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Tears for Japan: My Neighbor Totoro

15 Mar

Whatever I might write here about the ongoing devastation in Japan, the situation will have changed by the time you read it.

All I know is that I think of the Japanese rural areas affected by the quakes, the tsunamis, the radiation releases, and I can only imagine Totoro weeping.

My Neighbor Totoro is a sweet film about two girls living in rural Japan, their parents, and the forest spirits who watch over and protect them. Nothing happens quickly in this film, and nothing should. It is a meditation on love, on family, and perhaps also on animism, one of the basic principles of Shinto, a significant religion in Japan. It tells a story about fear, and love, and joy, and being comforted and helped by spirits that perhaps nobody else can see, or understand.

Totoro may not be the sort of spirit one would pray to for intervention. While he occasionally does step in to save the day, he’s more the type to give quiet comfort, to roar and fly and pull full-grown trees quickly from the ground. He’s whimsical, and childlike at times. Umbrellas confuse and delight him. He doesn’t always seem to understand how large he is (look how he tries to protect himself from the rain in the movie poster pictured here).

I’ve heard from a couple friends in the Tokyo area, and they both tell the same story: Stranded after the earthquake, impossibly long walk home, difficult logistics, continuing aftershocks, new challenges. And the situation in Tokyo doesn’t compare to the level of devastation nearer the epicenter.

I think of Totoro, and his quiet comfort, and I hope something like that is with the people of Japan today.

My Thoughts and Prayers are With Japan

11 Mar

I woke up to the news of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, and to warnings of (smaller) tsunamis en route to Hawaii (now hit, not bad) and California (still waiting, but hopefully much weaker impact by the time it hits there). My heart sank. My thoughts are with the people of Japan, and also with those currently evacuating and making other preparations in many parts of the world.

The BBC is my go-to for major news stories. Here’s their special report on the crisis in Japan.

Tokyo Disneyland? Don’t get all worked up about what you might see on twitter. Yes it’s been affected but check some live coverage here, and chill. (Hat tip to my good friend Trace for the link.)

 

My Anime Boston 2011 Panels: Hello Kitty Theme Park, Family Geekdom

23 Feb

Dear Daniel at Sanrio Puroland

Hello Kitty's boyfriend (husband?) Dear Daniel, in the Sanrio Puroland afternoon parade

Long-term readers of this blog might just remember that my favorite non-Disney theme park is Sanrio Puroland, the five-story indoor Hello Kitty theme park I visited in 2002.

Sanrio Puroland is located in Tama City, about 30 minutes outside Tokyo. You can take the subway there, if you don’t mind traveling through a good number of stations where the signs are written only in Japanese and Chinese characters. Luckily, I had a Japanese friend in Tokyo who gave me excellent directions, and my then-five-year-old son and I found our way there with little difficulty (the rest of the family decided to spend the day in Tokyo rather than visiting Hello Kitty’s homeland . . . gee, I can’t imagine why!).

This April, at Anime Boston 2011, I’ll be presenting a session titled, “Hello Kitty Holyland: A Personal Journey.” From the not-yet-published Anime Boston 2011 program guide:

Sure, you love Hello Kitty, but did you know she has her very own fivestory indoor theme park in Tama City, a quick commute from Tokyo? And have you ever considered making the ultimate Sanrio pilgrimage? Come to this panel to hear first-hand stories of my journey to this site where gaijin rarely tread with my then-five-year-old son, and watch the super-hard-to-find Sanrio animated and live action video that inspired three generations of my family to cross the Pacific.

If you’re going to be at Anime Boston, stop by to say hello! I’m also presenting as part of The Family That Geeks Together:

Ever wonder about this anime stuff your kids are into? Worried you could never understand all these crazy shows? Wish you could clue the parents into how great your favorite shows are, or why you spend all your free time editing AMVs and haunting costume shops? An actual family – two parents & a 14-year-old – talk about their shared love of anime and cosplay, offering tips on bridging the generation gap from either side. Bring your frustrations and questions, and come away with practical ideas for how to make anime cons a new family tradition.

