Sunday, January 29, 2012

Subaru Ballet (2009)

This is a very special film, about ballet, as Subaru overcomes all kinds of trouble to reach the highest level of dancing. If you like classical music, this is a motion picture that may move you, as the characters evolve. Kuroki Meisa is Subaru, based on a manga with the same name. Hong Kong-born director Chi-ngai Lee has made a beautiful film from a difficult story.

Here is part 3 of the film:



And if that is not a rather good take on the Bolero, well, who am I to judge. It gets better after this, trust me, as Kuroki Meisa is perfect.

Plot:
Subaru and her twin brother Kazuma share a dream in becoming ballet dancers, but their passion is discouraged by their father. After Kazuma's death from a hereditary illness, dancing became Subaru's only happiness and she yearns to lose herself in dance. Her life takes a dramatic turn when she runs into cabaret owner Isuzu, who recognizes the talent in Subaru and trains her in her nightspot.

But to become a professional ballerina, Subaru has to overcome harsher challenges than merely satisfying the cabaret drunkards. Spurred on by her rivaling dance companions, Subaru enters an international dance competition, to vie for recognition and a scholarship to any top ballet company in the world.

Subaru and her companions soon discover that there are more to compete than the championship, and tests of friendship, betrayal and self-worth come one after another. Gradually the youngsters learn about themselves as dancers, as persons and as friends.

Asian Media Wiki: Dance Subaru

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Referendums On Nuclear Power In Japan


The debate about nuclear power in Japan just got even more interesting. In Osaka, a group has collected enough signatures to submit a petition to the city government for a vote on the issue. Now, the focus is on Tokyo.

I went to a large meeting at Waseda University on Friday with about 300-400 people who were eager to bring this issue to the attention of everyone in the nation's capital. One of the panelists even suggested that the vote should be about constructing the next nuclear reactor for Tokyo, in the middle of Tokyo. Others noted that it is unfair to ask Fukushima or Niigata to continue to provide electricity to Tokyo, after what happened on March 11, 2011.

(Top photo from Kokumintohyo.com as the campaign celebrates that enough signatures have been collected in Osaka)

The campaign is led by journalist Imai Hajime and supported by people like actor Yamamoto Taro, who participated in the event in Waseda. My friend Lena Lindahl was invited to discuss the experience from Sweden's nuclear referendum in 1980, when the vote was split in three choices, with confusing language, after the Three Mile Island accident in the United States.

Lena and Imai Hajime were keen to ask Japan to learn from the Swedish experience, and have a clear choice of "yes" or "no" as a referendum on this issue should be about nuclear power in general. "Don't do what they did in Sweden, don't divide the vote into three choices!" said Imai Hajime.


Survival Japan Tokyo And Osaka Anti-Nuclear Rallies – Media Coverage:

The campaign to gather signatures started on December 10, 2011 in Tokyo and Osaka, with a January 9, 2012 deadline imposed in Osaka. The number of signatures collected in Osaka reached 50,000, more than the 2 percent of voters (42,673 signatures) required to press for a referendum, as of January 9.


The Waseda University event was impressive. It was also chaotic and fun, as people in the audience shouted suggestions and asked for more details. "No need for music!" someone demanded, wanting to hear more about how to get enough signatures. "Had enough of your opinions!" someone else offered, and Imai Hajime laughed it off.

The group is still well short of the support it needs to press for a vote in Tokyo. With just one month left before the deadline for submitting signatures on Feb. 9, only 78,240 signatures had been collected as of Jan. 8. That was less than one-third of the 214,236 required to petition the governor of Tokyo to adopt referendum ordinances, the group said at a Jan. 9 meeting in Tokyo.

The Asahi: Group says it has enough backing to press for Osaka nuclear vote


If you want to get involved, check out these Japanese websites:
Kokumin Tohyo (People's Referendum)
Sustena Life blog
Referendum Project (Japanese and English)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Always '64


Back in 1964, Japan was hosting the Olympics, and the Shinkansen bullet trains were introduced from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka, and colour television was a novelty. The clever people over at Toho, the film company, just released another film with the Always cast, moving on from 1959, as we get to enjoy the characters who make a living in an imaginary Sanchome part of Tokyo, back then, in the sunset, when everything was still possible.

