This is off the topic of moving to Japan but it is something I've been thinking about. As I mentioned, I am in media withdrawal because my usually sites won't work here. However, IMDB will let me watch previews. I listened to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire on the drive from MT to NY and really enjoyed them. I was hesitant because it seemed like everybody and their brother was reading them and how good could they really be if everyone likes them (I'm totally a snob). The da Vinci Code was hugely popular and pretty mediocre. But I needed three plus days of audio to listen to and they were on sale so I decided to give them a try. They were fantastic. There has been a lot written about whether Lisbeth Salander is a feminist elsewhere so I won't get into, except to say that I don't think so simply because I think it requires more self-awareness than she seems capable of. However, to me, Stieg Larsson is definitely a feminist. So, I was really psyched when I saw the first trailer for the American film adaptation up on IMDB. The trailer was fine but the poster really pissed me off. One thing Larsson did was handle rape and violence against women without turning the women into one dimensional victims or creating voyeuristic, fetishistic scenes (Stephen King should have a read). Salander is a really interesting character, not because she's a woman who likes sex and computers (gasp) but because her world view is different than most and her actions are always motivated and logical based on her experiences. I don't think she would allow herself to be used in a sexual manner to sell anything, would sneer at men trying to sexualize her, and would never pose for a photograph naked for any reason other than her own pleasure. What's the poster for the film? The actress is standing in front of Daniel Craig completely naked with his arm around her chest to cover her nipples and the movie title text covering her pubic area. I know – sex sells. But what a way to undo the careful crafting of the novel and reduce Salander to a fetish in one frame. Perhaps they are trying to be edgy but using a woman's naked body to sell anything is the opposite of edgy. If they wanted to make a splash they should have kept Salander in her black leather jacket and jeans and had Daniel Craig standing there naked with her controlling arm around him – I don't think Lisbeth would mind that.
Done with my rant for today. Let's get back to Japan. In AZ I was one of the few white women who would use a parasol but most Asian women I saw would have a parasol, visor, gloves etc. to hide from the sun. The same is true here; I saw one woman with long sleeves, gloves, parasol, and this mask thing that was like a huge turtle neck that went up to her eyes, there were holes in the sides so it wouldn't muffle her hearing. They are serious about skin protection. I doubt it has to do with skin cancer as much as pale skin being seen as an attractive feature. This is just based on the fact that American women go to tanning salons and sun bathe despite knowing it can cause cancer. I hadn't used a parasol in MT much because I was usually wearing a jacket, gloves, hat, and scarf when I was outside. I am getting back into the lifestyle here and bought a super cute blue with cherry blossoms umbrella from the grocery store – no luck at the 100 yen store.
Last night at dinner we were discussing daikon, Japanese radish, and I discovered that calling a woman daikon-like is an insult because it means they look like an English girl. This confused me because I was thinking in terms of color since daikon is white and so are most English girls and if looking like one is insulting why are all these women protecting themselves against the sun? Turns out it is not the color but the shape of the daikon that is insulting. Daikon and English girls are both round. The term being used at the table was English girl but they pretty much meant non-asian women. (I have to pick my battles since there was no majority language at the table last night) They all agreed that not all non-asian girls were fat (when pressed by the only woman, who happened to be white, at the table) but that there are way fewer fat Asian women.
We went for dinner at a little restaurant south of the Rokko Train Station. It seems very common for little restaurants to have just one employee who takes your order, cooks, serves, and does the dishes. The woman working was very friendly and kept asking us questions. Eventually Craig would understand and he'd struggle to answer in Japanese. He just got his RIKEN ID so when she asked if we were working we showed her the badge in the hopes that she would understand where and what he does since we don't actually know what the badge says. We had dumplings with a spicy mustard sauce, split a little okonomiyaki (the pancake thing) and had hot noodles. The noodles had seaweed in it that looked a little like pond scum but it was tasty and we went with it. There was a soccer game on the TV so we also got to watch the Japanese play the Czechs.