Thursday, July 25, 2013

ばか! When Hollywood Gets It Wrong Part II

Normally, we don't judge a movie before we see it in it's entirety, but after seeing the trailer for the new Keanu Reeves-Hiroyuki Sanada  collaboration titled "47 Ronin" we were outraged enough to make an exception. Seriously! Do these studio executives and their focus groups (comprised of mostly unemployed background extras) even know the story of the time honored tale of the revered Ako Ronin and their famous vendetta? Do they even care about Japanese history? For reals! What the fuck does flying dragons, Kung Fu, and Gaijin  have to do with avenging the forced seppuku of Ako Lord Asano Naganori for assaulting Lord Kira in Edo Castle? NOTHING! ばか!

As an affectionado and Japanese history buff, I ask why take an awesome time honored true story of Japanese History of some of the most legendary Samurai of the Edo Period and add a bunch of fantasy bullshit to sell a story? Worse, your lead actor isn't even Japanese! It was one thing when they cast Ziyi Yang in Memoir's of a Geisha (because they say here in America we're not racist to exclude other actors and then you see our politics - right!) but this is going too far. That same tired argument of race has been used to justify casting decisions doesn't fly with me. Sure, John Wayne might have been a good cowboy actor for Westerns but did he not suck as Mongol Warlord Genghis Khan? He was the worst! "Well if the Kublai Khan don't like it he can just move the hell out Pilgrim?" For real? Are you fucking kidding me? This is why that tired racial argument in casting period pieces does not fly. "Oh but this is an action/adventure fantasy film!" Really? Then why dishonor the memory of the 47 Ako Samurai or involve them in the first place? Seriously!

While we love Sanada Hiroyuki in Twilight Samurai and The Last Samurai (ok that was a stretch but he was still believable in that one), we have to ask how can he sell out his own history for a paycheck? Please tell me he had some objection to the title or the ridiculous premise. His reputation is on the line and we'd love an explanation. We love historical fiction when they get it right. But as you can see from the trailer this is as much as a historical travesty as adding Apache Attack Helicopters to the tale of George Washington crossing the Delaware River. And if you're in Japan reading this do know that there are Americans who do care and will not settle for some Hollywood big budget special effects driven bastardization of Japanese history. And while there are some people including some actors out there trying to make a living in Hollywood saying, "whoa Mishima relax, it's just a movie."  Yeah? Then please go to the Sengaku-ji Temple in Japan and explain it to the 47 souls who weep from heaven. But don't take our word for it. Watch the trailer, leave your fact checker behind, and see it for yourself!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

American Mishima Seeks Publisher

The long awaited first novel by American Mishima has been completed and ready for publiscation. This is an original work of historical fiction which our plot goes as follows:

When Nishida Keisuke, a Lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army, is caught in a deadly ambush during the First Sino-Japan War in Manchuria 1895, he is rescued by a mysterious old man rumored to be the famous lost samurai Harada Sanosuke of The Shinsengumi who will pass onto him a legacy that will alter the course of his life and that of his family for generations to come.

We are looking for a Literary Agent or Publisher that would be interested in publishing our work. 

Please contact us here or at through our email at
Thank you.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

Candles offered by Hatsubon families who lost loved ones this year. As with last year, friends and people we had come to know (Yamagami, Takahashi, & Tamae) were among this group at the Los Angeles Koyasan Betsuin in Little Tokyo.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ばか! When Hollywood Gets It Wrong

Don't you love it when Hollywood gets it wrong? Sometimes we do, but other times there's just no excuse. We've covered a lot of movies here about World War II. Mostly from Japan where most are good, some not so good and always with a limited budget. But when Hollywood gets a film, their budgets run circles around Japanese film makers. So what am I bitching about? This photo seen here! In 2001's Pearl Harbor, Michael Bay had a budget of $140 Million Dollars. While some will argue whether the film was good or not and other will point out minor errors, yet no one has complained about the shot of the Imperial Japanese Fleet UNTIL NOW. With all the great CGI effects in this film you would think they would spend the money to get this one important shot right. Right? Oh who the fuck cares! This is America! No red blooded American still bitter about the Bombing of Pearl Harbor is going to care about the Japanese right? ちょっとちょっとまってください! To tell the truth, YES! Actually, you do not have to be a Japanophile or Nisei to appreciate accurate depictions of historical events in films depicting the Japanese.

