Japanese Abdication in 2019

We already knew this was going to happen at some point as the Diet passed a one time bill that would allow Akihito to abdicate in June, but the Imperial Household Council has met and picked a date for the transition. Some time last week it was announced that Emperor Akihito will be stepping down and his son Naruhito will be become the new Emperor of Japan. Thus a new era will begin for the Chrysanthemum Throne. The Heisei period will end on 30 April 2019 and on 1 May 2019 the new period will begin. Akihito will be the first Emperor to abdicate since the Emperor Kokaku in 1817, Akihito will be known as Jōkō which is short for Daijō-tennō or retired Emperor. It will be interesting since it would be the first new Emperor that I will actually remember and perhaps with all the 24 hour news channels out now we should be able to watch it. Sure, Akihito’s enthronement was televised in 1990 but I was five and it would see like something that would be a must see event I mean they’ve televised several Papal events JPII’s funeral and both Inaugurations (Ben XVI and Francis) so it seems like this is something they will be going all out in covering. It will be an interesting period.


Shin Godzilla (2016)

Shin Gojira (Godzilla: Resurgence) was a film that I was really looking forward to watching this film. This is Japan’s latest Godzilla movie, the 31st overall and the third reboot in the franchise. This is a wonderfully amazing film and everyone should take some time and watch it. Like the original film which was written in the aftermath of WWII and the atomic bomb this film was written in the aftermath of the 2011 Tsunami and the Fukshima Daiichi nuclear disaster. As always spoilers to follow.

Shin Godzilla is a full reboot as it is the first time that Godzilla has appeared in this world. The film is a nonstop ride, it begins with something happening in Tokyo Bay, an abandoned yacht being investigated by the Coast Guard is sunk by an eruption of gas of some sort and the Aqua-line (bridge/tunnel) is flooded. We head to government meetings with the cabinet and PM who want to claim it’s only a volcano or underwater steam vent nothing more. Only to discover through news reports that it is some sort of creature as a massive tail comes out of the ocean. It begins moving inland and after the Prime Minister says it can’t come on land it does just that. It evolves while on land into a standing creature before it returns to the water.

From here we go into a bunch of meetings with the government focused on military strategy and civilian safety, while a task force is put together to research the creature. The United States sends in an envoy to the task force when they learn that they could exploit this discovery. The creature now named Godzilla by the Americans reappears and again heads toward Tokyo. The Japanese Self-Defense Force is mobilized and they try to shoot it down, it doesn’t work, they turn to the US who fly B-2s to bomb it this causes some damage but ultimately nothing comes of it. It doesn’t seem that there is anything that can stop this monster.

Here the movie turns again we get the United States and United Nations pushes for nuking the thing nothing can live in one of those explosions. However, Japan doesn’t want to be nuked again so they try their own thing, it some sort of cooling thing, but can they get it done before the world blows up Tokyo. Take some time and watch this movie to find out. There is a sequel planned for some time after 2020 so that can sort of tell you what all happens in the end.

World News

As the US seems content to delve into every word Former FBI Director Comey made during his hearing yesterday in Washington DC. However there are a couple of interesting stories in the world that seem more important. First off over in the United Kingdom they held their Parliamentary elections which has set up a hung parliament. It looks like some type of coalition government is going to happen and perhaps we will see Theresa May step down or not. This is a more intriguing news item.

The other big story is that Japan has passed a one-off bill that will allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate. Last year he addressed the people of Japan saying that he was beginning to feel the constraints of his age which were making it hard for him to do his duties. Rumors have been that this might happen 31 December 2018 or 1 January 2019. This will be a huge event and hopefully CNN and every one of those news networks go to cover it if and when it happen as Naruhito become Emperor. Sure the last time this happened was almost 30 years ago and I was not as interested in Japan back then.

Silence (2016)

Silence is the Martin Scorsese film based on the Shusaku Endo book of the same name. I have previously written about the book and it bring out some big questions. Spoilers to follow. So I was looking forward to seeing a film adaptation of the novel. According to Wikipedia this film is the third in Scorsese’s trilogy of film epics about religious figures struggling with challenges to faith with Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun. Scorsese has said that the film is about “the necessity of belief fighting the voice of experience”.

