• 今、再び注目を集める「時代劇」

    [From September Issue 2011]


    Recently historical dramas have been in the spotlight due to a sudden surge of interest in Japanese history among young people. NHK has been broadcasting its one year Grand Historical Drama Series featuring a different historical figure each year. CS satellite broadcasting’s Jidaigeki Senmon Channel specializes in showing historical dramas and movies. Broadcast on that channel from July,“Courtroom Period Drama, Tamura Okitsugu” became CS’ first program to receive the Galaxy Award Commendation –an award given to programs that have contributed to Japan’s broadcasting culture.

    Jidaigeki, which means period drama, refers to dramas and movies that are set in the years before the Meiji Era. Many of them are set in the Edo Era, a period that lasted for about 260 years from 1603, with the central figure being a feudal lord or samurai. In such settings issues such as what is right or wrong and matters concerning duty and sympathy amongst townspeople are dealt with.

    Many jidaigeki movies are highly acclaimed and have received international movie awards, these include “Yojimbo” and “Seven Samurai” by director KUROSAWA Akira and “Zatoichi” directed by KITANO Takeshi (who also plays the lead role). There are also many jidaigeki dramas that have been made into TV series.

    A typical example of such a series is “Mito Komon,” which was made into a TV drama in 1964. MITO Komon is a fictional character based on TOKUGAWA Mitsukuni, the feudal lord of Mito (Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture). In the story this historical figure hides his real identity and travels around the country in order to set right injustices; along the way he develops a rapport with the common people as he deals with various situations.

    Together with young and muscular Suke and Kaku, who are his retainers on the journey, Mito Komon fights with feudal lords and local administrators who engage in evil deeds. The high point of the drama is during the climactic sword fight, when Kaku takes out an “inrou.”

    An inrou is a pillbox the size of a cigarette case which bears the crest of the Tokugawa clan on its front. The Tokugawa clan for all intents and purposes governed Japan in those years (even though officially the emperor ruled Japan). When Kaku shows the pillbox, the villains, who have been violent, throw themselves at Mitsukuni’s feet. Once his identity is disclosed, the villains have no other option than to throw themselves at his mercy.

    The catchphrase, “Don’t you see the crest!” gives the viewer a good feeling. Although the show follows the same pattern every time, the simple plot in which bad guys are punished and justice always wins out gives viewers peace of mind and hope for the future, therefore the show has a loyal following.

    “Hissatsu” (fatal blow) is another popular drama series. The story concerns shigotonin (workers) who have double identities, and is based on a group that really existed in the Edo period. Officially, they work as government officials or craftsmen but when they are petitioned by people in weaker positions of society, the shigotonin group assassinates villains for them. The drama depicts the conflicting emotions in people’s hearts and also shows how people can be assassinated with the tools of a trade; with inconspicuous items like a needle and thread.

    Samurai are now known to people around the world. However, they are not the only type of people who are heroes in jidaigeki. Ninja, who were employed by feudal lords as spies or assassins from the Kamakura period to the Edo period are important too. Although ninja are usually depicted in supporting roles there are also jidaigeki movies that depict them as heroes.

    “Fukurou no Shiro” (Owls’ Castle), a story by SHIBA Ryotaro, which received the Naoki Literary Award, has been adapted for the big screen many times. HATTORI Hanzo, a ninja who really existed, appears in this movie too. The name of HATTORI Hanzo II, who served TOKUGAWA Ieyasu can be found at the Hanzomon gate of Edo Castle (now the Imperial Palace). Tokyo also has a subway line named Hanzomon which runs through the capital.

    There are magnificent and gorgeous works too. The drama “Ooku” is an unusual jidaigeki movie because women play the central roles. Ooku is the word for the inner palace that shoguns of the Tokugawa clan allotted to their wives and mistresses. Passionate turmoil, power struggles and other matters related to human relations are depicted in a setting where, except for the shogun, only women are allowed. The gorgeous kimono worn by shogun’s wives, the Japanese gardens and various sets of the drama have been much discussed.

    “Jidaigeki Hotei” (Period Play Court)” will be broadcast for six months from October this year on Jidaigeki Senmon Channel. It is a new style of program which judges the acts of historical figures in modern fictional courts. The defendant in October will be the eighth shogun, TOKUGAWA Yoshimune, who is known as the hero in the drama, “Abarenbo (uncouth) Shogun.” Although he has a positive image as a leader who tried to listen to the opinions of the common man, he is prosecuted for fraud in this program.

