Monday, 12 October 2009

Japanese language pulling students away from Europe at Illinois College

Students are seeing major changes to the language departments at Illinois College.

The school approved a Japanese floor on the third floor of Lincoln Hall due to healthy growth in the minor and a rise in student interest. After several years experiencing extremely low upperclassmen enrollment, the French major is however being eliminated.

The changes are part of a balancing act to accomodate rising interest in Japanese and still meet the needs of those who want to pursue French.

With Japan a major economic power in the world, the Japanese minor has seen a growth in student interest, said Jim Marshall, associate dean of the college.

“We’re dearly hoping for a major,” said Japanese instructor Mioko Webster. The school is seeking to add a new tenure-track professor to the Japanese program to offer more upper-level classes.

The Japanese floor follows after the Spanish and German houses on campus. The language houses are designed for students to have intensive experience learning a language and culture, and to provide programming and opportunities for the rest of the campus to learn about those cultures.

Students are supposed to speak Japanese on the floor, although there are varying levels of Japanese skills among the residents. The students asked for a Japanese house in the spring of 2009.

About 30 students are enrolled in the four offered Japanese courses, which range from beginner, intermediate, advanced and independent.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Japanese 'Book of Tea' translated into Arabic..

Abu Dhabi's KALIMA project announced publishing the translation of Japanese Okakura Kakuzo's "The Book of Tea" into Arabic for the first time.

The Japanese book is considered to be one of the most important classic works in the world, and has been translated since it was first written nearly a century ago to dozens of languages.

It is thought to be the first book dealing with the tea ritual and its philosophy in relation to Oriental culture and spirituality. In the book, Kakuzo shows how tea has affected nearly every aspect of Japanese culture, thought, and life.

The 1906 book had attempted to correct the lack of knowledge by Westerners regarding the significance of tea ceremonies in Japanese culture. He also sought to defend Japanese culture from wide misconceptions at the time.

"This book offers us a key lesson that motivates us to pay more attention to our deep-rooted identity, which is what the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) sets to achieve in general, and an aim of KALIMA in particular," said Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Kalima Project Manager.

"The translation is only a thorough understanding of ourselves through the diverse contexts of others," he added.

The work, published in elegant copies that include pictures and illustrations, is translated by Samer Abu Hawwash, who has worked on a number of KALIMA translations. KALIMA, a translation initiative by ADACH, aims to provide Arab readers with the latest publications in the international scene.

It seeks to translate at least 100 books every year from world languages into Arabic.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Famous Japanese cartoonist disappears

Popular Japanese cartoonist Yoshito Usui, whose manga and animation series 'Crayon Shin-chan' has attracted a worldwide fan base, has gone missing on a hiking trip, police said Wednesday.

Usui, 51, left his home north of Tokyo Japan last Friday for a day-trip to mountains in nearby Gunma, a prefectural police official said.

But he has since been unaccounted for with calls to his mobile phone left unanswered, the official said. 'We are searching for him in the mountains.'

Usui made his debut as a manga author in 1987 and gained popularity in the 1990s with 'Crayon Shin-chan' featuring the daily life of Shinnosuke, a mischievous five-year-old Japanese boy.

'We are seriously worried,' said a spokesman for publisher Futabasha Publishers Ltd., which has released some of his comics.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Japanese fishing village goes ahead with dolphin hunt

A Japanese coastal town has gone ahead with its controversial dolphin hunt, shrugging off protests from animal-rights activists, local officials said Thursday.

Fishermen in Taiji town caught about 100 bottlenose dolphins and 50 pilot whales on Wednesday, in their first catch since the fishery season started on September 1, Wakayama prefectural official Yasushi Shimamura said.

They plan to sell about 50 dolphins to aquariums nationwide and release the remainder back into the sea, while the whale meat will be sold for human consumption, an official at a local fishermen's cooperative said.

The Japanese town's annual dolphin hunt drew international attention earlier this year after the release of award-winning eco-documentary 'The Cove', in which a team of film-makers covertly covered the event in graphic detail.

After the film's release, the Australian coastal city of Broome ended its sister-city relationship with Taiji to protest the hunt.

Town officials said they would not slaughter any of the dolphins caught on Wednesday, but denied it was due to international pressure.

"We didn't release the rest of the dolphins because there have been protests against dolphin hunting from animal rights activists," said a fisheries cooperative official, who declined to give his name. "From the viewpoint of resource control, we've been occasionally releasing them on our own judgement in the past."

Hunting dolphins and small whales is not prohibited by the International Whaling Commission's ban on commercial whaling, but Japan's Fisheries Agency restricts the practice by handing out annual quotas to several fishing towns.

This year, Taiji was allocated a quota of about 2,300 small cetaceans including dolphins, prefectural official Shimamura said. Cetaceans are largely- hairless aquatic mammals, such as dolphins, whales and porpoises.

The southwestern Japanese town has strongly defended its tradition of hunting whales and dolphins.

