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Ishinomaki, Miyagi


Ishinomaki, Miyagi

Images copyright: (Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images) and (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images)

See more of the click-through before and after pictures at the Big Picture.

Shiho Fukada is an amazing photojournalist. I highly recommend her work. In this particular spot from the NYT, she focuses her lens on Kamagasaki, an area in Osaka that used to be known as “labor town,” but has recently been dubbed “welfare town.” The economic downturn put a stop to much of construction work in Japan, rendering most of these day laborers unemployed. Please see the slide show and story on the NYT Lens Blog or on Fukada’s personal website.

This 15-minute documentary, titled “Traces of a City,” focuses on Masaaki Tanabe’s efforts to digitally reconstruct his hometown–Hiroshima–as he remembered it before the destruction of the atomic bomb. Well worth watching, won’t take much out of the day. But it does speak to memory, nostalgia, and the concept of furusato, or “hometown,” which plays an important role in Japanese culture.

Since WordPress does not allow java, check it out at Mainichi.

Recently more and more attention has been paid to Japanese elections, since PM Aso announced the dissolution of the Diet and called for a snap election to take place on August 30. Many are considering this the first time the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has a real chance to unseat the hitherto ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

For those who are curious about how campaigns are done in Japan, POV ran a fantastic documentary about a year ago on a–essentially a political nobody, (but an LDP-backed nobody)–candidate for a suburban city council seat. Well worth the time. Things haven’t changed all that much, I suspect. With the exception of the unquestioned LDP dominance, but the jury is still out on that one until Aug. 30.

Watch the full documentary, called simply Campaign, on the PBS website.

Just ran across this short documentary (about 45 min.) about Japanese high school baseball (高校野球). Interesting stuff. These kids are not messing around. Filmed in 2003, so not the most up to date, but still worth watching. Check it out on HULU. And read up on it on the PBS’s POV page here.