Saturday, June 23, 2007

Nothing Much Happening With Me These Days...

But the island of Iwo Jima has been renamed Iwoto. Due to the complexities of written Japanese, the name actually hasn't changed at all. It's difficult to explain- like those subatomic particles that seem to defy cause and effect in quantum physics. Those little guys who go backwards in time or can be two places at once.

The name still translates to "Sulphur Island." Not the most inviting of names. Iwo Jima is sacred land to both Japan and the United States and is administered through the Tokyo city government or something like that. When Clint Eastwood wanted to make his two films about the battle there, he had to get permission from Tokyo's mayor. And he wasn't allowed to shoot any fight scenes on the island itself.

Evidently, there were civilians living on the island prior to the fight who were all relocated. After the battle, the island became famous as Iwo Jima (or, in Japan, Iwojima) but its former residents have longed for its original nomenclature.

This probably won't change anything in the U.S., where people still can't pronounce Okinawa. Or karaoke, for that matter. Or sukiyaki.

Speaking of Clint Eastwood, he has a new status here among people I personally know. That is, the people who know who he is. It may come as a shock to you, but even some of the most commonly known Hollywood stars count for nothing in Japan. Which is only fair, because can you name even one Japanese mega-star?

Clint (as his friends like to call him) took the time to shoot the Iwo Jima battle from the perspectives of both nations involved. I saw the more conventional of the two films here, Flags of Our Fathers, but still haven't seen Letters from Iwo Jima. People in Japan are humbly proud of their little country (although that era remains understandably troublesome and the source of conflicting emotional responses), so when some Hollywood bigshot takes time to try to understand Japanese feelings and points of view, they tend to appreciate it.

This has led to one of my movie channels celebrating Clint's film oeuvre as part of their "The Movie Star" series. And the happy result of that is, I've seen Every Which Way But Loose 4 times in the past two weeks. Also Bird. I wish I could read the Japanese subtitles for Every Which Way because I think it'd be amusing to see how they render the classic line, "Right turn, Clyde."

In other Japan news, rainy season began in northern Japan this week. It started in the Kanto region earlier in the month, and is already officially over in Okinawa. We haven't had a whole lot of rain, but this is one thing that we can't blame on global warming. Instead, it's the La Nina current, which led to a high pressure system over Japan that warded off the seasonal rains this year.

Students tell me this has happened before. This is a problem, too, because Shikoku is already having water shortages. Looks like it'll be a long, muggy summer combined with water rationing in parts of Japan.

I may have some of this information wrong because I'm winging it from half-remembered news stories I read earlier this week. If so, I'm not particularly sorry. Just one of those things where I don't feel like doing a lot of research and linking!

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