There is dark side to Japan which you won’t get to know by simply sight-seeing Tokyo. Behind the lights, tall-rise buildings and kimonos are literally millions of overworked citizens eating a plain dinner of instant ramen (not just a stereotype) while still wearing their monotonous uniforms, alone, in their crammed match-box apartments in the early hours of the morn.
I had been seeing the red and white movie poster for Kumiko everywhere, all the while thinking that it was a modern remake of little red riding hood, meaning to watch it but never getting around to it. Last night, alone in my apartment, I finally had the chance to and I wish I hadn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great film and by great I mean, so artistically able. Rinko Kikuchi (Kuniko)’s acting is incredible and the cinematography just as good with little dialogue, a gorgeous soundtrack and many many beautiful shots from crowded Japanese subway stations to frozen ski lifts. But, living and working in Japan and watching a movie based around a young individual driven mad by the vicious Japanese work-system just wasn’t good for my soul.
I’d recommend Kumiko to those who enjoy and appreciate the art of film, who are either interested in Japan or and especially for those who have lived and experienced Japan; the good and the bad. Also, to the patient viewer as the build-up is gradual.
Yesterday I was in Osaka: takoyaki capital of the world but unfortunately, this post isn’t about octopus balls (as much as I wish it were) it’s actually about writer’s block? Wa? Confused? Me too! Often. Especially when it comes to writing. It truly is, a love/hate relationship. Sometimes I eat to distract myself (horrible horrible habit) or else I sit there beating myself up from the inside out doubting my worth as a writer then as a person. I think, “who am I kidding” and “this sounds horrible, the reader will see right through me, it sounds too forced” always, it sounds too forced. Too metaphorical, too this too that. Professional writers advise us wannabe writers to “get away from [our] desks. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise” etc when faced with writer’s block. That all sounds well and good but ain’t no body got time for that! It’s the 21st century folks. As much as we’re told to slow down, to smell the roses, it’s almost freakin’ impossible! There’s just so much to do!
Back to Osaka, I went shopping at Lucua next to Osaka station and after I’d bought all my omiyage (souvenirs) for my colleagues and family back home, I treated myself to a Caomaru. Designed by Makiko Yoshida, Caomaru is a fancy stress ball which comes in many facial expressions and vegetables. Yes, vegetables: eggplant, tomato and green capsicum. I bought the original grey Caomaru with a sleepy expression. So without further adieu, please allow me to introduce to you my new writing partner, Kobayashi-san (may or may not be named after a certain pot-bellied sensei at one of my schools – whom I actually LOVE so no offence taken Mr. K).