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Issue 1 [Feature: Focus on Asia FIFF] 21 Years of International Exchange Through Film; Meet the "New" Asia.

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Feature 20 Years of International Exchange Through Film; Meet the New Asia.Focus on Asia Fukuoka International Film Festival (FIFF) 2010 Interview Interacting with Asian Countries Through Film. Striving to Become Fukuoka's Own Film Festival.As the highlight of Asia Month since 1991, the Focus on Asia Fukuoka International Film Festival (FIFF) has sought to deepen people's understanding of Asia as well as further cultural and international exchange through the discovery and introduction of new Asian movies. 2010 will mark the 20th anniversary of FIFF. Current FIFF director Mr. Yasuhiro Hariki is responsible for selecting which movies are screened and scheduling; he was kind enough to share his experiences and thoughts with us.Director of FIFF  Yasuhiro Hariki Born in Fukuoka, Mr. Hariki was appointed director of FIFF after having worked on the event's Planning Commission. He also teaches drama and film theory at Kyushu Otani Junior College.

Interview 01 Tangible and Intangible Assets ―The Focus on Asia Fukuoka International Film Festival (below: Focus on Asia) must have staying power to have continued for 20 years! What we have done is a fixed observation of Asia with film. Over the years, we have gotten a good understanding of how times are changing in Asia. The question is, how much of this change can we capture on film? Our hope is to present as much of it as we can to visitors. ―One of the unique characteristics of Focus on Asia is its collaboration with Fukuoka City Public Library (FCPL).That's right. What makes this collaboration special is that FCPL has kept collections of the movies shown at every previous Focus on Asia in its film archives. All movies screened at Focus on Asia are archived as Asian cultural assets; no other film festivals operate this way. FCPL has preserved the times in Asia for the past couple of decades, meaning you can do a time slip whenever you'd like! ―What are the biggest advantages of holding a film festival in Fukuoka?To sum it up, it's the closeness and intimacy between the filmmakers and the audience! With other major festivals,the audience can only see the guests on the podium from their seats, just like the movies themselves. But with Focus on Asia, the guests can enjoy the festival alongside the audience, and they can interact with each other in the lobby during intermissions. ―So its informal style makes it more accessible? Right. I often hear our guests say that Fukuokans are friendly. During their visit, they blend in with locals and really enjoy themselves. The city's size is neither too big, nor too small. It's just right! ―It's convenient because it's compact! Exactly, and I think it's because Fukuoka City has all of these characteristics that we are able to continue hosting Focus on Asia. By continuing to pursue exchange through film, we are accumulating both tangible and intangible assets. We present them to the world as our charm, being popularly known at last.

Interview 02 Determination to Screen Good Movies ―It seems like the environment has changed drastically.It's entirely different from when Focus on Asia began 20 years ago. There were many unscreened Asian movies back then, and we had our choice of great movies. There was no other film festivals like it in Japan. ―Now Asian-themed  film festivals are on the rise in a number of places.The fact is that these days, great films are being screened at film festivals held in Japan's major metropolitan cities. Being a regional event, we can't help the fact that we are overlooked, but what we can do is pick and choose the best works from among the remaining films.  ―Still, you must receive a huge number of submissions hoping to be screened.We get all sorts of submissions, from the amateur to the professional. Another difficult thing is that no matter how good a certain movie is, if it strays from what we perceive to be our theme, we can't screen it. In the end, we have to travel around to find the pieces we need. ―How do you choose movies? The selection process starts after Focus on Asia. We first attend the Pusan International Film Festival, check out the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) and Tokyo Filmex, then visit film festivals in Kerala (India), Rotterdam (Holland), and Hong Kong. Normally, we make choices after seeing these festivals. We also go to the Korean Film Council to see all of the Korean movies produced in that year. They have a system to promote their movies abroad. I wish they can set up this kind of system in Japan. ―So Focus on Asia is really on a different level in terms of scale and fame? We're not in the same league as TIFF, and we can't host Focus on Asia in the same way. We've had to develop a long term strategy in order to survive. If we only chose from among second or third rate movies, the festival would lose credibility, so we've had to strive to screen excellent movies. I think we've been doing a pretty good job maintaining a reasonably high level.