Detailed information about both these panels, as well as my husband‘s panel on Anime and the Japanese Experience of  War, is available on our family Facebook page.

Snow Sculptures at Sapporo Snow Festival

8 Feb

Oooh, pretty pretty! Check out the rest of the sculptures at Pink Tentacle.

Many thanks and a tip o’ the hat to my dear spouse for sending me the link.

WALL-E, Japanese Cell Phones, and Badtz-Maru Dancer

5 Sep

There’s something about this image that just screams “Blade Runner” to me…but maybe that’s because I was listening to 80’s Movie and Music Cafe chattering about that movie this morning….I think I need an evening on the couch reacquainting myself with that classic!

But I digress…this picture actually comes to us from Japan, via Pink Tentacle, which tells us about a new ad technology being tested on Japanese cell phones (which, as we all know, are frequently signs of what’s coming next, especially when those trendsetting schoolgirls get involved):

Japan’s first field test of “smart posters” using Near Field Communication (NFC) — a short-range high-frequency wireless communication technology that lets users view digital content simply by holding their compatible cellphones near the posters — is being conducted at a Chiba-area shopping mall, it was announced on September 2.

Major phone operator SoftBank Mobile, along with NTT Data, Hitachi and Dutch smart chip maker Gemalto, are testing the technology with WALL-E and Tinker Bell movie posters embedded with NFC tags.

Strangely enough, when I did a google image search for “softbank mobile tinker bell,” an unrelated image from my very own blog showed up. I guess I’m tired and spacey from too much fun last night (belly dancers! sword fights! all-girl Queen tribute band Gunpowder Gelatine!), but this picture makes me smile so much I just have to share it with you…it is a treasured memory from my 2002 trip to Sanrio Puroland.

Guess I need a research trip to Japan to check out those cell phone ads, look for Tinker Bell, and check out the current version of the Sanrio Puroland 3PM parade.

Mickey with the Japanese Battle Flag?

17 Jan

From Dark Roasted Blend.

Mr Broke Hoedown tells me that Mickey’s flying the battle flag of the old Japanese empire. Anybody out there able to translate the text?

Would You Love a Disney 3G iPhone?

4 Jan

Pink Tentacle has a summary of a recent DIME magazine article about upcoming events and products expected for Japan in 2008, including this section on Apple and Disney tapping into the Japanese mobile phone market:

Of the countless new electronic products to be unveiled in Japan this year, few are likely to generate the amount of buzz that will accompany the Japanese launch of the yet-to-be-announced 3G iPhone. For the time being, would-be iPhone fans are holding their collective breath for all the gory details and specs, which may or may not come out at MacWorld 2008 (January 14-18).

Disney is also expected to make a splash with its entry into the mobile phone service market in spring. Working with Softbank, Disney will deliver mobile content to subscribers and help to develop new handsets — which means we can probably look forward to an explosion of character-themed phones as the year progresses. (On a separate but related note, Tokyo Disneyland will be holding a year-long celebration to mark its 25th anniversary. Festivities will include the grand opening of the 705-room Victorian-style Tokyo Disneyland Hotel this summer.)

Tangentially, Blue Sky Disney this week spoke of a rumored appearance by Disney at the upcoming MacWorld conference January 14-18:

It’s long been known that the Mouse has been having a closer and closer relationship with the Fruit company. There has been speculation that in the next year or so Apple could possibly come out with a version of Disney Mobile or Disney “branded” iPhone/iPod but no tangible proof is available yet. Mr. Reality-Distortion-Field has been making his presence known in the Boardroom.

I recently picked up a Crackberry, in the hopes that I can converge both my iPod mini and Palm Pilot into my phone, and therefore have two fewer devices to carry, charge, etc. (While I have at this point completely given up my iPod the overall convergence is still a work in progress, one of the results of which was a long rambling email sent last night at about 2AM to one of my podcasting buddies, ranting about the inconsistent and sometimes strange use of ID3 tags among podcasters in general, not that I’m a geek or anything.) Would I give up my Crackberry sometime down the line if a Disney iPhone became available? Maybe. Even I have limits.

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