    MINODA Hisaki, who works in the publicity department of the channel, talks about recent trends in jidaigeki: “Jidaigeki that are popular now are mostly those that reach people’s hearts. The fact that people who suffered in the earthquake supported each other has been much discussed. This kind of support for other’s feelings and ways of life is expressed in jidaigeki.”

    Jidaigeki Speciality Channel, Nihon Eiga Satellite Broadcasting Corp.
    Mito Komon (Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc.)


    近年、日本の歴史が若者の間でブームになっています。それに伴い時代劇にも注目が集まっています。NHKでは、毎年、歴史上の人物を取り上げる「大河ドラマ」を1年かけて放映しています。また、CS放送「時代劇専門チャンネル」では、時代劇ドラマ・時代劇映画だけを放映していますが、今年7月に放送した「時代劇法廷 田沼意次」がCS放送史上初めてギャラクシー賞(日本の放送文化に貢献した番組に贈られる)選奨を受賞したほどです。













    日本映画衛星放送株式会社 時代劇専門チャンネル

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  • 広がる復興支援ビジネス

    [From September Issue 2011]

    Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, grassroots support for reconstruction has been growing. Even if they live far away from the disaster, many people are thinking about how they can pitch in and help. Along with conventional methods, like donating money and doing volunteer work, many people are supporting the devastated areas in different ways. Travel agencies, for instance, are organizing tours to tourist destinations around Tohoku.

    Furusato Farm Co., Ltd. located in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture (one of the disaster-stricken areas) has set up an “owners” scheme to assist farms in the reconstruction effort. Purchasing produce from devastated farms, the scheme aims to get farmers back on their feet again by reviving the farming industry.

    TAZAWA Fumiyuki, the company’s president says, “The agricultural industry in Tohoku was severely affected. If we can create a link between consumers and producers by asking people from outside the devastated areas for their support, it will really help to revive the industry. I’d like to return agriculture in Japan to its pre-earthquake state, so that consumers can enjoy the safe and pleasant flavors of Japanese produce with peace of mind any time of the year. I want to make Japanese agriculture appealing.

    Once they purchase the “Shun-no Omakase Yasai Set” (set of selected seasonal vegetables), anyone can become a shareholder in the farms. The total price of the 12,000 yen set will be put towards the relief effort. Fresh vegetables and produce picked at farms located in devastated areas will be delivered to the shareholder three times a year. A portion of the profits will be put towards repairs and to purchasing building materials for farmhouses, agricultural machinery, and greenhouses.

    Also, Psmile Inc., a company, located in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, which plans corporate events, is organizing exhibitions of Tohoku produce to aid reconstruction. Five percent of their profits will be donated to charities supporting reconstruction. “Tohoku people living in the Kanto area really appreciate being able to get their hands on items that are usually only available in Tohoku. Furthermore, visitors to the event feel that by purchasing these products they can publicly demonstrate their support,” says the president, KAGEYAMA Yoshihisa.

    “Great East Japan Earthquake Arts & Culture Reconstruction Assistance Fund.” Atelier Canon, which is a concert management company and an associate member of the Mecenat Association, is donating money collected at concerts to this fund.

    SUZUKI Hideo, the president of Atelier Canon says, “Listening to music has a healing effect: it makes us unwind, and turns our gaze inwards. No matter what kind of environment you are in, music has the power to make us all equals.”

    TANI Megumi, a soprano singer of Spanish songs says, “A friend of mine was a victim of the disaster and for a while after the great earthquake, I felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness. Nevertheless, as a singer I’d like to do what I can by continuing to cherish each song, imbuing it with deep feeling and heartfelt prayers.”

    Furusato Farm Co., Ltd.
    Psmile Inc.
    Atelier Canon
    Blog of TANI Megumi

    Text: MUKAI Natsuko







    一方、企業が資金を提供して芸術活動を支援する公益社団法人企業メセナ協議会は、「東日本大震災 芸術・文化による復興支援ファンド」を設置しました。メセナ協議会の準会員であるコンサートマネジメント会社の有限会社カノン工房では、コンサートなどで集まった義援金を復興支援ファンドへ寄付しています。





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  • 楽譜を撮ればメロディーを奏でるiPhoneアプリ

    [From September Issue 2011]

    In July, an iPhone application called “Gakufu Camera (musical score camera)” went on sale at the App Store for 350 yen. This application automatically recognizes notes scanned via an iPhone camera. However, since the camera range is limited, an app can only capture a segment of a score, rather than a whole page of sheet music.