Interview 03 What Makes a Good Movie? ―What are the screening criterion for Focus on Asia submissions?That's where the question, What makes a good movie? comes into play. In other words, the films need to be comprehensible to a wide audience, we can't choose movies just because they are cinematically superior. On the other hand, there's no point in screening movies that are overly commercial, either, so selection is always difficult. We've found that there are very few high quality, easy-to-understand movies to choose from.―You must have a method for choosing works from countries or regions not well known for their cinematography. We do try to dig up more obscure movies that our audience would otherwise have very little opportunity to see. Unfortunately, no matter how good this kind of movie is, it still can't draw in much of an audience.For example, we had an excellent movie from Malaysia that turn out to be a flop, while some average Chinese or Korean films have attracted large audiences. As the director of Focus on Asia, I think it's a shame.―So naturally, you need to increase your audience. Of course, but a lot of the time, the movies we chose to bait viewers didn't attract much of an audience at all. We've tried screening new styles of movies in our efforts to appeal to a wider audience, but haven't managed to attract new viewers. ―And there are specific audience segments, aren't there?Yes. For instance, whenever we've screened entertainment movies starring Shahrukh Khan (like Om Shanti Om), a lot of people have come from all over to see them, but hardly any of them stay to watch the other movies. ―They must be really devoted fans!My hope is that even those kinds of fans will say they enjoyed Focus on Asia after having watched other kinds of movies.FIFF's first screening of a Tajik movie.True Noon (2009) was the first full-length feature film made in Tajikistan after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The opportunity to see movies like this is just one of the reasons to look forward to FIFF!

Focus on Asia Fukuoka International Film Festival (FIFF) 2010 2010 Screening  Schedule The twenty-one movies being screened this year actually don't have much in common, but are rather highly-specific stories that take place in the charaters' own immediate and daily lives. I think the one thing the films have in common is how meticulously they are able to focus on and how clearly they portray each of the ultra-specific stories.I think the trend in this year's films is that they all take a swing at capturing something personal and seemingly insignificant, and in doing so take on a straight-forward life of their own. It's probably the same way everywhere, but the larger-than-life stories are so fake!One of the great movies this year is Pazhassi Raja , a story about an Indian royal family member revolting against the British East India Company. It really reminded me of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954).This year marks the very first time the Focus on Asia will screen an Azerbaijani movie, Mashadi Ibad . I believe it's also the very first time an Azerbaijani movie has been introduced to Japan! In addition, Pintu terlarang, a stylish Indonesian psycho-horror, also made the screening list due to its novelty.There is also a buzz around several new movies by the directors we introduced last year, such as the Indonesian film Sang Pemimipi (The Dreamer, a sequel of Laskar Pelangi) and The Dooman River, a story that takes place on the Chinese-North Korean border and was directed by an ethnic Korean-Chinese.In addition, FIFF will screen Whispers and Moans directed by a talented Hong Kong director, Mundane History, an avant garde Thai movie, Samson and Delilah, an Australian movie about a young aboriginal couple, and Woman On Fire Looks For Water, a Malaysian love story. All of them are unique, so I hope visitors will enjoy them and get a sense of the real Asia.Director of Focus on Asia: Fukuoka International Film Festival,  Yasuhiro Hariki Visit the official FIFF website for more information about the screening schedule

