Barlingen International Folkdance Festival (1)

I can’t believe this is 1month ago already…It’s about my trip to Germany. Our Shishimai website also updated more detailed stories and pictures, check it out!

As I hadn’t performed Shishimai since I came to London, I was so looking forward to joining them in Germany this time! I was thinking of joining them in Frankfurt as the members flied to there, but decided to go to Stuttgart and meet them in Balingen as the flight was not early in the morning…well, I mean, more efficient.

It was the first time for me to go to Germany! It was only a few hours from Heathrow to Stuttgart. I love living in Europe 🙂 I spent a few hours in Stuttgart before taking a train to Balingen, walked around the park near to the station, and had a lunch at a cafe. The chicken and fruits salad (as a waiter recommended) was really testy…a bit salty taste, but made me almost order beer.



Taking a train to Balingen, I was quite impressed by train systems in Germany (so different from England…). Accurate, planned schedule on planned platform, although I can’t understand German at all, it was more smooth than traveling in England. The sky was clean, the train running along rivers and woods was so comfortable.


I walked from Balingen station to the hotel as it looked quite close. Oh, I found a poster of the festival!


Waiting at the hotel….finally I reunited with the Japan team! It’s been for a while since I last met them…well, as I hadn’t joined them for a few years and I hadn’t met the members from the Shrine before, most of them were someone I met at the first time actually…After checking in, we went to a clubhouse where we had a wonderful dinner! Oh wow German foods are so yummy…beer was good too…they played some music for us, and everyone danced together, it was fascinating first day already.




13 Assassins

I want to write about Germany too, but this one is first maybe.

The film “13 assassins” was released in the U.K., I finally went to see it. To be honest, I was not very keen on Miike Takashi’s films…although I haven’t watched many of them, I don’t like too much violence, and had heard that people usually leave cinema in the middle of stories. But the trailer looked awesome, I really wanted to watch it.

Well, I think I should say it was brilliant. It’s a story about 13 assassins who attempt to assassinate an evil lord who repeats brutal behaviour to people. The first 30mins explains how evil the lord is, and the scenes to describe it are actually, tough to look at. Even when it doesn’t show painful images directly, still its sound, actors face, make you feel “awwww….” If you really don’t like it, probably you shouldn’t watch this film…However, I guess all these scenes make audience think “Right, you can kill this evil guy”, when the assassins trapped the lord, I was feeling like “Yes, kill them all!!!”.

One of the interesting points about this movie was the lord “Naritsugu”, played by a member of Japanese boys band (!) SMAP. As I read some reviews saying he was fascinating, I was really looking forward to him. Well, I thought his acting was not THAT good compared to the other better skilled actors, but still was quite impressed how he did it. Believe me, this is not a type of role that SMAP usually does and brutally killing people with his handsome face was shocking, when he was enjoying people’s death his eyes looked totally insane… Oh no Goro-chan…you usually look so gentle but…awwww…ok yes, he was brilliant.

All of the 13 assassins were so cool, and my favourite was Yamada Takayuki! Actually he was the reason why I wanted to watch this film. I always love his eyes shining deeply inside of them…and this time he did samurai! I didin’t know he could do such a “masculine” type of role….he was too cool…(sigh) even compared to the other “good-looking” actors, his presence was really strong. And Ihara Tsuyoshi! I’ve been a fan of him since I watched the theatre “Blood gets in your eyes”, his sword action is always so dynamic. You can see a great highlight of his action in the last half of this film, don’t miss it! … well it’s impossible to miss such a cool combat scene… Yakusho Koji, who played the leader of the 13, and Matsukata Hiroki were quietly refined, and Ichimura Masaki who acted as a samurai who fought to protect the lord, knowing he was evil, was also quite powerful. It looked so thrilling when he faced against Yakusho Koji… I think the director, Miike is so good at creating “tension”.

In general, I really liked rather classical way of shooting/direction, like, Japanese rooms which are quietly lighted with candles looked beautiful. On the other hand, the scenes which used CG looked a bit too much, it looked so unrealistic compared to other realistic scenes… Anyway, for someone like me who likes Samurai films really enjoyed it. Sword fighting was cool, the way samurai behaved looked cool as well. It was worth being patient with the violent scenes…The sound is so great too, so I recommend to watch it in cinema. By the way, MIike’s next samurai film, the main cast is Ebizo! And Eita! And the music is Sakamoto Ryuichi! Oh wow…I can’t miss it… but I heard some people left the theatre at Cannes…oh dear…but look at this clip…how can I miss it???