Whenever I go somewhere in Japan, even for the most mundane reason, I always take my camera and document my trip. This section contains videos I shot during my trips in Japan. In most of these, the background music was composed and performed by myself.
If I ask you to visualize Japan in your head, a multitude of pictures should immediately invade your visual field; temples, geisha, sushi, samurai, manga characters, etc... But if I ask you to think of Tokyo, it is more likely that this time, images of a sprawling life in a futuristic cityscape will populate your mind. This city, and other major Asian cities in general, have strongly infused popular culture, especially cyberpunk and science fiction, probably because of their exuberance and their bustling activity. I propose to share with you some pictures and videos of these urban landscapes taken at night and give a little insight on their meaning for me.
I had been contacted a while ago by a Taiwanese team of journalists who desired to shoot a documentary on Japan's road to recovery since the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region on March 11, 2011. They were planing to broadcast it to celebrate the first year since the disaster. During their research, they had come across the article I had written while I was in Osaka a few days after the earthquake hit, at a time many of us were waiting to see how the situation would turn out, and what we should do in the foreseeable future.
This short series of humoristic instructional videos about Japanese customs was written and directed in 2001 by Namikibashi, a comedy duo composed of Kentaro Kobayashi and Junji Kojima, and produced by the Japanese Culture Lab. The concept is to explain in each sort film one particular aspect of the Japanese culture that can be obscure to foreigners but this is done in a humoristic, often exaggerated way.
Back in 2004, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) aired a three-parts documentary on the history of Japan's opening to the outside world and subsequent closing under the Tokugawa rule until the re-opening of the country under the pressure of Commodore Matthew Perry and his Black Ships. The series, called Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire is narrated by the main actor of the series Shogun, Richard Chamberlain. It is a fantastic attempt at bringing to life this ancient story and it is very entertaining in addition to be quite informative.
Besides being the fifth most powerful earthquake in the world overall since modern record-keeping began in 1900 with its magnitude of 9.0, the undersea mega-thrust earthquake that hit the Pacific coast of Tohoku in Japan on Friday 11th March 2011 is by far the most well documented in history. The data is still coming in but the body of evidence that is already available has allowed the making of very interesting documentaries. I would like to present two of these that were made respectively by the BBC and Channel 4. I use them regularly in my teaching of earth dynamic and thought they might be of interest to you.
Tokyo is really the place where everything happens. The sheer size of the city and its effervescence make it a very fertile ground for encounters and experiences. I had not been living in the Japanese capital for more than a month when I got offered the chance to write the music for a forthcoming film directed by a promising independent film-maker from Australia, Rionne McAvoy. He had just finished shooting his film and was looking for someone to write the soundtrack. On my side, I had been off music for a while and I was craving for some new projects to come my way.