Once again it is 1:45 am and I am staring at the screen. I have stared at it for so long that I thought it inventive to change my wall paper to an image of the HAL 9000. Now I have the friendly red stare of an outdated sci-fi pop reference to keep me company. Hopefully I will not get locked out of the apartment.

Also, helping pass the time is the mindless house keeping of converting and labeling movie files. Over the past few weeks I have easily added seventy titles to my research pile. The quest of getting materials never ends, but steadily I am amassing a collection that is quite enviable to any aspiring film scholar. Especially in the age of torrent all the time instant access, Japanese films have for whatever reason stayed relatively out of reach. That is to say the majority of films not made within the last fifteen years or those not directed by Kurosawa, Ozu, Mizoguchi.

I know this will change over time and in a few years the majority of work I have done will probably become irrelevant, but for the time being I am contented with my hard drive and the files I have amassed. Now the much more important part of watching and dissecting them. Just want for this show to continue.

Until, next time Cheers!

Categories: Life

soro soro

In the next few weeks I will be wrapping up my second time studying abroad in Japan. Both times I was in Tokyo and connected with a prestigious university. Both times I learned a lot about myself and believe I have grown in many ways. At the same time I am a bit melancholy about leaving. There is this greater feeling that I did not accomplish all I set out to do. It is not necessarily a bad thing, just a realization that no one can accomplish every goal or idea they set out for themselves. Also, not living as a tourist here it is easy to get into the daily swing of life and not seek out a new opportunity everyday. Now with my return so close I am conflicted with enjoying myself while at the same time focusing on the larger responsibilities I have.

Like I just said I was unable to do everything I set out to, but this year has provided a wealth of memories and experience that will hopefully propel me to the next stage of my studies and life. I find in these little pockets of time just before a big move or change I tend to reflect on my choices and make an assessment of where I have been going vs. where I want to be going. For the most part I am on track, but there are a few adjustments that must be made. Especially over the coming months. I look forward to writing more and seeing what the next few months will bring.

Until next time, Cheers!

Categories: Japan, Life

Real Folk Drink Chu-hai

One of the earliest experiences I can remember from the start of my study abroad at Waseda University was bonding with friends over a delicious road-brew can of Chu-hai! Like many who travel to Tokyo will discover, Japan has it’s own variety of the B&J’s, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, fruity alcoholic beverages. The general term chu-hai is applied a variety of brands. The term chu-hai is shortened from the longer Shochu-Highball (焼酎ハイボール). Shochu is an alcohol distilled from corn, grain or potatoes that usually has a pretty high alcohol level. (Usually around 25%)

The drink itself is a carbonated beverage mixed with shochu and a fruit flavor. The flavors change from season to season, with Lemon and Grapefruit seeming to be a constant throughout the year. Keeping your eyes open though, it is easy to find grape, watermelon, apple, plum, peach, grape and (drum roll please) Strawberry!!

After almost a year of waiting the Strawberry Chu-hai has arrived and I have made it a personal goal to drink every variation I could get my hands on. So far there are three varieties I can review.

1. Asahi kajitsu no shunkan (果実の瞬間:苺)

As it says on the can it is a winter variety and has 0.2% Fruit Juice and a 4% Alcohol level, which is pretty standard. I remember enjoying the melon and grape flavors of this brand during the summer.

It is sweet with a slightly rough alcohol aftertaste which I am not completely in love with. Carbonation of the beverage provides a nice bit of fizz which tickles the tongue. A burst of strawberry flavor hits at first, but subsides in favor of previously stated.

Rating: 3/5





2.  Rifure Taimu (リフレタイム:チューハイイチゴ)

This one is the best of the bunch and usually sold at your local Family Mart convenience store. It is also 4% alcohol, but boasts a whopping 1% fruit juice combo. It is also the least expensive by at least 30 yen. Unlike the others the alcohol aftertaste is at a minimum and there is a burst of strawberry flavor. Like a friggin’ Starburst candy. The flavor is smooth, but not overpowering and easily my favorite.

