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Book review & giveaway 4: Yokai Attack!

14 Sep

This is the fourth in my series of book reviews from Tuttle Publishers. And, just as with the previous three, the publishers will be giving (gave) away a free copy of this book to a random visitor of my blog.

The details of the giveaway will be at the end of this post.

The book that I’m reviewing this time is titled: “Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide” by Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt.

yokai

What are “yokai“? In Japanese, “yokai” is written as 「妖怪」 and it’s the word for Japanese monsters or ghouls.

I have been interested in monsters since I was a young kid…and when I came to Japan I got interested in Japanese yokai.
(I have a few posts about them…including this one.)
So, of course, I was happy to get this book! And it did not disappoint me!

The wonderful book is perfect for anyone interested in monsters, Japanese culture, or folktales (especially Japanese ones).
I’m interested in all of those…so I like this book a lot!

Before I read this book I already knew about a number of Japanese yokai…but this book is comprehensive. I even learned something about yokai that I knew well.

There are 49 Japanese monsters introduced in “Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide“. The book describes each yokai’s physical appearance and explains the meaning of its name, its strengths and weakness, and how to survived an encounter with one.

Nearly every page has wonderful illustrations by Tatsuya Morino.

Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide” can purchased here.

As I mentioned above though, Tuttle Publishing has kindly agreed to give (given) one random visitor to my blog a free copy of this book.
To enter in the drawing simply fill out this form by Saturday, 2014 September 27th.

(Click here to enter the drawing for a free copy (read a review) of a book about Ukiyoe.)

***** Updated September 28th, 2014 *****

This special promo ended on 2014 September 27th. One random winner was selected and contacted directly by Tuttle Publishers (via email) with the details about the free book.

Thank you to all who entered, but only the winner was contacted.
*****

2014 Godzilla trailer

7 Apr

Here’s the new trailer for the upcoming 2014 U.S./Japan collaboration “Godzilla” movie:

All You Need Is Kill

5 Jan

I’ve written a post before about some of the numerous Hollywood that were either inspired by Japan or were actual remakes of Japanese movies.

(Click here to read it.)

Well, recently Hollywood has made more Japan-inspired films.

For example…

– Japanese title: ウルヴァリン SAMURAI (Wolverine Samurai) / U.S. title: “The Wolverine

「ウルヴァリン SAMURAI」 (“The Wolverine”)

–  “47 Ronin

47 Ronin

– Japanese title: ゴジラ (Gojira) / U.S. title: “Godzilla

ゴジラ

And now, I’ve heard that Tom Cruise is in a new movie called Edge Of Tomorrow which is an adaptation of the Japanese novelオール ユー ニード イズ キル」 (All You Need Is Kill).

Edge Of Tomorrow

「オール ユー ニード イズ キル」(“All You Need Is Kill”)….the Japanese novel that Edge Of Tomorrow is a remake of.

Godzilla 2014

7 Oct

In 1998, Hollywood made a 「ゴジラ」 (“Godzilla“) movie.

1998

Or, I should say, they tried to make a Godzilla movie.  It wasn’t very good. Most people, especially die-hard Godzilla fans disliked that movie.

So, it was a bit of a surprise when another Hollywood studio announced that they will release another big-budget “Hollywood” Godzilla movie.

But, they assure us, this one will be a “true” Godzilla film. It’s going to more like the Japanese Godzilla movies.  In fact, it isn’t going to be entirely made by an American studio…the Hollywood studio “Warner Bros.” and the Japanese studio “Toho” (who made the original Godzilla movies) have collaborated to make the upcoming Godzilla movie that is scheduled for release in 2014.

ゴジラ

The movie flyer even has the name 「ゴジラ」 written in Japanese

Famous Japanese

27 Nov

People around the world can name American presidents, American movie actors, American pop music artists, American companies, and American fictional characters.

They’re world famous.

It’s been that way for at least a few generations now.