Highlighted Interview Film Director – Koji Wakamatsu I'll…stay mad as hell till the day I die.Interview Koji Wakamatsu is a New Wave film director who has aroused controversy with his movies film festivals around the world for half a century. He began his own production company (Wakamatsu Productions) to make a variety of films that address social problems. One of his recent works, United Red Army, was highly acclaimed internationally as a powerful depiction of the lives of youngsters who fought for an idealist society in 60's to 70's. Moreover, for her work in his latest film, Caterpillar (a story about the tragedy and grief of war), Shinobu Terajima won the Silver Bear for Best Actress award at the Berlin International Film Festival (BIFF). Wakamatsu has shot films overseas and was one of the first directors to exchange ideas with Korean and Chinese filmmakers. In this interview, he will share his views about movies, culture, and war with us.Koji Wakamatsu Mr. Wakamatsu was born in Miyagi Prefecture on April 1st, 1936. His first feature, Sweet Trap, received unprecedented attendance despite the fact that it was a low-budget adult film. Meanwhile, the first film produced by Wakamatsu Productions, Secrets Behind the Wall (1965), was screened at BIFF. It caught the attention of the movie industry and allowed Mr. Wakamatsu total artistic freedom to direct and produce over 100 movies, predominately on the themes of eroticism and violence. He also produced In the Realm of the Senses, directed by Nagisa Oshima.

I just try to make films that people think are great. Cinematic Exchange with Asia No matter where you go, there are always directors who are concerned with social problems. When I watched Lee Jang-ho's work, I was very impressed, though I don't think he makes movies any more. In fact, we (Wakamatsu Productions) were the first to screen his movies in Japan. In Korea, although filmmakers get sponsorship from the government, their approach is different.When I saw Zhang Yimou's Red Sorghum, I was absolutely blown away. It was so similar to my style in that it wasn't a big Hollywood production but rather made use of the humanity of the actors and the staff!Also, when I learned that there were people in China who wanted to see Japanese movies, I took over a few of my favourite directors like Kinji Fukasaku, Yoichi Sai, and Shinya Tsukamoto (I even paid their airfare!). I also brought along a copy of Shinya's film Tetsuo (Tetsuo: The Iron Man, 1989), and the young people just loved it! Since we screened it at the Beijing Film Academy, the administrators made us stick some kind of tape over the film so that the students wouldn't see the sex scenes!(Laughs)And they showed us Wu Tianming'sThe King of Masks. Even though they couldn't understand a word of Chinese, Kinji and Yoichi were bawling through the whole movie, so I figured it would be a hit in Japan. I shout out 'I'm gonna buy this' on the spot. (Laughs) Nothing is worse than an award. I don't think Japan is wrong for not having recognized one of their own, but the fact is that in my nearly 50 years as a director, I've never received a Japanese film award. But if you go to Europe (and I'm sorry to say this), basically myself, Takeshi Kitano, Hirokazu Koreeda, and Kiyoshi Kurosawa are the only Japanese directors anyone there would only know. My movies sell well in Europe. For me, it doesn't matter whether I'm recognized by some country or not; I just try to make films that people think are great.When Shinobu Terajima got the Best Actress award in Berlin, I was ecstatic, because if I were the only one to receive an award, it wouldn't be big news back in Japan. The mass media wouldn't even mention it. But this time, they'll have to write about the fact that Shinobu won.I'm lucky that Shinobu got a chance to stand in the spotlight this time. Otherwise, I would have just sounded like a crazy old guy shouting from the rooftops! (Laughs)They say that nothing is worst than an award. The films people put out after getting an award are almost always flops. Some Russian philosopher said, 'When people receive an award or a prize...if they're, say, an artist, it's the end of their professional life.' I am one of those artists. So I think that once people have received an award, they need to try to do things nobody ever has before, regardless of how it is received. Screening through September 24th at Solaria Cinema  During the 20th Annual Focus on Asia Fukuoka International Film Festival period (18th Sept - ), you can watch Caterpillar for just 1000 Yen by presenting your Focus on Asia tickets, stubs or free pass. The final screening at Solaria Cinema will be on September 24th.You can also view other Focus on Asia movies (excluding sponsored events) for 1000 Yen by presenting your Caterpillar stubs on the same day. Please inquire at theatres for further information.

