Daibutsu, Kamakura

Daibutsu, Kamakura
Daibutsu in Kamakura, June 2010. There were thousands of school kids visiting that day. It was still great fun.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Thirty-years after writing the script with fellow master directors Akira Kirosawa, Masaki Kobayashi and Keisuke Kinoshita, Kon Ichikawa brings the story of an unruly samurai (Koji Yakusho) to the screen. Nicknamed Dora-Heita ("Alley Cat") for his penchant for debauchery, the samurai is assigned to clean up a lawless small town. His reputation is well-known, so the local Yakuza thugs are in disbelief when the new magistrate (bugyo) gets down to business.

I just finished watching my 100th samurai flick which was one of the Zatoichi films. I'm now up to 102 samurai films after watching the first two from the Sleepy Eyes of Death series. Today I want to write about Dora Heita which I watched a few weeks ago. The film was actually planned many years ago by the famous directors Kurosawa, Kinoshita, Kobayashi and Ichikawa who formed Yonki-no-kai or The Committee of Four Knights in 1969 and wrote the script together. Only after three of them had died, Ichikawa could finally make his 74th movie out of their script. So even though the film was released in 2000 for me it really had more of a classic 60's samurai chambara film feel. What this means is that like most Kurosawa films, you won't see a 2 hour bloody samurai sword movie. There is one excellent sword fight scene but Dora Heita does not even confront the Yakuza until well into the film. The first 45 minutes of the film follow Dora Heita as he builds up his plan for taking down the powerful yakuza. The acting is very good in this film especially with Koji Yakusho as the streetwise magistrate sent in to clean up the yakuza infected town. This film coming from the mind of Akira Kurosawa does have a lot of similarity to Kurosawa's great films Yojimbo and Sanjuro. This film however is not in the same league as Kurosawa's Yojimbo flicks as it does not have the quality of a Toshiro Mifune. However, it is still a very good film as long you don't compare it too much to Yojimbo.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Apology for slight 600 years ago

Here is an interesting story I found in the Japan Times about a 600 year old apology.

Apology for slight 600 years ago

To offer apologies for an unkindly act committed by their ancestors 600 years ago, the people of Ayukawa, a village in Wakayama Prefecture, will offer mochi (dumplings of glutinous rice) to the Kamakuragu Shrine in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, dedicated to the memory of Prince Morinaga on Aug. 19, when the 600th anniversary of the prince's death will be celebrated.

Defeated in his battle against rebels, Prince Morinaga with a few retainers was obliged to hide, and on Oct. 15, 1331, he passed through the village of Ayukawa. The prince and his party were fatigued and hungry, having eaten nothing the whole day. At the houses of the villagers they asked for some food, but they were refused because of the disturbed state of affairs at that time.

Soon after that, the villagers learned that the person to whom they refused to give mochi was Prince Morinaga. Such a discourteous act toward an Imperial Prince was something that the villagers could not think of. So to atone for their wrong, they resolved not to make and eat mochi forever. Thus for more than 600 years the village people never made mochi even on New Year's Day.

This year the villagers have finally decided to make mochi on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the prince's death — and to offer them in his memory at the Kamakuraga Shrine.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Please do it again

That's very nice of the man in the geta and massive afro offering to carry the woman's suitcase up the stairs. At least that's what I think he is going to do. Maybe that's his suitcase and he's asking her to carry it up the stairs for him because he doesn't want to trip and fall in his geta sandals.