Super Junior member Lee Sungmin has just been casted as the lead role for the Japanese musical Summer Snow. The musical is based on a popular drama that aired in 2000 (starring Ryoko Hirosue, Domoto Tsuyoshi, and Shun Oguri) and was awarded Best Drama at The Japan Academy Awards. Sungmin will be playing the warm Jin Ha who must take care of his siblings after the accidental death of his parents.
In April, Summer Snow will begin its performances in Osaka then move to Tokyo.
Ever wonder what are some of the big differences between male and female bosses? Well Japan sure did. A survey for Japan Labor Policy and Training discovered the following-
In companies containing over 300 employees:
97.1% of female bosses believe assessment of employee performance has nothing to do with gender.
72.7% of male bosses believe assessment of employee performance has nothing to do with gender.
In companies containing 100-299 employees:
93.6% of females bosses believe assessment of employee performance has nothing to do with gender.
53.5 % of male bosses believe assessment of employee performance has nothing to do with gender.
On assigning business trips and overtime duties:
72.2% of female supervisors make no distinction based on gender.
53.5% of male supervisors make no distinction based on gender.
Clearly the female population of Japanese bosses seem more intent on equality in the workplace. Is this the same case for us?
Read the original article here.
What are some of our favorite Asian spots for DineLA? Click on to see our picks!
With hard-hitting beats, profound lyrics, and a killer voice, Teesa is not your average pop princess.
Narrated by a quiet and gentle college student, Tran Anh Hung‘s Norweigian Wood is a tumultuous coming-of-age story about dealing with death and finding love. Toru Watanabe (played by Kenichi Matsuyama) is a college student who loves to read, working jobs on the side to make ends meet. He falls in love with Naoko (Rinko Kukuchi), a troubled girl who is suffering severe depression after Kizuki, his best friend and her boyfriend, commits suicide. While Toru is able to move on from this loss, Naoko, due to her delicate mental state, must go to a sanitarium in the woods in order to heal. Though he occasionally messes around with other women, Toru discovers that he deeply loves her and dedicates himself to taking care of her, even though she still cannot get over her first love.
When the movie began, I instantly felt like I stepped into the 1960s, because the costumes and setting are spot-on. The score definitely made the time jump even more convincing. The cast is phenomenal, especially Matsuyama and Kikuchi. Even though the story did not win me over entirely, it was the actors who did with their solid performances. Overall, I felt mixed about this film. The movie was based on Haruki Murakami’s best-selling novel of the same name. Like most movie adaptations, the film doesn’t really do justice for the original, but I suppose that cannot be helped. Toru’s journey is definitely riveting, but there are places where I demanded more from the film that the book explained in more detail, like the student revolution movement that was only hinted at and not throughly explained with the haphazardly-placed rallies in the background. It would have been more helpful to know why the movie was named after the Beatle’s song—it was Naoko’s favorite—because that too was a mystery I didn’t quite understand from the movie.
Toru’s love life was also a bit confusing for me. I couldn’t see how the romance between Naoko and him really developed, since their “dating” days are all quick cut scenes without dialogue save a few coy glances between them hinting at some romantic attraction. The dating is a little rushed. The same goes for his relationship with Midori, another woman, because it is hard to understand how Toru and Midori can have feelings for each other while they have their respective partners. The movie is slow-paced and feels a lot longer than it actually is, but I can’t really blame the film because it requires much time to tell the story properly.
There are moments in the film that arrested my attention. Kizuki’s haunting suicide sent chills down my spine because of his nonchalance and ease with which he carried it out. Those few seconds felt so much longer than it really was. It made me think heavily about how delicate life is and what things could possibly push someone to do such a dreadful thing. There are also a few lovely moments in the film that make you smile, like the moment when Toru receives the letter from Naoko asking him to see her after so many months with no word. The scene is absolutely heart-warming, and I could tell how pure his feelings towards her was as I watched him excitedly run up the spiraling staircase. I give props to the filmmakers for being able to visually portray such perfect joy. Even if I didn’t feel the heat between Toru and Naoko at the start, I had some “awww” moments later when they spend time together at the sanatorium. The song “Norwegian Wood” serves as a thoughtful backdrop to the whole film: “I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me…”
The film is full of troubled characters: Nagasawa, the playboy who can’t commit, Hatsumi, his devoted girlfriend who can never win his complete love, and Midori, the playful flirt who has feelings for Toru even though she has a boyfriend. All have problems and conflicts because of their relationships, and some are still unresolved by the end. But the most difficult character to read is Toru. The ending feels a bit hollow and it left me wondering if his love for Naoko was completely true. Despite this half-satisfying ending, it was the strength of his character that inspired me and really gave a take-away message. He is forced to suffer a number of losses and hardships, more than any of the other people in his life. But he always gets back on his feet and pushes on, understanding that life is going to bring him sorrow. For the first half of the film, I classified this in my mind as a romantic drama, But there is a point at the film that makes me feel it is more a bildungsroman. Toru mentally speaks to the deceased Kizuki, saying that he won’t abandon Naoko the way his friend did and that he is “going to grow up.” Toru slowly matures as the film progresses. The characters constantly talk about growing up; on Naoko’s birthday, she confesses her fears of becoming 20. I realized then that all of the characters are suffering some type of crisis nearing adulthood and are faced with making some vital, life-changing choices. I can see a few of my own questions and struggles reflected in the characters’ experiences.
