Archive | March, 2011

Best movie quotes

31 Mar

Sometimes quotes from songs and movies become so well-known and often used that eventually many people don’t even know that the expression came from a pop song or movie.

For example, have you ever heard this quote:

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

Do you know where that simple but inspiring quote is from?

It’s a line in the song “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon that was written for his son Sean Lennon.

John Lennon's "Double Fantasy" album (which includes the song "Beautiful Boy")

Here are some of the most often quoted lines from movies that I could think of off the top of my head (in no particular order):

I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse!

-Marlon Brando (from “The Godfather“)

(I have a feeling) we’re not in Kansas anymore

-Judy Garland (from “The Wizard Of Oz“)

Go ahead, make my day!

-Clint Eastwood (from “Sudden Impact“)

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.

-Strother Martin (from “Cool Hand Luke“)

Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!

-Charlton Heston (from “Planet Of The Apes“)

Have you seen any of these movies? Surely you’ve heard those quotes before. Did you know they were from those movies?
What other famous movie quotes can you think of?

The U.S. military are Japan’s “friends”

29 Mar

Since the 2011 March 11 earthquake that struck 東北地方 (the Tohoku Region of Japan), the overseas media have reported extensively on Japanese manners and the excellent rescue and repair work conducted by the Japanese…especially those willing to risk their lives.

But with a disaster of this scale it goes without saying that Japan needs help. And people from all over the world have been extremely kind and generous. Immediately after the tsunami destroyed the lives of so many in the Sendai area, rescue teams and donations came to help from many countries.

I saw a news report on TV here in Japan that focused on the U.S. military’s relief assistance in Sendai and Fukushima.

The U.S. military has a number of bases in various parts of Japan and the Japanese people understand the sacrifices that those in the military make and most of the Japanese people appreciate the protection that the U.S. military gives to Japan by having bases here.
But it’s a bit of a perennial problem in Japan. The U.S. bases take up valuable land in this small country, there have been a number of crimes, sometimes violent ones, committed by American servicemen stationed here, and some of the bases are for the Air Force and have noisy jets flying overheard all day everyday which greatly disturbs the people who live in the vicinity.

But since America has sent over 18,000 American service-people from the bases around Japan to help with the rescue and rebuilding of the Sendai area and also helping to cool down the nuclear plant in Fukushima, the people of Japan have seen the U.S. military at their best.
And they’re quite good!

The U.S. military has named the work they’re doing 「友だち作戦」 (“Operation: Tomodachi”).
「友だち」 (“Tomodachi“) is Japanese for “friends“.

They have a patch on their sleeve of the Japanese flag with the Japanese character 「」 which says “friend” in Japanese. And 「がんばろう日本」 which means “We can do it, Japan!“.

The TV news program I saw showed the U.S. Marines giving bottled water, food and blankets to the people left with nothing since the tsunami. But it also showed them giving American candy and toys to the children who lost everything they own. Toys and chocolate may seem unimportant…unless you saw the big smiles of those children. It was very heartwarming and thoughtful of the Marines to remember to bring something for those kids.

But the most impressive things I saw the U.S. Marines do in that report was when they quickly restored electricity to a town that was without power since the earthquake two weeks ago. And also, the Sendai Airport was such a mess and covered with so much debris since the tsunami that the Japanese authorities believed it would take too long to clear the runways for the airport to be of any use to bring much needed relief to the city…but the Marines got busy clearing the mess as soon as they arrived in Sendai and later the same day, the runways were cleared enough to be used!

Even the people who would like the U.S. military to not be stationed in Japan are extremely impressed and grateful for their help!
Thank you U.S. military. You really are a 「友だち」 (tomodachi)!

Idaho to the east, Miami to the west

28 Mar

The four special burgers for the Big America 2 campaign at McDonalds in Japan have all had their turn on the menu.

And now McDonalds Japan is bringing back the “Miami Burger” and the “Idaho Burger“.

Back on the menu for one week only...2011 March 25th - 31st.

