Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Have Confidence In Your Hair

Time was, the gold standard for hair in Japan was, well, some Hollywood celebrity.

But I was struck this past spring while in Japan to see a shampoo commercial not only featuring all Japanese women, but also taking a sort of "celebrate Japanese women in general" stance to the SMAP tune "Dear Woman."

Japan Times has an article on this phenom, claiming:

"Westerners are saying Japan is cool, and that view is winning acceptance in a kind of reverse import," she said. "Shiseido's advertising didn't even talk about the shampoo's features. Its message, that Japanese women on the go are beautiful, was more about a feeling."

Of course, if you are a regular reader of Japundit, then you know we've been harping on this "reverse import" business for a while. Then there's this:

"Our message really appealed to Japanese women, who are starting to awaken to a sense of self-confidence," said Hiroyuki Ishikawa, who oversees hair care at Shiseido. "Up to now, Japanese women haven't generally been chosen as global symbols of beauty."

Riyo Mori, anyone? Maybe Hiro's future (er, past) girlfriend is already having an impact. (And on a somewhat related note, I was intrigued to learn that my entire Riyo Mori post is on Ines Ligron's blog . . .)

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Princess Masako Revisited

On the eve of the Japanese publication--finally--of Ben Hills' "Princess Masako" for which the author has reporetedly received death threats, Japundit has decided to post a brief review I wrote of the English language version back in February. As for why a book about the Japanese royal family matters in the first place, I'll refer you here.

Japundit Editor's Note: The following review of Ben Hills' book was written in February but circumstances did not permit its posting at that time.

Diana and her glamour and angst are gone. Charles and Camilla have wed. Wills shows no sign of marriage any time soon.

But wait. There's that other royal couple. The one in that far away country. Wasn't there something in the news about how Princess Masako of Japan is seen as something of a Diana figure?

MasakoI'm guessing- and yes, I confess to speculation here - that this is partly how the new book, "Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne" by Ben Hills was born. I say this because as the book traces the early lives of the royal couple - Princess Masako and Crown Prince Naruhito - references to Charles and Diana are thrown in, particularly at the beginning.

It's hard not to read this book, originally written and published in an English speaking country (Australia) as an attempt to introduce an English speaking audience starved for royal gossip to an enticing new subject. And what a subject it is.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Give Me Google Books

Count me in as someone desperately hoping the Sony Reader will take off, or that Google will come up with some I-tunes-like application for books. The technology is there. Forward thinking book publishers are including "Google ready digital files" in their contracts for books about to go to print. I'm ready for it.

It wasn't something that really made too much sense to me in the past. I was dimly aware of the debates surrounding digital books, but didn't really care too much about them. I'm a book lover of the worst kind--fiction--which means I'm something of a luddite, really. And then I found myself in California for the past two months caring for some family members with health problems they didn't deserve to have. I had a new idea for a new novel and was jonesing for research material. The books I'd collected over the years in anticipation of this project were in New York. The new books I'd yet to locate were . . . all over the US. I mean, I could order them via Amazon or Abebooks, but it was going to take far more money than a broke writer has to get them into my hands immediately. And would the family members suddenly take a turn for the better, allowing me to go home earlier than expected--and before the ordered books arrived--or not? What to do.

Google Books had previews. I could read pages 8-10, then 15-19, then 22-23 of one book before the "preview" dropped off. Trust me. If there had been an option to pay with a credit card to read the entire thing and download it and print it, I would have. Some of the books even were willing to show off their bibliographies, which meant I could, as we were all taught to do in school, learn about other books I was going to need to read. And locate. I was feeling isolated. I'm from a small town and the library has slim pickings. I suppose I could have applied for a library card and ventured up to San Francisco, but it was starting to bother me that to do anything at home, I had to burn that much gasoline. Even buying a bunch of bananas required a car trip, which it never does in New York. I started to understand how it is that living in a city can actually make you more Green than living in the country.

My guess is that once again it will be in some area other than literary fiction that the book-not-as-object will be released. Scholarly books and articles seem like a good place to start. And I know that there are writers out there who are trying. In the meantime, I will limp along like everyone else, trying to get my hands on books that I need. I ended up paying for speedy delivery for one tome. My fiance brought me another. And the rest of the time, I knitted and watched Japanese dramas (which you can get on the internet) and episodes of Heroes via . . . i-tunes.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Tokyo Style, Kansai Style

My friend, Isao, is fussy when it comes to how well or how strongly food is seasoned with salt. My mother attributes this to his Kansai upbringing, where salt--not miso--is the basis for flavor. Certainly Japan is full of microcosms. Each region has its own special way of preparing even something as basic as miso-shiru. It's not surprising, therefore, that even specially packaged instant noodles are regional as well.


Here are some photos of instant noodles seasoned "Kansai style," which is to say they are flavored more with salt than with soy sauce. I snapped these after my cousin had returned home to Tokyo with bags of the noodles in tow. She married a Kyoto man, you see, and he can't stand the noodles for sale in the eastern capital.

Amazing what married life demands . . .


HanaDan Returns! (Again)

The most romantic Japanese drama/manga/story ever devised returns next year with a film. For months after Hana Yori Dango 2 concluded its run on TBS, there had been rumors of a special conclusion--not to mention a special relationship between the two stars--and finally TBS has made an official announcement.

H..@na Y...ori D@ngo The Movie TV Promo Clip(18.08.07)
Uploaded by hhhhh1

It's really not surprising considering the very high ratings HYD1 and 2 received and reports that the DVD sets had outsold any other drama ever made available for purchase. Heck, even my mother calls out "Doumyouji!!" every other day at random moments, then giggles as if she expects her temperamental hero to come to her rescue.

If you don't know what Hana Yori Dango is, here's a refresher . Honestly, it's a truly excellent drama that will push every fan-girl-romantic button in your body. My very serious friend Vanessa (the Stegner winner) came over to watch "just one episode," then ended up staying for 5 hours while my fiance cooked us dinner because we were glued to the television.

The only question for me now is if I can time a trip to Japan to see the movie on the big screen. Well, that and whether or not Doumyouji will get a perm or rely on extensions.

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