Friday, November 10, 2006

Time 60 Years of Asian Heroes

Time Magazine has ambitiously tried to identify Asian Heroes of the post WW2 era, and there are many names on the list that I can only nod, smile and agree with. It is good to see that many Japanese men and women are being recognized, including architect Kenzo Tange, conductor Seiji Ozawa, designer Hanae Mori and - Momofuku Ando (inventor of instant noodles!).

I was also particularly happy that they mentioned spiritual leaders, such as the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh:

In 1965, after yet another Buddhist self-immolation, Nhat Hanh wrote to the American civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. that "the monks who burned themselves did not aim at the death of the oppressors, but only at a change in their policy. Their enemies are not man. They are intolerance, fanaticism, dictatorship, cupidity, hatred and discrimination, which lie within the heart of man." Nhat Hanh led King, and, by extension, American public sentiment, to oppose the fighting in Vietnam. During the late 1960s, while living in the U.S. in exile, Nhat Hanh became one of the icons of the antiwar movement. His essays were published in such leading periodicals as the New York Review of Books, and his poems were sung, like songs of protest, to guitar accompaniment at college campuses. It's no exaggeration to say that Nhat Hanh helped force Washington's eventual withdrawal from Vietnam.

Nhat Hanh, now 80 years old and living in a monastery in France, has played an important role in the transmission of an Asian spiritual tradition to the modern, largely secular West.

Have a look at their list, and feel free to add a few names in my comment section. I would not be surprised if you do better than Time Magazine.

Bonus: You will notice that Queen's lead singer Freddie Mercury is listed as well. That's great, because Queen is incredibly popular in Japan, so it gives me a reason to post a YouTube video here on my blog (I try to do that every weekend). Here is Queen at their May 1985 performance at Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo (yup, that's one of the great buildings designed by Kenzo Tange). Why is Freddie Mercury listed by Time as an Asian Hero? He was born on Zanzibar to Indian parents, and received his musical education in India. His real name was Farrokh Bulsara. Enjoy (click on the image):

Here is more good stuff from their 1975 tour to Japan: Queen in Japan


Pandabonium said...

I thought Queen made good money. But poor Freddie can't even afford a shirt.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a favorite of mine. I like what the Dalai Lama says usually, but he has some strange bedfellows in the political arena.

For me as a musician, Seiji Ozawa is awesome to watch. I like to imagine myself in the orchestra and follow his conducting. He is great.

I see Aung San & Aung San Suu Kyi are on the list. There's an inspirational story.

The Moody Minstrel said...

I can testify to the popularity of Queen in Japan. My 7th grade students are always requesting that I perform "We Will Rock You"...again and again and again... Today at an Open School event I performed it for some 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, and they all knew and loved it.

Poor Freddy. May he rest in peace.

The only names I can think of off the top of my head seem to be covered already. I'll have to do some brainstorming.

Martin J Frid said...

Thanks for the comments! Seiji Ozawa served as conductor for Malmö Symphony Orchestra (that's my home town in Sweden) and I have heard him here in Japan as well. Ken Nagano is another great conductor but maybe he hasn't made quite such a mark yet.

Good to hear from you Moody and glad to hear the performance went well!