Tag Archives: Japanese idol

What I am reading at the moment

At the moment I cannot immerse myself in reading particular subjects that interest me, e.g. philosophy or psychology. To some extent, my unbounded enthusiasm does not appear to be boundless just now. For now it is best for me to read something lighter; something that I usually enjoy whenever I leaf through my books.

I bought this anthology ages ago but, until yesterday, I had not found the perfect opportunity to savour it. It was compiled and translated by The Japan Foundation. The book contains the various informative views of novelists, critics, translators and artists alike, on Murakami’s work and his phenomenon around the world; in other words, it is a symposium on Haruki Murakami and his works of art.

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I need a day to decompress

I have been learning like mad since I came back from my holiday. I have been stretching myself too much trying to gain knowledge for the past few weeks and feel too exhausted to keep it up. It gets more and more difficult to concentrate on what I am studying. It is time for me to mellow out a bit.

Initially, I was going to write something to make fun of the Eurovision song contest; to say how cheesy the event was, but yesterday I was slightly sick with a bit of a headache and nauseous feeling. I ended up doing nothing in particular except for sitting in front of the telly and watching some evening programmes for a couple of hours. As the time passed the pain in my head gradually eased away, as did the day, leaving me without the chance to do more productive things.

Today I am determined to do nothing at all apart from indulging myself in reading “Audition”. So far the story has developed slowly and it will continue at a steady pace until it reaches the climax and its shocking ending. As I watched the film adaption of the book, I already know what will happen. Knowing what it is all about spoils the book a bit; yet the novel is still a good read. Just so that you are aware, there is also an upcoming movie adapted from another book of Ryu Murakami called, “Coin Locker Babies”.

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Highly recommended

On Tuesday, I receieved a bound-to-be very exciting novel called “Paprika“,  by a Japanese novelist, Yasutaka Tsutsui. The book was published just this month and this latest is the third of his books, after Salmonella Men on Planet Porno and Hell, that appear in English. You can read about him and his work on Wikipedia via the link.  Apparently, some have already ranked him alongside my dear Murakami. Others have even said that  he is more fun than my Japanese idol. From what I saw in an animated version of the book, I am inclined to agree with them.

I have been watching Paprika for a second time, especially to write about it on my blog. The story goes like this:

“The DC Mini, which is a scientific device that allows psychiatrists, scientists (or anybody who knows how to use it) to open the door to people’s dreams has been stolen. The aim of creating this revolutionary machine was to use it to treat mental and psychiatric illnesses by looking inside patients’ dreams. Whoever stole the DC Mini, which is not yet complete and has no access control program, can connect to a psychotherapy machine at any time and from any place and use it to intrude into the minds connected to it. And that was what happened.

The chef who works at the Foundation for Psychiatric Research where the device was developed was the first victim and had the dream of a severely delusional patient planted into his brain. While the chef was suffering from the patient’s fantasy, his brain waves and body deteriorated, almost to the point of death. Then Paprika, a fearless detective and therapist who represents Dr. Chiba, the head of the DC Mini development team, had to enter into the chef’s dream with the help of the device, in order to return him to consciousness. Things started getting worse when another of her colleagues behind the invention of this device was trapped into a collective, huge delusional dream. So, not only does she have to save him from his unconscious nightmare, she also needs to get the device back as soon as possible before it falls into the wrong hands such as “dream terrorists”.”

In short, in order to understand this gripping story, I strongly recommend obtaining the book and the DVD. Enjoy!

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A writer as a runner

Yodmanudying at Yodmanudying’s Blog wrote a very well-thought out topic about Murakami’s memoir; “What I Talk About When I talk About Running”. It is a very good analysis of the book, but unfortunately it was not written in English. Too bad, I am not going to translate her entry into English and post it into my blog either. 🙂 Instead, owing to the fact that I have not fully recovered from jet lag or more truthfully because of my laziness, I have decided to re-publish the comment that I posted on her blog regarding the subject, as follows:

As a writer who wants to have a long run in a professional writing career, Mr. Murakami decided to make himself as healthy as he could by going to bed early, quitting smoking and keeping his body fit by running a marathon. To be a good runner he has to drive himself hard physically. Running is a time consuming activity and needs effort. The same applies to his job as a novelist which requires physical and mental drive. Aside from having talent in piecing words, phrases and sentences together, a good novelist must be able to keep his concentration and focus, as well as the ability to endure the long hard work associated with writing a novel. Here we can see the obvious comparison between his writing and running. What I like about this book is Murakami’s acceptance of the reality of his age. When a person gets older, no matter how hard he trains, he is never going to maintain the same pace as the young man he once was, but as he says in his book, “At least He Never Walked.”

It is a revealing book of the memoirs of a great writer and a decent runner. It is a jolly good read.

