Spring Hall Convert

5 04 2009

Street outside Kyodai and Yoshida Jinja, Kyoto, 4/1/2009

After my last post discussing the virtues of Kyoto in Spring, the city has had several weeks of alternately cold and rainy weather, with the occasional sunny, warm day only a brief respite. With April, however, it seems that Spring is finally settling in. The temperature is rising, the sun is shining late into the day, and the sakura are practically exploding off their branches, turning even mundane streets into picturesque locales. Above is the street I take everyday to get to my apartment.

The beginning of April also marks the start of the new school year in Japan, and with it comes club recruitment. Clubs are highly important in Japanese schools, often providing the main source of socialization during a student’s school years, and are especially central in Japanese colleges, where the work load is much smaller compared to previous levels of education. It’s not unusual to find students who devote much more of their time and effort to their club than to their scholastic pursuits, and consequently club recruitment is a large and important process. The variety of clubs offered is staggering, with options stretching from cheerleading to kendo to tennis to anime to basketball. When all are out making their pitch, you get some interesting mixes…

Club Recruitment 1, Kyoto, 4/1/2009

Cheerleading and cosplay, together at last.

Cheerleading and cosplay, together at last.

Club Recruitment 3, Kyoto, 4/1/2009

I recently went on a field trip to Eiga Mura, or Movie Village, with my translation class. Eiga Mura is a theme park devoted to Japanese movies, specifically period pieces chronicling the adventures of various samurai, geisha, and ninjas; essentially a Japanese Universal Studios. It’s a bit of a tourist trap, but it was pretty entertaining when I didn’t have to pay for it. We saw a new translation machine that some engineers are working on in conjunction with Eiga Mura. When you speak into the machine it checks a database based on information taken from the internet and returns an appropriate response. Or should. While I was impressed with it’s ability to handle set phrases and simple sentences, the machine has some big problems with consonants and longer phrases and words. When I tried saying “extraordinary” it translated it as an “l” with a period after it. Not quite. It also has no ability to handle slang, and accents are a challenge. For it’s purported objective (an aid for tourists) it’s probably sufficient, but anyone who wants to have an actual conversation is going to have to stick with learning the language for now.

I didn’t take too many pictures as our time was limited, but I had a pretty good time, and saw a rather entertaining show based on a  spell-casting warrior and his incompetent assistant versus and evil lord and his wife. It was as expected over-the-top and goofy, but done with such heart it’s impossible not to enjoy it. The sentai exhibit (sentai is basically a genre for masked fighters for justice) was a powerful blast of nostalgia for anyone who ever watched Power Rangers.

A few villains from the various series.

A few villains from the various series.

Every red ranger...

Every red ranger...

...ever. There was a couple dozen more after this too.

...ever. There was a couple dozen more after this too.

The best thing about these sorts of shows and the many others they inspired, from mecha shows to magical girl anime are the many hilarious lines they have about courage, including “The Earth doesn’t need your mechanization! What it needs is OUR BURNING COURAGE!”, “Have you forgotten, Mamoru? Victory goes to…THOSE WITH COURAGE!”, “If I’m the devil, then I’ll use hell’s ways to make you listen”, “I’ll make the impossible possible”, and “You don’t need probability when you’ve got guts!” Awesome.

Music I’m Listening to Now: “Herring Bone”, Department of Eagles

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3 responses

7 04 2009
Mom

Power Rangers AWESOME. I remember those mornings spent looking at the Power Rangers!!! Mom

Love the Movie Village. Universal Studios is truly – Universal!

7 04 2009
david

so did you end up joining any clubs?

8 04 2009
obustamante

No, I found God instead and started going to a Japanese church. Or at least started going to their cheap dinner.

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