This week’s Pirates of the Caribbean mania spans the globe, as the film also opens in Asia on the 25th. As is often the case with big Hollywood films, much of the cast headed to Tokyo to do an appearance promoting it. There was of course a translator on hand, but all of them (except Johnny Depp and Chow Yun-Fat) took a shot at speaking some Japanese for the crowd of 5800, eliciting plenty of cheers.
I’m quite pleased that they were willing to take a shot at the native language. If you’re interested in seeing Orlando Bloom try to speak Japanese or what Bill Nighy’s heavily British-accented Japanese sounds like, you may find it interesting or amusing.
If you’re wondering what they’re saying, here’s our translation:
Bill Nighy (Davy Jones) [Strong British accent]: I am excited about being at the Budoukan where Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones had concerts. I’m happy about coming to Tokyo for the first time.
Jerry Bruckheimer (Producer) [Passable accent]: Good evening everybody. Have a good time. Thank you.
Chow Yun-Fat (Captain Sao Feng) [He's speaking Chinese; rough translation based on the Japanese subtitles]: I’m excited to be able to act with wonderful actors in this big film.
Orlando Bloom (Will Turner) [Short words, but good accent]: Good evening Tokyo! How are you? Thank you! I love you all! I love you all!
Gore Verbinski (Director) [Lots of feeling, hard to understand]: Japan is the best! Tokyo #*%$#! [Unintelligible; even the Japanese subtitler couldn't figure it out.] Thank you very much!
Geoffrey Rush (Captain Barbossa) [So-so accent, but managed to sound a lot like a pirate]: Good evening everyone. I’m feeling on top of the world because I was able to come to Tokyo. Extend the same warm welcome to Jack the monkey, too. You’re welcome. [He said this wrong, but understandable.] Gachon! [This is a nonsense exclamation that a Japanese comedian uses in his act.]
In one of those oddities of “nature never gives up,” FNN is reporting (via Yahoo! News – J) on an interesting traffic mirror in Ooiso-machi, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Convex traffic mirrors on orange poles are a common sight across Japan, thanks in part to the country’s cramped roads and countless blind corners. At first glance, this particular one seems no different from any other, but if you look closely it appears to have sprouted a tuft of bamboo leaves on top—rather like the mirror is wearing a wig.
In fact, a tenacious bamboo sprout forced its way through the concrete beneath the mirror, and grew right on up through the 7 cm (3 inch) hollow center of the 2.5 m (8 ft) tall pole. Because it’s so funny-looking, this leafy mirror has gotten quite a few fans in the neighborhood.
Ooiso-machi has gone on record as saying that they’re going to leave it be, so long as it doesn’t create a hazard by blocking the mirror.
[Cultural note for those from the US who may be unfamiliar with traffic mirrors: While they're usually only seen in parking garages in the US, In Japan (among many other countries), traffic mirrors are very common on any intersection or curve where it isn't easy to see oncoming traffic. Though essentially a necessity in Japan due to the extremely tight curves in many places, I would guess that a lot of intersections in the US could be made safer, or at least less of a hassle, if they were used more frequently. And before you assume they'd just get broken by untoward youths, they're made of polished steel, not glass.]
Among the top stories this week in Japan is the tragedy of a disturbed high school boy who decapitated his mother and then turned himself in to police.
The story is still unfolding, and due to Japan’s laws protecting the identity of criminal suspects under the age of twenty there are no names or images of killer or victim, but the media coverage has picked apart every detail available so far. The Asashi Shimbun’s initial report (E), and a follow-up report (E) are two English-language examples describing the gruesome crime.
According to Asahi’s account, the unnamed 17-year-old boy may have been suffering from psychological problems, although the family wasn’t known to have any significant problems. The boy and his younger brother were living together in an apartment some distance from their parents so they could attend a prestigious high school.
Early Tuesday morning, while his mother was visiting, something apparently drove the boy to cut her throat as she slept. Media reports say that he then sawed off her right arm, painted it white, and “planted” it in a flower pot. Later, he put her head in his school bag, spent a couple of hours in an Internet cafe, and finally went to the police station to turn himself in for the crime. His brother, sleeping in another room, apparently was unaware that anything was wrong.
The senseless crime—there was no apparent motive, and the boy is being quoted as saying that it didn’t matter who he killed—is the latest in a string of shocking murders that are perceived to be on the rise in a nation where violent crime rates are extraordinarily low. This Mainichi report (E) is one example of the public perception and associated statistics.
The actual number of crimes of this sort are by almost any account quite low in Japan, which makes the public scrutiny of the incidents all the more intense, and contributes to the perception that the sense of harmony and order that has ruled Japanese society for decades is eroding.