Departures

I watched a movie on my way back to Taiwan, and thought it was pretty good – Departures. It’s a Japanese film about how a mediocre cellist was forced by his difficult financial situation to work for a funeral company, cleaning up and dressing up corpses, and preparing them for their departures. His wife and friends left him because they thought it was an “unclean” job… and I won’t tell you the rest =P go watch it!

The rigorous ceremonies and attention to detail really made an impression on me. They treat dead people with so much respect and seriousness. Every wipe on the body, every fold, every action – all done in a very specific way with a lot of professionalism. I think it’s a great way to learn about a culture (whether the film is an accurate reflection of the real world I wouldn’t know, though). Their values, languages, believes, and manners. Very different from what I am used to. I watched it from the cultural perspective (as opposed to a religious one) since I am atheist, and it was quite worthy at that. But of course, atheism is a religion as well, since nor can we prove that gods don’t exist. That said… it’s like in software engineering – testing can only reveal the presence of bugs, not of their absence, and it would be a lot easier to prove gods’ presence, if they do exist.

Japan!

haha I don’t think I told anyone I am going to Japan. But hey, I didn’t know until 2 days ago, either. Apparently neither my mom nor my dad think they should let me know in advance (FML, in a good way) =P

A sleepy 3 hrs flight on an Airbus A330 (hey, where’s my carbon fibre plane? =D), with a very cool engine break on landing. I always sit beside the wings, so I can see those things. I don’t think the 747 has that (the walls of the back half of the engines slide backwards to limit airflow and provide an early exit for hot air? that’s my best guess anyways). Didn’t watch any movie, since they only have a few very girly movies. Girliness is fine, but they don’t seem to have anything else. Watched a program on the 2009 Australian Open (very emotional matches), and the Sarah Brightman Vienna concert (Phantom of the Opera! =D).

Actually, I watched a very cool movie on my last flight (to Taiwan) that I always wanted to write about… but more on that later.

This is my first time to Japan, and I noticed a few things –
1) Japanese people in the airport always talk to the white guy beside me in English, and to me in Japanese.
2) Everything is small! – narrow streets, small buses, small bus seats (Japanese people have smaller bums it seems), tiny slippers in hotel, small meals, short beds, smaller benches in the mall, smaller walking space in stores, tiny hairdriers (~500W?), tiny toothbrushes with about half the amount of hair…
3) There’s a wedding taking place in the hotel we are staying in =P with a gorgeous bride in kimono.
4) Internet costs 42 yen/minute (~$0.50). That’s why I’m not posting this post until… a few days later =P, when there is free internet.

Haven’t had a chance to exercise my awesome Japanese, yet. I think I still remember a grand total of about 5 verbs and 10 nouns from my 3 years of Japanese classes. At least I can still read most of katakana =).

And Discovery Channel is the only English (with Japanese subtitles) program here on TV. But it’s okay =D it accounts for 90% of what I watch on TV anyways =P. Ah, and CNN, too. But it’s almost exclusively Michael Jackson.

The hotel (Hilton) looks really nice, too. The circular building surrounds a traditional Japanese “stones arrangement” (?) design thing, complete with ponds and small waterfalls, and classical music. Won’t take a picture, though =P. I don’t believe in pictures. Taking a picture is like pulling a rectangular image abruptly out of context. The scene is only beautiful when it’s surrounded by the atmosphere. The smell, the sound, the interactivity. Taking a picture to remember a place is like bringing home a rose to remember a rose garden – it loses its meaning when it’s out of context. So I won’t ruin all the beautiful things here by taking pictures =). Not saying laziness is not also a factor… =D

Oh, and the guide kept warning us about male prostitudes lurking on the streets here in Tokyo… hmm.