Lama.

And so it happened! We finally got to cross off something of our rather extensive "Bucket List." His Holiness the 14th Dali Lama spoke at the Long Beach Arena to a crowd of 10,000 people and American Mishima was there. Thanks for the generosity of fellow Shingon Buddhist Tony Truong, we were able to attend H.H's lecture Peace of Mind in Troubled Times. He spoke for close to three hours offering his views on how to attain peace and happiness. We were unable to get a closer photo from the upper balcony where we sat but we do get to walk away with the words of advice and some rather amusing stories from his life. One such story involved a Japanese Buddhist who was chanting and counting his rosary beads when suddenly it broke and scattered to the floor. Rather than stop, the Japanese Buddhist continued on much to the amusement of His Holiness who admitted he wanted to stop what he was doing and help pick up the beads off the floor. Hearing him laugh was fun to hear. He said he enjoyed such human moments and he shared a few with us. From pulling the ears of his mother when he was a child to his meetings with Chairman Mao Tse-tung who oddly enough had nice things to say about the late Chinese Leader.  But what struck us was his wit as in one such recollection where he told us of an American Christian Monk who he had befriended who started using Buddhist techniques. He was quick to tell him;”That’s Buddhist Business! You leave that alone!” to the laughter of the faithful present and we were no exception.
H.H. was introduced by actor Richard Gere and was heavily attended by local Tibetans in elaborate traditional clothing you don't really get to see much of outside of Tibet. Buddhists of all denominations attended and a couple annoying animal rights people outside who came to protest. No one was interested in what those few misguided fools had to say for we were here to see and listen to one of the world’s most unique spiritual leader. And one with a sense of humor we might add. Is he a God King or have special healing powers? In his own words; "Nonsense!" He is human, albeit from our standpoint an extraordinary human being, one who is most humble embodying the very essence of peace. Though I particularly didn't walk away with any earth shattering revelation, I am happy to have been with my new family in his presence to hear his words and take in what I could as a blessing. To see him bow with his hands clasped in prayer in our direction was good enough.

Such opportunities will become rarer as His Holiness is now 77 years old with no legitimate successor. The Occupying People's Republic of China's Government may call him a demon. "Nonsense!" he would say. The PRC may even have their own appointed Dali Lama but for the rest of the world there is only one Dali Lama and there will be none like him once he leaves us.
We at American Mishima are blessed to have had this experience.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

After all these years.
This photo brought tears of joy to our eyes.
We enjoyed this shared photo enough to share it here with you on American Mishima as our featured Picture of the Day.
Please enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2012

ばか! North Korea Launch But No Cookie

Seen here as earlier posted on Japan Today, Japan's Self-Defense Force personnel manned PAC-3 Patriot missile units at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo and throughout Japan in preparation for North Korea’s rocket launch which took place on April 12th, 2012. Despite world wide condemnation and warnings to the such, the belligerent totalitarian North Korean nation run by an untested 27 year old dictator defied the world and launched their ICBM missile. The projected path would have likely violated Japan's airspace thus prompting Japan's SDF to follow through with it's mandate to shoot it down. Japan's SDF was on high alert and ready for them but fortunately for them it didn't come to that. So here at American Mishima we'd like to offer the SDF a well deserved ばんざい for their vigilance. Please continue to protect Japan. And to baby faced Kim Jong Un we'd like to say "Nice Try but No Cookie!" ばか!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Abeya Tsugaru-Shamisen US Tour 2012

In commemoration of the Japan-US Cherry Blossom Centennial, the Japan Foundation has been proud to sponsor Japan's acclaimed folk music ensemble Abeya on their 2012 Tsugaru-Shamisen US Tour. American Mishima was present for their second and more informal night which was more of a workshop at UCLA than the previous night's formal performance at the Colburn School's Zipper Hall. By doing so, we were able to get right up close to the group to see their mastery of the Tsugaru-Shamisen at work.

Abeya's founder and patriarch Hidesaburo Abe jokingly likes to refer his group as five weird guys and one beautiful girl.This includes his two sons Kinzaburo Abe & Ginzaburo Abe who both have won the All Japan Shamisen competition. Together with Ryu Gotika, Tatsumasa Ando, and the beautiful Maya Nemoto they comprise one of the most successful Japanese folk music ensembles. 

As seen here Kinzaburo & Ginzaburo Abe posing for our camera.
By doing this workshop the audience was given more of an opportunity to learn the history of Tsugaru Shamisen and what goes into making both Shamisen and the music that spans from the Southern most island of Okinawa to Hokkaido. This included a breakdown of the way a Shamisen is transported and the meanings behind many of the traditional songs once sung during long hard days at work which have since become ingrained into the culture. Having been to a few Yoshida Brother's concerts, I thought I knew more about Shamisen but as they say in many Japanese dictionary's that the more you know the more you realize how little you actually know. To further this point, their American translator invited a 12 year old American boy who they met in Japan that had been studying Shamisen to play. This kid held up his own and could have been a member of Abeya. They later invited members of the audience to join in and do traditional folk dance. あいけない! Had I known, I wouldn't have worn a business suit to the event! 

After the workshop members of the audience were treated to an informal meet & greet with the group and some free sushi. They were fun to talk to and very nice people who we wish them continued success. We at American Mishima enjoyed our evening with Abeya. They will be playing in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, and then in Honolulu before returning to Japan. If you would like more information for Abeya's US Six City Tour please visit the Japan Foundation website.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Looking Back

In doing research for an upcoming American Mishima project, we came across this photo taken by the US Army on Kiska Island dated 1943. Kiska along with Attu were the only two US Islands that were briefly occupied by the Japanese Army. Here American soldiers found a graveyard amidst the bombed out ruins of the Japanese base on Kiska. In it, they found the grave marker of a downed US flyer who crashed on Kiska during the Aleutian Campaign. This unknown flyer was buried by the Japanese who buried him with full military honors as evident by the grave marker which read: "Sleeping here, a brave air-hero who lost youth and happiness for his Mother land. July 25 - Nippon Army." Respect. It's what I'm saying.