http://corterleather.bigcartel.com/product/for-japan

If you are in Japan donations to help relief efforts are easy enough to make through the Post Office ATMs, or the many convenience stores. But for those who don’t have to time to figure out how to make a donation from abroad, need a little incentive, or all of the above, but still want to contribute, here is a nice way of doing so. And it is incomparably more aesthetically appealing than those silly-looking colorful rubber things

For the next week or two, Corter Leather (handmade in New England) will be offering a special “For Japan” edition bracelet. Each one is $20, and 100% of the proceeds will go to the Red Cross towards relief efforts in Japan. The bracelet comes in three sizes, is a natural 9 oz bracelet, with a hand painted red button to show support. Each comes in a nice cloth bag. Out of respect, there is no branding, no fancy packaging- just a reminder to help and remember.

Others have already mentioned this opportunity: http://neaststyle.com/2011/03/14/japan-by-corter-leather/, http://dreamsofperfection.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/corter-leather-for-japan-bracelet/, just to mention a few.

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春の波

おだやかなれよ

彼岸潮(ひがんしお)

逃げ水ならば

胸痛むまじ

–M.I.

Written by Kamo no Chōmei 鴨長明, a snubbed aristocrat, in the early 13th c., Hōjōki 方丈(often translated as Record of a Ten Foot Square Hut since a hōjō is roughly 10 sq. ft.) occupies a revered place on the NKBZ shelf, and rightly so, because it is fantastic, as I hope to demonstrate below. Let us examine the original and attempt a translation of the first (行く河) section. I have mostly followed the NKBZ.

 

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I’m in love. I just discovered my new favorite kanji. The simplicity, the straightforwardness, the sheer pictorial common sense beats those unconvincing explanations about how 目 really does look like an eye, 日 like the sun, and 木 like a tree, and 女 like a woman (ok, they may be on to something with the last one). And this miracle kanji is kannuki (かんぬき), meaning a “bolt” or “latch” (Also refers to a 2-on-1 wrist-hold technique in some martial arts).  Brilliant.

==> 閂

See the resemblance?

Well, I’ll never forget how to say this now.

I don’t know if the accompanying hand-motions are part of some international sign-language, but if they are not, perhaps they should be. Originally produced by Fuji TV, if you can believe that.

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So I haven’t been good about updating this, but so it goes. At any rate, here is an expression not to be forgotten:

恩着せがましい (おんきせがましい) = Unfortunately no neat, one-word definition exists for this term (though some dictionaries list “patronizing”). It is used to describe someone (critically) who says things in a way that lets you know he is expecting you to know that he is doing you a favor.

So the next time your mother goes on about the troubles she endure to bear and raise you, you can respond with おんきせがましい!With the added benefit of her not knowing what you said.

Hope THIS GUY didn’t steal anybody’s name…

See the Murakami Haruki short story published in the New Yorker, and available in a collection of short stories, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.

Riding the Kyoto subway the other day, I saw some kid reading a book. The phrase 猫の国 jumped out at me, and I thought, “this has got to be Murakami.” Sure enough, 3rd volume of 1Q84. Instincts.

If they had Darwin Awards for criminals and bad-ass awards for 18-year-old girls this would take the cake:

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20100531p2a00m0na010000c.html

*****/5

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.