    The app can recognize both hand-written and printed notes, and any false recognition or adjustments can be amended by hand. All the scanned data can be saved in order to be played back later. Practical applications for the use of this app are limitless, and include aiding activities such as songwriting, rehearsing, and singing in a chorus.

    The app comes with two playback models. Note length can be extended with a slow tap and a segment can be repeated by sliding your fingers over the desired phrase. Pitch can also be adjusted in order to match that of a particular musical instrument and there are six types of playback tones to choose from.

    This application, which is the first of its kind, is developed by Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co., Ltd. The technology already existed 15 years ago and was operated by utilizing an image scanner and “Score Maker” computer software. However, modifying it for use with a mobile phone presented difficulties: memory was limited and it was difficult to capture a clear image of the page with a mobile phone camera.

    KATSUTA Masanori, the development manager for the application software, reflects back on the difficulties developing the software: “‘Score Maker’ can play an entire sheet of music using an image scanner, so we were unable to break away from the concept of playing the entire song.”

    Gakufu Camera is a product that marries the familiar camera functions of current mobile phones with a new way of enjoying music. The software was commercialized by getting away from the idea of capturing the entire music score and by narrowing its operation down to playing one phrase.

    Although Kawai Musical Instruments have diversified into a variety of areas, such as providing music lessons and manufacturing musical instruments (both electronic and traditional), they initially started out as a manufacturer of pianos. Katsuta says this new app was created with the idea of “making music enjoyable” which is the philosophy that the company was founded on. Music is often referred to as “the universal language” and Gakufu Camera may well be a useful tool to translate it into reality.

    Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co., Ltd.

    Text: TAKAHASHI Yoshinori


    楽譜をカメラで撮ると譜面通りにメロディーを奏でてくれるというiPhoneアプリ「楽譜カメラ」(350円)が7月にApp Storeで発売されました。このアプリはiPhoneカメラで撮った音符を自動認識します。撮影範囲が限られているので、認識できるのは楽譜のページごとではなく、楽譜の一部分になります。









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  • 徳川時代の歴史と文化が息づく街―名古屋

    [From September Issue 2011]

    Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, is the fourth most populous city in Japan after Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka. It’s located in the Chubu region, a region situated right at the centre of Japan’s main land mass. Nagoya is also the political, economic and industrial center of this region.

    Driving northeast for about ten minutes from Nagoya Station, you arrive at Nagoya Castle, which is the most famous tourist spot in Nagoya. It was built in 1612 on the orders of TOKUGAWA Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Tokugawa family, who ruled Japan during the Edo period. Its tenshukaku (the castle’s tallest and most-central building with rooftop views), which has an observation deck on its roof, was burned down during the Second World War, but was later rebuilt. The entire area, including Nagoya Castle, is known as Meijo Park and is familiar to the city’s citizens.

    The symbol of Nagoya Castle is a pair of Golden Shachihoko (tiger-headed dolphin) statues facing each other on the roof of the keep. They were said to have been about 2.7 meters high at the time they were constructed and around 200 kilograms of solid gold was used to make them. Currently, the inside of the keep serves as an exhibition space. On the top floor there is an observation room which has panoramic views of Nagoya City.

    Tokugawa Garden, a ten minute drive east from Nagoya Castle, used to be home to the Tokugawa family. Built on a huge plot of land, this Japanese garden features a number of small hills and ponds. From mid to late April, about 1,000 peonies blossom, and from late May to early June, some 1,700 irises are in full bloom.

    Adjacent to the garden is The Tokugawa Art Museum, which has a collection of about 20,000 items, among which include Ieyasu’s personal belongings and tools that belonged to Edo period daimyou (feudal lords). The museum boasts an abundance of valuable national treasures such as picture scrolls from the “Tale of Genji” and other important cultural properties. “Owari Tokugawake no Hinamatsuri” (the Owari Tokugawa family’s hina doll festival), is a traditional Japanese event held annually from early February through to early April, during which gorgeous dolls are put on display.

    Southwest of Tokugawa Garden is Sakae, one of the main commercial districts of Nagoya. Numerous shops and restaurants are found there, not only at street level, but underground as well. Rising above Hisaya Ohdori Kouen, which stretches north to south through the center of Sakae, is Nagoya TV Tower. The tower is 180 meters tall and has observation decks at 90 meters and 100 meters above ground level, which command spectacular views.

