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29 juillet 2013 1 29 /07 /juillet /2013 15:24

Libération 19/7/2013

Mayumi Taniguchi. La femme banzaï

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Cette professeure de droit d’Osaka a créé un parti-gag qui moque le machisme vieillissant de la classe politique japonaise.

Par ARNAUD VAULERIN


Photo Makoto Take pour Libération

C’est une femme en tenue léopard qui n’a rien d’une tigresse. A l’heure du «sextrémisme» énervé et dénudé des Femen, Mayumi Taniguchi se découvre en pétroleuse moqueuse d’une classe politique nippone grise et mâle qui renouvelle, ce dimanche, ses sénateurs (lire page 6). Le rire peut être une arme redoutable. Celui de Mayumi Taniguchi est libérateur, frondeur. Il sonne la charge contre une «politique de vieux schnocks, faite par des vieux schnocks, pour des vieux schnocks». La jeune femme, professeure de droit à l’université internationale d’Osaka (Japon), ne s’embarrasse pas d’une langue docte pour décrire le «triste cinéma politique de l’archipel». Ce diagnostic en forme de coup de sang fondateur a présidé à la création, en novembre, de son mouvement, le Parti national des vieilles ménagères (Ajop). La colère est parfois bonne conseillère.

Tout commence le 15 septembre. Trois mois avant les législatives, les partis élisent leurs généraux pour mener la bataille qui consacrera le retour de la droite nationaliste de Shinzo Abe. Ce soir-là, Mayumi Taniguchi est devant sa télévision, en simple mère de famille. «Je ne voyais que des vieux bouffons en costard, tenant des propos ennuyeux et poussiéreux. Pas une seule femme. J’ai eu honte pour mon pays.» Sur le ton de la raillerie, l’impulsive Taniguchi se lâche sur Facebook et propose de «créer le parti des "obachan", des vieilles ménagères pour concurrencer les hommes politiques». Elle est prise au mot. L’idée séduit. Les soutiens suivent. Le parti est créé dans la foulée. L’Ajop, qui n’a de parti que le nom, devient vite un groupe de pression et de discussion présent sur les réseaux sociaux et dans les milieux associatifs. Avec de petits moyens, des comités Ajop fleurissent du nord au sud de l’archipel. Ils raillent la politique familiale «machiste et mensongère» du Premier ministre, Shinzo Abe. Houspillent le centre gauche pour ses mollesses et ses promesses non tenues. Battent le tam-tam après les propos pathétiques du maire d’Osaka défendant la «nécessité des femmes de réconfort» dans les bordels de l’armée impériale durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Les obachan se sont trouvé des causes et une appellation péjorative qui fait mouche par son autodérision. Difficilement traduisible, «obachan» évoque à la fois les tantes, les femmes d’âge moyen excentriques ou délaissées, les ménagères pipelettes, les sans-grade. «Toutes celles dont se fout la classe politique», résume Mayumi Taniguchi. Elle se refuse à être candidate pour conserver sa «liberté de parole et d’action», mais soutiendra celles qui voudront se lancer dans l’aventure.

En politologue averti, Koichi Nakano salue «l’audace de Taniguchi et la nouveauté» de ce petit mouvement qui revendique 6 000 militantes sympathisantes. «Cette initiative est intéressante car elle renouvelle la tradition du féminisme souvent perçu au Japon comme un mouvement radical contrôlé par des femmes en colère. Par sa drôlerie, le terme obachan casse cette image.» Mayumi Taniguchi tient «beaucoup à ce terme, à l’opposé de la culture des lolitas et des femmes objets, silencieuses et soumises, si forte au Japon». A 38 ans, la dirigeante de l’Ajop s’affiche en détendue à la langue bien pendue. C’est une latine en legging blanc et large tunique que l’on rencontre à l’université d’Osaka. Longs cheveux de jais sur un visage rond et rieur, elle arbore tout un attirail d’étuis, de tablettes et sacs léopard qui emprunte au bling-bling et au kitsch à paillettes. «Elle s’est toujours maquillée et habillée ainsi. C’est une instinctive qui n’hésite jamais à dire ce qu’elle pense et blague sans cesse,témoigne une amie, discrète Tokyoïte. Mayumi incarne cette culture populaire d’Osaka, une ville ouverte et commerçante, beaucoup plus exubérante que Tokyo.»

