Monday, May 23, 2011

Prinprin Monogatari!

I'd been looking for this for months. When I lived in Japan, I'd occasionally find this airing in the mornings or early afternoons on Cartoon Network. It's a puppet/marionette show called Prinprin Monogatari (or Purinpurin Monogatari). It originally aired on NHK in the early 1980s and has a gentle Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood feel. All I know about it beyond that is the characters would sometimes ride around in a Jeep.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Not so fast: Hamaoka shut-down update

According to the Japan Times, Chubu Electric has put off their decision to shut down the Hamaoka nuclear power plant. Since I posted about Mr. Kan's request earlier, I just thought I should update you. The request itself is non-binding, so it's not as if the prime minister ordered them to close it. This should be an interesting story to follow.

The Simpsons are going to Japan!

When kid students learned I'm a The Simpsons fan-- usually because I'd draw Homer and Bart as the dialogue characters as opposed to just writing down a couple of names-- they'd point at my drawings and say, "CC Lemon! CC Lemon!" I asked some older students about this and they told me about the Simpsons appearing in commercials for that soft drink (which tastes like someone dissolved lemon-flavored cough drops in ginger ale). Then we'd talk about the TV show and compare Bart's antics to Crayon Shin-chan's.

"I thought he was a good person!" one young woman said through giggles after I told her what a little bastard Bart Simpson is. Apparently, whether you're American or Japanese, you love your bad boys. At least in animated form.

The Hamaoka nuclear power plant is closing...

By request of Prime Minister Kan Naoto, it seems. You know, since an earthquake and tsunami has already caused something of a row at one nuclear power plant in Japan, they've decided this one is particularly vulnerable. The plant's closure makes a lot of my ex-pat friends who live in the plant's general vicinity very happy. I don't know how my Japanese friends and ex-students feel about it, but I'm going to guess the people I know best probably feel the same. I'd ask but I don't want to ruin their Mother's Day weekend with stupid questions. I'll bet it's a talking point this week at Pacific English School.

I'm no expert on the fission or the atom but since the prime minister has also asked people there to conserve electricity, I'm further going to guess they'll have to figure out some sort of power grid infrastructure adjustment so the lights will stay on in Hamamatsu and Shizuoka City. Yes, there may be power shortages in the interim. Summer won't be very pleasant without air conditioning, but a little mugginess indoors definitely beats the possible radioactive consequences of the major quake that's supposed to strike the Chubu region within the next 30 years. It does give a person an excuse to lounge about naked while drinking cold beer. As if we needed it, right? Right?

I think I've seen that nuclear power plant. I know it's near Omaezaki, which has a famous lighthouse. I went there with a girl I was dating and the way the drive plays out in my memory, we went past the plant and I said something stupid about Homer Simpson that didn't register with her at all. The Simpsons are minor soft drink spokespeople in Japan, not cultural touchstones the way they are here in the US. Then we sat together on the beach and watched the surfers bobbing on the waves as the sun went down.