I think the two best burgers of the “Big America 2” campaign were the “Texas2 Burger” and the “Miami Burger“…but, unfortunately for me, McDonalds isn’t bringing back the “Miami Burger” and the “Idaho Burger” to their stores across the whole country.
The “Idaho Burger” will be in their stores in 東日本 (east Japan), except for the 東北地方 (“Tohoku Region”) which is the area that was hit by the recent disaster, and the “Miami Burger” will be in McDonalds in 西日本 (western Japan).

Tokyo, which is where I live, is in eastern Japan…so the “Idaho Burger” is available here until 31 March. I prefer the “Miami Burger” though.

I won’t be buying an “Idaho Burger“, but I do plan to try the other new burger that is currently on the menu at McDonalds Japan…the 「チリチキン」 (“Chili Chicken”) sandwich.

The "Chili Chicken" sandwich is available at McDonalds all over Japan.

I love chili and I love chicken…so I think I’ll like this sandwich!

Songs For Japan

26 Mar

A number of American and European pop musicians have contributed songs for a charity album for the victims of the recent disaster in Japan.

The album is titled “Songs For Japan“.

 

"Songs For Japan" album cover

I assume that all of the artists that appear on this album are famous…but I personally have only heard of a few of them (and I like even less of them).

The musicians and track listing on this album are as follows:

01. John LennonImagine
02. U2Walk On
03. Bob DylanShelter From The Storm
04. Red Hot Chili PeppersAround The World
05. Lady GagaBorn This Way
06. BeyonceIrreplaceable
07. Bruno MarsTalking To The Moon
08. Katy PerryFirework
09. RihannaOnly Girl (In The World)
10. Justin TimberlakeLike I Love You
11. MadonnaMiles Away
12. David GuettaWhen Love Takes Over
13. EminemLove The Way You Lie
14. Bruce SpringsteenHuman Touch
15. Josh GrobanAwake
16. Keith UrbanBetter Life
17. Black Eyed PeasOne Tribe
18. P!nkSober
19. Cee Lo GreenIt’s OK
20. Lady AntebellumI Run To You
21. Bon JoviWhat Do You Got?
22. Foo FightersMy Hero
23. R.E.M.Man On The Moon
24. Nicki MinajSave Me
25. SadeBy Your Side
26. Michael BubleHold On
27. Justin BieberPray
28. AdeleMake You Feel My Love
29. EnyaIf I Could Be Where You Are
30. Elton JohnDon’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
31. John MayerWaiting On The World To Change
32. QueenTeo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)
33. Kings Of LeonUse Somebody
34. StingFragile
35. Leona LewisBetter In Time
36. Ne-YoOne In A Million
37. ShakiraWhenever, Wherever
38. Norah JonesSunrise

This album costs US$9.99 and is available from i-tunes exclusively. All of the money from this album will be donated to the Red Cross of Japan to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in the Sendai area of Japan.

Click here if you want to buy it.

In honor of the modern day Samurai

25 Mar

Have you ever heard of the 「福島50」 (“Fukushima 50“)?

After the explosion at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan that was caused by the tsunami on 2011 March 11, all of the plant workers were evacuated…except fifty.

These fifty brave men stayed behind, despite the extreme risk to their lives, to try to bring the nuclear plant back under control.

Due to the health risk of prolonged expose to the radiation, a few hundred more volunteers came back to the plant so that they could work to repair the plant in shifts in groups of fifty men each.

The "Fukushima 50" working to bring the plant back online.

I saw an interview on TV with the teenage daughter of one of the Fukushima 50. She said that her father said after the accident at the plant that his experience was needed there and he knew he had to go. She said that she was proud of him for risking his life for the good of the rest of us.

That’s how everyone in Japan feels about all of the Fukushima 50. We are all grateful for their willingness to give the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Here’s an excellent video that someone made and posted on YouTube as a tribute to these modern-day Samurai:

Have you heard about the Fukusima 50 on the news in your country?

Japan is putting aside materialism for Sendai

23 Mar

Do you know the “Ad Council“?

The Ad Council (of America)

If you’re not American, you probably don’t. Even if you are American, you may know their TV ads but not recognize the name.