Mayumi Taniguchi revendique le plaisir, le rire et le besoin de séduire. En vidéo, en photo, on la voit trinquant, dînant, entourée d’amies et de militantes. Au risque de se faire «engueuler par les féministes classiques», elle regrette leur «fermeture». «Trop souvent radicales, élitistes, trop à gauche, brandissant beaucoup d’interdits, elles se sont coupées des employées, des agricultrices, des ouvrières et des femmes au foyer.» Pas politicienne, ni grande théoricienne, la Latine d’Osaka exhume de son panthéon deux figures tutélaires et consensuelles : l’Austro-Américaine Beate Sirota, auteure à 22 ans des articles sur les droits des femmes dans la Constitution japonaise, et la Japonaise Fusae Ichikawa, à l’origine du droit de vote des femmes en 1946.

Mayumi Taniguchi n’est pas née féministe, elle l’est devenue à l’université. Jusque-là, elle vivait «sans problème, entourée d’hommes» à Osaka. Son père était joueur de rugby. Sa mère assurait l’intendance de la famille et de l’équipe au stade Hanazono. Dix ans durant entre les gradins, le gazon et le logement de fonction, Mayumi vit entre ses parents, son grand frère et une trentaine de joueurs qui apprécient une gamine au caractère bien affirmé. La parenthèse heureuse se referme sur les bancs de la fac. La jeune Taniguchi se porte candidate pour devenir représentante des étudiants. Refus ferme. «Je découvre alors la réalité d’une société machiste, figée, avec des hommes orgueilleux et méprisants.» La coutume, non écrite, voulait qu’au grand jamais une femme ne devienne déléguée des étudiants. Aujourd’hui encore, l’humiliation ressentie chasse le rire. L’étudiante encaisse, bûche le droit international, se promet d’enseigner le droit des femmes, enchaîne les petits boulots, puis se défoule en pratiquant la natation et l’aérobic.

Elle quitte l’université en féministe pressée chez qui la passion la dispute à la raison. «Après un coup de foudre qui n’a rien de féministe», elle épouse son mari quelques semaines après leur rencontre. Avant de se rendre compte que sa «belle-famille est très conservatrice, très pro-Shinzo Abe». Ils n’ont pas beaucoup de contact. Heureusement. Lors de conférences et de réunions qu’elle enchaîne sans souffler depuis dix mois quand elle n’enseigne pas, Mayumi Taniguchi accable le Premier ministre du Japon qui veut modifier la Constitution pacifiste. Elle rappelle que le pays est classé en 101e position sur 135 dans le classement des inégalités hommes - femmes établi par le Forum économique mondial. Avant de vanter le manifeste (antiguerre, antinucléaire, antigaspi, antichômage) aussi simpliste qu’explicite de l’Ajop.

Dans le peu de temps qu’il lui reste, Mayumi Taniguchi s’occupe seule de son fils de 7 ans et de sa fille de 5 ans en «mère ordinaire». Son mari, publicitaire en mission en Inde, n’est pas au courant de ses activités. Mayumi Taniguchi ne lui en pas soufflé mot. Pour «être plus libre», elle a choisi cette fois de se taire.

Photo Makoto Take

En 6 dates

6 mars 1975 Naissance à Osaka (Japon).

1981-1991 Vit dans un stade de rugby.

1993 Entre à l’université d’Osaka.

2006 et 2008 Naissances de ses enfants.

23 novembre 2012 Création du Parti national des vieilles ménagères, l’Ajop.

21 juillet Elections sénatoriales au Japon.