Capturing and Preserving Time 'United Red Army' was screened at a film festival in Lebanon, which has long been in a state of war. In that sense, the Lebanese people (and the people of any country, really) were surprised to learn that Japan has a similar page in its history. I think capturing the images on film is very important.I wanted to get a shot of the exterior of the Lebanese jail that Japanese Red Army member Kozo Okamoto was held in, thinking I might be able to use it later on. Well, I was detained right away! Mind you, I was in a shirt with the words 'RED ARMY' printed on it! (Laughs)I made a storeroom for films on the first floor of my home. I gathered all the funding to make films on my own, so all of the copyrights belong to me. By that time I had made more than 100 movies, and since I never imagined that the age of video tapes or DVDs would come about, I was keeping them on film, which was costing me an arm and a leg! I ended up throwing a lot of negatives and film away. Right now, there are about 50 or 60 films remaining. I am going to bring 40 of them to France to screen this autumn. Movies shouldn't be all fun and games.Fukuoka Film Festival has never summoned me though! (Laughs) But I've heard from my colleagues that Fukuoka does in fact have proper facilities to preserve film in. I also found out that they have a collection of underground films from the 60's. I was impressed by the fact that Fukuoka has such a cinematic cultural.I used to think that film festivals were all the same and just screened popular films to attract a crowd. But a film festival like Focus on Asia that is in collaboration with a film archive is a rare and invaluable find.My suggestion would be for the festival to set up a forum exclusively for young screenwriters similar to the Forum (1) at BIFF, where visitors can learn about their excellent works.It's important to pour your heart into the making of a movie.  If it's only a ploy to promote the city, it's totally meaningless. Movies shouldn't be all fun and games; they should also be vessels to display and broaden culture.(1) Forum – Originally called the Young Forum, this section was set up at BIFF to support young filmmakers by introducing new talent in the form of new and experimental films.

Once you've forgotten how to get angry,  you're life is over. Guide to Caterpillar When I was filming United Red Army, Caterpillar was on my mind. We were shooting a training scene, and there were a lot of young men carrying prop firearms around in the snow, And as we were filming I thought, 'If these guys went to college and stuck with it, they'd have no problem finding a great job once they graduated. Why did they choose to come here and trudge around in the snow?'Japanese soldiers came back from the war and gave way to the baby boomer generation, and while Japan was at the peak of its economic growth, aircraft flew from American Military bases in Japan to fight in the Vietnam War. University students at that time felt their parents hadn't learned any of the lessons the previous wars had taught, and I thought it was that anger towards their parents' generation that provoked student movements. That's why I wanted to portray the parents' generation.I don't think war films should be all about the battles; we've got to consider the suffering of the women and children left behind on the homefront, too. For example, Johnny Got His Gun (1971) is set in a barrack hospital during WWI; it's a typical anti-war movie that I wanted to imitate, so I made Caterpillar in response to it. My film is the story of a maimed, bilateral amputee veteran and his wife in a common village in Japan.WWII and Koji Wakamatsu I was still a third-grader in elementary school during the war, so I was really too young to understand it, but I knew life during those days was tough. All we had to eat were things like the roots of sweet potatos. I lived in Miyagi Prefecture near the city of Sendai. I witnessed the air raid of Sendai, and I'll never forget the sight of the city was burning. I remember thinking the firebombs were almost beautiful, like sparkler fireworks.They had drills for the Ladies Associations, too. They were expected to fight fiery buildings with buckets of water they passed along in a line and kill fully armed American soldiers with bamboo spears. It was ridiculous, but everyone in the village had to take part in these drills. Once the state gave an order to assemble, everyone had to march down the streets with lanterns 'for the sake of the country'. These scenes in the movie are things I actually saw. Four of my brothers joined the army; two fought abroad. In a way they were lucky, since they all managed to come back. But all of them had become brutal. They would beat me up over the most insignificant things. Some of them were plagued by the after-effects of malaria.August 15th, 1945 was the day the war ended. I went home that afternoon from playing in the river and found my dad and mom crying in front of the radio. I asked them why they were crying, and they told me 'Japan has surrendered'. But it didn't matter to me whether Japan had won or lost, so I just said, 'I'm starving! What's for lunch?' (Laughs)But I do remember that that day was really hot. The sun was glaring through the blue sky, and I used that image at the end of Caterpillar.

