Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Annual golf match between the Japan Society and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Date: Saturday, 2nd October 2010
Venue: The Buckinghamshire Golf Club, Denham Curt Drive, Denham, Bucks UB9 5BG
Tel: 01895 835 777
Breakfast: 8.30am
Assembly: by 9.20am (registration possible and breakfast available from 8.00am)
First tee-off: 10.00am (9 minute intervals to last tee-off at 10.45am)

Fee: £70 for Japan Society Members and Members of Buckinghamshire Golf Club

The Annual golf match between the Japan Society and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry is being held this year at The Buckinghamshire Golf Club, Denham. 12 players from the JCCI and 12 players from the Japan Society will compete for the Collar Cup, which is currently held by the JCCI.

A light breakfast will be provided on arrival and the programme includes the 18-hole competition (Stableford Rules), buffet lunch on completion and a presentation ceremony at the end of the day.

The all-in price for everyone, including members of The Buckinghamshire Golf Club, is £70. The Society hopes that members who are golfers will be able to participate.

More detailed instructions, including directions and the format to be played, will be sent nearer the date.

All cheques should be made payable to “Buckinghamshire Golf Club” and enclosed with your entry form. Please remember to state your golf handicap when making your booking.

For further information and to reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 7828 6330 or email events@japansociety.org.uk .

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Hong Sangsoo: Between Men and Women titles screened in London and UK tour

Since his debut in 1996 Korean director Hong Sangsoo has established himself as one of Asia’s most original and talented directorial voices. His witty “unravellings of tangled sexual relationships” (Tony Rayns), have won him numerous awards, including earlier this year, the Prix Un Certain Regard in Cannes, and his recently completed low budget feature Oki’s Movie will receive its World Premiere on 11 September as the closing night film of the 2010 Venice Film Festival’s Horizons section.

The Independent Cinema Office, in partnership with The Korean Cultural Centre, are boldly mounting the first UK retrospective of Hong Sangsoo’s complete back catalogue via an Autumn regional tour following a BFI Southbank season (commencing 1 September), a highlight of which will be an on stage interview with Hong Sangsoo himself (3 September).

UK regional tour dates are yet to be finalised but confirmed venues so far will include screenings at: Watershed Bristol, Showroom Sheffield, Cornerhouse Manchester, Broadway Nottingham, Glasgow Film Theatre, Queen’s Film Theatre Belfast and Quad Derby.

East Asian specialist film critic and writer Tony Rayns draws parallels between Hong’s films and those of his contemporaries Wong Kar-Wai and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, both of whom love to explore recurring emotional syndromes and regard film as voyages of discovery.

"Nobody probes deeper into the ways that men and women misread each other’s feelings than Hong Sangsoo. His films have the power to shake up perceptions. His approach is humorous, satirising male self-delusions and female insecurities with delicious candour".

Another reference point is Eric Rohmer, says Rayns: "since both directors are fascinated by methods of seduction and the tricks and traps of the libido. Hong though is a better drinker than any of them, and very much his own man! The results are touching, thoughtful, sometimes startling and often laugh-out-loud funny".

Hong appeared in the mid-1990s as the Korean Cinema renaissance was getting underway, however his work is quite unlike his contemporaries. His first three films; The Day a Pig Fell into the Well (1996), The Power of Kangwon Province (1998), and Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors (2000), are tightly scripted, interlocking puzzles. However from The Turning Gate (2002) onwards he has preferred to work from a detailed treatment rather than a script.

Hong himself describes the process of conceiving a new film as: "I start with a very ordinary, banal situation, and this situation usually has something in it that makes me feel strongly. Perhaps it’s a blind feeling. I put it on the table, and I look at it. I open up, and these pieces surface. They are not related, they conflict with each other. But I try to find a pattern that makes all pieces fit into one. That’s what I do!"
He continues: "When I finish a film, I feel like I have overcome a certain hurdle. It’s really good for me as a human being, and I hope that for some people, my films do the same thing."

The Day a Pig Fell into the Well (Dwaeji-ga Umul-ae Ppajin Nal)
Sth Korea 1996. With Kim Uiseong, Park Jinseong, Cho Eunsuk. 114min. EST

Hong’s knockout debut, a prizewinner in Vancouver and Rotterdam, has nothing to do with pigs or wells.
But it does show a day when things go wrong.
It explores the intertwined lives of four young urban adults – a second-rate novelist in love with a married woman, a girl who foolishly loves and supports the novelist, and the married woman’s husband, who catches an STD from a prostitute – and finds the extraordinary at the heart of the everyday. A modern classic.

The Power of Kangwon Province (Gangwon-do ui Him)
Sth Korea 1998. With Baek Jonghak, Oh Yunhong, Kim Yuseok. 108min. EST.

Kangwon is Korea’s East-coast resort province, and the film presents two seemingly distinct stories about residents of Seoul taking short breaks there, one after the other. It gradually becomes apparent that the protagonists of these stories are ex-lovers who have never quite got over each other – and that the stories in fact occur within more or less the same timeframe. A brilliant piece of modernist storytelling, which cuts to the heart of the way we understand characters.

Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors (Oh! Sujeong)
Sth Korea 2000. With Lee Eunju, Jung Boseok, Moon Sungkuen. 126min. EST.

The title references Marcel Duchamp because this is a splintered narrative, founded on radically different points of view about the same events.
The 24-year-old Sujeong steels herself to surrender her virginity to gallery owner Jaehoon, who was introduced to her by her married (but amorous) boss Youngsoo.
But very little tallies in their respective memories of what brought them to this point …
Hong’s funny valentine of a film reinvents the rom-com in cubist terms.

The Turning Gate (Saenghwal ui Balgyeon)
Sth Korea 2002. With Kim Sangkyung, Yea Jiwon, Choo Sangmee. 115min. EST.

The more Hong thinks about the ways we delude and contradict ourselves in matters of love/lust, the funnier he finds it.
Out-of-work actor Kyungsoo accepts an invitation to scenic Chuncheon, only to find that he’s expected to help his old friend to seduce a dance teacher – who promptly throws herself at Kyungsoo instead.
When Kyungsoo bolts, he meets Sunyoung on the train and follows her home.
But Sunyoung has something to tell him which knocks him sideways …

Woman is the Future of Man (Yeojaneun Namja ui Mirae-da)Sth Korea 2004. With Yoo Jitae, Sung Hyunah, Kim Taewoo. 87min. EST.