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29 juillet 2013 1 29 /07 /juillet /2013 04:40

- Fly Me to Minami 恋するミナミ (Directed by Lim Kah Wai (林家威), Film Business Asia 24/7/2013

 

 

Fly Me to Minami 恋するミナミ

Japan/Singapore
Contemporary drama
2013, colour, 16:9, 106 mins

Directed by Lim Kah Wai (林家威)


Fly Me to Minami


By Derek Elley

Wed, 24 July 2013, 09:15 AM (HKT)


Pan-Asian drama centred on two couples in Osaka hooks the viewer after a slow start. Asian events.

Story

The present day, mid-December. In Hong Kong, fashion magazine editor Sherine (Sherine Wong) is told by her boss Eileen (Crystal Black) to think more commercially. In Osaka, Japan, university graduate Otsuka Tatsuya (Kohashi Kenji), who lives with his elder sister Naomi (Ishimura Tomomi) and mother (Kondo Rieko), goes off for yet another job interview. From the same city, Korean-Japanese air hostess Seol-a (Baek Seol-a) flies to Seoul, where she visits a friend, Min-jun (Kim Yu-hyeon), who's just broken up with her boyfriend. In Hong Kong, Sherine tells a friend, Kiki (Apple Ng), that she's thinking of leaving her job; but then she's suddenly sent by her boss to spend the year-end period in Osaka and write a feature about Minami, the city's trendy shopping, eating and entertainment area. At the last moment, Sherine's photographer, Michael (Phil Shek), cannot go with her because of his wife's pregnancy. In Osaka, Sherine's friend Naomi tries to find a local photographer but they're all busy; finally she recommends her brother Tatsuya, who is a talented amateur - and needs the work. At the same time, Seol-a arrives back in Osaka and gets together with her married lover Shinsuke (Takezai Terunosuke). She demands more and more of his time, and his wife Ayako (Fujima Miho) starts to suspect something. Meanwhile, Sherine and Tatsuya end up spending the evening together when Naomi is called away by a friend.


Review

After a big step forward with New World 新世界の夜明け (2011), Malaysian-Chinese film-maker LIM Kah Wai 林家威 finally comes good with his fourth feature, Fly Me to Minami 恋するミナミ, which manages to preserve his individual, somewhat distanced style while still holding an audience's interest. Again centred on Lim's adopted home of Osaka, and again set at year's end, Minami is another study of lost, itinerant souls looking for companionship — but this time with a criss-crossing narrative format and some genuinely likeable characters to draw the viewer in. A couple of archly played scenes recall Lim's earlier movies; but in general the film breathes a self-assurance that's new to his work — and in the final scenes manages to pack an old-fashioned emotional punch as well.

In some respects, Minami is like the flip-side of New World — set in a glitzier area of the city and among better-heeled denizens — and also follows its characters through to the end on a purely metaphysical level rather than falling back on a crime story for a finale. Most of all, however, Lim again shows he's one of Asia's few truly trans-national film-makers, here mingling a variety of East Asians (Chinese, Korean, Japanese) with absolute naturalness and no perceptible bias, as well as building convincing relationships between people who hardly speak each other's tongues. There's none of the usual awkwardness that afflicts so many bigger-budgeted pan-Asian movies.

The script takes a while to clear its throat and get all the characters in the same place at the same time — Osaka's trendy eating, shopping and entertainment area of Minami, in the run-up to Christmas. Once done, it focuses on two emotionally needy young women who, in different ways, need to move on: workaholic singleton Sherine, a fashion magazine editor from Hong Kong, and Seol-a, a Korean-Japanese air hostess with a married lover. Sherine handles her loneliness by pouring everything into her work; but a meeting with a younger Japanese guy opens up emotional doors for for both, if they're prepared to go through them. Seol-a, on the other hand, funnels all her emotions into a relationship that obviously has no long-term future — her lover has a nice wife and kid, to whom he's devoted — but she adamantly hangs on to her illusions.