To Relate War Although I want young people to watch Caterpillar, it's restricted to an audience aged 16 and older. I often say that war museums should be built around the country. Even if it's just photos, I want to show the schoolkids how people suffer in wars. We need to be teaching them the cruel reality of a war, not video game version of it; that 'there are no just wars, only slaughter'; and last but not least, to respect life.In 1982, I went to Beirut two days after the Sabra and Shantila Massacre. The bodies piled up in the middle of the streets were all those of women and children. I heard that the women were killed because they would make babies, and the children because they would grow up to become soldiers and eventually take their revenge. Most men are stronger and faster, so they can escape, which means the victims of war are always women and children.I'll hate the things I hate and be angry with them till the day I die. I figure once you've forgotten how to get angry, you're life is over. This is something Japanese people are particularly bad about. I hope they become wiser, ask more questions! People who express things through creation should question the subject at least once. Just because the people around you all say that something is good doesn't mean you should, too; you have to have the power to stick your neck out and think for yourself. That's how I live, although it's not winning me many fans. (Laughs).Shinobu Terajima's Distinction Wakamatsu Productions has never employed many staff. We made the movie together. There are 14 team members for this project including myself and some interns. Shooting took me 12 days. Normal actress would need makeup. But in my studio, everyone do their makeup, hair and costumes. No attendants or managers are allowed. Only actors stay in the studio. Under this working condition, Terajima is the only person who can succeed in doing the part.Shinobu is the only one who could play this role on the big screen. I was only partly teasing her when I told her, 'No other actress looks as good in a monpe (an old-fashioned farming outfit) as you do'; she's really got the body shape that a lot of women in Showa Period had.Besides, every fiber of her body can act. One of the reasons why she didn't wear any makeup in this movie is because that it would have been unnatural on-screen to see a woman farmer of that time fully made up, but the other is that makeup would have screened her emotions. No matter what emotion she portrays, every cell on her face works together to act it out. In the movie, there is a scene in which she puts mixed eggs with the crushed shells on her face. Normally, an actress would say that that kind of scene would ruin their image or make them look ugly, and they won't do it. But Shinobu didn't even mind stepping in the rice paddy full of leeches. She was comfortable in all of these harsh conditions.The first time I met Shinobu was when she came to the Jeonju International Film Festival as a guest. We were staying in the same hotel and had a drink at the bar. When she said good night and turned to walk away, I saw her from behind and was impressed by her stature and postures. Of course I had seen her previous movies, but that's when the idea of making this movie developed between us.