In the new '64 film, the Blue Impulse jets draw five rings in the sky. It is shown live on TV, but of course it is even more vivid if you step out and watch it for real, above. Bansai shouts are confused with victory in volleyball, and a precocious high school boy is found out to be a succesful manga writer. A young medical doctor is not what he seems, either.

Always - I like how they keep it real. These films are funny, the stories make me cry, and they make me wonder how a great city like this could go from that to such utter madness. Back in 1964, Japan was still not "the world's second largest economy" and now, we are back to square one. I wonder what the next sequel will focus on!

I wish there was a video on Youtube that I could add to this post, that makes justice to the 2 1/2 hours of the film. It was that good, but the clips that are called PR or promotion or whatever do in no way justice to the film. Trailers, what is that? A complete waste of my time. If you want people to go and watch your film, provide clips that actually promote your film. Not just brief cuttings that make no sense at all. Who invented "trailers" as a way to promote motion picture films? They do nothing for me. So, go and see this film, and here is to hoping that Toho and others in the film industry will make better use of Youtube and the Internet.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Can Japan Phase Out Its Nuclear Reactors?


I just thought I'd like to mention one thing from the Yokohama anti nuclear power conference on January 14-15 that I can't get out of my head. At one of the workshops, Swedish expert Göran Bryntse, PhD, who has led the anti-nuclear movement in Sweden for a long time, talked about how citizens can change the energy policy.

First of all, he noted, energy efficiency is the best and cheapest alternative to nuclear power. For example, a country like Sweden can save up to one third of its energy consumption through heatpumps, more efficient engines, LED lights, and new whitegoods such as the latest refrigerators.

In the case of Sweden, these measures would be able to replace 4 nuclear reactors, according to Dr Bryntse. Additionally, 6 more nuclear reactors can be replaced by wind power (3), biomass and co-generation (2), and solar energy (1). Thus, all of Sweden’s current 10 nuclear reactors can easily be phased out.

Consumers Union of Japan: 11,500 Participants In Yokohama Want Japan To Change Its Thinking About Nuclear Power

If we apply this to Japan, it would add up to something like this, as Japan has 54 nuclear reactors (about half per capita compared to Sweden):

Saving energy/reducing consumption: (0.4X54) 21.6

Wind power: (0.3X54) 16.2
Biomass/co-generation: (0.2X54) 10.8
Solar energy: (0.1X54) 5.4

Total: 32.4 nuclear reactors could be phased out in Japan if renewable energy is phased in. Add to that the 21.6 and you get 53.8 which is what we want, give or take 0.2 which are not the point anyway. All nuclear reactors can be phased out and the country can become a leader of renewable energy, rather than depending on expensive and unsustainable nuclear power.

Plus Japan, like Sweden, has not yet solved the problem of what to do with the highly radioactive waste that nuclear power plants continue to produce. "Like living in a mansion (in a high-rise apartment building) without a toilet" is an expression in Japan to describe this unfortunate situation.

I also think solar is a better choice for Japan than wind, considering the weather (we just had 35 sunny days in the Tokyo and Kanto area until the recent snowfall).

In China, they have installed PV on millions of buildings, according to Dr Bryntse, so of course Japan can do better. In fact, Dr Bryntse was invited to the award ceremony in Stockholm when Chinese solar-power entrepreneur Huang Ming received the 2011 Right Livelihood Award for his efforts to speed up the transition from fossil and nuclear energy to renewable in China and abroad:

"In the past ten years, China has become the biggest producer and market of solar energy products, around 250 million Chinese begin to use solar energy, forty percent of them are farmers," Huang said at the ceremony. "Altogether, we have saved around 300 million tons of coal and decreased 400 million tons of emission," he added.