The film follows the plot of the book but adds parts of the appendix to tell the whole story of Father Rodrigues.  We begin the film with news coming in about Father Ferreira (Liam Nesson) being lost, rumor has it he has apostatized. Fathers Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garupe (Adam Driver) are tasked with finding out if there is any truth to these rumors. Rodrigues and Garupe set off from China with Kichijuro (Yōsuke Kubozuka) a drunken Japanese fisherman. They arrive in Japan and the Padres minister to the Christians hearing confessions and celebrating all the other sacraments as well. This is the story of the hidden Christians of Japan. Eventually, the Padres are separated and both captured and forced to refute their beliefs and step on an image of Christ “Fumi-e”. The story is Father Rodrigues as we follow him as the Inquisitor tries to get him to deny his faith and using the other Christians that they captured and pawns to get him to refute as they would be set free if and when Rodrigues refutes his faith.

This would be a great film to watch during Lent or if you have some passing interest in Japanese history or religion. Sure people have compared it with The Mission but it’s a completely different story told a world away. This is a book that is a great read so if you watch the film maybe take some time and read the book as well.

Pearl Harbor

Today marks 75 years since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. It was a brutal day as FDR put it “a date which will live in Infamy.” This event has been made into numerous films, From Here to Eternity and Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor. The Smithsonian has an interesting story of that day and a Sikorsky JRS-1 a plane which the American flew to find the Japanese that day.  On the path to the USS Arizona Memorial there is a small plaque with a prayer/poem which Eleanor Roosevelt carried with her throughout the war.

Dear Lord,

Lest I continue
My complacent way,
Help me to remember
Somehow out there
A man died for me today.
As long as there be war,
I then must
Ask and answer
Am I worth dying for?

Silence; The Scorsese Movie (2016)

I really liked the novel by Shūsaku Endō so when I was reading I look and saw that Martin Scorsese had wanted to make this movie since the 90s. Scorsese was inspired by the book wanted to make a movie based on it.  The book is one of the best things that I’ve read in the past couple of years. Here is the first trailer.

Across the interwebs we have a bunch of reactions of this trailer and the funniest part is how many people are just watching it since it’s the next Scorsese film and have no clue as to what the film is about let alone have heard of the book. I will be going to see this when it comes out.

Ancient Rome News

Over this past week I’ve seen two stories relating to Ancient Rome. First was the discovery of a Chinese Skeleton in Roman Britain. The other was the finding of coins in Japan from Rome with images of Emperor Constantine I.  In all the history classes you hear about Rome and China and Japan as different civilizations and sure Ancient Japan and China most likely existed and did things in the same sphere of influence and perhaps something about the silk road linking them to Rome but you never really think about the two dealing with each other since they are so far from one another. So the news seems pretty cool. For the simple fact that people from China and Japan could have traveled to the Roman world and visa-versa. I never did much in Ancient History but if these things are true than the world has been a small place for so much longer than we have all realized.

News Roundup

Netflix: Cordcutting.com has crunched the numbers and Netflix subscriber saves themselves about 158.5 hours of commercials per year. By not having ads it is remarkable how much time that is. It is also that some cable networks are toying with the idea of cutting advertising time Time Warner tested this on TruTV in the fall. As many Millennials are watching less ads using DVRs along with streaming services to watch most of their shows.

Obama: This is cool news.  President Obama will become the first President to visit Hiroshima since the bomb.  This follow the lead of Secretary of State John Kerry who recently visited. Obama’s visit will be tied to the G7 summit in Shima, Japan at the end of May. This visit will as the White House press release says will “highlight his continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”.

Musical Theatre/Tony Awards: The Wall Street Journal sets out to answer what does an Orchestrator do. Sure they get a Tony but what for all to often it seems like whatever wins Best Score takes home Best Orchestration as well. The article seems to put it as they take the piano music that a composer writes and breaks it into parts for the orchestra in a way that helps the music support the singers. It is an interesting subset in the world of music and offers some understanding why sometime revivals sound different.

There are also reports that Tom Hooper will be bringing Cats: The Musical to the silver screen. How will this happen it still up in the air, and there are good reason to go in either direction CGI, live action, animated, puppets. Hooper who directed Les Miserables will direct and produce and it looks like the production will being in late 2017or 2018.