The Ad Council puts public service commercials on TV. Not trying to sell anything…just addressing a problem in society.

When I lived in America, their most well-known commercials were probably the “Crash Test Dummies” that were used to try to convince people to fasten their seat-belts when they were in a car and anti-drunk driving ads with the catch-phrase “Drinking and driving can kill a friendship“.

The American Ad Council “Crash Test Dummies” seat-belt ad:

The American Ad Council “Drinking and driving can kill a friendship” ad (you can tell it’s from the ’80s…Michael Jackson’s music was playing in the background:

The Ad Council is in Japan as well.
Here it’s called 「社団法人ACジャパン」 (“AC (Ad Council) Japan Association“).

AC Japan logo

The ads by AC Japan are quite different from America’s Ad Council commercials. Rather than car safety the ads here mainly focus on manners.

If you’re in Japan now and you watch Japanese TV you’ve surely noticed that ever since the 2011 March 11 earthquake the commercials on TV here have been almost exclusively AC Japan ads.

This is because it would considered poor taste and a bit rude to show commercials for beer, fast-food, cars, or other materialistic goods when so many people in 東北地方 (the Tohoku Region) have lost so much and are in need of basic necessities.

So, to fill the time spaces in pre-recorded TV shows that are normally for commercial ads…all of the TV stations in Japan put messages from AC Japan in their place.

The ads extol the virtues of reading, recycling, and being polite.

Here’s one that I occasionally saw on TV a couple of years ago but since March 11th, I’ve seen it countless times. It has a good message though…my translation of it would be something like: “No one can see your heart, but everyone can see how you use your heart. No one can see your thoughts, but everyone can see your compassion.”

They also have one titled 「魔法の言葉で」 (“The Magic Words”).

Not easy to explain, but this ad has characters named after some basic Japanese “magic words” of basic manners. The names are a play on words in Japanese…but when translated into English, the word-pun is lost.

"Arigatousagi" ("Thank you Bunny")

"Itadakimausu" (The "Let's Eat" Mouse)

"Gochisousamausu" (The "Thank you for the meal" Mouse)

"Ittekimasukanku" ("I'm Leaving Skunk")

"Konbanwani" ("Good evening Gator")

"Konnichiwan" ("Good Afternoon Doggy")

"Ohayounagi" ("Good morning Eel")

"Oyasuminasai" ("Good night Rhino")

"Sayonaraion" ("Farewell Lion")

"Tadaimanbou" ("I'm Home Sunfish")

See? The names are cute play on words in Japanese…but kinda odd in English.
But you might enjoy the TV ad anyways:

Besides these TV ads in place of regular commercials, other noticeable differences in Tokyo since the disaster of March 11th are shops opening later and closing earlier everyday…and using only the bare minimum of lighting necessary. All shops and places of business are doing it.

This is to conserve electricity since the nuclear power plant disaster. It’s a bit surreal to see the usually well-lit and neon Tokyo nights so dark these days.

Also, the trains in Japan usually have poster ads on the walls and hanging from the ceiling…but, for the same reason as the eliminated TV ads, these days the trains have very few poster ads.

But soon, I’m confident, Japan will be back to normal.

(By the way, if you want to see my post about Japanese train and subway “manner posters”…click here and here.)

Did you know that catfish cause earthquakes?

20 Mar

About nine months ago I wrote a post about a Japanese folklore character called a “Kappa” which is meant to scare children from playing to close to bodies of water where they may drown.

Signs in Japan warning children to stay away from a river or lake almost always have a picture of a Kappa.

But there is another folklore character that is found in warning signs in Japan today. The 鯰 (catfish).

Long ago in Japan it was said that earthquakes were caused by a giant sleeping catfish who lived under the ground when it woke up and began it thrash around.

 

A 浮世絵 (woodblock print) of a god stopping the catfish from causing an earthquake.

So, in Japan today, even though no one actually believes that earthquakes are caused by catfish, signs for earthquake evacuation shelters, earthquake evacuation routes and earthquake safety usually have a picture of a catfish.

 

A roadsign in Japan for an earthquake emergency road.