Xinhua.net: Chinese entrepreneur receives 2011 Right Livelihood Award

Applying the math from Sweden (or China) to Japan is not going to give all the answers, but it is an interesting place to start. For example, Japanese people are a lot more frugal per capita compared to Swedish people. Thus, reducing consumption further may not be an easy task for an ordinary household. However, there are many other sectors in Japan that could do a lot more to become energy efficient and stop wasting power. We have to stop assuming that we can continue with "business as usual" as currently some 50 or so reactors are off-line in Japan, in the middle of the 2012 winter. TEPCO for example, is down to 1 single reactor right now, according to The Mainichi:

The Mainichi: TEPCO to shut down another reactor, to leave only 1 in service
The No. 5 reactor at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture will be suspended for scheduled checkups in the early hours of Wednesday, leaving only one out of a total of 17 reactors run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. in service, the utility said.

All 17 reactors will go offline by the end of March with the No. 6 reactor at the plant to be shut down by then for checkups, the utility known as TEPCO said.

Among Japan's 54 commercial reactors, only three reactors, except those of TEPCO, are currently in operation -- the No. 3 reactor at the Tomari plant in Hokkaido, the No. 3 reactor at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture, and the No. 2 reactor at the Shimane plant in Shimane Prefecture.


Energy consumption per capita is actually a very interesting figure. Ever thought about it? How does your country rank on the list? In other words, how do you rank?

Nationmaster.com: Electricity consumption (per capita) by country

Data from 2007. If you live in Sweden, you use some 15,000 kWh/year while a person living in Japan uses about 7,700 kWh/year. Wow, that is less than half compared to your average Swedish citizen, quite impressive! A US citizen uses some 12,700 kWh/year and a German some 6,600 kWh/year.

Intersting to note how these figures vary, and from what I gather, consumption is increasing as of 2009.

Electricity consumption per capita, International Energy Agency (IEA) Statistics Division. 2007. Energy Balances of OECD Countries (2008 edition)--Economic Indicators and Energy Balances of Non-OECD Countries (2007 edition)--Economic Indicators. Paris: IEA http://data.iea.org/ieastore/default.asp.

Citation:
ChartsBin statistics collector team 2011, Electricity Consumption Per Capita, ChartsBin.com http://chartsbin.com/view/2625.



Monday, January 23, 2012

Lots Of Snow

I took a couple of photos tonight as it started snowing heavily. Click to enlarge. The first one is from Hanno Station where the workers were busy shoveling. I like how the second image came out, that's a view of the plum trees in front of my house. The third one is lit nicely by a car that came by, passing the gate to a small shinto shrine I was trying to photograph.





Sunday, January 15, 2012

11,500


Over 11,500 people attended the two-day antinuclear conference in Yokohama with the aim of sharing lessons from the Fukushima crisis and fostering global momentum against atomic power. I'm just back from the second day; I liked how this event felt like a milestone. 10 months after the March 11, 2011 disaster, all kinds of groups and ordinary people showed up to exchange ideas and participate in a positive, forward-looking event. A lot of young people, and the staff made every effort to guide everyone to the right venue, offering simultaneous interpretation to anyone who asked for it. Excellent in every way. The organizers had hoped for a nice round 10,000 to attend, so this was a huge success.

There were peace groups and environmental groups, and the old-timers who have campaigned even back when campaigning was not very popular in Japan. There were new groups of people who have been forced to deal with the unthinkable: mothers in Fukushima, worried about their kids, and lawyers trying to do the right thing to support the citizens - and shareholders - of TEPCO.

Ms. Rebecca Harms, a European Parliament Member, made an emotional appeal on Saturday for democracy, "Please, people of Japan, learn from the German experience." I was also glad to see the Mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, share a special message for the conference closing event on Sunday evening.

Peace Boat and the other NGOs that made this event happen should all be applauded for their organizing skills. The Yokohama Declaration also sounds like something a lot of people may want to read and sign. For once, Japanese media covered this event in a pretty impressive way. Change may be in the air. Stay tuned.

The Mainichi: Antinuclear conference calls for full support of victims in Fukushima
Citizens, politicians and scientists attending an antinuclear conference called Sunday for sufficient support to be provided to those affected by the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Participants of the Global Conference for a Nuclear Free World also called for "full transparency" by the Japanese government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., when dealing with the accident and helping victims.