As the two women's paths keep almost crossing during the Christmas/New Year period, the movie builds up two contrasting relationships: the will-they/won't-they between professional media type Sherine and the boyish Tatsuya, and the loving but essentially doomed relationship between Seol-a and her languidly duplicitous lover Shinsuke. The weakness in the second is that there's no reason given for Shinsuke to be having an extra-marital affaire, unless his relationship with Seol-a is purely sexual and largely driven by her rather than by him. (Both, it's very vaguely hinted, may be true.) In any event, narratively it's a much less interesting relationship than the gradually blooming one between Sherine and Tatsuya — a bond that turns into a real cliffhanger at the end, capped by a charming, almost off-hand coda.

In her first leading role in a feature, former Miss Malaysia Sherine WONG 黄淑玲, now 34, acquits herself pretty well, building a cautious, lightly comic chemistry with KOHASHI Kenji 小橋賢児 as the younger, less confident man. Most importantly, by going with his own film's flow Lim creates a situation in which the audience actually wants the pair to get together. Also in her first leading film role, South Korean actress BAEK Seol-a 백설아, 29, manages to convey her character's devotion/frustration with very little help from TAKEZAI Terunosuke 竹財輝之助, here rather blank as her married lover.

Production credits are fine for an obviously modestly budgeted indie production, with d.p. KATO Tetsuhiro 加藤哲宏 capturing the glossy, touristy side of Minami (and the sterile lines of Osaka's Kansai airport) as professionally as he caught the city's seedier side in New World. Cinematography in Hong Kong and Seoul is equally natural, and editing by Lim himself is generally tight.

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16 juin 2013 7 16 /06 /juin /2013 04:55
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6 avril 2013 6 06 /04 /avril /2013 05:57

 

Merci: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201303310007

A spiritual awakening in the slums of Osaka

By AKIRA FUJIU/ Staff Writer

31/3/2013

OSAKA--Japan's biggest slum is barely a hop and a skip from the downtown of Osaka, Japan's second-largest city, where neon-lit streets scream affluence and the good life.

But in the Kamagasaki district, in the city's Nishinari Ward, an altogether bleak slice of life awaits those who dare to venture.

It is filled with dirt cheap lodgings for those who are just able to scrape by. And there are those who can't even find a place to sleep on the streets.

And yet, despite the grim surroundings, something of a miracle is occurring: Amid lines for soup kitchens and overnight shelters, churches operating in the area report a rising number of Christian converts.

Many residents are once-homeless people who survived on irregular day-laborer wages. Others who eventually managed to draw social welfare benefits stay because rooms for rent are so affordable.

At the heart of the community is Naniwa Church. Quite a number of the area's needy residents have found inspiration in the church's teachings.

At a year-end baptism ceremony, 40 or so men and women turned up to celebrate with two men being blessed with holy water.

The two were day laborers, aged 62 and 45.

One sought spiritual help to escape his dependence on alcohol. The other man was trying to make a new start after swearing off his gambling addiction.

Christianity exerts a powerful presence in the district.

Alcoholism is rampant among many of the homeless. Church staff routinely make the rounds on bitter winter nights to assist those who find solace in the bottle.

Once a week, Naniwa Church, which is affiliated with the Korean Christian Church in Japan, provides a soup kitchen that offers "onigiri" rice balls and miso soup. The food is served from a van in a nearby park, where as many as 200 people form a line on occasion.

"I am grateful to the church, but I am here for food (not religion)," said one man waiting for a handout. Others, however, are moved by the church's teachings and turn to its faith.

"What about delicious, super delicious, miso soup!" said a church volunteer as he prepared to fill outstretched bowls.

The volunteer, a 63-year-old who is part of the live-in staff, makes it a rule to visit lodgings that members rent. Most of them are elderly and living alone in apartments.

The man, too, once slept in the streets.

He told The Asahi Shimbun that he used to work as a doctor at a hospital in the Kanto region.

"About 10 years ago, I was involved in a medical mishap in which the patient died," he said. "I had an overpowering feeling that I needed to stop looking down at nurses and patients. I decided that I could change my sense of self-worth if I came to live in Kamagasaki."