A wintery comedy, this starts when two old college friends (one just back from the States) decide to look up a girl they both once dated.
Sunhwa, the sometime object of their affections, now runs a bar in Bucheon, a dormitory town south of Seoul.
But flashbacks reveal that the two men remember her very differently, and the reunion has consequences, which threaten both a marriage and a friendship.
Wry, sharp and funny.

Tale of Cinema (Geukjang Jeon)
Sth Korea 2005. With Kim Sangkyung, Uhm Jiwon, Lee Giwu. 89min. EST.

On the rebound from their failed romance, Sangwoon and Youngshil meet by chance and give it another go.
The story climaxes with their abortive attempt at a double-suicide. Whereupon Tongsu (Kim Sangkyung) leaves the cinema and notices that the actress who played Youngshil was also in the audience. He picks her up, but their developing relationship uncannily echoes the movie she starred in …
A narrative hall of mirrors, Hong’s film takes male vanity and immaturity to pieces.

Woman on the Beach (Haebyeon ui Yeoin)
Sth Korea 2006. With Kim Seungwoo, Ko Hyunjung, Kim Taewoo. 127min. EST.

If the protagonist Kim is Hong Sangsoo’s self-portrait, it’s not a terrifically flattering one. Kim (who takes his buddy Changwook and Changwook’s potential girlfriend Moonsook to Shinduri Beach for a working break) is manipulative, narcissistic, dishonest and emotionally immature, not to mention a compulsive skirt-chaser. The two-men-and-a-girl storyline is less formalised than most of Hong’s earlier films, but no less acute in skewering male weaknesses and female strengths.

Night and Day (Bam gua Nat)Sth Korea 2008. With Kim Youngho, Park Eunhye, Hwang Sujung. 145min. EST.

Paranoid that the Korean cops are about to arrest him for smoking dope, painter Sungnam flees to Paris and holes up in a hostel with other émigrés. Between calls to his wife back home, he fights off an old flame (now unhappily married and eager to start over) and finds himself falling for a young art student. This sardonic comedy has a retrospective edge, but the Paris setting refreshes Hong’s characteristic themes.

Like You Know It All (Jal Aljido mot Hamyeonseo)Sth Korea 2009. With Kim Taewoo, Ko Hyunjung, Uhm Jiwon. 126min. EST.

Probably Hong’s most exquisitely embarrassing comedy of manners, this puts its hapless protagonist Kyungnam (an art house director desperate to make a commercial hit) through two encounters with old friends and their wives just a fortnight apart – encounters which strangely parallel each other, although their outcomes are very different. With summery settings (Jecheon and Jeju Island) and a cast of Hong Sangsoo veterans, it’s a delight.

Sth Korea 2010. With Kim Sangkyung, Moon Sori, Yu Junsang. 116min. EST.

While out drinking (what else in a Hong Sangsoo film?), two old friends discover that they’ve both recently visited the seaside town of Tongyeong and agree to trade memories of their trips – not realising that they were in same places and meeting the same people. Hong’s Cannes prizewinner offers a fresh, droll take on narrative disconnections and social embarrassments and features a stunning performance from Moon Sori as a tour guide.

Lost in the Mountains + An Evening with Hong Sangsoo (BFI Southbank, 3 Sept).
A sit-down session with Hong Sangsoo, chaired by Tony Rayns, will explore just how autobiographical his movies are, why the women run rings around the male protagonists, and what draws him to ambiguous, bifurcating storylines.

The talk will be preceded by a screening of Hong’s 2009 short film Lost in the Mountains (32 mins), an uproarious tale of mistaken apprehensions and social disasters.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

The Jazz Hybrid will make its world motor show debut at the Paris Motor Show in September

The Jazz Hybrid will make its world motor show debut at the Paris Motor Show in September, further demonstrating Honda’s continuing commitment to petrol-electric hybrid technology.

The launch of the latest addition to the practical Jazz line-up will mark the first time a parallel hybrid vehicle has been available to B-segment consumers. The IMA hybrid motor and control system are shared with the Insight and CR-Z hybrids, taking advantage of the proven reliability of this important technology. With almost two decades of development and 10 years of sales behind it, the Honda IMA system has proven itself to be a flexible and dependable technology, with over half a million vehicles on the road benefitting from its combination of low emissions and fuel economy.

The new model will feature the same engine as the Insight hybrid, the 1.3 liter i-VTEC engine is combined with a CVT gearbox with an electric motor sandwiched between the two to create a parallel hybrid system. Like the Insight and Civic Hybrid models the Jazz Hybrid will be capable of running on the electric motor alone under some medium and low speed conditions.

Much of the Jazz's practicality is derived from its height but despite being taller than the Insight, the Jazz Hybrid manages to maintain fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on comparable levels.

Visually the Jazz hybrid is distinguished from the current Jazz range with revised headlights, with a blue surround, clear rear lights, new front grille, restyled bumpers and a chrome tailgate garnish. The new hybrid will also be available in a range of existing colors plus a bespoke Lime Green metallic.

Inside the cabin is also given a fresh look with darker single color dashboard, which contrasts strongly with the blue lighting of the dials and stereo. The new hybrid is also available with leather trim, the first time this has been available on a Jazz model in Europe. The Jazz hybrid will go on sale in some European markets in the early part of 2011, prices and full specifications will be announced in due course.

Along with Jazz Hybrid, Honda stand will display a special edition of European made Civic, the 2011 model year Insight, CR-Z, the current petrol Jazz, CR-V, Accord and Accord Tourer, as well as the sports touring motorcycle VFR1200F equipped with "state-of-art" V4 engine, and a stylish PCX scooter with lower emission idle-stop 125cc engine.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Han Fei, the Geatest Chinese Legalist philosopher

Han Fei (also Han Fei Tzu) (ca. 280–233 BC) was a Chinese philosopher who, along with Li Si, developed Xun Zi's mutualism into the doctrine embodied by the School of Law or Legalism. Unlike the other famed philosophers of the time, Han Fei was a member of the ruling aristocracy, having been born into the ruling family of the state of Han during, the end phase of the Warring States Period.
Han Fei is his name, while 子 (zǐ) was often added to philosophers' names as an honorific (meaning "Master") – such as 孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, Confucius) - thus Han Feizi (韓非子) can denote the book written by him and is also used in reference to the person himself.