The requests were part of the Yokohama Declaration that more than 10,000 participants from some 30 countries adopted on the second and last day of the event in Yokohama, organized by nongovernmental organizations such as Peace Boat.

Rights should be protected for those affected by the nuclear crisis, including "the right to evacuation, health care, decontamination, compensation and the right to enjoy the same standard of living as before March 11, 2011," said the declaration.

The declaration further urged the government to collect data related to the plant crippled after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in a "comprehensive" manner.

It also called on Japan not to export nuclear power generation equipment or technology to other countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

And the declaration said Japanese atomic power plants that are currently idled should not be restarted.


Image from Kyodo: Antinuclear conference in Yokohama
Politicians and civic activists from around the world gathered for a two-day antinuclear conference Saturday in Yokohama, urging the need to phase out nuclear power and shift to green energy by learning from nuclear disasters in Fukushima and around the world.

In the opening session, Yuri Tomitsuka, a 10-year-old boy who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to Yokohama said, "I want to ask politicians which is more important. Is it money or our lives? I don't want to get ill. Nuclear plants are not necessary for children."

A message saying, "I just only wish there were no nuclear plants, just no nuclear plants," was cited by Tatsuya Yoshioka, representative of Peace Boat, one of the organizers of the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World bringing together about 5,000 participants from more than 30 countries.


Update: Freelance translator & writer Kimberly Hughes got in touch and had trouble commenting. Is that something others are experiencing too? Or is it because she included a link? Do click, her report with photos from the Yokohama conference last weekend is very good! Thanks Kim!

"Thanks for the report...I've also written one and also included a link to your blog:"

http://tenthousandthingsfromkyoto.blogspot.com/2012/01/passion-runs-high-at-global-yokohama.html

No Nukes Art



On January 14-15 2012, the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World will be held in Yokohama, Japan. Participants from Japan and all over the world will gather to consider the issues surrounding nuclear power and discuss steps that can be taken towards a nuclear power free world.

Come and be a part of this conference.

http://npfree.jp/english.html

A good place to start exploring the mindset of people in Japan that are thinking about how to use art and graphics to get rid of nuclear weapons and nuclear power:


It began with the Nuclear Power Day poster contest held by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry from 1994 to 2011. The contest collected posters primarily from elementary and junior high school students across the country as a way of furthering the understanding of nuclear power and radiation.

There were mounting calls on Twitter to hold a No Nukes poster exhibition to counter this contest and just as members of Citizen Media REALISER were getting the site ready, the Great East Japan Earthquake hit. So they quickly got the site up and running and were flooded with entries the minute they started calling for posters on April 30, 2011. There were over 1,200 submissions.

It spread to Aichi, Gifu, Nagano and Kagawa, and then To Berlin, Leipzig, Barcelona and San Francisco...









About No Nukes Art:

Japan is currently facing an unprecedented crisis. Even now, some monthes after the earthquake, the situation at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains critical. Unsurprisingly there is pollution within a 30km radius, where orders have been issued to evacuate or take shelter indoors, but for a while radioactive substances were also detected in tap water in Tokyo, over 200km away, with the Tokyo government distributing mineral water for infants. Further, TEPCO has detected low-level radiation in seawater, arousing fears in neighbouring countries.

Japan’s leading minds have said that “the design was capable of withstanding the biggest earthquake imaginable” and “the chance of an accident was close to zero”. However, when an earthquake and tsunami exceeding that imagination occurred, the accident that was supposed to be close to zero became reality.

This reality reminds us of the biblical story of the tower of Babel. The tower of Babel symbolizes human’s overconfidence in their abilities. We should consider nuclear power as being beyond our control.

We wholeheartedly support those workers, self-defense force personnel and firefighters who are currently in the contaminated region and doing their utmost to bring the situation under control, and hope their efforts pay off. However, at the same time we think that the energy systems that will be reconstructed must be totally innovative and this shift to new energy systems will not stop with Japan, but spread throughout the world.