I often find inspiration in his books. Because not everyone is born with talent, but with sheer determination, will power and more importantly, believing and having confidence in yourself, you can still do eveything as best as you can. Even if it does not turn out as you expected, at least, you have experienced and tried.

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I am so happy and sleepy, but this is not relevant to this entry

I have plenty of things to say and they have been weighing on my mind.  I will try my best to get some of them out of my head in an organised way, at least I am trying, despite being rather sleepy.

I have just finished reading Underground, one of Murakami’s books. Which means I have read all of his current work until his new book comes out in the near future. I bought this book some years ago but could not get round to reading it; the reason for this is that I could not cope with the very small font. It drove me nuts and because of this, it was extremely difficult for me to concentrate on the story. Eventually, I managed to give it a go again, although it took me ages to finish it. After a lot of effort, especially with my hands sweating profusely every time I picked up the book,  I thought of it as a very interesting read.

Underground is a journalistic piece of work, in which the author interviewed the victims affected by the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. Murakami also interviewed members and former members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, the leader of which, Shoko Asahara, ordered some of his close followers to perpetrate this senseless act of terrorism. The story provides an insight into the lives of the innocent people who were caught off guard by the horror of the event.  Not only does it reveal how they felt about the incident, the book also provides some background information on these people – who they were, what they did and where they came from – so as to establish their characteristics. As sorry as I felt for the victims, I found the interviews a little bit repetitive. Understandably, the author wanted to give a precise account of what really happened on the underground on that particular Monday.

The second part of the book both irritates and intrigues me at the same time. In this section, the interviews allow us to go inside the minds of those who seek refuge – or as they call it “searching for enlightenment” –  in a religious cult. What I gathered from the interviewees was their sense of alienation, loneliness and isolation. They were disillusioned with the hard realities of life and were trying their best to look for something more meaningful in their existence. Some, with a background of good education and respected jobs, decided to abandon their lives and promising careers to  join this doomsday cult, pinning all their hopes on the the leader of Aum to cast light on the questions that they had been asking themselves. They gave up their own identities and ways of thinking and instead, replaced them with the guru’s ego and his flawed, warped ideologies, deserting a human’s basic common sense of what is right and wrong.  Because of this, to me, they  were just weaklings who were exploited by their master.

What I gleaned from reading this book was a personal understanding of my own imperfect Self. No matter how hard I try, I will never be completely fulfilled in life, but nevertheless shouldn’t I make the most of it? It does not matter who I am and what I do as long as I cause no trouble to anybody and have the ability to make my own decisions on how to live my life. I think I am satisfied with myself. At least, I would never dream of hurting other people like some of the Aum people did in the Underground.

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My favourite new dance routine

Kawaii is a Japanese word which means cute or pretty. And I think the word is appropriately used in relation to the Japanese, as they are such lovely people, and to their popular culture which is so endearing and interesting. Because of this, I suppose, lots of Thais, including myself, are nuts about many cool things from this likeable nation.

Last weekend, I came across a Japanese band, called Sweet Vacation on NHK World, Japan’s public broadcast TV channel which appeared unannounced on Sky last week. The band consists of two members: a Thai female lead singer who sings brilliantly in Japanese, and a Japanese male musician. I do not know much about their music but I find their songs, like the one in this video, very catchy. While I was listening to it, I felt like shaking my body and dancing with the tune although I cannot understand the lyrics; and in fact I do not need to either. I am still able to enjoy this tuneful song.

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Murakami day, again

I was not going to write about him again but I cannot help it as today is the day that I am going to be able to watch the programme about him on BBC1 for the first time. As far as I know, he has not appeared on British television before. This is probably the first time that he has given an interview on TV, though I gather that he has allowed only his voice to be heard. My understanding is that he usually tries to avoid drawing attention to himself by appearing only rarely on TV or in any form of media. Like many great living authors his work should be judged by its quality, not because of the fact that people know him via the press. That is how I feel about the way he conducts himself in the public’s eyes.

To celebrate this special day, I bet you can tell how happy I am, I would like to mention some of the movies that have been made from his work: ‘Tony Takitani’, as seen in the first clip, is based on the short story of the same name and is part of the short stories collection, ‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman’. It is possibly one of the most melancholy and beautiful films I have ever watched and Tony Takitani is probably one of the most lonely fictitious characters that I have come across. To me, it is so true to the short story and is an excellent film adaptation.

‘All God’s Children Can Dance’ again has the same title as the short story and is in Mr. Murakami’s short stories collection, ‘After the Quake’. The trailer was especially cut for the first issue of Monocle magazine, appearing on the magazine’s website. The movie was directed by the first time filmmaker, Robert Logevall. I read the story many moons ago, but have not yet been able to watch this film. I have been anxious to see it for so long and I am still waiting and waiting. Some day soon my long waiting will end. I hope.

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