Monday, June 14, 2010

Shinkansen through Hyogo.

I shot this with my Iphone 3GS going from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka on the Nozomi. I was playing the song in the BGM on my Ipod while looking outside and decided to take a video clip. I did some minor color correcting/sharpening in After Effects, but nothing major.

Click the link to check the video out in HD.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Hello everyone,

The other day, I was asked by my co-worker as we casually walked outside to grab a bite for lunch if I recalled the story to the movie, "Avatar." To those that have not seen it, please do not read below, as you may spoil the story for yourselves!

I did remember the story pretty vividly, but the first thing that came up were my thoughts on how it related to me. I responded, 'Yeah, I think I do. It reminds me a lot of a the video games these days. I used to play one just like it.' She responds, 'Just try telling me the story as you remember it.'

I gave it my best shot and gave her a summary of how humans needed a new natural resource that an alien race has and controls. Humans sent a group of individuals to assimilate into their society, gain knowledge of how this energy is created, and locate the source to steal it for themselves. Over time, the group sent to study this society realized the faults of their own, thus wanting to escape and become one of them. (There are more prominent themes to the story, but I decided not to explain each character's motive)

My co-worker responded in surprise, explaining that when she thinks back to a movie's story or background, she can hardly remember what happened. She explained that when she watches a movie, she can only remember the emotional feel of the movie and whether it had a good or bad ending. She recalled the movie "Chicago," stating that while it had a good presentation, she cannot recall what the story was about or whether it sought to prove a point or teach a lesson.

She then asked me if it was typical of me to analyze a movie in such great depth. I told her that I thought it was typical of me, but I figured that this was what most people did anyway. To both her and my surprise, I guess this wasn't the case.

Question: Watching a movie and analyzing it can both be good and bad, as it can have a tendency to influence ones thoughts. If a majority of viewers watch mass media in a particular way, how do you think it would affect society as whole?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Hi everyone,

Just standing near the entrance of the train station and looking around, I notice every woman carries a glitzy handbag or wears trendy clothes. Men walking by also dress as equally stylish. A group of women in their 20's walk past me and are headed to Marui, ready to grab the next latest product trend. Another group of women sitting at the nearby Starbucks gab about their boyfriends, whether it be about how much they make, what kind of job they have, how they look, or whether they see an imminent future with them. A few men standing around talk about their latest experiences with women, whether at a Konpa (a meet up based on dating), or by meeting through some other means. A couple passes me heading towards the nearest new hotspot for delicious food, while a man next to me is playing with the latest Playstation Portable waiting for his next train to arrive.

Japan as a society moves quickly. Whether it be the next latest fashion trend or the newest piece of technology, people must have it. The Japanese are judgmental of your looks, your power, and your status. The pressure to to maintain these things, as well as follow the rules society dictates is even greater. When you live in a place where people keep quiet about their personal lives and show a second face, all the superficiality is just a mask for concealing their true selves. Society here is very materialistic, basing their happiness on obtaining or consuming the latest goods. People will do whatever they can to keep up with the next wave. While many others try to rally against this and pursue their own happiness outside of the norm, it is highly looked down upon.

This superficiality extends to even the communication. While it seems everyone is showing a kind face, you really do not know their true feelings. The Japanese like to call this type of face "humility," but is it really so? Boasting about yourself is not highly looked upon, in addition to making others jealous or making them feel green with envy. If I happened to sound boastful of something I was happy about, I was sometimes greeted with a genuinely happy compliment.. but other times greeted with a nonchalant counter-argument or realistic remark to bring me back down.

With a country so rich in technology, latest fashion trends, convenience and wonderful delicacies, I always thought, "Why are people so depressed out here? What would push as many as 30,000 people to commit suicide like this?" While I believe many countries suffer from this problem, I think Japan is especially difficult due to the pressure to conform.

Could this entire problem stem from the superficiality of the society? If the pressure from society to conform did not exist, could people live more freely and happier? Could it be that people are convincing themselves that they are happy, even though they are not?

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Hi everyone,

It has been about 8 months since I first arrived here in Japan. Just casually walking streets, you'll find a variety of people that will pass by. Whether it be through their dress or style, or even their mannerisms to you when they greet you, you will generally find that people are all similar. This is only when looking at things on the surface. There's no telling what kind of people they are like, because you never know if they are showing you their true face or not. How can you tell what kind of people they are? How can you more easily be able to judge a person's character?

While there are many types of ways to "categorize," a majority of Japanese people like to believe in blood type (ketsueki-gata). What does this mean? People will categorize each other by the blood types (Thanks Wikipedia):

  • A (Best traits: Earnest, creative, sensible / Worst traits: Fastidious, overearnest)
  • AB (Best traits: Cool, controlled, rational / Worst traits: critical, indecisive)
  • B (Best traits: Wild, active, doer / Worst traits: Selfish, irresponsible)
  • O ( Best traits: Agreeable, sociable, optimistic / Worst traits: vain, rude)

Now you may ask, what does all this mean? Basically, it is easier to understand a person's personality by categorizing them into one of these four. If you talk to any Japanese person, chances are they will know their blood type and try to find a correlation with it and people around them. Watch any television show and they will judge your romantic compatibility horoscope with another person with this information. It is interesting to look at these traits, because they are all generally written. Anyone can apply to each of these descriptions, but many people here believe that their dominant traits are described just within these categories.

Much like blood types, another wildly popular subject in Japan is the Western view of birthdays/astrology. Similarly to how it is believed in the West, the Japanese also will categorize or judge a person's character based on this information. Turn on the TV, and you will usually see a horoscope forecast for that day and given sign. Go to the bookstore and you'll see a variety of literature dedicated to people born on a particular day/time/location, their romantic compatibility with other signs, or even descriptions of what is believed to be their future.

While many Japanese believe this to be true, could this just be an easier way to make more sense of the people around us? Could this just be making things easier to see and understand, without having to go through the hassle of getting to know a person? Does this alleviate stress by attaching 'truths' to a person without really knowing who they are? Does this give confidence to people in order to deal with others better?

Our financial security, our jobs, our family lives, our love lives, our future.. these are all common problems that we face each day with other people. There are so many uncertainties in this world, but these are ways to make things easier to understand everyone around us, including ourselves. They alleviate the stress of knowing the unknown. People spend hundreds of dollars on analysts who specialize in these areas, hoping to get a better understanding of their surroundings.

When it becomes so simple to categorize people in this manner, do we disregard the way they were raised? Do we disregard their current mental state? Do we disregard their core values? While it may be easier to deal with others using these categories, we should not forget that people are still people, and we are a product of our environment and the experiences we go through.