The advertising power of electricity companies is strong, somehow forcing us, the people, to believe that our lives are dependent on nuclear power, which accounts for a third of Japan’s electricity. However, as can be seen from the frequency of earthquakes, Japan has many hot springs and also gets a lot of sunshine. It has a lot of forest, is rich in biomass and there is an abundance of untapped resources.

At present, electricity companies in Japan have put a halt to their advertising (how about in your country?). We think now is the perfect opportunity to tell people that a society powered by natural energy is indeed possible.

So we are holding a post-nuclear poster competition to spread the word. There are three poster themes:

1. The depiction of the possibility of natural energy
2. A system that enables a choice of electricity
(Consumers do not have the freedom to choose as there is a monopoly on electricity in each region of Japan)
3. Any other appeal for a Post-Nukes society

In Japan, protests calling for a stop to nuclear power have started to spread. They could potentially become the biggest groundswell since the student movement of the sixties. We hope to see posters inspired by these protests.

It would also be great if some of these posters showed not just denuclearization, but also support for those working to rebuild their lives. We strongly believe that we can create a new world if people across the globe join together in this push for natural energy.

NO NUKES POSTERS project team

This project is managed by the member of Energy-Shift Team of Citizen Media RÉALISER.
Web site administrators : Ayako Ezaki and Kan Yamamoto

Friday, January 13, 2012

Gourmet Magazine: Food Safety Interview


I'm happy to report that I was interviewed by an excellent writer for Gourmet Magazine. I was impressed by Pervaiz Shallwani's balanced approach to a difficult topic. There are a lot of rumours but he managed to distill the facts and come up with a piece that pretty much sums up how I feel about things, post March 11, 2011. Wow, already 10 months ago...

Gourmet Magazine: Fukushima Fallout


Japan has a reputation for being on the forefront of food safety, having established stringent safeguards against mad cow disease after outbreaks in the 1990s, for example. But in the face of the unprecedented challenges Fukushima has presented, many Japanese found the early government response to be slow. It’s a viewpoint shared by Martin Frid, a Tokyo-based expert on Japanese food safety with the well-respected independent consumer watchdog group Consumers Union of Japan, which was critical of the government’s initial efforts.

“It took some time [to identify] where the plume of smoke had gone and what had been affected,” Frid says. “The government started testing, and the levels were not high. Outside of some river fish and some fluke places like some hot spots, the levels were below normal.”

(...)

Pinning down the long-term effects of nuclear disasters is tricky. “It seems no one really knows…how much and for how long radiation will be an issue,” ventures Boston University professor Corky White, an anthropologist who has written extensively on food culture in Japan. “I think the lesson has been that we need to test, we need to measure,” Frid maintains. “There is public testing and private testing, and there are independent groups like Greenpeace.” As confidence in the government has been strained, consumer groups and citizens have taken matters into their own hands, buying $625 dosimeters to test food themselves. Concerns about milk and school lunches have emboldened and mobilized mothers to test, Frid reports. “People have a right to be worried,” he allows.


There is more, make sure you read the rest. The (encouraging) ending goes like this:



Could Fukushima fallout—and related long-term health concerns—force Japan to fundamentally rethink the way it eats? “My guess is that it will not, that Japanese foodways will continue to be seen as healthy and important to preserve, and that the culinary mix will always contain the products and dishes of the regions of Japan,” [Boston University professor Corky] White maintains. “Fish have already begun to show lower levels of radiation effect, well below the safety ceilings.… What might happen, however, is a rise in interest in organic and sustainable farming—already a strong influence—which will set new patterns of cultivation.… I don’t want to paint too pretty a picture, but I see recovery of the ecosystem and maybe an enhanced new picture of farming in Japan in some relatively near future.”