Space: This is amazing as it combines Space and Archaeology. A teenager from Quebec used ancient star chart and has discover a lost Mayan city. William Gadoury has been interested in the Mayan civilization since 2012 and wanted to figure out why the Mayans built cities in unlikely sites far from river and fertile land. As it turns out when placing the Mayan constellations over a map of sites they lined up. One of the constellations wasn’t complete and Gadoury scoured Google Earth and got the idea that he might have found the location of an unknown site. He requested the help of the Canadian Space Agency to get a better look at the location and the images have added weight. The only way to really determine if it is a site is to go and explore.

Godzilla (2014)

The American tried to make another Godzilla movie last year and sure it was better than the last one with Matthew Broderick in it but it still felt like too much was going on.

The film is essentially a reboot of Godzilla for Americans so it starts back in the 50s with the Nuke tests which kills a giant monster or something. We then skip forward to 1999 when Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) lives in Japan with his family and he runs a nuclear power plant and there has been some earthquake like things and so he sends his wife to check it out and she dies. We then skip forward fifteen years to 2014 and the focus changes to that of Joe’s son Ford. Ford is a Navy guy who lives in San Francisco and has just arrived back home when he gets a call to bail his Dad out of Japanese jail for trespassing in the “quarantine zone”. So Ford goes off to Japan and bails Joe out and Joe convinced Ford that they have to go to their old house to recover some data which he had printed out or something. They get captured by soldiers and brought to a secret facility, it’s the old power plant and after several power outages a gigantic MUTO appears it destroys the facility and Joe dies.

The Navy admiral who is in charge then explains that Godzilla is why the nuclear test happened in the 50s since they were trying to defeat Godzilla. The plot gets a bit weirder as the MUTO is actually echolocation and communicating with some other MUTO and it turns out that ones a male and the other a female and they are going to breed in San Francisco for some reason. Then Godzilla shows up  It’s not really explained very well, or perhaps it was while I was “resting my eyes”, since the movie is really long clocking in at over a half an hour longer than the original Godzilla.  So Godzilla fights the two MUTOs and eventually wins since it’s a Godzilla movie.

It was a decent film but as I said earlier it’s long. If you are a fan of Godzilla it’s a nice movie nothing great to write home about  but okay. If you are looking for something more like the original you will have to wait until Toho releases Shin Gojira, their rebooted Godzilla film they are working on which is expected to be released in Summer of 2016

Lesser known…

World Food Day: This is one of those UN Days this one is observed on October 16. This year the theme is Social Protection breaking the cycle of rural poverty. This is an important issue that we as the world need to focus on, since food security is a global issue.

Sweetest Day: In the Great Lakes region of the US on the third Saturday of October is Sweetest Day. It’s a made up holiday by the candy industry to increase sales of sweets, it’s basically like Valentine’s Day but in the Fall. So if you have some time grab some candy and give it to someone you care about this upcoming Saturday October 17.

Magdalene of Nagasaki (1611- 16 October 1634)
Magdalene was born to Christian couple who were martyred around 1620. When the Augustinians came to Japan she became a tertiary and served as interpreter and catechist for Fathers Francis of Jesus Terrero and Vincent of Saint Anthony Simoens. In 1632 they were both burned alive after this she attached herself to another pair of Augustinians, they to were both killed.  Magdalene then turned to a Dominican Giordano Ansaloni de San Esteban.  As time passed Magdalene eventually turned herself in, wearing her Augustinian habit, she declared herself a follower of Jesus Christ. At age 23, she died on October 16, 1634 after thirteen days of torture, suffocated to death by Tsurushi.

Blessed Kunjachan (1 April 1891-16 October 1973)
Thevarparampil Kunjachan was born into a Syro-Malabar Catholic family, not much is really known about his early life but in 1921 he was ordained a priest Kunjachan, is a nickname meaning little priest, Augustine just wanted to be a regular priest and was humble, kind, service-minded and charitably disposed to the poor and the downtrodden people. He worked with the Dalits (untouchables) and it is said that he baptized over 5000. Kunjachan preached using his actions rather than words this is something that we all need to do more of today.  For all of the talk about the New Evangelization that needs to happen with the Catholic Church this is the way that it needs to be done not through words but through actions.