If I were ordering shots like I would a hamburger, I'd have to say extra accuracy, hold the bitterness. You can't talk about Pearl Harbor in this country without someone throwing ancient rancor at you. As we have stated many times, we're not here to refight WWII. We're here to call things as we see them. As you can see from this actual photo of the IJN Carrier Kaga (that participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor) you can see from it's profile a small island tower and smoke stacks pointing downward. Now Compare to the top photo where you see a composite of a modern day US Navy Nimitz Class Carriers and Aegis Class Frigates. You think no one would notice? We sure did. While Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor has numerous historical goofs such as the painting of Zeros green which they did not do until 1943, this carelessness or lack of credit given to an informed audience just gets under my skin. You would think after all those great CGI shots of the Oklahoma and Arizona they could have taken the time out to get the Imperial Japanese Fleet right? Or did they just thought we wouldn't care? With their budget there was just no excuse. And while we'd like to debate Mako's portrayal Admiral Yamamoto, we'll leave that one for the real historians. While we found the movie somewhat entertaining, however these errors in depicting the Japanese fleet sink this film for us.

If you'd like to see a better depiction of the Japanese fleet on film either see Tora Tora Tora with Mifune Toshiro who looks more like Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto than Pearl Harbor's late  Mako (great actor - wrong role) or the recent Isoroku Yamamoto movie The Admiral. Please enjoy!

Monday, July 8, 2013

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

Photo taken by the Japanese American National Museum of the Bainbridge Island Memorial commemorating the forced expulsion of Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island Washington during WWII. The Plaque reads にどと ない よに Let this never happen again.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Another Noteworthy Passing: Don Yamagami

Throughout the great journey that is life, it's fortune that one should meet such remarkable people if even for a short period of time. We can say this of our dear departed friend Don Yamagami who passed away June 15, 2013 at the young age of 62. We met Don and his lovely wife Shelley three years ago through our Japanese Language class at the Koyasan Buddhist Temple in Little Tokyo. He was a funny guy and one of the nicest people you could ever meet. It was always a joy to have them in class. Always an optimist, he shared a wonderful life with his wife Shelley Yamagami who he married in 1981. Don & Shelley Yamagami were participants in our surprise baby shower for my wife Tina at the Koyasan Temple. It truly was a fun event and we were thankful for everyone at the Koyasan Temple who helped make that special day happen.

We will always remember such good memories with Don & Shelley. It came as a sudden shock to show up at this last month's Goma service to discover that he had already passed away and worse as unprepared as we were to discover his funeral would be taking place in two hours without hearing any prior notice. Our hearts go out to Shelley Yamagami and their daughter Noel. Rough day indeed but paled in comparison to that of his grieving widow who we pledged our support to. From his Bio we can share that Don was originally born Nisei in Colorado grew up in Los Angeles. His family has ties to the Koyasan Temple going back to 1937. Don was a successful Graphic Designer by trade who made the 100 Year Anniversary Logo for the Koyasan Temple. He was an avid volunteer in the Japanese-American Community and all around stand up guy who his friends say epitomized the wartime "Go for Broke" motto. He is survived by his loving family; wife, Shelley Yamagami; daughter, Noelle Yamagami; brother, Mark (Gail) Yamagami; sisters, Shirlee Yamagami and Julie Thompson. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, and other relatives. We can't praise this man enough for whom we knew for such a short three years. He will be missed by so many including us. 


In Memory,
Don Yamagami