In Chinese history, Legalism (Chinese: 法 家; literally "School of law") was one of the main philosophic currents during the Warring States Period (and before), although the term itself was invented in the Han dynasty and thus does not refer to an organized 'school' of thought. It basically postulates that humans are evil and need to be controlled using laws in order to prevent chaos. The trends that were later called Legalism have a common focus on strengthening the political power of the ruler, of which law is only one part. The most important surviving texts from this tradition are the Han Fei Zi and the Book of Lord Shang. In Qin the ideas of Shang Yang and Li Si were essential in building the strong government that eventually defeated its rivals. Legalism was a utilitarian political philosophy that did not address higher questions like the nature and purpose of life. The school's most famous proponent and contributor Han Fei Zi (韓非子) believed that a ruler should use the following three tools to govern his subjects:
  1. Fa (Chinese: 法; literally "law or principle"): The law code must be clearly written and made public. All people under the ruler were equal before the law. Laws should reward those who obey them and punish accordingly those who dare to break them. Thus it is guaranteed that actions taken are systematically predictable. In addition, the system of law ran the state, not the ruler, a statement of rule of law. If the law is successfully enforced, even a weak ruler will be strong.
  2. Shu (Chinese: 術; literally "method, tactic or art"): Special tactics and "secrets" are to be employed by the ruler to make sure others don't take over control of the state. Especially important is that no one can fathom the ruler's motivations, and thus no one can know which behaviour might help them getting ahead; except for following the 法 or laws.
  3. Shi (Chinese: 勢; literally "legitimacy, power or charisma"): It is the position of the ruler, not the ruler himself or herself, that holds the power. Therefore, analysis of the trends, the context, and the facts are essential for a real ruler.
The early thought behind Legalism was first formed by Shang Yang and was further developed by Hanfeizi and Li Si as a realist reform oriented philosophy meant to strengthen government and reinforce adherence to the law. Legalism fully emerged during the Warring States Period, a critical point in ancient Chinese history. The Warring States Period and the preceding were marked by frequent violence and war, and many new philosophies were founded to cope with the environment of the time including, Daoism, Confucianism, and Mohism.
Some of the first adopters of Legalism were the statesman Shang Yang of the State of Qin. The legal elements of Shang Yang's theories were based on the Book of Law written by Li Kui of the State of Wei. Overall, these theories advocated the belief that all people are fundamentally flawed and that stringent laws and harsh punishments are required to keep them in order. In addition, his theories thought all humanity was selfish and evil, which added towards the cause for Shang Yang becoming prime minister of the Qin under the rule of Duke Xiao of Qin and gradually transforming the state into a vigorously regulated machine, the sole purpose of which was the elimination of all rivals. The Qin Dynasty would eventually conquer six other feudal states and create what is regarded as the first true Chinese Empire. Shang Yang swept away the aristocracy and implemented a meritocracy – those who achieved could reach high places and birth privilege was reserved exclusively for the ruler of the state. Previously the army had been controlled by nobles and constituted of feudal levies. Now generals could come from any part of society, provided they had sufficient skill. In addition, troops were highly trained and disciplined. From then on, Qin was taking its shape to become the most powerful state in China before it eventually brought all of the six other states together (Qi, Chu, Han, Yan, Zhao, and Wei) under Qin Shi Huang.

Role of the ruler
Primarily members of the ruling class, the Legalists emphasized that the head of state was endowed with the "mystery of authority” (Chinese: 勢), and as such his decisions must always command the respect and obedience of the people. The state (country) comes first, not the individual. The emperor’s very figure brought legitimacy. In emphasizing the power of rulership, Legalists such as Shen Dao (ca. 350 - 275 BCE) and Shen Buhai sought to devalue the importance of the charismatic ruler. Skillful rulers hid their true intentions and feigned nonchalance. To ensure that all of his words were revered, the wise ruler kept a low profile. Thus, theoretically, by cloaking both his desires and his will, the Emperors checked sycophancy and forced his subject to heed his dictates. While Shang Yang (the Prime Minister of Duke Xiao of Qin) would allow rulers to listen to musical instruments rather than focus on foreign policy, Han Fei (the Legalist scholar most admired by the First Qin Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi) demanded more of the wise ruler. A good leader, by Han Fei's standards, must not only accept the advice of loyal ministers when shown to be in error, but must also extend courtesy to those beneath him or her and not be too avaricious. The adept ruler also understood the importance of strictness over benevolence. Although the ruler was expected to be paternalistic, the Legalists emphasized that being too kind would spoil the populace and threaten the state's internal order. Interestingly, according to Han's Grand Historian Sima Qian (ca. 145-86 BCE), while the First Qin Emperor hid himself from the rest of the world (perhaps due to a desire to attain immortality) and thus maintained a low profile, he did not necessarily follow all of the Legalists’ advice on the role of the ruler.

Role of ministers in Legalist thought
To aid the ruler and help prevent misgovernance, for fifteen years – formalized the concept of shu, or the bureaucratic model of administration that served to advance the ideal Legalist ruler’s program. To the Legalists, the intelligent minister was the ruler's most important aide. Where as the minister’s duty was to understand specific affairs, the ruler was responsible for correctly judging ministers’ performances. Stressing that ministers and other officials too often sought favours from foreign powers by abusing their positions, Han Fei urged rulers to control these individuals by the two handles of punishment and favour. Officials were required, through fear, to ensure that ministers' accomplishments were neither greater than nor inferior to the assigned undertaking. According to the eminent sinologist Robin Yates, newly discovered Qin Dynasty legal codes show that officials were required to correctly calculate the exact amount of labor expected of all artisans; if the artisan was ordered to perform either too much work or too little work, the official would be held accountable. Thus, in Legalist theory, ministers and other officials were prevented from performing some other official's duties and were punished if they attempted to blind the ruler with words or failed to warn the ruler of danger. One consequence of this situation was that the ministers could always be held accountable for royal misadventures while the ruler’s name was never to be tarnished. By emphasizing performance, however, over sophistry, the Legalists hoped to eliminate bureaucratic corruption and intrigues amongst the officialdom through fear of being severely punished, exiled or executed.