 

It says: "It's an earthquake! We support you and your families safety with earthquake evacuation"

Even though no one believes the folklore legend about the giant catfish underground causing earthquakes, many people do believe that catfish act peculiar just before an earthquake strikes…and this is where the folklore story may have originated from.

Mu-sa-shi

18 Mar

On the news today they said that the construction of the 東京スカイツリー (Tokyo Sky Tree) reached a height of 634 meters tall at 1:34PM this afternoon.

That means that they are finished building it upwards because it was designed to stand at 634 meters tall.
This height was decided upon for two reasons…first, it is now the world’s tallest free-standing tower, and also in Japanese “6-3-4” can be pronounced as “Mu-sa-shi” which sounds like 「武蔵の国」 (“Musashi“) which is the old name for the area of Tokyo that the towers stands in.

Even though the Tokyo Sky Tree now stands at it’s full height, there is still construction yet to be completed on the tower which isn’t scheduled to be completed until sometime in 2011 December.

The tower is due to open to the public in the spring of 2012.

Last October, they did a test of the tower’s lighting, so we had a preview of what the Tokyo Sky Tree will look like when it’s illuminated every evening.
It’s quite beautiful.
Click here to see the post I wrote with a few photos of the lighting test and a preview of what it’s expected to look like completed and illuminated.

One week later

18 Mar

It’s now 2:47PM on Friday, 2011 March 18th. The biggest earthquake in Japan’s recorded history struck at 2:46PM on Friday, 2011 March 11th…exactly one week ago.

The giant tsunami that was triggered by the earthquake

I wrote this post at 2:47PM and not at 2:46 (the time the ‘quake struck) because at 2:46PM, all of Japan offered one-minute of silence to honor the victims of the tragedy.

It’s one week later and of course too soon for there to have been much significant improvement or recovery from such a major disaster.

Boat left on a house by the tsunami.

Between the search for survivors, rebuilding the intensely damaged areas, and getting the nuclear power plant back under control…Japan is facing a huge challenge. All the while earthquake aftershocks are still occurring…even down here in Tokyo.
But I’m confident life will be back to “normal” soon enough.

Even in a disaster Japan is a great place to live…

17 Mar

I saw a report on TV here in Japan today that media in other countries are marveling at the lack of 略奪 (looting) and 暴動 (rioting) in Japan during this current disaster.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been living here so long, but I think 「当たり前」 (“Of course!”). Why would there be?

But the foreign media have said that often after disasters in other countries, such as Hurricane Katrina in America or the earthquake in Haiti about nine years ago, there was massive rioting and looting.

Looting after the hurricane in Louisiana, USA

But, the foreign reporters were surprised, there have been no reported cases of that anywhere in Japan since the massive earthquake last Friday.

What also surprised them was there isn’t any pushing, shoving or arguing in lines for food, blankets and other donated assistance. The people in Japan calmly and quietly wait in an orderly line for hours sometimes…and only take what they need.

At a shelter in Fukushima, no one expects more than one rice ball and a cup of water per person.

Until I saw this report on TV this morning I had never thought this before. It’s just normal behavior here in Japan.
The reason it’s comfortable and enjoyable to live in Japan…even an extremely densely populated city like Tokyo, is because Japanese people are taught since childhood to think of other people’s feelings.
I have heard, and it’s sounds logical, that American children will behave if there’s a chance of being caught doing something “bad” because they’re taught to fear the consequences of misbehaving…but Japanese children behave because otherwise they may “hurt” someone else.

Also on the news report I watched, they mentioned some American politicians and celebrities, most of whom I’ve never heard of before, had posted some inconsiderate comments about the disaster here.
Most notably were a series of “jokes” about the tsunami by American comedian Gilbert Gottfried (who is the “voice” of the duck in the Aflac TV commercials), and a tweet by an American basketball player named Cappie Pondexter:

What if God was tired of the way they (Japanese people) treated their own people in there (sic) own country! Idk (“I don’t know”) guys, he makes no mistakes.

u just never knw (sic)! They did pearl harbor so u can’t expect anything less

–tweet by Carrie Pondexter