    A 15-minute walk to the south from Sakae takes you to Osu Kannon Temple, one of the three major Kannon temples in Japan. The temple was moved there from Gifu Prefecture in 1612, when Nagoya Castle was built. The main hall was burned down in World War II and was reconstructed in 1970. On the 18th and the 28th of every month, the temple grounds are crowded with traders who come from all over Japan to sell antiques, used goods and second hand clothes. Many people visit the temple to enjoy this event.

    Many bustling shopping arcades catering to temple visitors are located around Osu Kannon. With its numerous stores selling second hand clothing and electrical goods, the streets have an atmosphere that combines the feel of Tokyo’s Asakusa and Akihabara districts. In recent years, the numbers of tourists from overseas have increased. Because of the covered roofs, you can wander through the streets without worrying about the weather. In mid-October each year, the Osu Daido-chonin Matsuri (The Osu Street Performers’ Festival) is held, and a gorgeous “Oiran Dochu” (a procession of courtesans) parades through the shopping streets.

    About four kilometers’ south of the Osu area is Atsuta Jingu where the temple buildings cover a huge area (about 200,000 square meters) and the grounds include sacred woodland. The historic shrine houses a holy sword which is one of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan (the mirror, the sword and the jewel) that have been passed down by Emperors through the ages. In the shrine’s treasure hall, a collection of about 6,000 objects are on display. During the first few days of each year, many people visit the shrine to make wishes for the New Year.

    In the hilly area to the east of the city is Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens. This zoo is famous for having become the first zoo in Japan to keep koalas. The botanical gardens have Japanese gardens and greenhouses where some 7,000 kinds of plants are grown. The Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium, located near to the Port of Nagoya, is the ideal place to get a closer look at marine life. There you can get your photo taken with a life-size replica of the killer whale.

    Located near Nagoya Station, the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology is built on the site where the Toyota Motor Corporation was originally established. The museum consists of the Textile Machinery Pavilion, the Automobile Pavilion, Technoland, the Toyota Group Building and other attractions. Various exhibits and demonstrations provide easy-to-understand explanations of the manufacturing process. There is also a corner where you can make a cell phone strap or a key chain free of charge.

    In recent years, Nagoya-meshi has caught the public imagination. Nagoya-meshi refers to dishes that use ingredients and cooking methods unique to Nagoya which cannot be found anywhere else. These dishes include miso nikomi udon and miso katsu, which both use miso (a thick paste made from fermenting rice, barley and/or soy beans) with a richer taste. Other dishes include tebasaki, hitsumabushi, tenmusu, and kishimen.

    Miso nikomi udon is udon (thick noodles) served in an earthenware pot; people use the lid of the pot as a plate while eating it. Miso katsu is a pork cutlet served with a miso sauce. Tebasaki is deep fried chicken wings coated with a special sauce and sprinkled with various spices. Hitsumabushi is grilled eel on a bed of rice that can be eaten in three different ways. Tenmusu is a rice ball that contains shrimp tempura. Kishimen is a kind of flat noodle. One can feel the rich history and culture of Nagoya reflected in any of these dishes.

    To Nagoya it’s approximately one hour and 40 minutes from Tokyo, or about 50 minutes from Osaka on the Tokaido Shinkansen. You can also fly to the Chubu International Airport, from which it takes roughly 30 minutes to get to Nagoya Station by train.

    Photo courtesy by Nagoya Convention & Visitors Bureau

    Text: ITO Koichi


























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  • がんと闘う日本のトップジャーナリスト

    [From September Issue 2011]

    TORIGOE Shuntaro

    TORIGOE Shuntaro is one of Japan’s best known journalists. He’s also known for his work as a TV anchor and commentator. Torigoe, who’s been called an “artisan of news,” was diagnosed with colorectal cancer five years ago. Though shocked, his journalistic spirit made him decide to leave an objective record of his experiences a cancer patient behind.

    Torigoe recalls that period. “Up until then, books on cancer were written by either doctors as specialists or by patients describing their feelings. After I was diagnosed with cancer, I became curious about what goes through people’s minds when they find out they have cancer, what kind of problems they face during treatment and what members of their family think.”