Purpose of law
The entire system was set up to make model citizens behave and act how the dynasty wanted them to act against their will. The laws supported by the Legalists were meant to support the state, the emperor, and his military. They were also reform-oriented and innovative. In theory, the Legalists believed that if the punishments were heavy and the law equally applied, neither the powerful nor the weak would be able to escape state control. The Legalists especially emphasized pragmatism over precedence and custom as the basis of law. Guided by Legalist thought, the First Qin Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, would weaken the power of the feudal lords, divide the unified empire into thirty-six administrative provinces, and standardize the writing system. Reflecting Legalist passion for order and structure, Qin soldiers were only mobilized when both halves of tiger-shaped tallies (one held by the ruler and the other by the commanding general) were brought together. Likewise, all documents in the empire had to have recorded the year they were written, the scribe who copied them, and up to the exact hour of delivery. Accepting Shang Yang’s earlier emphasis on the standardization of weights and measures, the Qin Shi Huang would also accept Shang Yang’s philosophy that no individual in the state should be above the law (by ensuring harsh punishments for all cases of dissent) and that families should be divided into smaller households. While there is reason to doubt Sima Qian’s claim that Qin Shi Huang did in fact divide households into groups of ten, certainly the other examples of standardization and administrative organization undertaken by the First Emperor reflect the importance of Legalist thought in Qin law. Based on promoting the interests of the state Qin, the law (Chinese: 法; literally "law, method, way") served as a vehicle to both control the populace and eliminate dissent.

Legalism and individual autonomy
The Legalist philosophers emphasized the primacy of the state over individual autonomy. The lone individual had no legitimate civil rights and any personal freedom had to strengthen the ruler. Han Fei, in particular, would be very caustic towards the concept of individual rights. Fundamentally, the Legalists viewed the plebeian (common people of lower class) and their actions as evil and foolish.
However, Legalism allowed the common people to gain in rank if they performed well. For example, soldiers would gain in rank according to the number of heads the soldiers collected. A soldier may even gain noble rank. In contrast, some other states allowed only the well-connected to gain higher ranks. An example of this would be Lü Buwei, who originally a merchant, was able to become Chancellor of China, an occurrence that would never happen in the other six states. He played a major role in King Zhuangxiang of Qin's rise to power.
According to Shang Yang's The Book of Lord Shang, the people themselves wanted a ruler to generate order. Social cohesion in the Legalist state mandated that the populace never escape punishment. The Qin dynasty used the people, for example, to maintain vigilant mutual surveillance over one another under threat of death.
This intrastate realpolitik would end up devouring the Legalist philosophers themselves. Shang Yang, in advocating the state’s right to punish even the heir-apparent’s tutor, would run afoul of the future King Huiwen of Qin (circa. 338 -311 B.C.). Whereas at one point, he had the power to exile his opponents (and, thus, eviscerate individual criticism) to border regions of the state, he died when torn into pieces by chariots. Similarly, Han Fei would end up being poisoned by his envious former classmate Li Si, who in turn would be killed (under the law he had introduced) by the aggressive and violent Second Qin Emperor that he had helped to take the thrones.

In later dynasties, Legalism was discredited and ceased to be an independent school of thought. However, both ancient and modern Confucian observers of Chinese politics have argued that some Legalist ideas have merged with mainstream Confucianism and still play a major role in government. The philosophy of imperial China has been described as a Confucian exterior covering a core of Legalism (Chinese: 儒表法裡; literally "Confucian, the external surface; Legalism, the interior"). In other words, Confucian values are used to sugarcoat the harsh Legalist ideas that underlie the Imperial system. During the Sui and Tang dynasty, Buddhist ideas were also part of the external face of the imperial system.
There was a brief revival of Legalism during the Sui dynasty's efforts to reunify China. After the Sui dynasty was replaced by the Tang dynasty, the Tang government still used the government structure left behind by the Sui dynasty, albeit with much reduced punishments.
More recently, Mao Zedong, who had some knowledge of ancient Chinese philosophy, compared himself with Qin Shi Huang and publicly approved of some Legalist methods. One such method approved in the 1980s under Deng Xiaoping administration is the reward and punishment, which has increased the size of the Beijing government in the process. However, since the 1990s the related concept of the rule of law has gained currency.

Comparison with Confucianism and Taoism
Apart from the Confucianist Xun Zi, who was his and Li Si's teacher, the other main source for his political theories was Lao Zi's Daoist work, the Tao Te Ching, which he interpreted as a political text, and on which he wrote a commentary (chapters 20 and 21 in his book, Han Feizi). He saw the Tao as a natural law that everyone and everything was forced to follow. Parallel to this, he believed that an ideal ruler made laws, like an inevitable force of nature, that the people could not resist.
His philosophy was very influential on the first King of Qin and the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, becoming one of the guiding principles of the ruler's policies. After the early demise of the Qin Dynasty, Han Fei's philosophy was officially vilified by the following Han Dynasty. Despite its outcast status throughout the history of imperial China, Han Fei's political theory continued to heavily influence every dynasty afterwards, and the Confucian ideal of a rule without laws was never again realized.
Han Fei's philosophy experienced a renewed interest under the rule of the Communist Party during the leadership of Mao Zedong, who personally admired some of the principles laid out in it.
Han Fei's entire recorded work is collected in the Han Feizi, a book containing 55 chapters. It is also important as the only surviving source for numerous anecdotes from the Warring States Period.
Han Fei was the first Chinese thinker to raise the question of population control.

Article courtesy of Wikipedia

Thursday, 26 August 2010


Date: The closing date for the submission of entries is Monday, 1 November 2010.
Venue: Embassy of Japan, 101-104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT
E-mail: manga@LD.mofa.go.jp
Web: http://www.uk.emb-japan.go.jp
Organiser: The Embassy of Japan

The Embassy of Japan is once again launching the major manga-writing competition, MANGA JIMAN 2010, with fantastic prizes and open to anyone fourteen (14) years of age or over.

The amazing First Prize is two (2) return air tickets to Japan, courtesy of All Nippon Airways!

