井の中の蛙

2/21/2005

New Kamikaze Play

Filed under: — Nick Kapur @ 9:28 pm

This month a play about kamikaze pilots has been running at the El Portal Forum Theatre in Los Angeles, and has received outstanding reviews. Titled “Ten Thousand Years,” (presumably after 万歳), the play is by veteran Hollywood screenwriter John Ridley and looks at the everyday lives of members of the “Thunder Gods” squadron of ohka flying bomb pilots. They play’s objective is to portray the pilots as human beings with fears and doubts about their impending mission, rather than the stoic, brainwashed automatons so often found in Hollywood depictions.

Although I haven’t seen the play myself, my family watched it today, and they loved it. From what they say, it seems to be fairly historically accurate (at least in their judgment). LA Times Reviewer David Nichols also gave a rave review, declaring, “‘Ten Thousand Years’ could make a remarkable film someday, once its pertinent appeal has flown across the theatrical stratosphere.” (LAT, 2/11/05).

Hopefully this intriguing play will make its way to other parts of the country soon!

The play’s LA-area website is currently at www.10k.theatremania.com.

Restoration or Renovation?

Filed under: — Nick Kapur @ 12:17 am

I’ve always found it interesting how certain events in Japanese history have become indelibly associated with a canonical English translation that often has little to do with the actual Japanese name. 島原の乱, for example, is almost always translated as “Shimabara Rebellion,” even though “乱” is translated in other contexts into all sorts of other words, including “war,” “chaos,” “uprising,” “revolt,” “riot,” and “disorder.” A more glaring example is 西南戦争, which is always translated as “Satsuma Rebellion” instead of something more literal, such as “War of the Southwest.”

Another curious term is the “restoration” in “Meiji Restoration” and “Kenmu Restoration.” I was surprised to find out recently that these two events, strongly linked in English historiography by the use of the same English word to describe them, are labeled in Japanese with two different terms, neither of which means “restoration.” In the case of the Meiji event, the term is of course, 明治維新 (Meiji Ishin), while Go-Daigo’s coup is usually known as 建武新政 (Kenmu Shinsei). What is so odd about calling these events “restorations” is that they both make use of the character 新, which implies something entirely new, rather than a “restoring” of something old from the past. Thus, not only does the term “restoration” in English historiography imply a link between these two events that may not be so clear to the Japanese, but it also is simply not a very accurate translation of the Japanese terms in question. Perhaps a new English word should be chosen, such as “renovation” or “renewal” or somesuch.

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