He would take shelter in a public employment office during the day and spend nights at a public shelter.

The man said he had no cares in the world at that time, and made no attempt to find work. He relied entirely on church meals.

"They gave me twice what a set menu at an ordinary eatery would provide. I was pleased that Naniwa Church understood that people who sleep in the streets think only of their next meal."

The man said he used to follow the teachings of a Zen Buddhist temple and never gave any thought to changing religion.

But while walking to the church for a free meal, he recalled being moved by the words of a pastor: "The act of doing what one can to help the weakest and poorest in society is as honorable an act as what one does for God and Jesus Christ."

It was like a light bulb went off in his head. He decided to volunteer his time as a member of the church staff.

Four South Korean churches with several Japanese ones carry out missionary work in Kamagasaki.

Despite its grim surroundings, Naniwa Church is regarded as a success story. However, the Rev. Kim Jong-hyun prefers not to view its activities that way.

After arriving in Japan in 1996, Kim set about organizing the soup kitchen in Kamagasaki. Initially, it was intended for needy Koreans, but he quickly realized that many destitute Japanese were also forming lines because they were hungry.

Kim helps to find housing and arranges welfare benefits for those who choose to become Christians.

All-too-often, however, the converts revert to their old ways--sodden in alcohol--as soon as their lives start to get better, Kim said.

"Even if one has economic relief, a person can still live in solitude," he said. "At times like that, people need their faith even more."

In the past, churches in Kamagasaki had refrained from missionary work, mainly because of pressure from labor unions.

However, the end of big construction projects like Kansai International Airport in the late 1990s negatively affected the market for day laborers, which weakened the influence of the labor movement.

Tatsuya Shirahase, a sociologist at Osaka City University with a keen interest in the Kamagasaki situation, said: "Labor movements used to support day laborers, but as their market shrank, so did the movements. South Korean Christian churches, which are free of constraints, replaced them by holding meetings with meals provided. This eventually attracted people who were sleeping on the streets.

According to the city of Osaka, some 40 percent of 26,000 residents in Kamagasaki are aged 65 years or older.

 

ALUMINUM CANS

 

One night in November, a police car turned up at Naniwa Church around midnight. The passenger who got out was a 75-year-old man, a Christian convert, who had difficulty curbing his itinerant lifestyle. He had bolted from the protection of the church and walked more than 10 kilometers to Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, which is where the police found him.

The man had run away 69 times since he took the Christian faith seven years ago.

Coming from a "mikan" mandarin orange farming family in western Japan, he went to Osaka to find work when it was gearing up to host the Osaka Expo 1970.

He developed tuberculosis. He survived by scrounging aluminum cans and used paper products for recycling. He moved from one slum to another across the country.

One day after he returned to Osaka, he was found slumped in a cart by a church attendant.

He now lives in a rundown two-room apartment. With health worries constantly on his mind, he frequently runs away.

Each time he does that, fellow church members welcome him back like a member of the family.

As a gesture of thanks, he brings aluminum cans to the church for recycling, calling it a donation.

The man prays at the church each morning, asking that he will go to heaven.

By AKIRA FUJIU/ Staff Writer
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6 avril 2013 6 06 /04 /avril /2013 05:51

Merci http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000094238

'Popular theater' to make debut in Osaka's Kita district

April 6, 2013

[Hirosato Nishida / The Yomiuri Shimbun]



OSAKA--Taishu engeki, popular stage performances of human dramas, as well as dances by beautiful female impersonators in kimono, will have a new home at a former movie theater in Osaka's Kita entertainment district.

The theater is being refurbished by Teruhisa Yamazaki, 65, who operates Ikeda Gofukuza, a similar theater in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture. His latest venue will open in May and be christened Umeda Gofukuza.

The theater will seat 245 people in an atmosphere reminiscent of the Edo period (1603-1867) with paper lanterns and banners as part of the decor. Hoping to attract female office workers at the end of their workday, performances will begin at 6 p.m. and cost only 2,000 yen--about the same as a movie. "I want to create a theme park of stage performances in an urban area," Yamazaki said.