One thing is for sure: in this film, everyone is searching for happiness despite how much they have suffered. I found myself rooting for all of them to come at some resolution. Though it is set in 1960’s Japan, the movie is just as impacting on a modern audience in the US. Its universal themes of hope and courage resonate to all 20-somethings who have insecurities about taking the next step in their lives.
Norwegian Wood’s release dates are as follows:
Friday, Jan 6
IFC Center, NYC, NY
West End Cinema, Washington, DC
AMC Loews Shirlington 7, Arlington VA
Friday, Jan 20
Music Box, Chicago, IL
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, San Francisco, CA
Friday Jan 27
Laemmle’s Music Hall, Los Angeles, CA
SIFF Cinema at the Uptown, Seattle, WA
St. Anthony Main Theatre, Minneapolis, MN
Theatre N, Wilmington, DE
Friday, March 2
Regal Fox Tower, Portland, OR (following PIFF screening)
For Master Sake Sommelier Yuji Matsumoto — the first in the U.S. — sake is more than just sushi’s sidekick. Appreciating Japan’s native drink is all about “designing taste.”
ISSUE: Winter 2010-11
STORY: Anna M. Park
Master Sake Sommelier Yuji Matsumoto pours the Oyama sake into a white wine glass. Holding the base and stem, he swirls, then sniffs. Fruity. Tart. Perhaps a hint of pear? It’s a familiar scene at any wine tasting, but for sake? Indeed, says Matsumoto, one of only 60 certified master sake sommeliers in the world. In sake, it’s all about taste, he adds, as opposed to varietals or regions.
In fact, Matsumoto gives seminars on “designing taste,” informing the industry on brewing standards, mill percentages and aging. He’s a man who takes his work seriously, so you have to give Kabuki restaurants real cred that it’s got the U.S.’s first (and until recently, only) master sake sommelier on board. Matsumoto oversees all of the 14 Kabuki restaurants’ extensive sake and cocktail menu, making sure to complement Corporate Executive Chef Masa Kurihara’s newly unveiled menu of both traditional and innovative Japanese cuisine. Started in 1991 when owner David Lee opened the first Kabuki in Pasadena, Calif., today the 14 Kabukis in the western U.S. include restaurants in Las Vegas and their newest location in Brea, Calif.
Master Sake Sommelier Yuji Matsumoto’s Plum Orange Tokyo Mojito
7-8 mint leaves
2 oz Jinro Soju 2.5 Takara Plum Wine
1 oz bar syrup
Dash of Yuzu juice (a Japanese citrus)
2 orange wheels
Muddle and mix the first five ingredients. Top off with club soda and garnish with orange wheels.
When I spend time with my friends’ children who are just learning to talk, word-by-word, short sentence by short sentence, two things become abundantly clear. The first is that Art Linkletter was right; kids do say the darndest things. After all, there’s nothing cuter than a three-year-old saying – out of nowhere – “Party over here, party over there!” I would have fallen out of my chair if my friend’s daughter followed that up with, “Wave your hands in the air, shake your derrière!” The second thing is that I’m constantly baffled by kids’ sponge-like ability to learn a language simply by being embedded in an environment where that language is spoken. Obviously, that’s how I learned English, but as someone who aspires to speak a second language, it’s astounding.
Since I was a teenager, I have done nothing but make halfhearted attempts to become bilingual. In high school, I attempted Spanish. And while I probably got an A, I wasn’t left with more than the ability to ask, “Donde esta el baño?” In college, I decided to give French a go. Again, I passed, but did I learn more than “Parlez-vous Anglais?” Nope.
Not one to be discouraged, as an adult, I tried French again. When I came out of that class without a better handle on the language, I moved on to Japanese, which I recently took for the second time. The only part of Japanese that is easier than Spanish or French is that I find the accent to be more accessible. Slightly. Although, recently I said something in Japanese to my Japanese grandfather who responded with, “Are you speaking Spanish?” Maybe I should’ve stuck with Spanish after all.
But I’ve come to realize that my problem is simple. Stage fright. On paper, I’m quite good. Well, better. But without my worksheets and note cards as my security blanket, I’m a mute. My Japanese teacher asked if I have gone to Little Tokyo to practice what I’ve learned. I have, but thus far I’m too nervous to try anything out. I realize that ultimately I have to face my fear and go to Japan. Not that the country is scary, but having to fumble through my remedial Japanese is downright terrifying.
So I watch in amazement as kids grow their vocabulary. I figure by now I have the Japanese language skills of a three-year-old. And that is on my best day and the Japanese toddler’s worst day. I also have the swimming ability of a small child despite taking swim lessons twice as a kid. Foreign languages and large bodies of water; I’m not comfortable with either. Let’s hope that if I’m ever stranded at sea I’m in an English-speaking body of water and not, say, in the Sea of Japan. Tread water AND speak Japanese? Better get some waterproof note cards.