Gourmet Magazine: The Future of Food




This week chefs, scientists, farmers, and trend-spotters are sharing a taste of how we’ll be eating tomorrow in our Future of Food Issue. Download the free Gourmet Live app for access to all of the issues and recipes, and visit Gourmet.com to read this week’s issue in full, including:
What We’ll be Eating in 2050 by Robert Sietsema
Airplane Food of the Future by Janice Wald Henderson
The Culinary Impact of the 1964 World’s Fair by Casey Barber
10 Questions for Mark Stevenson by Megan O. Steintrager
Fukushima Fallout by Pervaiz Shallwani


You can also read more articles about Japan and food by Corky White
over at The Atlantic
.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World 2012 Yokohama


Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World 2012 Yokohama
Time: 2012 Jan 11 13:30 – 14:30
Summary:
PRESS CONFERENCE
Tatsuya Yoshioka, Peace Boat, Aileen Mioko Simith, Green Action
Rebecca Harms, GREENS/EFA Group
Mycle Schneider, International Consultant on Energy & Nuclear Policy

Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World 2012 Yokohama
http://www.npfree.jp/

The Japanese nuclear industry used to advertise itself as providing “the world’s safest nuclear energy,” but last year’s massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11 laid waste to those claims as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant became the epicenter of the 21st century’s worst nuclear disaster, and in some people’s opinion, the worst ever.

Six Japan-based organizations which had presciently been calling for this East Asian nation to reassess its romance with nuclear power from well before the time the Fukushima disaster occurred are now organizing the largest conference on energy policy yet to be held to post-Fukushima Japan. The six organizations are the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, FoE Japan, Green Action, Greenpeace Japan, the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, and Peace Boat.

The conference has been endorsed by a host of international organizations and is expected to draw about 10,000 attendees from both Japan as well as the rest of the world to the venue at Pacifico Yokohama.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Ballet - Le Corsaire At Tokyo Bunka Kaikan In Ueno


I was very lucky on Friday to get a ticket to a world-class ballet performance by the Leningrad State Ballet with Faroukh Ruzimatov. I happened to be in Ueno and dropped by Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, and if I waited, there would be last-minute tickets for sale from 17:30. Of course I waited.

I have seen Ruzimatov perform before in Tokyo (new HQ video added!), and he has such a huge following in Japan.

One thing I like about ballet is that the audience can applaud and cheer as much as they wish, even while the music and the dancing is going on, as a way to encourage the stars. Compared to ordinary classical concerts that are usually rather solemn events, ballet performances are "free-for-all" with lots of shouts of "Bravo!" after (or during) a spectacular spin.

Le Corsaire from 1856 is a very entertaining ballet, with a mean bunch of Arab pirates washed ashore a southern beach in Greece. Soon, some local girls appear to dance and win their hearts... There is a sultry sultan, and before you know it the girls are lured into his harem... The pirates are having none of it! There are samurai sword fights and lucky escapes and ninjas and sweet wine and good food. Samurai sword fights? Ninjas? No, I made that up. But there was indeed sabre dancing and the clash of steel on stage... A fantastic performance, and the capacity crowd at Tokyo Bunka Kaikan couldn't get enough of it. Compared to other performances, the good Leningrad (!) people also brought a very delightful stage set complete with a ship, an ocean, and an evening garden made for love.

The Japanese name for Le Corsaire is 海賊 (kaizoku) which literally means "ocean thiefs" or just plain old pirates.


Japan of course has had pirates, called wakou, that raided the Chinese coast in the 15th Century... Tofugu has more here: Konichiwarrrr, Mateys! Famous Japanese Pirates, Ninja Pirates, And The Wild Wakou

I also learn from Miss Kagaki of Multiculturalism for Steampunk (great name for a blog) that there were a few female pirates back in the day:

Corsairs and China sea pirates were tough customers that would probably make even Edward Teach double take and certainly give most airship pirates I see (who really act more like sky hippies than actual pirates) a run for their dubloons. The overall makeup of either of these groups was very multicultural and even offered opportunities for women- such as the case of the 16th century Muslim Queen of the Corsairs Sayyida al-Hurra.