The origin of taishu engeki is said to be associated with kabuki and dates back to the Edo period. It is usually performed in smaller venues, allowing the audience a more intimate bond with the performers. After shows, cast members meet with the audience, who treat them like pop idols.

Taishu engeki is also known as "tabi shibai," or stage performances by traveling troupes. These troupes were formed during the Meiji era (1868-1912) by local people who performed "village kabuki" in farming villages. Others were established by performers who were less-than-successful in large theater groups. Both performed across the country.

They used elements such as traditional music and choreographed swordplay to distinguish themselves from other troupes.

Their popularity waned as TV became widespread. However, it was revived by Tomio Umezawa, 62, and others in the 1980s. Umezawa, who was acclaimed for performing women's roles, was known for his beauty and elegance and nicknamed "Tamasaburo of downtown" after the popular kabuki actor Bando Tamasaburo.

Currently, about 150 troupes tour at 40 theaters and other places across Japan, with runs of about one month at each. About 90 percent of the audience are women. Recently, 21-year-old Taichi Saotome and other young actors have become popular among high school girls.

Engeki Graph, a magazine covering the genre, began publication in 2000. According to the publisher, Masayuki Kanno, circulation was initially about 2,000, but is now about 13,000.

"After shows, performers are willing to shake hands with the audience and pose for photos," Kanno said. "They are similar to the AKB48 pop group as idols you can meet personally, but with a much longer history."

Osaka Prefecture is home to 11 theaters for taishu engeki. A new theater, one of the largest in the country, opened in front of Kyobashi Station last autumn. Another one is scheduled to open in the Juso district in April.

According to Yamane Engeisha, an Osaka-based company that coordinates troupes and theaters, audiences numbers have been on the rise in recent years and hit about 300,000 in the prefecture last year.

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15 mars 2013 5 15 /03 /mars /2013 02:02

Merci http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/features/arts/T130306004644.htm

Beyond candy and laughs: 'Osaka no obachan'

OSAKA--Stereotypes are powerful, and generalizations can sometimes become reality when they are repeatedly upheld in the media. When it comes to "Osaka no obachan," or middle-aged women in Osaka, their typical image is that of females wearing leopard-print outfits, speaking loudly and demonstrating a vigorous character among other traits, an image that resonates with many people in Japan.

Recently, however, one particular essay in a PR magazine of the National Museum of Ethnology caught the public eye. It was titled "A fiction called 'Osaka no obachan.'"

The essay was written by Osamu Matsumoto, a producer of a popular Osaka call-in TV program called Tantei! Knight Scoop. In his essay, Matsumoto insists such stereotypes about Osaka obachan are not true to reality.

"In movies [featuring Osaka] such as Hankyu Densha and Princess Toyotomi, I saw scenes in which middle-aged women were talking loudly, fighting over a seat on the train and chatting vociferously in an elevator. Those scenes shocked me, as I felt the depictions [of these Osaka women] went too far," Matsumoto said.

"When I interview Osaka obachan on the street [for my TV program], all of them are kind and cheerful. I've never met anyone outrageous or rude," he added.

Nevertheless, Osaka women seem to have less of an awareness of personal space than women in other regions. For example, once I was browsing at a vegetable shop in the region. Suddenly, I was caught off guard by the comments of a woman surprisingly close to me, who said, "I'd buy this if I were you."

Matsumoto said: "In order to live up to the expectations people have of them, Osaka obachan try hard to make people laugh, even sometimes at their own expense. We [as TV producers] have taken advantage of their hospitable nature, which has resulted in the formation of their distinct reputation.

"I really want to say to [those who believe the stereotypes]: 'Come on! It's just a joke, did you really believe that!?' I don't know what to say..." he added.

===

A tough, cheerful breed

Kazuyoshi Maegaki, a specially appointed professor at Soai University who lives in Higashi-Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, published a book on the subject called Doya! Osaka no Obachan-gaku (Here you go! A study of Osaka obachan).

