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One of my favorite Japanese movies is now available to watch on HULU until mid July. When the Last Sword Is Drawn (壬生義士伝 Mibu gishi den), released in 2003 and directed by Yōjirō Takita (the guy who directed the Oscar-winning Departures, and the Molester’s Train series apparently, but you got to start somewhere I suppose), is not your usual slash-em-up samurai flick. It is more in the vein of Yoji Yamada’s 2002 masterpiece Twilight Samurai ( たそがれ清兵 Tasogare seibei) and uses the bakumatsu period more as a motivated setting than an excuse to slice a few heads off. If you prefer slicing and dicing, see the Zatoichi films, also available on HULU. When the Last Sword Is Drawn won the Best Film award in the 2004 from the Japanese Academy, and a few others.
Watch it while you can: http://www.hulu.com/watch/84241/when-the-last-sword-is-drawn
And if you miss it, go rent it. Heck, go buy it.
If you’ve never read Kenkō’s Tsurezuregusa (Essays in Idleness), do it. Here’s a familiar gem from dan 127:
益 is read やく here.
Someone could probably translate this in a style much more appropriate to 14th c. Japan, but it essentially means this:
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”