Rating: 5/5






3. Calpis Sour (カルピスサワーミルク仕立てのもろやか苺)

Similar to the rifure and the Asahi before it this chu-hai has a 4% alcohol level and a 1% fruit juice infusion. The major difference from this one and the other two is the added mix of milk with the strawberry. Calpis in general is like a sweet milky substance which really isn’t my favorite. However, when it comes to strawberry I am willing to give it a try. This one combines a bit of sweetness with a lot of sour. Not really my style, but I imagine people who love sour skittles and the like will be in heaven with this one. Really did not like the milk action though. Just something didn’t mix right. Usually I am a big fan of smoothies and whatnot, but this was just lacking big time. The final insult was also a bit of a rough alcohol aftertaste, which just sucked. Again, not my taste, but it could appeal to the sour milk loving variety. I do enjoy the taglines though. “We use Strawberry, Milk, and the refreshing Vodka” (I will have THE Vodka) “Refreshing Taste, Enjoy It’s Crisp” (whatever the heck that means)

Rating: 2/5


Categories: Japan, Life

Entrance exam

Today arriving at Meiji I was greeted with the sight of thousands of young high school students taking their entrance exam for the university.

In all the years I have read about studied or known that this existed it is the first time I have seen it up close. it was quite a sight. Apparently it will be going on for the next few weeks so I plan on taking a few pictures as it is quite a production.

Categories: Japan, Life Tags: ,

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

A Technicolor dream film that I watched countless times as young fella. The music, costuming, fantasy, everything is just magic. For many (including myself) this was an entry into the magic of cinema. While I have not seen it in many years, it still fells like yesterday when I first spent time with Dorothy as she clicked her heels and adventured with the scarecrow, tin-man and cowardly lion.

In high school I watched the film in sync with ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ which I highly recommend trying. It is an interesting viewing experience that works with or without the aid of external substances.

It seems almost foolish to recommend the film as it should be a standard for anyone who watches film. It is even more remarkable to think that Victor Fleming directed this film at the same time as Gone With the Wind. Just as powerful as it was now seventy years ago and with a new Blu-ray release I am sure features an even more impressive image than ever before.

Rating: 4/5

Until next time, Cheers!

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Omar Shariff’s entrance in Lawrence of Arabia is perhaps one of the most stunning in cinema history. Almost like a mirage in the panoramic view of the desert Shariff arrives on camel to the aid of Peter O’Toole. This is probably one of the best shots I have ever seen.

The film is long, sweeping and epic. The main characters and supporting cast down the line are compelling and fantastic.

It is a film I have only seen once or twice, but left a strong impact on my mind. Over the years I know I will return to the film again and again to appreciate each element of the film.

Rating: 5/5

Until next time, Cheers!

The Godfather (1972)

I believe this was one of the films that turned my enjoyment of going to the cinemas from a hobby to a passion and potential career goal. Every element of this picture drew me further and further into the world Coppola and others had created. Every character feels fleshed out and part of a family. While the world of the mob is not common to the average viewer the connections and responsibilities each family member has to one another is.

In my mind’s eye the camera  highlights rich gold and red colors, which seems to emphasize the familial bonds and humanity of the characters. In turn it also adds impact to the violence and blood-shed that puncture key scenes throughout the film.

The only portion that took me out of the film on the first viewing were certain scenes with Michael Corleone while on the lam in Italy. I felt that time could have been tightened up just a bit. After seeing the film a few more times, I started to enjoy the leisurely pace of these scenes and further connect with Michael during his time away from the family.

Also, the penultimate scene cross-cutting between the assassination of key members of the five families with the baptism of Connie and Carlo’s daughter (played by an infant Sophia Coppola) is remarkable. The power of the scene cannot be understated. One of the best films I have ever seen and one that should be enjoyed by all.

Rating: 5/5

Until next time, Cheers!