Cheng I Sao and the Red and Green Fleets: While piracy in the Atlantic had been in a state of decline for nearly a century, freebooting was alive and well in the Pacific- particularly in the waters surrounding China. One of the most infamous lords of this coast was... in fact.. a lady. A former prostitute, in fact! Cheng I Sao, or Shih Yang started her rags to riches tale by marrying the ruthless pirate lord Cheng I, who apparently respected his bride enough to allow her to participate in his business affairs. When Cheng died in 1801 during a storm, his wife was more than capable to take the reigns of his 40 ships and bumped anyone who disagreed out of the way. From then on, Lady Cheng ruled the waters surrounding mainland China, Vietnam, and Hong Kong with an iron fist (with some help from her lover, Chang Pao). Her personal fleet became the dreaded Red fleet, while Pao was given the Green.

When the old bird was getting a bit too achy in her bones to shake a cutlass anymore, she rigged a deal with the Chinese government that allowed her to retire. Her tens of thousands of crew were pardoned, Pao was given a comfy desk job, and Cheng lived to the ripe old age of 60 as the proprietress of a house of ill repute and filthy rich. Not bad, not bad at all.
Source: Mix it Up!: Real Airship Pirates- Pirates of the 19th Century

But, back to ballet. Here is Faroukh Ruzimatov (Ali) in a 8 minute long video from 1991, with Lyubov Kunakova (Medora):

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

2012 New Year Concert: Tchaikovsky


Here is Tchaikovsky from this year's New Year Concert in Wien, Austria: Panorama und Walzer aus dem Ballet Dornröschen (Sleeping Beauty) from 1890:



King Florestan the XXIVth declares a grand christening ceremony to be held in honor of the birth of his daughter, Princess Aurora named after the dawn. An entourage of six fairies are invited to the Christening to be godmothers to the child. They are the Candide Fairy, the Coulante Fairy, the Miettes Fairy, the Canari Fairy, the Violente Fairy and—most importantly—the Lilac Fairy, who is the last to arrive (the names of fairies and their gifts vary in productions). As the fairies are happily granting gifts of honesty, grace, prosperity, song and generosity, they are suddenly interrupted by the arrival of the wicked fairy Carabosse, who is furious at the King's failure to invite her to the ceremony...



Suntory Hall in Tokyo also had the following lineup, a little too heavy on Strauss for my taste:

SYMPHONIE- ORCHESTER DER WIENER VOLKSOPER
"Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald"

Joyful orchestra performance with leading singers in addition to ballet performances. Maestro Rudner conducts and plays the violin to celebrate the New Year!

14:00 Sun, Jan 1/ 14:00 Mon, Jan 2/ 14:00 Tue, Jan 3

S: Andrea Rost,
T: Mehrzad Montazeri,
Cond & Vn: Ola Rudner,
Dance: Members of "Wiener Staatsballett"

Program:
Johann Strauss II: Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald, Walzer, op. 325
An der schönen blauen Donau, Walzer, op. 314
Robert Stolz: Wenn die kleinen Veilchen blühen,etc
S¥9,000 A¥7,500 B¥6,000 C¥5,000

Meanwhile, back in St. Petersburg, Russia, young South Korean talents are winning some major prizes at The International Tchaikovsky Competition. The International Tchaikovsky Competition is held once every four years. The first, in 1958, included two disciplines – piano and violin. Beginning with the second competition, in 1962, a cello category was added, and the vocal division was introduced during the third competition in 1966. In 1990, a fifth discipline was announced for the IX International Tchaikovsky Competition — a contest for violin makers which traditionally comes before the main competition.

In 2011, this was the result of the competition, a rather impressive and "international" show of hands:

The jurors of the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition have announced the winners of the piano, cello, violin, and vocal categories. They are as follows:

PIANO
1st Prize, Gold Medal: Daniil Trifonov (Russia)
2nd Prize, Silver Medal: Yeol Eum Son (South Korea)

3rd Prize, Bronze Medal: Seong Jin Cho (South Korea)

4th Prize: Alexander Romanovsky (Ukraine)
5th Prize: Alexei Chernov (Russia)

Prize for the Best Performance of the Commissioned Work by Rodion Shchedrin:
Yeol Eum Son (South Korea)

