Nina and I went to watch Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (崖の上のポニョ）yesterday. The film was closer to Totoro than any of Miyazaki’s other films in its simplicity. The story line is reminiscent of The Little Mermaid with a bit of Finding Nemo but Miyazaki’s incredible imagination creates images and scenes that linger long after leaving the theater. I’ll want to see it again..it has the same charm as Totoro and I’m sure I will pick up more of the background now that I know the story. I have no idea when it is scheduled to be released in the States, but go see it.
But what was almost as interesting as the movie was the whole movie theater experience. I hadn’t been to a theater here in over 20 years. The closest theater is in Oita about a 40 minute (and 950 yen toll) drive on the new highway. When you purchase a ticket, you are given assigned seats. We bought popcorn and soda and were given a nice plastic tray to carry them in. Upon leaving the movie, two guys were collecting the trays and garbage from each patron. Kids were given booster seats…. but what was most surprising were the courtesy announcements that played before the movie.. They were in English with simple graphics. First “No smoking” then “No shooting”…I started to laugh outloud and then saw the illustration of a camera…we were also reminded “No cell phones” “No speaking” and “No kicking”. After the previews there was another short announcement reminding us that is against the law to film the film… I remembered a DVD that someone showed us in China that was obviously filmed in a theater with the backs of peoples’ heads clearly visible.
I told Nina that I am tired of going to the grocery store and all the food is Japanese. I love Japanese food but wish there were an equivalent of Uwajimaya for the westerners here…I can drive 2 1/2 hours to Costco, but I would much rather go to Trader Joe’s. But I have been cooking a lot with NIna and we found a great blog for Japanese recipes, Just Hungry they also have a blog on Bentos. Tonight we made Cabbage Rolls. We used shiitake instead of portabella mushrooms, regular cabbage instead of savoy, a mix of ground pork and beef, and skipped the thyme and made a tomato sauce to cover them with at the end. YUM. Next week we want to try using tofu and seasoned rice instead of meat.
Next weekend I am heading up to Gifu to connect with a group of kids and three teachers from Catlin. It’ll be good to have a hit from Oregon.