"Osaka is a commercial city. Husbands and wives work together, laughing off their suffering and pain. The image of an energetic wife trying to optimistically make the best of her situation in hopes for a better tomorrow has taken root, especially in downtown Osaka areas," Maegaki said.

This image is upheld by the protagonists in Osaka-born Sakunosuke Oda's novel Meoto Zenzai, which tells the story of a couple in the city. The story was later made into a film, which was seen as portraying a typical married couple in Osaka, with a "dependable wife who supports her helpless husband," he said.

The positive view of Osaka women's image paints them as engaging, tough and able to earn a living on their own. However, over the years these traits have become inextricably linked to negative attributes in some people's minds: Instead of engaging they are viewed as audacious; their practicality is deemed stinginess; and their tough demeanor is interpreted as being forceful.

===

Commercial icons

The Osaka women's distinctive character has been recognized as a powerful tool in commercials.

In 1989, the Osaka prefectural government released a TV commercial to curb citizens' inconsiderate parking behavior, which featured middle-aged Osaka women. In the commercial, the obachan loudly asked the police, "[Why are you picking on me!?] Everybody else is doing it too, aren't they!?"

The Shizuoka prefectural government hired middle-aged Osaka actresses for its commercial to warn consumers about bank transfer scams.

In the commercial, which was aired from 2004 to 2005, the obachan shouted with an Osaka accent, "Watch out for fraud!" But the commercial incited a complaint from the Osaka prefectural government, which said the way the obachan were portrayed could project a negative image of Osaka.

In spite of this, Osaka obachan are still seen as effective commercial icons.

Last autumn, Tokiwa Pharmaceutical Co. recruited Osaka obachan to advertise its "Nanten Nodoame" lozenges. Four middle-aged women in leopard-print clothing appear with a member of popular idol group NMB48 and shout the name of the product in an Osaka accent.

It is said that Osaka obachan always carry sweets in their purses, waiting for the chance to give them to strangers they converse with.

"What's more Osaka obachan than candy?" said Tokiwa's spokesperson. "Their character is overwhelming, but also lovable."

Maegaki says the stereotypes many people hold about Osaka obachan seem to come from experiencing one of the traits in individual Osaka women, which they then merge into an overall image of the group. Not every woman from Osaka matches the stereotype.

"[Because] they are service-minded, they started feeling like they had to have candy in their pockets and follow the stereotypes believed by the public [to meet people's expectations]," Maegaki said.

Still, some classic Osaka obachan traits ring true. Prof. Shoichi Inoue of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies said that in fact, some Osaka obachan are bold enough to ask for a discount at luxurious boutiques in Paris or tell a taxi driver to take them to the Eiffel Tower using only body language.

"A lot of street interviews take place in Osaka, with shopping districts and other common spaces becoming a stage. As a result, women who live there are apparently acting the part of 'obachan' on a daily basis," Inoue said.

===

Salient characteristics of "Osaka obachan" (according to Prof. Kazuyoshi Maegaki)

-- Friendly enough to chat casually with strangers.

-- Look forward to giving "ame-chan," or candies in their purses, to those whom they meet.

-- Haggle for discounts everywhere before buying things.

-- Buy things at a discount and boast about it.

-- Like flashy fashion.

-- Install umbrella holders on their bicycles.

-- Like to make people laugh.

-- Actively respond to street interviews.

(Mar. 15, 2013)
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12 mars 2013 2 12 /03 /mars /2013 02:39

 

Merci http://ajw.asahi.com/article/cool_japan/fun_spots/AJ201303110070

 

The colorful "Itoguruma no Genso" (Revery of the spinning wheel) watches over Osaka's business district. A man who works in an office building across the street says his guests always ask him about it. He says he always thought it was a relic left over from the heyday of Japan's asset-inflated economy. (Nanako Ito)

Gaudi-inspired piece on the rooftop in Osaka

By KAN KASHIWAZAKI/ Staff Writer

OSAKA--It was an e-mail inquiry from a reader that alerted us to an intriguing piece of art sitting quietly atop a building in Honmachi, the bustling business district here in Osaka.

