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Monthly archives "October"

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yuurei

yuurei

どこも、幽霊がいます!
でも、この幽霊が生きる
人たちは、幽霊がなれば
人たちは、生きながら、
人たちは、幽霊がなる!

幽霊たちが生きる
だれかを思い出す
彼らが、見ますか
彼らが、後悔する
彼らが、付きます

元気ですか?知りません

あなたのために望みます
もあなたはすべています
私はこうかいしています
でも自分は愛しています
これは分かりましたか?
日本語からうれしいです

Yasujirō Ozu’s Tokyo Story

tokyo-story

Tokyo Story is a film about family. It is interspersed with establishing shots which capture the setting of the film. They are beautiful, serene, calming slices of seemingly ubiquitous scenery that have captured 1950s Japan. The sets are equally beautiful, with everything from shoji screens, tatami mats and sake bottles giving the audience a glimpse into a traditional past. Yet, there is a timelessness about the film. Perhaps it’s because Japanese culture honours tradition in everything from bento to kimonos. This creates a visual aesthetic that stands the test of time. It also helps that the characters are well written archetypes that are as relatable as those of the immortal Shakespeare and that Ozu had such a reverence for the past.

tokyo-story-kyoko

Kyōko Kagawa who played Kyōko in the film summarized my perspective on the condition of the modern nuclear family: for the children to grow up the family must separate and become a less cohesive unit, and in doing so life becomes disappointing.

tokyo-story-shige

Haruko Sugimura who played Shige was the antithesis to Kagawa’s character. Shige seemed to think her husband was being wasteful spending money on cakes for her parent’s visit when simple crackers would do. Money comes between us as we age. We want to have enough for ourselves— for our family, and taking care of our aging parents can take money away from that goal. From this perspective Shige’s parsimonious tendencies can be understood. When she does spend money on her parents it’s to send them away to a nice spa/resort, but ultimately we find out this is done so she can host other beauticians at her house. She even says it will be cheaper to send them away than take care of them. Something tells me she has come to terms with her parents’ mortality.

I fear that Sugimura’s character comes to encompass the way many people in the West feel about their elderly parents. It’s far easier to spend money to put them in a home (for the elderly) than it is to house them with your family and take care of them yourself. I understand that things can get messy. People can start to lose control of their bodily functions and even lose their memory, but I feel that Kyōko would always be there. The events in the movie and the behaviour of her siblings seem to cement her perspective.

tokyo-story-noriko

Setsuko Hara who plays Noriko talks to Kyōko about the human condition, and it’s in these brief moments that the movie really comes together in my opinion. Noriko knows how the modern world works and accepts that world the way it is. However despite understanding the status quo she is conflicted internally stating that in spite of herself she may become like Shige as she ages. There is a wonder and romantic aura around Noriko that I as the audience didn’t want to see tarnished. I felt like she was idealized by Ozu. Noriko reminds me a great deal of my grandmother, who lives with us.

tokyo-story-parents

Chishū Ryū who plays the grandfather Shukishi admits that he likes his own children more than his grandkids. I think this was Ozu’s way of telling us something about ourselves. It’s much easier to love those who are close to you physically, those you can see daily and share experiences with. Now I’m not saying it’s impossible to love someone you don’t see very often, I think Ozu was telling us that is how family bonds inherently work. I am not saying we can’t be empathetic and loving people, but I think this points to physical closeness as being a cornerstone of family bonding. Don’t you agree, even though it is a bit of an ugly thing to admit?

I turned 32 this year (2016) and I still live at home with my parents, two younger brothers and grandmother. Ozu’s Tokyo Story made me thankful that our family is still together, but I think a lot of Asian families tend to have stronger bonds, with less animosity and bitterness between members and the elderly living with their children. Am I mistaken? I hate to generalize and create stereotypes, but in our family the elderly are respected and they live with their children until they leave this world. My parents used to ask “who will take care of us?” and I always felt like we’d be together forever, but as I age I’m finding that keeping the family together is harder than I used to think it was.

late-spring

 

On the second disc in the Criterion Collection version of Tokyo Story there was a scene from Ozu’s Late Spring, in which a father explains to his daughter the truth about growing up. Sometimes, I find, there is a conflict that cleaves the relationship between parent and child asunder. Usually emotions run high and instead of resolving the conflict the child chooses to leave— fly the coop, leave the nest. And I am a firm believer that if this conflict can be resolved, there can be a strong bond formed between the two (or three) forevermore. The same can be said for marriages, but I know conflicts come in many shapes and forms, and something like cheating can be irreconcilable. Can you think of a relationship that ended over something retrospectively inane?

tokyo-story-ozu

Life is fragile, we never know when health problems will arise and we walk around thinking we’re invincible until one does. I wish everyone could have the same relationship I have with my parents, but I know this isn’t the case. If you are still bitter over something, think of what might happen if you leave things unfinished. Regret can follow you around for the rest of your life. These are the lessons of Tokyo Story.

Schism

My mind is blown open like the expanding universe
This phantasmagoria is mine alone to traverse

I wonder who it is that appears to haunt me
But it’s sometimes impossible to see

Faces morph the closer I try to look
They’re the faces you see when you read a book

I’m filled with regret reminded of my mistakes
Ephemeral thoughts at my heart they do rake

I know I’m only one of billions of stars
In this galaxy we call the race that is ours

But I believe it’s possible to commune with others
In opposition to the superficial difference of colours

In the realm of consciousness exists the mechanism
That serves to make connections deep within a schism

In the domain of thought and dream
Intangible and unquantifiable crossing streams

And it’s within them that I consider the possibilities
The currently unknown and all our limits and abilities

The only conclusion I’ve drawn is that I believe.