Fukuoka International Film Festival Focus on Asia Special Sponsored Screening Barrier Free Screening (Aid for the Hearing and Visually Impaired) Reach and Entertain as Many People as Possible Realisation of Barrier Free in the World of Film Movies entertain and move us. We watch movies and plays to reset ourselves and find hints about how to live our lives. Some movies have the power to change our outlook on life. Our hope is that we can ensure an environment in which people with visual impairments can enjoy movies, which is why we advocate for a 'barrier free' world of cinema and screen 'barrier free' movies, says Ms Hiroko Kawazaki, spokesperson for a Fukuoka volunteer association. Ms. Kawazaki's group narrate and produce subtitles for movies and screen them in Fukuoka so that people with hearing and visual impairments can enjoy the movies. Ms. Kawazaki launched barrier free screenings in July of 1998 after receiving requests from people with visual impairments, the film distributors for the movie *Solitude Point asked Ms. Kawazaki to assist in producing narrated movies. While Ms. Kawazaki had very limited time to take on the challenge, she and her group have since screened more than 20 barrier free movies. From 2002 to this year, Ms. Kawazaki's team has screened a total of 14 barrier free movies at Focus on Asia. Difficulties of Producing Barrier Free Movies Narration for the films is transmitted to receiving sets through auxiliary audio channels. Contents include scenery, people's movements, objective descriptions of significant changes in the storyline, and (in the case of foreign films) dubbing. All of the narrators are volunteers who produce the scripts and narrated descriptions themselves. They rehearse while watching the film over and over again, making small adjustments each time. According to Ms. Kawazaki, It's best not describe everything, but to provide simple, objective descriptions so that each viewer can enjoy imagining for themselves what's going on.When the movie starts, voice actors and narrators perform live, viewing the movie on a monitor. Their voices are played on FM receivers with headphones attached so that only the people using them can hear. When Japanese subtitles are need, the group creates subtitle slides and uses a projector to display them (remarkably, this is still manually!).About 30 members are allocated to different films. They practice their lines at home and gather to rehearse every week. Casting is difficult. None of us are professional voice actors, but we have to decide on a suitable voice for a particular character in order to give the listeners a better image of that character. Also, since the listening audience relies on voices to distinguish between characters, we can only take turns doing narration, not the actual character's voices. The group welcomes comments and requests from the audience to help improve the quality of their work.

Barrier Free Screenings Becoming More Common Even people without visual and hearing impairments can enjoy barrier free movie screenings: senior citizens who have difficulty seeing or hearing will find it easier to follow along. I think it's great that we're able to cater to such a diverse group of people at the same time in the same venue, says Shuji Yoshimura, a projectionist at Kyushu Cinema-Arci.Film production companies have recently caught on and have started providing the screenplay and other data about the movies, which makes our job much easier. Our next goal is to put all of our narrations onto CDs so that people can watch barrier free movies anywhere. Ms. Kawazaki is very eager to spread barrier free to theatres throughout the country.In June of 2008, a nationwide audio guidance network was established with the goal of promoting barrier free film screenings. Through their informational exchanges and technical standardization, the number of barrier free movies will likely increase in the near future.From narrators and various technicians to theater assistants, around 50 volunteer workers are involved with making a barrier free film screening happen. Such venues are only realised because of their passion for movies and desire for as many people to enjoy those movies as is possible. Ms. Kawazaki looks forward to the future of barrier free screenings, saying Our next goal is to gain further understanding from film producers so that they will take the barrier free scheme into consideration when they start making a movie.*Solitude Point by Hisako Matsui. A love story between a Japanese woman with Alzheimer's living in America and her American husband Barrier free screening Date:25th September (Sat) 13:20 Looking for Anne by Takako Miyahira/2009/Co-production of Japan and Canada/105 mins 16:00 True Noon  by Nosir Saidov/2009/Tajistan/83 mins Venue:ELGARA Hall 8F Price:Advance Tickets - \1000 Same Day Tickets - \1200 Free admission with your Focus on Asia ticket! *Half price admission for people with visual impairments and their companions; 2-for-1 discount with purchase of advance tickets is also available.

Fua's  Asian trip Discover Asian Exoticism! Nishi-ku Fukuoka, From Nishijin to Momochihama My name is Fua, and I'll be your tour guide on this Asian trip.In my opinion, the place in Fukuoka with the most Asian feel to it is Nishijin. Along the Nishijin Shopping Arcade street, you can see old ladies selling vegetables from their handcarts and shop vendors shouting out, Low prices!, all of which conjures up the image of an old-fashioned Southeast Asian marketplace! From there, I took a stroll to Momochihama, which is a bay front area where you'll find Fukuoka Tower, Yahoo Dome, and a lot of sleek new office buildings. Taihei and Yoko Have you ever heard of the Asian Pacific Exposition? The event (also called Yokatopia) was held at Seaside Momochi Fukuoka in 1989 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Fukuoka City. The mascots, Taihei and Yoko, have remained on the billboards in the Nishijin subway station ever since. These characters were created by famed Astro Boy manga artist Osamu Tenzuka, and their costumes are Asia-Pacific themed. Nishijin Shopping Arcade I like to travel around Asian countries and go to their local markets. This time around, I visited the Nishijin Shopping Arcade, where fresh foods like vegetables, fish, fruits, and some Japanese dishes are available. You can feel the energy of Japanese people from the streets packed with vendors and customers. Handcarts carrying seasonal vegetables, dried seafood, and flowers line the long street. Vendors will even pass along their recipes to you if you don't know how to make Japanese dishes.

