If you thought the scenes portrayed in the film “Lost in translation” were an exaggeration, check this out. Japander is a great site with all kinds of celebrities making fools of themselves for a few yen. Here is a taster from the most popular greedy fool — the governor of California.
The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon is one of my favourite diaries. Written just over 1,000 years ago by a lady of the Heian court, it records the author's strongly held opinions on everything from appropriate behaviour for husbands of maids to Chinese poetry.
Shonagon herself is bitchy, conceited, and scheming. Yet she is also a subtle observer, amusing, and perceptive. A perfect diarist in other words, though perhaps better company on the page than in the flesh.
Here she is:
One is in a hurry to leave but one's visitor keeps chattering away. If it is a person of no importance, one can get rid of him by saying "You must tell me all about it next time", but should it be the sort of visitor whose presence commands one's best behaviour, the situation is hateful indeed...
I hate the sight of men in their cups who shout, poke their fingers in their mouths , stroke their beards and pass the wine on their neighbours with great cries of "Have some more! Drink up!" They tremble, shake their heads and gesticulate like children ... I have seen really well-bred people behave like this and I find it most distasteful
To envy others and to complain about one's lot, to speak badly about people, to be inquisitive about the most trivial of matters and to resent and abuse people for not telling one, or, if one does manage to worm out some facts, to to inform everyone in the most detailed fashion as if one had known all from the beginning -- oh how hateful.
Things that make one's heart beat faster
Sparrows feeding their young. To pass a place where babies are playing. To sleep in a room where some fine incense has been burnt. To see a gentleman stop his carriage before one's gate and to instruct his attendants to announce his arrival. To wash one's hair, make one's toilet, and put on scented robes; even if not a soul sees one, these preparations still produce an inner pleasure.
It is night and one is expecting a visitor. Suddenly one is startled by the sound of rain-drops, which the wind blows against the shutters.
Finally, you know that feeling when you have just hit the "send" button on your e-mail and realize you could have improved your message? Well, she's got that down too:
One has sent a poem (or a reply to a poem) and, after the messenger has left, thinks of a couple of words that ought to be changed.
Ivan Morris's free-flowing translation is a work of art in itself -- returning to the Pillow Book after almost 10 years I was surprised at how fresh it still seemed, I'm sure it will be a good friend for the rest of my days.
The suicide of writer Iris Chang following a battle with clinical depression is a tragedy and so too is the fact that her book “The rape of Nanking” has never been published in Japan.Far from acknowledging the atrocities committed by Japanese forces the Japanese have recently intensified their cover-up of the event (see earlier post).
Shueisha Inc. said Wednesday it will halt publication of a "manga" comic featuring the Nanjing Massacre of 1937 in response to complaints by Japanese politicians who claim the slaughter never happened.
The comic series "Kuni ga Moeru" ("The Country is Burning"), authored by popular comic writer Hiroshi Motomiya, is a fictional tale about a bureaucrat in the turbulent times of the early Showa Era (1926-1989).
Publication of the series, which has been carried in Weekly Young Jump magazine since November 2002, will be temporarily suspended from the Oct. 28 edition. Weekly Young Jump is popular among Japanese men.
In the magazine's Sept. 16 and Sept. 22 editions, the comic described Japanese soldiers massacring civilians in Nanjing, China.
Thirty-seven members of local assemblies protested to the publisher on Oct. 5, saying the massacre was presented as if it really happened. They say the story deliberately distorted history by using a photo whose authenticity they claim cannot be confirmed.
According to the assembly members, there is strong evidence that the massacre never happened and that there is no proof that it did.
A Shueisha representative said: "Some people say the photo used for reference in the drawing cannot be authenticated. It was inappropriate to use such material."
"The parts related to the use of the photo as pointed out will be edited or deleted when the comic book is published," Shueisha said in reply to the complaint.
The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal concluded that more than 140,000 people were killed. Some Chinese historians put the death toll at 300,000 in Nanjing alone. Japanese accounts vary from several thousand to 200,000 dead.
The story of Japan’s crown princess Masako is so tragic.
The Princess, who has just been diagnosed as suffering from a stress-related condition, was a beautiful, multilingual career diplomat when she married the heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 1993. Since then her life has been plagued by the inability of the royal couple (though it is usually portrayed as her inability) to produce a male heir. She has not been seen in public since December last year and, before her current bout of depression, she had suffered from shingles and exhaustion. The blame for her unhappiness seems to lie at the door of the royal courtiers who, in much the same way as their British counterparts, have insisted on imposing their own perverse and antiquated world view on a young woman from another era.
Still, I have a lot more time for Masako than for Diana, who (sorry to speak ill of the dead) brought a lot of her trouble on herself through her publicity-seeking behaviour and compulsive narcissism.
Princess Masako’s only ‘crime’ is to have had a miscarriage and a little girl. What’s wrong with that?
Last night I heard a Filipino friend talking about how the Philippines would benefit from a monarchy. He had some good arguments, but I think the sad story of the trapped and fading Princess Masako demonstrates how inappropriate an institition it is for the 21st century.