Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Little Humor

This post has absolutely nothing to do with worship or the arts. It's just for fun. I came across a video series called "The Japanese Tradition" by the Japanese comedy duo "The Ramens." And I almost fell out of my chair laughing. It's really understated humor, so not everyone will get it, but for those that do, it will brighten your day. The first two links are understandable by anyone, even if you're not in Japan, and from there they get a little harder to understand without some personal experience. Enjoy!

Chopsticks (3:18) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjuD52s0GBs&feature=related
Origami (6:24) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhSjtXKsSJQ&feature=related
Sushi (8:07) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIb6ZSqal64&feature=related
Shazai - How to Apologize (3:38) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4bMM73-qHo&feature=related
Green Tea [not yet subtitled] (3:00) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLtaVoH0WAc&feature=related

Kosai - Dating (27:10) - This is the best one by far. It's hilarious, but it's 27 minutes long, and requires a bit of Japanese cultural knowledge. It's split into 4 parts.
Part 1 - http://youtube.com/watch?v=PO5IDiYPXPo
Part 2 - http://youtube.com/watch?v=iPa2WIIaVY4&feature=related
Part 3 - http://youtube.com/watch?v=dID_LZwQgmI&feature=related
Part 4 - http://youtube.com/watch?v=YPrvWxittxY&feature=related

Friday, March 21, 2008

Prince Caspian Screening in Tokyo

Link CAN got the opportunity to book a group of nine to a screening of Prince Caspian, the second in the series of Narnia films being produced by Disney.

The large theater in Shinjuku was packed with media people, at least six hundred of them. We only got to see around fifteen minutes of footage, and at least half of it was still in the rough cut stage of editing, so there were blank areas, and other anomalies.

But, I was VERY impressed with what they showed us of Prince Caspian. "The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe," (the first film in this series) was rather disappointing to me, not bad, just not as good as it could have been. So I was pleased to see that this second movie is going to be far better than the first one. Why? There is a lot of action, darker, better acting, a better story, and an important point for me is that Aslan promises to be a great deal more captivating than he was in the first film.

Both the producer, Mark Johnson, and Ben Burnes (Prince Caspian), showed up for the event. We got to hear about 45 minutes of comments from Johnson and Burnes, and then a short Q and A time (one of our party noted that only women were called on to ask a question -- I have no idea what that means).

Quoting Mark Johnson (Producer) :
  • "Very different (than the first movie), more dramatic, darker, a lot more action... takes place mostly in woods."
  • "The trees are very, very important in this movie."
  • Part of the journey of this movie is to bring out the trees, it is through Aslan that the trees are brought back to life.
Quoting Ben Burnes (Prince Caspian)
  • "A story about bringing the magic back into Narnia."
  • "I spent the morning praying in a Shinto shrine for the success of the movie."
  • There are 1,600 effects shots in the movie, only 600 of which are done at this time -- "we will have it done on May 15 and not a day before that."
Prince Caspian will be released in the US on May 16, 2008 & in Japan on May 21, 2008

“Channel of Hope”

Redemptive Media For Japanese

Photo by Dan Waber

Produce quality, captivating films, in Japanese, that will “connect” with mainstream Japanese and draw them towards putting their faith in Jesus Christ. We will use the strategy of building bridges to people by telling great stories and by posing the great questions of life. “Channel of Hope” is a “New Media” approach that will allow interactivity and worldwide distribution via the Internet. We will pursue leveraging the “Power For Living” campaign by seeking permission to feature several of the celebrities that took part in that project. We will also network, encourage, and empower a select group of individuals in the art of filmmaking.

There is considerable interest in Christianity in Japan, especially among youth. A comprehensive study of Japanese people and religion - conducted by Gallup - documented that six to seven percent of Youth identify themselves as ‘Christian’. Another research project – ‘Elijah Symposium’ - identified 7% of the youth of Japan as ‘hot prospects’ for the Gospel.

For information on the strategic opportunity for Internet based outreach in Japan, see the Internet Evangelism Day Site.

What We See:
  • A skilled, dedicated core team with common values & vision.
  • A small cadre of Christians trained and equipped to become influential leaders in Japan’s film industry.
  • A partnership with several key churches and ministries.
  • A large network of churches, groups, and individuals praying for and supporting the project.
  • A personal connection (via the interactive channel on youtube) between viewers and a believer who will follow up on questions, comments, and provide referals to local churches.
  • A growing library of award-winning, redemptive films in a wide variety of genres (five films the first year, ten more the second).
  • A well-funded project with a good business plan that results in long-term financial stability.
  • A project that benefits Japanese society by addressing social issues such as suicide, depression, and the hikikomori syndrome.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Tree of Life & the Tree of Knowledge -- A Response

Thanks Scot for "The Tree of Life & the Tree of Knowledge" post. As you know, Japanese pop culture is saturated with spiritual symbols and themes (it astounds me how often I hear someone label Japan "secular" -- using the word to mean that there is a very low interest in the metaphysical).

You posted your article about the tree being an important symbol in Japanese media the day after Jonathan Herring and I visited Meiji shrine in Harajuku (one of the more important Shinto shrines in Japan). Meiji shrine is huge, the biggest I have seen. We entered the grounds and walked along a lovely path with a majestic forest on both sides. This path passes through three large torii (shinto gates) made from massive trees (each vertical post and cross beam is made from a single tree); the gates lead into an alternative world.

After walking for ten minutes we arrived at the main shrine, which is an amazingly ornate and large complex of buildings, gates and fences that took a tremendous amount of skill to build. In the court yard is a very old, stunningly beautiful "sacred tree" that is surrounded by a wooden fence. The fence has a large number of pegs on it where people hang little wooden placards with personal prayers written on them (the placards are sold for 500 yen each, there were well over five thousand of them hanging on the pegs, I will have to go back and find out how often they are removed to make room for new ones).

I was deeply impressed by the size and majesty of this tree, and by the way thousands of people believe that it is a source of power. Well dressed, educated, articulate Japanese (plus a few foreigners) going to a majestic tree to get some help for their problems.

In Japan the spiritual significance of trees (what Scot observes in Japanese pop culture) began long ago when the land was covered with virgin forests full of magnificent trees like the one at Meiji shrine. It must have been awe inspiring to walk in such a forest; I would love to be able to do so.

Thanks again Scot for your excellent article!

The second and third photos are by Richard Eccleston