The Second Prize is a fabulous TOSHIBA laptop computer.

Third Prize is a superb digital camera from RICOH UK LtdRunners-up will receive and a selection of manga publications, available in the UK from various UK manga publishers amongst others prizes.

The winners’ works will also be displayed in a special MANGA JIMAN EXHIBITION at the Embassy of Japan.
This competition is open to all UK residents. All creations should be original and between six (6) to eight (8) A4-sized pages in length and although entrants are free to choose their own theme, restrictions do apply, and importantly the manga should in some way make reference to nami or ‘wave’.

The closing date for the submission of entries is Monday, 1 November 2010.
Should you wish to enter, please read the full MANGA JIMAN COMPETITION 2010 RULES & REGULATIONS (www.uk.emb-japan.go.uk/en/event/manga/Manga_jiman_2010_rules.pdf PDF file) and then carefully fill out and submit the official entry form (http://www.uk.emb-japan.go.jp/en/event/manga/Manga_jiman_2010_apply.pdf PDF file) along with your entry by post or in person to Manga Jiman 2010 Competition, JICC, Embassy of Japan, 101-104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT.

Please contact manga@LD.mofa.go.jp with any queries about the competition.
* The competition is open to all legal residents of the United Kingdom who are, or will be, over the age of fourteen (14) by 1 January 2011.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Sony introduces first Translucent Mirror Technology digital cameras Light, compact α55 and α33

Sony’s first-ever digital cameras to employ Translucent Mirror Technology showcase an innovative optical system that opens up dramatic new shooting possibilities. In contrast with conventional DSLR cameras, Translucent Mirror Technology uses a fixed, translucent mirror that ‘splits’ the optical pathway between the main image sensor and a separate phase-detection autofocus sensor.

High-resolution live image preview with rapid, accurate phase detection autofocus is thus available at all times – either via the angle-adjustable 7.5cm (3”) LCD or precision Tru-Finder (electronic viewfinder). This also ensures that even moving objects stay in sharp focus at all times, whether you’re shooting Full HD video or stills.

Translucent Mirror Technology overcomes other traditional limitations of DSLR models, with its simplified mechanical design shrinking camera size and complexity. This makes the α55 and α33 a compelling choice for casual photographers who want to capture spontaneous family moments and travel scenes with less to carry.

Mirror Technology allows high-speed shooting with the α55 at up to 10fps (α33: 7fps) in Continuous Priority AE mode. This represents the world’s fastest burst continuous AF shooting performance of any interchangeable lens camera with an APS-C size sensor.

A newly developed 15-point phase-detection autofocus system assures rapid, accurate AF tracking, keeping even moving subjects in sharp focus during continuous shooting. This enables the α55 and α33 to capture split-second action or fleeting nuances of expression with portrait subjects. Sensor inside both cameras lets photographers capture stunning, cinematic HD video footage with beautiful background defocus (bokeh) effects.

Theα55 and α33 also mark the debut of Quick AF Full HD movie shooting. Translucent Mirror Technology enables AVCHD 1080i video shooting with smooth, precise phase detection AF tracking of moving subjects. Real-time video image preview is now possible via the viewfinder – in contrast with DSLR cameras where the raised mirror prevents light from reaching the optical viewfinder during video shooting.

Theα55 and α33 enable exciting new possibilities for framing and viewing highest-quality video and still images. Already prized by step-up DSLR users and enthusiasts alike, Sony’s Quick AF Live View system is now more effective than ever. High-resolution live image preview is teamed with uncompromised phase detection AF performance – even with rapidly-moving subjects.

Tilting and swivelling freely (to maximum 270 degrees) for comfortable framing at any shooting angle, the bright 7.5 cm (3.0") (16:9) Xtra Fine LCD offers superb detail and contrast.

There’s also a precision electronic viewfinder with 1.15 million dot resolution that delivers a clear, bright image with 100% frame coverage. Adjustments to exposure, depth of field and colour can be previewed instantly, either in the viewfinder or on the LCD. Effortless composition is aided further by switchable grid line in the finder and LCD screen, plus a new digital levelling gauge.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Discover Korean Food #32: Dr. Sook-Ja Yoon's "Sundubu-jjigae: Spicy Soft Tofu Stew"

Sundubu-jjigae is a stew of soft tofu and clams in a spicy broth. Soft tofu is made with soaked soybeans which are called ‘beef from the garden.’ It is soft and sweet in taste. From olden days, Koreans developed tofu making skills and various dishes with tofu.

[Ingredients & Quantity]
600 g soft tofu : 300 g (1½ cups) water
200 g clam flesh : 4 g (1 tsp) salt, 1 kg (5 cups) water
Seasoning sauce:
18 g (1 tbsp) clear soy sauce, 2 g (½ tsp) salt, 10 g (1½ tbsp) ground red pepper
28 g (2 tbsp) minced green onion, 16 g (1 tbsp) minced garlic, 20 g (1½ tbsp) sesame oil
10 g (½ root) green onion, 15 g (1 ea) green pepper, 10 g (½ ea) red pepper

1. Slice the soft tofu into 5 cm-cubes.
2. Rinse the clam flesh in salt water and drain water on a strainer.
3. Blend seasoning sauce.
4. Cut the green onion and green/red pepper into 2 cm-long and 0.3 cm-thick diagonally.

1. Season clam flesh with half of the seasoning sauce.
2. Put the soft tofu and water in the pot, boil it on high heat for 2 min. When it boils, lower the heat to medium and boil it for 5 min.
3. Add seasoned clam flesh and remained half of the seasoning sauce, then boil it another 2 min.
4. Add the green onion and green/red pepper, then bring it to a boil.