    Torigoe was born in Fukuoka Prefecture. He joined the Mainichi Newspapers Co. Ltd. after graduating from the Kyoto University. After working in the Social Affairs Department and doing a stint in Tehran as a correspondent, he became editor in chief of the weekly magazine “Sunday Mainichi.” He left the company in 1989 to work for TV.

    He encountered all kinds of dangers while reporting. In 1984, at the height of the Iran-Iraq War, there were rumors that Iraq was using chemical weapons on the frontlines. One day, the Tehran bureau of Mainichi Newspapers received an invitation to enter the war zone from the Ministry of Islamic Clerics. Other media companies shrank from such a dangerous assignment. In the end, Torigoe was the only Japanese journalist who accepted the invitation.

    The place was quite literally a frontline where Iraqi fighters often came and dropped bombs. Torigoe says he thought, “I shouldn’t have come. My curiosity is going to get me in trouble after all.” He met with danger numerous times on other war fronts, too, but he always came out unscathed. So he used to consider himself a man with luck on his side.

    In the summer of 2005, something unexpected happened. He suddenly lost his taste for beer, a drink he had previously liked so much. He then found blood in the toilet bowl. He consulted a doctor at a hospital. He saw his own cancer on the endoscope’s monitor. It was the beginning of his fight with cancer.

    In the last five years, Torigoe – a stage IV patient – has gone through treatment, experienced metastasis (the spread of cancer) and was operated on four times. But he’s got a positive outlook. He’s a member of an athletic club. Even though he’s 70 and a cancer patient, his work output has tripled.

    The book “Cancer Patient,” about his cancer and life, was recently published. The tale, which is an account of his mood swings during the cancer’s progress, his family, work, hopes and “will to live” despite being a cornered man, has struck a chord with readers.

    TORIGOE Shuntaro Official site












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  • 貧しさに負けず、夢を追い求める少女を描くドラマ

    [From September Issue 2011]

    Cupola, Where the Furnaces Glow (Directed by URAYAMA Kirio)

    This is a drama set in Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture, where numerous foundries stand side by side. The “cupola” in the movie’s title refers to a furnace for heating and melting metals. Released in 1962, the film is famous for having won the Blue Ribbon Award in 1962 for Best Film and YOSHINAGA Sayuri won the Blue Ribbon Award for Best Actress. That same year, the film was also entered in the Competition Category at the Cannes International Film Festival.

    Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture, located right across the Arakawa River to the north of Tokyo, has been known as a foundry town since the Edo period. Jun (Yoshinaga) is a third-year middle school student whose father works as a laborer at a small foundry. But the foundry is bought out, and her aging father is fired. That night, her mother gives birth to her third brother.

    Her father is invited to work at an automated modern foundry, but as a proud artisan, he resists the idea and soon quits. The family cannot survive on the income from the work that her mother does at home. Moreover, it is Jun who takes care of her naughty brother, a sixth grader, instead of her mother and father.

    Jun, who has good grades and likes studying, wants to go on to a prefectural high school. She tries her best to pay for her tuition by doing a part-time job, but her father, who is out of work and always drunk, objects to her going to high school, saying, “You have to work after graduating from middle school.” Feeling disgusted with her mother, who has started working as a hostess at a bar for good money, Jun gives up on taking the high school entrance exam and decides not to go on a school trip.

    Before long, Jun starts skipping school, telling herself, “If I can’t go to high school, there is no point in studying.” Her homeroom teacher pays her a visit and urges her to attend night school while working, saying, “If you have the motivation, regardless of where you are, you find some way to study.” Around that time, a North Korean friend of hers decides to move to her father’s native country along with her father and younger brother.

    Jun goes to the station with her teacher and classmates to see her friend off. Despite feeling sad about leaving Japan, where she was born and raised, her friend expresses concern for Jun, who has been absent from school. That encourages Jun to choose to work her way through school. At the same time, the foundry where her father used to work expands and he begins to work there again at the start of the New Year. For the first time in a long while, laughter and peace returns to the family.

    Despite this, Jun tells her parents that she will work her way through school without relying on her father. Although they can’t understand Jun’s way of thinking, her parents don’t object to the idea. As he prepares to go on to middle school, her mischievous brother comes to keenly realize the difficulties confronting his sister and starts a part-time job as a newspaper delivery boy. One morning, on the way to a job interview, Jun asks her brother, who is delivering newspapers, to see her off at the station. The film ends with a shot of their silhouettes fading away as they head towards the station.


    キューポラのある街(浦山桐郎 監督)








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