Prize for the Best Performance of the Chamber Concerto:
Yeol Eum Son (South Korea)
Daniil Trifonov (Russia)


Jury Discretionary Awards:
Pavel Kolesnikov (Russia)
François-Xavier Poizat (France)

The Special Vladimir Krainev Award:
Alexander Romanovsky (Ukraine)


CELLO
1st Prize, Gold Medal: Narek Hakhnazaryan (Armenia)

2nd Prize, Silver Medal: Edgar Moreau (France)

3rd Prize, Bronze Medal: Ivan Karizna (Belarus)

4th Prize: Norbert Anger (Germany)

5th Prize: Umberto Clerici (Italy)


Prize for the Best Performance of the Commissioned Work by Krzysztof Penderecki:
Edgar Moreau (France)

Prize for the Best Performance of the Chamber Concerto:
Narek Hakhnazaryan (Armenia)

Jury Discretionary Awards:
Jakob Koranyi (Sweden)

Janina Ruh (Germany)


VIOLIN
1st Prize, Gold Medal: not awarded
2nd Prize, Silver Medal: Sergey Dogadin (Russia)

2nd Prize, Silver Medal: Itamar Zorman (Israel)
3rd Prize, Bronze Medal: Jehye Lee (South Korea)

4th Prize: Nigel Armstrong (USA)

5th Prize: Eric Silberger (USA)


Prize for the Best Performance of the Commissioned Work by John Corigliano:
Nigel Armstrong (USA)

Prize for the Best Performance of the Chamber Concerto:
Jehye Lee (South Korea)

Jury Discretionary Awards:
Aylen Pritchin (Russia)

Yu-Chien Tseng (Taiwan)


VOICE

Female
1st Prize, Gold Medal: Sun Young Seo (South Korea)

2nd Prize, Silver Medal: not awarded
3rd Prize, Bronze Medal: Elena Guseva (Russia)

4th Prize: not awarded

Male
1st Prize, Gold Medal: Jong Min Park (South Korea)

2nd Prize, Silver Medal: Amartuvshin Enkhbat (Mongolia)

3rd Prize, Bronze Medal: not awarded
4th Prize: not awarded

Jury Discretionary Awards, Female:
Oksana Davydenko (Kazakhstan)
Olga Pudova (Russia)

Jury Discretionary Awards, Male:
Dmitry Demidchik (Belarus)
Gevorg Grigorian (Russia)

The Webcast Audience Award:
Piano: Daniil Trifonov (Russia)
Cello: Narek Hakhnazaryan (Armenia)

Violin: Sergey Dogadin (Russia)

Female Voice: Elena Guseva (Russia)
Male Voice: Amartuvshin Enkhbat (Mongolia)


Mayu Kishima from Kobe, Japan was part of the competition. Here is her brilliant performance of Tchaikovsky's Valse Scherzo at the Queen Elisabeth Violin Competition in 2009.



And here I give you, Son Yeol Eum - Tchaikovsky Nocturne Op.10 in F Major:

Monday, January 02, 2012

Entering 2012 On A High Note


Ringing the bell at a temple is a good way to start a new year. Pandabonium caught me over at the Big Buddha at Ushiku, Ibaraki. I hope to visit soon, again. Thanks.

Saying thanks seems to be important for me as we move into the year of the dragon, 2012. I have so much so be grateful for. Hope you all feel the same. Thanks for reading Kurashi, since 2005, it has been a lot of blogging. Not sure if this "eco blog" is still what it claims to be, as car makers and air con makers and anyone with a story to tell now have become "eco" and I doubt that there is any logic to their ecology. When I first started this blog, I don't think anyone else was blogging about green topics from Japan. Well, things have changed, but have you?

Ten Thousand Things is my favourite blog to watch for 2012. Shisaku is very good too, if you want to follow "Marginalia on Japanese politics and society", as he puts it. Global Talk 21 is rather good, if only he would post more frequently. We need more green bloggers who can cover Japan as it moves away from nuclear power and away from fossile fuels, towards a leading role in Asia and in the world.

If I haven't yet found your blog, and you think you are doing the right thing, please drop me a line.