* Clam flesh may be replaced by oyster or pork in the stew.
* Soft tofu should be boiled shortly for soft taste, if too long, untasty.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Canon marks a decade of IXUS digital cameras with the outstanding IXUS 1000 HS

Canon marks ten years of its stylish IXUS digital camera series with the launch of the incredible IXUS 1000 HS – a high-performance model combining advanced Canon optics with leading technology in a luxurious metal body. A completely new addition to the IXUS series, this model takes the range to new heights, fusing high-tech features and signature IXUS styling to provide premium image quality and head-turning looks in one outstanding package.
Available in silver, brown and pink, the IXUS 1000 HS is one of the most advanced IXUS models to date, exemplifying the innovation that has been consistently present in every generation of the IXUS series. A compact but powerful 10x optical zoom lens makes it the slimmest super zoom camera of its kind anywhere in the world[1] while Full HD video capture allows users to record smooth, 1080p movies. It’s also the second IXUS to feature the HS System, combining a high-sensitivity, 10.0 Megapixel CMOS sensor with powerful DIGIC 4 processing to provide fantastic all-round image quality and high-speed shooting.

A perfect combination of performance and portability, the advanced feature-set of the IXUS 1000 HS helps users to get the perfect shot every time. The exceptionally compact 10x optical zoom lens showcases the pioneering optical expertise trusted by millions of Canon owners world-wide, ensuring the benefits of a high zoom lens are not lost for the sake of pocketability. As a result of unique engineering, the IXUS 1000 HS offers both – boasting a slim profile that will comfortably fit into a pocket or handbag. A highly-effective optical Image Stabilizer designed with advanced lens-shift technology allows users to capture sharp images in darker conditions or when the zoom is extended, providing the perfect tool for consistently capturing clearly defined, blur-free images. A new, intelligent Handheld Night Scene mode also makes it easy to take beautiful night shots without a tripod, combining several shots taken in succession into one sharp and optimally-exposed picture.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Barbican Film presents an impressive programme of Japanese film in London

Date: Tuesday 19 October to Sunday 19 December 2010
Venue: Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
Web: http://www.barbican.org.uk/film
Box Office: 0845 120 7527

For two months, from 19 October to 19 December, Barbican Film presents an impressive programme of Japanese film, which complements Barbican Art Gallery’s Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. The programme includes three Directorspectives focusing of the work of Japanese film directors from three different eras of cinema, for whom costume and set design formed a critical element of their work – Kenji Mizoguchi, Akira Kurosawa and Takeshi Kitano. The Mizoguchi Directorspective launches on Sunday 24 October with a screening of The Water Magician accompanied, for the first time in the UK, by benshi narration and live traditional Japanese musical accompaniment on the koto. The screening will be introduced by Japanese film expert Tony Rayns. The season also features GirlsWorld, a series of contemporary Japanese films focusing on women, including a Cosplay special event on Saturday 6 November, and a schlockfest double bill for Halloween, as well as two Japanimation screenings.

All films are in Japanese with English subtitles unless otherwise stated.

(GIRLSWORLD: WOMEN IN CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE CINEMA – Thursday 21 October to Sunday 14 November)

A series of recent films that showcase the diverse representation of women in twenty-first century Japanese cinema, and features debut films from two female directors.

Thursday 21 October
6.00 pm – Nana (PG) (Japan 2005 Dir. Kentaro Otani 113 min) introduced by season curator Helen McCarthy

Nana is a delightful coming-of-age tale of friendship set amidst Tokyo’s rock music scene, and adapted from the shōjo manga series written and illustrated by Ai Yazawa. A chance meeting on a train brings two very different girls called Nana together. After a string of coincidences they end up sharing a flat 707 (Nana means seven in Japanese) and a friendship evolves despite their contrasting ambitions.

Sunday 24 October
1.00 pm – Instant Swamp (PG) (Japan 2009 Dir. Miki Satoshi 120 min)

Instant Swamp is a quirky comedy that follows the newly redundant Haname Jinchoge (Kumiko Aso) as she traces her real father and embarks on a wild journey of self-discovery. Modernity meets myth as Haname’s father forces her to see the mystical in life and with the help of her new friend, punk rocker Gus, search for hidden family treasure and discover her destiny.

Thursday 4 November
8.45 pm – Lala Pipo: A Lot of People (18) (Japan 2008 Dir. Masayuki Miyano 93 min)

Lala Pipo: A Lot of People is a vibrant, candy-coloured romp through the gutters of Tokyo’s sex industry from first-time director Masayuki Miyano, with a screenplay by award-winning director Tetsuya Nakashima (Kamikaze Girls, Memories of Matsuko). The fates of six lonely characters gradually entwine as the film depicts their search for hope and humanity on the seedy side of the adult entertainment business.

Saturday 6 November
11.00 pm – Kamikaze Girls (Shimotsuma Monogatari) (12A) (2004 Dir. Tetsuya Nakashima 103 min) – a Cosplay special event as part of Barbican LATES

With cult status in Japan, Kamikaze Girls is a dazzling onslaught of images, special effects, live action and animation following the relationship of two mismatched girls. The narrator Momoko is a teenager from a broken home who lives in her own bonnet-clad fantasy based on eighteenth-century French fashion. Everything changes however when this Rococo-Lolita meets a rough tough biker chick, Ichigo.

Saturday 13 November
2.00 pm – Memories of Matsuko (15) (Japan 2006 Dir. Tetsuya Nakashima 130 min)

Billed as the Japanese Amélie, Memories of Matsuko is a tragic fairytale that blends a touching human drama with energetic offbeat comedy and the occasional spectacular production number. A teenager unravels the heart-breaking story of his aunt Matsuko’s life, a tale of recurring mistreatment at the hands of a string of unsuitable boyfriends.

Sunday 14 November
2.00 pm – Sakuran (18) (Japan 2006 Dir. Mika Ninagawa 111 min)

Sakuran, the impressive debut feature from photographer Mika Ninagawa, daughter of the acclaimed theatre director Yukio, is a lavish period drama brimming with costume eye-candy. This live action adaptation of Moyoco Anno’s manga series stars multi-talented model, actress and singer Anna Tsuchiya as the rebellious young girl Kiyoha on her journey to become an oiran courtesan. Ninagawa indulges her vivid sense of colour with luscious traditional styling in this heart-warming tale draped in an eclectic jazz, electro and pop soundtrack from diva Ringo Shiina.

(Sunday 24 October to Wednesday 3 November)

Internationally respected as one of the greatest film directors of all time, Kenji Mizoguchi grew up in Tokyo at the dawn of cinema in Japan, and trained as a painter before moving into the film industry in the 1920s. His work, which often revealed his sympathy for the exploited and marginalized, was famed for its exquisite pictorial quality, and the contrasting of opposing themes - light and shadow, harshness and beauty, and the role of the individual amidst the pressures of society. This season features four of Mizoguchi’s finest, internationally acclaimed works, including an exceptional screening of one of his key silent films, The Water Magician, accompanied, for the first time in the UK, with traditional benshi narration and live musical accompaniment on the koto.

