Monday, June 25, 2007

Japan Life file

Parks in Asia are a hub of activity. To get a feel for a country or city in Asia you should visit the parks.

When my wife and I visited China we spent time in the parks watching people. Near the Temple of Heaven in Beijing we watched jugglers and ballroom dancers. At Little Ritan Park there was a former gymnastics coach doing a bars routine on some monkey bars. And street food.

In Japan we have a temple down the hill that is a great place to watch middle aged men doing warm up exercises before heading off to the hiking trails.

Tokyo's Ueno Park is the place to see just about everything you can imagine, from blue-tarp homeless towns to buskers, to drinking to...oh you get the point.

Sure, I knew that there was always something going on in Setagaya Koen
(Setagaya Park), which is close to Ikejiri Ohashi Station on the Tokyu
Denen-Toshi Line. There is the mini steam train that chuffs around its
300-meter track to the delight of young passengers. There's a "traffic
park" where children can ride on go-karts and climb all over a retired
real steam locomotive. Swimming pools open in the summer months, and
there are four tennis courts, two baseball pitches, an archery field, a
skateboard slope, a hill, a kiosk, a big fountain and an adventure
playpark run by a nonprofit organization.

News Story Here: PARKLIFE: You'd be amazed | The Japan Times Online

Japanese Television is a wasteland of puerile crud and cringeworthy antics in the mad cap style of a Hello Kitty! colour scheme obsessed disorganized mass killer.

Although there are a few bright lights of people who seem coherent and intelligent (George Tokoro, Beat Takeshi, maybe Tamori) there is a see of the so called 'tarento' (talents) without an appreciable talent or ability. Think of an entire television culture composed of Paris Hiltons stripped of depth and smarts.

Obaka-aidoru (dumb idols), or, more simply, bakadoru, are the current rage.


Though the focus on airheads is new, the media
obsession with general mental capacity isn't. Anyone who graduates from
a reputable institution of higher learning automatically enters the
ranks of the elite, regardless of how he or she utilizes that
education. Traditionally, show business was the sanctuary of the poor
and socially marginal. This has changed over the years, but as
Shimada's case illustrates, entertainers are still self-conscious about
being seen as uneducated. It's often noted in the showbiz press that
the male idols who belong to Johnny's Jimusho, the most powerful talent
agency in the country, are almost never allowed to appear on quiz
shows. They are basically raised by the agency, which emphasizes
sellable showbiz attributes. General education is not a priority.

But what passes for "intelligence" on TV is usually
just a bigger store of trivial information. Certainly it reflects
poorly on someone — parents? teachers? the government? — when a
comedian who graduated from high school cites Korea as a city, as one
did several weeks ago on "Hexagon 2." But even the tarento who get the
answers right are essentially just proving that they remember what they
studied in school, which is hardly an extraordinary accomplishment. No
utility value is placed on intelligence except as an advantage on quiz
shows. It's treated the same as big breasts and funny hair. In
real-life terms (job offers), the intelligent idol is really no
different from the dumb idol.

Big breasts, funny hair, anything dumb — the way to go on TV | The Japan Times Online

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