Called the "Honmachi Building," the modest nine-story structure stands at the corner of Sakai-suji and Honmachi-dori streets amid a sea of skyscrapers. If you peer upwards from the foot of the building, there is no inkling of any rooftop art. You need to move away and, from a distance, train your eyes on the roof, and then you will see it.

It's quite a monument. Stars seem to be dancing around a huge ring, and the lines are crude and simple, as if they were created by the clumsy hands of a giant. The colorful work certainly stands out, loud and unique, against the stark backdrop of the concrete cityscape.

The building caretaker was uncertain as to the pedigree of the artwork on the building's roof. "If I'm not wrong, I think someone told me that it was the work of some great artist," he said. "But the building has changed hands, so I am not so sure about the history."

None of the men in business suits walking around the neighborhood could help, either.

The building was built in 1961 by Toyobo Co., a major Osaka-based textile company with a long history, before it was eventually sold to a real estate company in 2007

The next stop, then, was a visit to the Toyobo head office in Dojima, Osaka.

"We have no one left who actually knows about the artwork, but we found some old records," an official explained. An in-house magazine dated June 10, 1961, carried a report on the piece. There was a photograph of the work with the caption, "By Kenji Imai, professor of Waseda University." Furthermore, there was a note, "The design was inspired by (Toyobo) textile." The trail was old, but not cold.

Kenji Imai (1895-1987) was a notable Japanese architect who designed such well-known buildings as the Tokagakudo Concert Hall in the gardens of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo (1966), and the Twenty-six Martyrs Museum in Nagasaki (1962). Imai was greatly impressed by the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, and Imai is credited with introducing Gaudi's work here in Japan.

The mystery piece by Imai was titled "Itoguruma no Genso" (Reverie of the spinning wheel). The tableau stands 10 meters high, featuring a spinning wheel and a bolt of cloth, unfurled, surrounded by the moon and stars.

Kazumitsu Sakai knows a lot about Osaka's modern architecture. He is curator at the Osaka Museum of History, in Chuo Ward.

"The bold form and the technique employed, creating the image by assembling smashed up tile pieces, clearly show influences from Gaudi," Sakai said. "There are a lot of famous pieces by Imai that remain in Tokyo and the metropolitan area, and Kyushu. I am pretty sure that the piece in Osaka is the only Imai representation in the Kansai region."

Back in 1961, when the Honmachi Building went up, the area was the undisputed textile center, known as "Senba." In its heyday, according to statistics compiled by the former Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Osaka textile wholesalers were handling more than 50 percent of the nation's total annual sales revenue.

"Japan was going through postwar recovery," Sakai mused. "Buildings were cropping up everywhere in central Osaka. Placing a monument with a warm handmade touch on the rooftop was a sign that the company was aiming for an ideal city--not all cold and inorganic."

The huge spinning wheel is a monument that tells the story of Senba--a sort of quilt of memories that triggers pictures of the rise of the textile hub and Osaka's road to recovery.

"Maybe it's not the most famous monument, but it definitely deserves to be called a cultural heritage of the Kansai area," Sakai said. "I hope more people will stop by, take a moment to look up, and take it in."

Kensuke Imai, 82, Kenji Imai's oldest son, shared some memories of his architect father.

"My father was always drawing sketches as he sat in the living room, dreaming and making plans. We recovered sketches and plaster models of the 'Itoguruma no Genso' that were kept in his home and his studio. As an architect, he was careful about respecting the environment of the people who actually used the building. I think he wanted to create a relaxing space on the rooftop for people who worked in the busy commercial center. I am thrilled to hear that people are still interested in (his work)."

By KAN KASHIWAZAKI/ Staff Writer
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5 mars 2013 2 05 /03 /mars /2013 01:55

 

Dommage que la musique n’ait rien à voir avec les danses.

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