But before I came to Japan, there was no internet back then and Japanese food and pop culture wasn’t popular around the world like it’s become in recent years.
Back then, I wouldn’t have been able to name a single Japanese prime minister.
The only Japanese actor I knew back then was Pat Morita (from “Karate Kid“)…and he was actually a Japanese-American.
The only Japanese musicians I knew were Yoko Ono and the Japanese heavy metal band Loudness.
Of course, I would have been able to name a number of Japanese companies such as Sony, Toshiba, Toyota, Honda, etc.
As for Japanese fictional characters, I knew Ultraman and Godzilla.

I’ve now been living in Japan for most of my life…so, I probably know more about Japan than I know about America anymore.

How about you? How familiar are you with Japan and Japanese culture?

What famous Japanese people do you know?
Japanese characters?
How about Japanese food / dishes?
Actors / actresses?
Bands / musicians?
How about Japanese words?
Japanese cities?
Or any other things you know about Japan?

Let me introduce you to…

13 Nov

I have written a number of posts about interesting people. Most of whose stories are related to Japan in some way.
Maybe you haven’t seen many of them…so I decided to put links to all of them on a new page that I titled “Who’s Who?“.

Please check them out and leave comments to let me know what you think.

The new page is here.

I like monsters

25 Aug

KISS has announced that they will release an album of all new songs sometime next year (2012) titled “Monster“.

KISS...still the hottest band in the world!

Ever since I was a kid I’ve always liked monsters.

When I watched the Disney cartoon “Peter Pan” as a child, for example, I didn’t care for Peter Pan or any of his friends. They were too “regular”.
Unlike Peter Pan with his pansy outfit and little knife, Captain Hook had a sword and a sharp hook instead of a hand.
(Admittedly though, Peter Pan could fly, which would be fun and Hook didn’t dress much better than Peter Pan.)
Captain Hook was the first movie character that frightened me…and even at that young age I enjoyed being frightened a bit.

Who cares about a practical prosthetic when you can have one that puts the fear of god in people?!

When I was a bit older, I saw Star Wars for the first time.  I was only seven years old when the first movie in the series was released, so I was a bit too young to fully understand the story.  But I still  enjoyed it a lot.  Especially when “Darth Vader” made his entrance!
Luke Skywalker was the hero…but Darth Vader stole every scene in was in.

The "Dark Side"

And of course I’ve always like the “traditional” monsters…Frankenstein’s Monster, The Werewolf, and Dracula.

And when I came to Japan, I learned about 妖怪 (Japanese monsters).

"Ge-ge-ge Kitaro" is Japanese cartoon inspired by traditional Japanese monster and ghost stories.

Even my favorite superhero character has always been “The Incredible Hulk“. He’s anger-incarnate. A huge pissed-off monster! The coolest of the superheroes.

Hulk will smash even Superman

Even the music I listen to reflects my interest in monsters.
I like heavy metal music. There’s a reason that the soundtracks to many horror movies are full of heavy metal music…heavy metal is to music as horror is to movies.

If you’re not interested in heavy metal, you may not know that that genre of music is further divided into sub-genres.
The sub-genre of metal music that I like the most is “Shock Rock“. It’s just as visual as it is musical. Shock Rock artist—such as KISS, W.A.S.P., Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and Lordi—often look like monsters.

Alice Cooper

Anyways, as I mentioned at the top of this post, KISS will be releasing a new album soon.  The last time they they released a new album was about two years ago…it was titled “Sonic Boom“.

As I mentioned, KISS‘s new album will be titled “Monster“.  It’s an excellent album title…I can’t believe they haven’t used it before!

So far only five song titles have been confirmed by the band.  They are: “Hell Or Hallelujah”, “Born To Be A Sinner”, “Out Of This World”, “Are You Ready?”, and “Wall Of Sound”.

I’m looking forward to getting this album.

Godzilla in Tokyo and Godzilla in Hollywood

2 Apr

The Japanese baseball player Hideki Matsui used to play for the New York Yankees major league team until he began playing for the Los Angeles Angels last December.

(Click here to read the post I wrote last December about him moving from the Yankees to the Angels.)

