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Shodo Girls

Last weekend my wife dragged me to a Japanese movie and I have to say that I quite enjoyed watching it. She is learning Japanese and so naturally was overjoyed when the practically inactive Japanese embassy announced their annual film festival. The film that we decided to see was called ‘Shodo Girls’. Seemed like an interesting enough plot from the festival brochure, so thought we’d give it a try. What did we have to lose anyway? Entrance was free! I was praying for subtitles though.

The film is about a calligraphy club formed by a group of school girls in a small town on Shikoku island. The town is known for its paper mills, a fact drilled into the viewer’s brain by the oft-repeated dialogue in the film that ‘those paper mill chimneys can be seen from anywhere in town’! This particular line fits into the puzzle nicely later on by shaping the gist of the second half of the film. It starts off as a comedy. The girls are shown to be very serious about their kanji calligraphy but in their midst are 3 dorky boys who end up looking like the Japanese version of the 3 Stooges. They provide some much-needed entertainment to this club which is filled with its share of teenage girl drama and politics. Add to this, a new teacher/adviser whose quirky methods confuse and annoy the girls to no end, and you have an interesting movie.

The film is quite funny and enjoyable but does get saccharine and dramatic in parts. I greatly enjoyed seeing small-town Japan though.

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Japan Nuclear Crisis – Haven’t we learned our lessons yet?

Sometimes it seems as though we… or more accurately, influential people in positions of power never really learn from their mistakes. History is littered with costly mistakes made by some dictator or head of state; decisions that caused humongous loss of life and human suffering. The crisis currently unfolding in Japan is getting worse every day. Finally Switzerland and some other countries have woken up and suspended their ongoing nuclear projects. Still, there are others like Turkey who are refusing to stop their nuclear programs despite the stark situation in Japan today. What are we waiting for? Another Hiroshima??? When it is clearly known that nuclear energy production poses such life-threatening risks to all of humanity, why even invest in it? I just do not get it. How can it be worth risking a global catastrophe for a false sense of security against warring nations? Maybe I don’t understand the supposed advantages of nuclear power. But surely we should be able to do wonders with the various alternative energy sources like Solar, Wind, Geothermal etc. that are already out there! Why do we need nuclear energy as well, if not for developing bombs as a precautionary measure against other countries? Curse Robert Oppenheimer for creating the damn thing in the first place! Before the whole world collapses into an abyss of hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and finally nuclear winter, I hope our leaders have enough sense to ban nuclear power for good.