Sunday 24 October
4.00 pm – The Water Magician (Taki no Shiraito) (PG) (Japan 1933 Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi 98 min)

Special screening accompanied by benshi narration, the traditional form of Japanese silent film story-telling, performed in English by Tomoko Komura, with live traditional Japanese musical accompaniment on the koto by Melissa Holding, and introduced by leading Japanese film critic Tony Rayns.

Mizoguchi directed fifty-seven films during the silent era, of which only six survive, including The Water Magician, one of the masterpieces of Japanese silent cinema. The film captures three elements for which Mizoguchi became famous - ill-fated women, extreme emotions and tragic love. Legendary actress Takako Irie stars as a water juggler in a troupe of travelling circus performers, who falls in love with a coach driver. She is faithful to him whilst on the road, and sends him money so that he can study to be a lawyer, but as in many Mizoguchi films, a series of complications ensue, leading to despair and tragedy.

The koto is the traditional 13-stringed zither of Japan whose shape has been likened to a crouching dragon. The history of the instrument spans at least twelve centuries during which time its form has changed little. It is made from the wood of the paulownia tree (or ‘Royal Empress tree’) and generally plucked with plectra worn on the right hand.

Sunday 31 October6.00 pm – The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums (Zangiku Monogatari) (Japan 1939 Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi 142 min)

The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums is one of Mizoguchi’s greatest achievements and one of his most visually innovative works. In a Tokyo theatre in the late nineteenth century, a young man tries to follow in the steps of his famous actor father, but lacks the necessary focus and discipline. When he falls in love with his baby brother’s nurse, he decides to defy his family, renounce his wealthy lifestyle and follow her to a far-off place.

Wednesday 3 November6.30 pm – Ugetsu Monogatari (PG) (Japan 1953 Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi 94 min)

Commonly known as Ugetsu, Mizoguchi’s masterpiece Ugetsu Monogatari won the prestigious Silver Lion at Venice International Film Festival in 1953 and has been heralded by critics ever since. It is a searing portrait of two couples in sixteenth-century Japan, damning in its depiction of the societal patriarchy of the time. Desiring better lives for themselves, two men leave their wives. The two women fare badly at the hands of various villains, yet uphold their own strength, making them the heroines of the film. Ugetsu is a chilling tale, simultaneously historical drama and truly scary ghost story.

Wednesday 3 November8.30 pm – Sansho The Bailiff (Sanshô dayû) (PG) (Japan 1954 Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi 124 min)

Continuing Mizoguchi's critical success by winning the Golden Lion in Venice in 1954, Sansho The Bailiff is a hauntingly graceful film about a medieval Japanese family's brutal separation. Mizoguchi's trademark juxtaposition of humanity with nature explores his characters’ transitory suffering and lack of control over their complicated lives, without judging their frailties.

(Friday 29 October)
Barbican Film’s spooky Halloween double bill presents two new shlock horror titles straight from Japan introduced by writer Jasper Sharp, curator of the new Zipangu Fest. A late night feast of blood and guts in the Barbican's basement, presented in association with the Zipangu Fest. For more details see zipangufest.com

7.30 pmRoboGeisha (18) (Japan 2009 Dir. Noboru Iguchi 102 min)

Hell-bent on world domination, father and son businessmen recruit a vicious gang of Geisha assassins including power tool-enhanced sisters, but when one refuses to kill innocents, the War of the Geishas begins.
A laugh-out-loud feast of bad taste, RoboGeisha reveals a mind-boggling array of surgically added weaponry complete with a Giant Castle Robot and buildings that bleed.
This unashamedly over-the-top blood-fest from the team that created Machine Girl boasts special gore effects from genre master Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police).

9.30pm – Kyonyû doragon (Big Tits Zombie) 3D (Japan 2010 Dir. Takao Nakano 73 min) (18)

In Kyonyû doragon (Big Tits Zombie) 3D, exotic dancers battle cheesy zombies armed only with the samurai sword, the chainsaw and wasabi paste! Peppered with 3D set pieces this tongue-in-cheek Japanese take on the Western/zombie genre sees strippers vs the undead in the live film adaptation of Rei Mikamoto's cult manga and stars actress Sora Aoi.

Augmented City 3D (2010 Dir. Keiichi Matsuda 4 min) World Premiere

Augmented City is a meditation on the architecture of the contemporary city as it becomes more and more about the synthetic spaces created by the digital information that we collect, consume and organize, and less about the physical space of buildings and landscape.

(Sunday 14 and Monday 15 November 2010)
Stand-up comedian, games show host, actor, writer, film critic, painter, poet, cartoonist and one of Japan’s leading contemporary film directors, Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano is a household name in Japan and a national celebrity.

Born in 1947, Kitano studied engineering at university, but after four years dropped out and found a job as a lift attendant in a night club. When one of the club’s comedian’s fell ill, he took to the stage and a long-standing comedy and acting career was born. In 1983 Kitano won acclaim for his role in Ôshima's Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, and in 1989 directed his first film, Violent Cop. A serious motorcycle accident in 1994 only set him back temporarily, and as his films achieved international acclaim and won awards around the world, he was hailed as the successor to one of the greatest Japanese film directors, Akira Kurosawa.

Sunday 14 November
6.15 pm – Hana bi (Japan 1997 Dir. Takeshi Kitano 103 min)

Winner of 21 international awards and the first Japanese film to win the Golden Lion at Venice since Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Hana bi (Firework) sensitively navigates rage, love, brutal violence and aching tenderness through the eyes of an outwardly impassive, inwardly guilt riddled ex cop, desperate to make amends to his terminally ill, terminally neglected wife and his suicidal ex partner. Written, directed and starring Kitano, this inventive, beautifully shot and brilliantly acted mini masterpiece is the film that put him firmly on the world map. Also starring Kayoko Kishimoto and Ren Osugi.