His nickname is “Godzilla“.

He is currently the spokesman in Japan for the Kirin “Fire” canned coffee and in 新宿 (Shinjuku, Tokyo) there is a huge balloon in his likeness wearing a baseball uniform similar to his L.A. Angels uniform that has “Fire” emblazoned on the front.
The balloon statue is leaning on a giant can of “Fire” coffee.

The campaign is called 「ビッグマツイ」 (“Big Matsui“).

My daughter had to go to Shinjuku today, so she took a couple photos of this giant display with her cell-phone camera when she passed by it.

Here are her photos of the giant Hideki Matsui balloon in Shinjuku (you can see how big it is in proportion to the people standing near it):

"Godzilla" has hit Tokyo again!

Speaking of Godzilla…this time the iconic Japanese monster called 「ゴジラ」 (“Gojira“) in Japan and “Godzilla” in other countries that continually destroys Tokyo in his countless movies from Japan’s Toho Studios.

I wrote a post last summer (click here to read it) about the numerous Hollywood remakes of Japanese movies…including a 1998 remake of Godzilla that was poorly received by both critics and fans.

Hollywood's "Godzilla", circa 1998

I also wrote a post last April (click here to read this one) about both America’s “King Kong” and Japan’s “Godzilla“…and the classic film in which they battled each other.

Well, America’s “Legendary Pictures” has just announced their intention to film another “Godzilla” movie.

The movie is scheduled to be released sometime in 2012.

A major complaint that many people had about the 1998 American remake of “Godzilla” was that both the storyline as well as the appearance of the monster were too different from the Japanese movies.

Legendary Studios has implied that their version of Godzilla will stay true to the Japanese original.

According to their press release:

“…Legendary intends to approach the (Godzilla) film and its characters in the most authentic manner possible….”

That would probably be a good strategy if they want their movie to be successful…especially here in Japan.
Because in Japan many of the characters from Japanese classic movies, such as Ultraman and Godzilla, are still very popular.
Their movies are still made nowadays.

2009 Dec "Ultraman" movie poster

"Godzilla: Final Wars" movie poster; circa 2004

200,000 hits

29 Dec

I started this blog 21 months ago (on 2008 March 26).
In the beginning, this blog only received about twenty hits per day, but since then, the number of visitors has steadily climbed, I’m happy to say.
Now my blog gets an average of 840 hits per day.

My blog's monthly stats for 2008 March - 2009 December

Last summer, this blog reached 100,000 hits.
In the four months since then, my blog has gotten another 100,000 hits.

This blog has had 200,084 visits at the time I wrote this post.

Thank you to all of the people who visit this blog…especially the ones who visit and comment regularly!

My most popular posts are currently about:
A Japanese manga called “Death Note“,
another one called “Detroit Metal City“,
McDonalds in Japan,
the Hollywood remake of the Japanese movie titled “Hachiko“,
King Kong vs Godzilla, and
Sea Shepherd.

Which the first post you read on my site? Which types of posts do you like?

Godzilla will move to California

15 Dec

I just heard on TV today that the Japanese baseball player Hideki Matsui, who was recently chosen as the New York Yankees MVP (Most Valuable Player) in the World Series game that they just played not long ago, will be changing teams after playing for the Yankees for six years.

Once the 2010 professional baseball season starts, Matsui will begin his one year contract playing for the Los Angeles Angels baseball team…and will earn US $6.5 million (about JPY ¥583 million).

Hideki Matsui started his professional baseball career playing for the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants baseball team from 1993 -2002.

He was given the nickname “Godzilla“…originally because of his bad skin complexion, but later it referred to his powerful batting.

Tokyo Giants

In 2003, he began playing for the New York Yankees of the Major League Baseball (MLB) in America.

Even in America, he was still called “Godzilla“…and he still batted powerfully!

Godzilla demolished his bat!

I guess New York Yankees fans are disappointed to see him leave for Los Angeles…possibly the same way Tokyo Giants fans felt when he left to play in America six years ago.