Neighborhood Narratives Tokyo

Friday, April 21, 2006

Final Project...


Friday, April 07, 2006

America, a Good or Bad Dream?

When I was in class the other day we had a very interesting discussion after watching a documentary on American immigrants. The documentary was interesting and pretty well made in my opinion. It had a wider perspective than I thought it would and it also had better people than I have seen in other similar documentaries. It was interesting for me also, considering I was once myself an immigrant, even though I only stayed four years. But I still feel that I at least got a good feeling for America and its different parts and people. I went to High school there and one year of college. I want to clarify, which I did not in class, that I don’t think I know everything about America in any way…all I want to do is give my own opinion. Either way, the point that was mostly discussed in class was if America was still the country where anyone could go and have their dreams come true. Is it the country where anyone can go, no matter you they are, and have a fair chance, jut like anyone else? Is it really the country where dreams come true? Umm…I don’t think so! To me it was not as inviting as I thought it would be for foreigners. I had a great time in high school and met a lot on nice people, some that I am still good friends with. But at the same time, I did not get feeling that things were easy. I guess now an American would say…’Nothing is easy, you have to work hard if you want to get someone.’ This is where my point is; to me, it is no easier to get somewhere in America than it is in any other well developed country that is open to foreigners. So actually today, as America is closing its borders more and more, and people are more and more suspicious of others, I really do not see the greatness in “The American Dream.” To me again, this is something that, of course, America wants the rest of the world to think about the country, but really, its not that accurate. I understand that it is easier to start a company in American, compared to Sweden, for example. There is less tax and cheaper space etc. But at the same time, if you are not the right color in a neighborhood in America, and say you own a business, you won’t get many costumers. There was people around my house, which was in western PA, that called themselves “Rednecks” and they were proud to hate black people and anyone else that was not American. That was really strange to me, I mean, when I was in High School the teachers literally told us when the hatred for black people stopped, but there on the other side of the room was a guy that everyone knew hated all black people. I realize this might not be a picture of all Americans or even a part of them, but at the same time, it made me really sad in a way. Everyone knows how America is portrayed in movies across the world; the famous Hollywood factory. Anyway, people think that’s how it really is…I don’t think people in America really realizes but, yeah, a lot of people think that’s how everything really is. Not that its always good in movies….Ok, all I’m trying to say is that people have a slanted view of what America really is. This is my opinion…and now I am done rambling. Later..

Friday, March 24, 2006

"The Lives of Foreign Students in Tokyo" Screening

Well I have to say that in large I agree with this student documentary. I don't think it was that exciting, but it did have some interviews that were interesting. I don't know if its because I am a foreign student myself, but I felt that I have heard everything they said before. And a lot of it I hear all the time from other exchange students that come here. I guess that's why it was not that exciting to me. On the other hand that means it was pretty well made, even though it could always be better. It needs a little more action and it needed some more people in the interviews. At the end one could predict what they would say about a subject, just because they answered all the other questions. This made it feel a little slanted in my opinion...There was not enough voices in it. Either way I did agree with what they people interviewed said. Also, it wouldn't have been bad to do the interviews in a more fun setting or location.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Screening of "Tarnation"

The documentary Tarnation was a nice surprise to me. I think it is really neat that he has collected media from his life since he was 11 years old. It of course makes the documentary pretty much as subjective as it can get. Adding to that, he uses words, chosen by him, to emphasize things and bring the documentary forward. But the extreme subjectivity is not a problem in this documentary in my opinion. The movie was made to show his opinion of the events in his life, and that is exactly what it does.
I think the images and movie clips work well with the music. That is, to bring the feelings that I think that he wants us to feel. I also like that the narration is not by a voice, but instead it is simple text on the screen. I think this leaves more up to the viewer to determine the feelings and mood.
I think that the documentary is successful at doing what I feel Jonathan Caouette wants us to feel and think. I do not think he had any intension of being objective or traditional when he made this documentary. He simply wanted to tell us the story of his life, from his view in his way.
This is an interesting concept that I think, as we said in class, we will see more of in the future. Kyle is completely right when he said that the ability to record your own life using different medias is today much easier than it was even ten or twenty years ago. On that note, I hope to see more of this kin of documentary, as I think they broaden my view of documentaries and I always think that there are things you can learn from other people and their lives.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Donald Richie reading "The Japanese Garden"

