Delicious tells me I have 240 bookmarks tagged “toread”! Time for some pruning and trimming, and … perhaps even reading.

  1. Yuichiro Edagawa is a Japanese architect. 60 years old, he is still full of energy and plans. He has just published a photo-book that introduces Japan’s architectural heritage, both ancient and modern, to the world. I was interested to see that Edagawa

    during his school days … [sat] for the state exam to become a certified interpreter and guide. He passed that exam and also, many years later, obtained a license as a tour organizer. His interest, however, did not lead him into the tourism industry as a career. He, instead, chose to follow through on an earlier decision to become an architect.

    His book is “Japanese Identities” — Architecture between Aesthetics and Nature” by Yuichiro Edagawa, and is available at Maruzen bookstores in Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sendai and Okayama. It is also available through Amazon in the U.S., U.K. and Germany.

  2. I’ve recently become interested in Japanese movies, thanks to some reviews in the Japan Times. This movie, Byousoku 5cm by Shinkai Makoto, came up in a recent online search (can’t remember what for), but the article caught my eye:

    The Japanese have always been believed to be a stoic and courteous race, perhaps to the extent that they seem almost cold and distant to the West, who in contrast, do not mind displaying affection openly. This cultural stereotype does have its roots, notably in Lafcadio Hearn’s book Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan where he describes the Japanese as having “the most agreeable face possible” to the public and that “even though the heart is breaking, it is a social duty to smile bravely” ([1894] 1976, 659). It is then possible to assume that this instituted politeness has inculcated an innate culture in the Japanese to have what David Matsumoto calls an emotional “inscrutability” (2002, 59) that then gives the impression of an emotional distance exclusive to the Japanese. The idea of the Japanese being “emotionless robots” or at least, people who internalize their feelings because society (“social duty”) prevents them from showing their ‘true’ emotions…. What we can thus gather from this, is the social conditioning that the Japanese have, that in the presence of others, they cannot reveal their honne (“true feelings”) and instead must possess a tatemae (“outward appearance”). It is then interesting to compare this perceived image of Japanese, and contrast it to the seemingly wild, loud, and in some way, uninhibited youth subculture of Japan. The question then arises: do Japanese youth still display this emotional distance? Amidst the hustle and bustle of an increasing urban lifestyle, and encroachment of Western influences, do Japanese youth still subscribe to the age old cultural stereotype as having their emotions constricted by an unspoken societal requirement?
    Byousoku 5cm – the elegiac loss of emotions in Modern Japan

    Released in 2007, Shinkai Makoto’s latest feature film Byousoku 5cm – a chain of short stories about their distance (hereon called Byousoku 5cm) consists of three segments (short stories) inextricably woven together into a film that as the subtitle explains, is about ‘distance’. In contrast to his previous films, which dealt with fantasy and/or science fiction elements, Byousoku 5cm is firmly rooted in reality, thus effectively conveying the problems that the Japanese youth face against temporal, spatial and interpersonal distance. This is reflected in the title of the film, where Byousoku 5cm (the speed of 5cm per second) refers to the speed of which cherry blossom petals fall, being a metaphor for the transient nature of humans, of how despite the slowness of life, people who start at the same origin often drift into their own paths.

    Think I’ll check it out. Here’s the English Wikepedia entry for the movie, and for Shinkai Makoto.