"People in Taiji, as well as Wakayama prefecture ... hope that animal rights activists understand the cultural difference between them and us," Shimamura said.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Japanese film captivates audiences

“Ponyo,” the latest film from Academy-Award-winning Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki is a charming, family-friendly film. Packaged as an old-style animated movie, “Ponyo” uses the dying technique of traditional hand-drawn animation to tell its story. This process makes the film feel older than it is and adds a level of realism and humanity to the movie. The eccentric characters, Japanese themed musical score and larger-than-life story contribute to the magic of “Ponyo.”

The film’s plot centers around three characters: Ponyo, a talking goldfish who wants to become a human girl, Sosuke, an adventurous little boy who loves the ocean, and Lisa, his hard-working mother who longs for her seafaring husband. One day before school, Sosuke ventures down the cliffs surrounding his house and finds a goldfish stuck in a glass bottle — a peculiar sight. He heads into the water to rescue the fish and gets more than he bargained for. The fish he finds, which he names Ponyo, becomes his great friend right away.

The Japanese creation is one of the few recent hand-drawn films in theaters. Also, the animation isn’t super-detailed. Instead of blurring out objects in the background of the frame, the characters and scenery in “Ponyo” become less detailed and minimalist. Technically speaking, this film is not groundbreaking. The biggest surprise is that it was made in 2-D format. It is a laborious process, and the movie was in development for more than three years. However, the movie’s story fits the visual style, so it’s hard to miss the lack of CGI.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

24 Hour Television yearly Japanese telethon charity drive

If you are out and about in Japan on August 29th and 30th (Saturday and Sunday) you might see people wearing yellow shirts holding up small boxes and asking for money. These people are volunteers for the annual 24 Hour Television – Love Saves the Earth charity drive sponsored by the Japanese Nippon Television Network Corporation and its affiliates.

This year marks the 32nd annual telethon traditionally held around the end of August. During the event Nippon Television and affiliated networks countrywide air a series of special programs aimed to promote the charity drive. One of the main events this year involves a famous Japanese TV personality, Ayako Imoto, running three full marathons (126.585 km or about 78.65 miles).

Other promotional events include a 42 km (26 miles) relay swim across the Tsugaru Strait (the waters connecting Honshu and Hokkaido in northern Japan), an attempt at a record-breaking eight-hour long ping pong rally, and other TV programs with special host NEWS - a Japanese pop group.

There are also fundraising drives for 24 Hour Television at numerous stores around the country. AEON, one of Japan’s large shopping mall chains, is a main participate. For those in the Tokyo area, there will be a special event at the Nissan Global Headquarters’ Gallery in Yokohama.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Japanese comic superhero drawn to Tokyo Olympic bid

Japanese comic strip football superhero Captain Tsubasa is facing the most challenging match of his storybook career by trying to capture the 2016 Olympic Games for Tokyo.

Bid rivals are Chicago, who have been backed by President Barack Obama, Brazilian football legend Pele has thrown his weight behind Rio while Real Madrid skipper Raul supports the Spanish capital in the race to be host city.

"I'm happy if this can help," said Yoichi Takahashi, the Captain Tsubasa creator, as he drew the comic's main characters in the centre of a huge flag of the Tokyo 2016 Olympic bid committee.

With more messages from top athletes and celebrities, the flag will be displayed in Copenhagen, where the International Olympic Committee will choose the 2016 host city on October 2.

"At the moment, I am drawing a story about an Olympic team and I feel personally attached to the bid," the 49-year-old Takahashi said.

Aside from their 1968 Olympic bronze medal, Japan have struggled in world football. They debuted in the World Cup finals in 1998 and their best result was a last-16 spot in 2002 on home turf.

Captain Tsubasa was launched in a Japanese boys' weekly magazine in 1981. It featured midfielder Tsubasa Oozora (whose name means "big-sky wings" in Japanese) and goalkeeper Genzo Wakabayashi. It has spread around the world in cartoon books, animated films and video games, read and watched avidly by superstars like Lionel Messi, Zinedine Zidane, Francesco Totti and Fernando Torres.

AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso admitted that when he was a child he'd always stop a game of football with friends to be in front of his television in time to watch "Holy e Benji," the Italian title of Captain Tsubasa.

Japanese star Hidetoshi Nakata, who retired after the 2006 World Cup, used to mimic one of Tsubasa's trademark overhead kicks. When Shunsuke Nakamura joined Espanyol from Celtic last month, the 31-year-old was asked if he had watched "Campeones: Oliver y Benji," the animated series' Spanish title.

Captain Tsubasa is "Captain Majed" in Arab countries, "Super Campeoes" in Portugal and Brazil, and "Supercampeones" in Spanish-speaking Latin America. North American viewers know him as "Flash Kicker."

Captain Tsubasa boasts a combined Japanese circulation of 900,000 copies; in book form, the stories have sold more than 70 million copies in the country.