Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Hello Japan! February: On the Big Screen

Hello Japan!
Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there will be a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. You can post about the task on your blog. Or if you don't have a blog, you can leave a comment on the Hello Japan! post for the month. Everyone who completes the task will then be included in the drawing for that month's prize. For more information, just click on the Hello Japan! button above, or if you have any questions please feel free to email me at inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com.
February's Topic

February is all about Japanese films. The Academy Award nominations have just been announced and while there aren't any Japanese films up for awards this year (I didn't miss any, did I?), some have won or been nominated in the past.  Departures (おくりびと, Okuribito) won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film last year. Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し, Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi) won Best Animated Feature in 2002. The Twilight Samurai (たそがれ清兵衛, Tasogare Seibei) was nominated for for Best Foreign Language Film for 2003. And Rashômon (羅生門) won an Honorary Foreign Language Film Award in 1951, among others.  Not to mention the Japanese films that have appeared at Cannes, or other International Film Festivals, or the J-Horror that Hollywood seems to like re-making lately.

Departures Spirited Away The Twilight Samurai Rashomon

February's Task

This month's task is to appreciate Japanese film. The most obvious way to complete the mini-challenge is to watch a Japanese film. But as always, feel free to use your imagination as long as it involves Japanese film in some way.  For example, you could visit a Japanese film exhibition. Read a screenplay, or a book, that a movie is based on. If you have time, maybe even read the book and then watch the film. Write about a favourite Japanese actor or director. Re-create a scene from a favourite Japanese film. Or whatever else you come up with. The only thing I'd stipulate is that it should be related to a film, or films, that appeared "on the big screen" as opposed to TV dramas.

Here are a few links to get you started:

Cinema of Japan - listing by decade (from wikipedia).
Midnight Eye, 'the latest and best in Japanese cinema'.
Nippon Cinema - news, reviews, trailers.

February's Prize

One participant who takes part in the challenge this month will be chosen at random to win this pack of playing cards, or as the Japanese would say トランプ (toranpu), featuring scenes from Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away.

Spirited Away playing cards

To be eligible for the prize, you must complete this month's mini-challenge and provide a link to your post.  If you don't have a blog, you can leave a comment with the details on this post, or email me at inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com. You are welcome to post more than once and add the links below.  I love it when you are enthusiastic about a topic!  However, each participant will receive only one entry per month.  It doesn't matter if you've won previously, you're eligible each month that you participate.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Once you have completed the task, don't forget to come back here to add your link to the Mr. Linky below. Please submit the link to the actual post, not just to your top page, and please only submit links to posts relating to the Hello Japan! task for this month. All other links will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding.  Have fun!

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  1. Fabulous mini-challenge this month! One that I imagine I shall complete without any problems and I'll be very interested in reading others' posts.

  2. I am totally going to participate in this because:

    1. I love Japanese films!
    2. Spirited Away is one of my favorite movies :-)

  3. We saw Spirited Away awhile back and enjoyed it, but Totoro is hands-down our favorite. I just LOVE that big guy!

  4. This is off-topic so I hope that's okay. I went to my husband's aikido dojo this week (in the SF Bay Area, where we live) for their setsubun celebration. It was fun! Anyway, I was curious if people still celebrate setsubun in Japan and, if so, you went to any festivals.

  5. Oh,my! I can soooo do this month's challenge :-D We love Hayao Miyazaki here, especially Chihiro! I'll have to write up a post later this month for it.

    BTW, I have an award for you :-)

  6. I tend to watch more Japanese animations than live action movies. Spirited Away looks interesting, thanks for pointing that out! :)

    By the way, I LOVE your new header! They're gorgeous! Are those pictures of old Japanese scrolls/text?

  7. My submission: My son owns the DVD of "Linda Linda Linda" and had been wanting me to watch it, so this was a perfect month for me to do so. It's a funny, sweet movie about 3 high school girls who need to find a singer for their band in order to perform in the school's festival, which is happening in 3 days! In a quirky teenage way, they recruit a Korean exchange student who doesn't know much Japanese to learn the 3 songs by The Blue Hearts that they've chosen to play. The movie is strong on characterization (not so much on plot, which is fine with me) and is true-to-life to the way teenagers live, work, play and have friendships. I liked it a lot.

  8. Claire - I look forward to hearing about whichever movie you choose to watch.

    Janet - Cool! Be sure to come back and link once you've completed the mini-challenge. :)

    Stephanie - Totoro is very cute! :)

    Kristen M. - LOL. Enjoy!

    Lorin - That's fun that your husband's dojo celebrated setsubun. We didn't go to any festival but yes, setsubun is still celebrated here. Some temples will have a celebration and I think most, if not all, elementary schools will have a special event, usually focusing on the bean-throwing. We saw on the news that day a famous temple outside Tokyo that was packed with people for its setsubun festival. :)

    thekoolaidmom - I look forward to your post then! And thank you so much for the award!

    Mark David - Anime is just fine for the mini-challenge. I've only seen a very small handful of anime. Any that you'd recommend? That could be your post. :)

    And thanks about the new header. I was just playing around (aka procrastinating) with Photoshop. I'm actually not sure how long it will last as I'd love to get a new template sometime soon, but I might try to do something similar once I get a chance to set it up. We'll see. As for the pictures, the one on the far right is the first page of an old text copy of The Pillow Book, the first line of which is my blog name. The other two images are just cropped from the same page.

    Teresa - Thanks for joining in again this month. I hadn't heard of this movie, but it sounds fun.

  9. Teresa,

    How do you do?

    Linda, Linda, Linda is one of my all time favorite movies. It is not dramatic, maybe boring to some people, but I LOVE this movie very much. I like the subtle humor, too.

  10. I like this task. But didn't get to watch more than one film - mostly due to the Olympics. Maybe you can do it again with a specific genre in mind... like horror?

  11. sumit - I know you were addressing Teresa there, but it sounds like I'm going to have to watch that film!

    Velvet - Yes, the Olympics were distracting this month, weren't they? I'm sure we'll do film again. :)

  12. Hi, Sumit. Yes, for me, subtle humor is the best kind, I think. I look forward to watching the movie again one day.


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