Sunday 14 November
8.15 pm – Brother (18) (Japan 2000 Dir. Takeshi Kitano 113 min)

Kitano’s first film made outside of Japan and his first collaboration with the fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, Brother is the story of a deposed Tokyo Yakuza who travels to Los Angeles to set up a drugs empire with his half-brother. Visceral visuals and menacing violence are the order of the day in this hard-hitting drama.

Monday 15 November6.30 pm – Dolls (12A) (Japan 2002 Dir. Takeshi Kitano 113 min)

Highly stylised, with gorgeous costumes from Yohji Yamamoto and richly saturated colour as the film moves through the four seasons, Dolls weaves together three narratives of spurned love. Opening with a scene from banraku Japanese puppet theatre, the film meditates on the nature of the doll, death and the mistake of overlooking love.

Monday 15 November
8.40 pm – Zatôichi (18) (Japan 2003 Dir. Takeshi Kitano 115 min)

Zatôichi follows the eponymous blind warrior (played by Kitano), who drifts into a remote mountain settlement and is soon involved in the villagers’ fight against the ruthless gang leader, Ginzo.

Full of the finest fight choreography, dappled with moments of sublime humour and boasting another of the director’s collaborations with the designer Yohji Yamamoto, Zatôichi is one of Kitano's most visually arresting works.

(Friday 3 to Sunday 19 December)

Akira Kurosawa’s career in the film industry spanned almost six decades, during which he opened up Japanese cinema to Western audiences. In 1990 he received the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement "for accomplishments that have inspired, delighted, enriched and entertained audiences and influenced filmmakers throughout the world". Curated by Japanese film expert Helen McCarthy, this season demonstrates the master filmmaker’s thrilling artistry and marks the centenary of Kurosawa’s birth on 23 March 1910.

Friday 3 December6.00 pm – Throne Of Blood (Kumonosu jo) (12A) (Japan 1957 Dir. Akira Kurosawa 109 min) introduced by season curator Helen McCarthy

Throne Of Blood is Kurosawa's unforgettable transposition of Macbeth to the ghostly forests and grim castles of medieval Japan in the Age of Warring States. Kurosawa's samurai Macbeth is not a strong, heroic figure, but a frightened, ambitious man who is fearful of the witches’ spell and kills to save his own blood. Laced with superb performances by Toshiro Mifune in the title role, alongside the wonderful Isuzu Yamada as Lady Macbeth, Kurosawa mixes the Japanese with the Jacobean, drawing upon the imagery of Noh in this indelible dark treasure. Even the sound of clothing - the sibilant rustle of Lady Macbeth's kimono, the rattle of armour - is used to call up dark reptilian images while reinforcing the physical reality of the moment.

8.30 pm – Rashomon (12A) (Japan 1950 Dir. Akira Kurosawa 87 min) presented on a newly restored digital print

Set in feudal Japan, Kurosawa's master work Rashomon is a compelling exploration of the nature of truth, as various witnesses present their diverse accounts of a rape and murder in twelfth-century Kyoto. Kurosawa uses clothing both as status marker and indicator of character, taking us back to a feudal world where everything we see is a handmade, hard-worn product of craft. Dominated by an extraordinary performance from Toshiro Mifune as the gleefully savage bandit, this influential and endlessly inventive feature introduced Western audiences to Japanese cinema, winning Kurosawa both the Golden Lion at Venice and the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

Wednesday 8 December
6.00 pm – Drunken Angel (Yoidore tenshi) (PG) (Japan 1948 Dir. Akira Kurosawa 98 min)

Set in Tokyo’s post war gangster-ridden slums, Drunken Angel follows the relationship between the alcoholic doctor of the title and Matsunaga, the young mobster boss who comes to him with a bullet in his hand after a gun battle and who he diagnoses with tuberculosis. While the doctor attempts to change his lifestyle and save his life, Matsunaga falls back into his unhealthy ways when his former boss is released from jail demanding his turf back. A feast of striking imagery, this intense and powerful thriller initiated Kurosawa’s rewarding collaboration with actor Toshiro Mifune. Mifune's flashy gangster outfits and the Western dress of the other characters form a stark contrast to Kurosawa's historical dramas, reflecting the reality of occupied Japan as Western domination challenged centuries-old norms of masculinity, society and morality. "This is me at last", said the director best known to many for swords and kimonos.

8.30 pm – The Hidden Fortress (Kakushi-toride no san-akunin) (PG) (Japan 1958 Dir. Akira Kurosawa 139 min)

A light-hearted romp in war-torn feudal Japan, The Hidden Fortress sees two hapless and greedy peasants tricked into helping a disguised Princess and her faithful General flee through enemy territory with their hoard of clan gold.
Kurosawa’s first experiment with the Tohoscope widescreen format is a visually stunning action adventure which was an inspiration for George Lucas’s Star Wars. Kurosawa's use of costume as a deceptive device echoes Rashomon eight years earlier.
The tropes and imagery he employs here are still common in manga and anime: the film's influence on Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke is obvious.

Thursday 9 December
7.00 pm – The Shadow Warrior (Kagemusha) (PG) (Japan 1980 Dir. Akira Kurosawa 181 min)

Towards the end of his career, Kurosawa directed his greatest international success, Kagemusha, which also won the Palme d’Or at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.
In sixteenth-century Japan, a convicted robber with a striking resemblance to a mortally wounded warlord, is spared execution in order to impersonate the ruler after his death, with both the lord and his Kagemasha played by Tatsuya Nakadai. Playing once again with the idea of costume as deception, of image affecting perception and thus changing reality, Kurosawa fully indulges our visual appetite in this vividly colourful epic using 5000 extras for the final battle sequence.

Sunday 19 December2.30 pm – Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai) (PG) (Japan 1954 Dir. Akira Kurosawa 207 min) with one interval

In sixteenth-century feudal Japan, seven samurai warriors defend a village from a marauding band of ruthless outlaws. Kurosawa's epic achievement Seven Samurai is a cornerstone of world cinema, which again brought Japanese cinema to amazed audiences in the West with its dazzling photography and unforgettable images and was famously remade in Hollywood as The Magnificent Seven. “An action film is often an action film only for the sake of action. But what a wonderful thing if one can construct a grand action film without sacrificing the portrayal of human beings.”

The East News