Donald Richie’s observations of the Japanese garden is completely correct in my opinion. But then again, I guess one shouldn’t really expect anything else coming from a man that knows more about Japan than most Japanese people. In his book “Lateral View” he claims that there is no real ‘raw’ nature in Japan, but instead Japanese creates nature to reveal it.
This could be connected to everything in Japanese culture I think. Japanese in my opinion would rather see something that is made correctly and with perfection than something that is in its original form and untouched. Some examples would be the Bonsai trees or the tea ceremonies. Also, I have never seen a ‘natural’ garden in Japan. If there is one, it is always very neat and organized.
Comparing this to my own country, Sweden; Japan and Sweden are very different. They are almost the complete opposite I would say. In Sweden everyone cherries the ‘raw’ nature and we try to preserve it. Swedish people do, in general, not like when nature is ‘made’ or ‘fixed.’ When a Swedish person wants to experience nature, they go far away from everything man made, and enjoy the untouched. An example of preserving nature would be the 450 million crowns that the government will give to replant forests that were destroyed last year in a storm called “Gudrun.”
I don’t know if its because I am Swedish, but I certainly prefer the Swedish view in this case. I do not want to see nature that was made or designed by someone, if I am looking for ‘raw’ nature that is. Because Japan has beautiful gardens but I would not call them nature. In Sweden there is also beauty in a garden that is kind of ‘wild.’ A designed and very cared of garden in Sweden is not always looked at as more beautiful than a ‘free’ one. Besides, I think that most Swedish people think that ‘raw’ nature is always more beautiful than a garden, designed or not. I don’t know if this is the case in Japan?
I also think this is a reflection of the different living situations between Sweden and Japan. Sweden actually has more space then Japan but there is 9 million people in Sweden compared to Japan’s 130 million. This huge difference makes for different thinking. Japanese people simply cannot experience nature like Swedish people can; there is not the space.

Screening of "Postcards"

Postcards was to me a very strange film. It was not like anything that I have seen before, in both good and bad ways. I think the use of backgrounds was both very interesting and a good idea in some situations, as well as a bad in some. When they were driving for example, it was good. It worked, maybe because I am so used to it from other movies. But when they were on the mountain for example and it was a long shot, it was just way to cheesy and it totally broke the 'rhythm' of the movie for me.
The shooting technique aside, the movie wasn't that bad. The story had some interesting points to it. For example, the fact that their relationship breaks down so fast after only a couple weeks apart is interesting. But on the other hand, its not something revolutionary or new. Also, the narration by the director was interesting as well as pretty stupid in my opinion. I did not quite understand what he wanted said with the random comments, about things most people already know, and the silly hat and glasses. Even though I like those kind of glasses.
I guess the film was interesting to me, but not something I would really recommend or watch again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

3 Day Investigation (Tamachi Station)

Images I took with my cell phone of Tamachi Station...

I did my three-day investigation at Tamchi Station in central Tokyo. There are two lines that go in to the station where I did my observations; Yamanote, and Kehin-Tohoku. Yamanote line runs all the way around central Tokyo and Kehin-Tohoku line goes all the way out to Ofuna, around an hour outside central Tokyo. Therefore I thought there was going to be a good mix of people to observe. But I was wrong.
The first day I was there I simply stood in the middle of the station and looked at people that came through. This was when afternoon rush hour was getting started about 4 pm. I fast realized that the crowd that comes through the station is not as diverse as I hoped it would be. I soon realized that the people were almost exclusively businesses men and women mix with some student here and there. Even the second time I was observing at the station I saw almost no change, and this was around noon.
After thinking about my observations I realize that what I kept seeing at Tamachi station makes perfect sense. All around this station is high office buildings. The only other places one can find is the small convenient stores and Izkaya’s (Japanese type of restaurant / drinking place) for the business men to get drunk in after work. This is also the only other change I saw when I observed the station later in the evening, around 10, there is simply more drunk people. I guess the students that I saw may have come from Keio Univ. that is not that far from the station. I also know that there are more schools below Univ. level but I don’t know their names.
Finally, I guess that I did learn a little more about Tamachi station but nothing that really excites me. I guess it does its job as a station; it is not a place you would want to stay for a long time. (My interview, that will be available on here soon, reviles that I am not the only one to think this way.)

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