Fua's  Asian trip Seinan Cross-Plaza,Seinan Gakkuin University You don't have to pretend to be a student to enter the Seinan Gakkuin University cafeteria; it's open to the public totally free of charge. On any given day, you'll see mothers with their children, older couples, and visitors here. It's built in the Western style with red bricks and large glass windows for a bright interior. It's so luxurious compared to the old days. I choose the Café Lunch today. It is comprised of a main dish and a side dish, a soup and a dessert, and your choice of rice or bread (and it only cost 420 Yen!). Add a frozen yogurt for just 140 Yen. I wish I could live here! Birthplace of Sazae-san Sazae-san is a Japanese comic strip that was conceived in Fukuoka. It is one of Japan's longest running and oldest comic strips and animated cartoons. The series is known to nearly every Japanese person, young and old! The creator of Sazae-san, Machiko Hasegawa, lived in Fukuoka for three years between 1944 and 1946, during which time she got the idea for her characters while walking along the Momochihama coast. A memorial placard dedicated to Sazae-san and Hasegawa is located in Isobe-hiroba Square at an intersection between Nishijin and Momochihama. Rai stone of Yap I discovered a huge piece of public art sitting calmly in front of Fukuoka City Public Library. It is a circular stone from the island of Yap, Micronesia, called a rai stone. It was brought to Fukuoka as a display for the Yokatopia. This rai stone was used in trade by the Yapese people for 700-800 years, and it is known as the world's largest currency. Weighing in at 4 tons and with a diameter of nearly 10 feet, it's hard to imagine how people transported it to make payments! Momochihama-Umippi Beach I arrived at Umippi Beach, which is a part of the Momochihama bay area behind Fukuoka Tower. The view from Umippi Beach (including Yahoo Dome) symbolizes the development of Fukuoka City. Sitting at the outdoor cafe at the Marizon complex, I felt like I had escaped to some beachside resort!

A Leisurely Trip through time Fukuoka's connection with the rest of Asia is not at all recent.In fact, Fukuokans have had contact with their Asian neighbors since ancient times.Walking through the city, you will come across places reminiscent of these historical ties. This column features an introduction to several such places.Why not take a trip back through time on your next stroll in Fukuoka? Chapter One The Grave of Sha Kokumei - Oceanic Trader During the Kamakura Era - In the Kamakura Era (1185-1333), trade between Japan and China was flourishing.Chinese people living in Hakata at the time were called Goshu.Hakata's own China Town began to take shape around Hakozaki Shrine at the end of Heian Era (794-1185), gradually growing in size to the point that it was referred to as Daitogai (Great Chinatown).The area was filled with Chinese-style building and must have looked very exotic!Sha Kokumei was one of these Chinese residents in Hakata.Sha was a trade merchant who was born in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and later became a naturalized Japanese citizen. He married a Japanese woman and lived in the vicinity of Kushida Shrine.He owned an island (Oronoshima) in the Genkai Sea and made it his base for trading.Jotenji is an old temple that was built in 1241 in Hakata-ku.It was founded by Shoichi Kokushi, a Japanese Buddhist who spent some time in China. Shoichi Kokushi conducted a ceremony to alleviate a plague in which he sat on a float and splash water on the ground. This is said to be the origin of today's Hakata Gion Yamakasa. Sha Kokumei is said to have helped Shoichi Kokushi study while the latter was in China, and also contributed to the building of Jotenji.Sha Kokumei was not only a trader. He supposedly helped the poor and helped the reconstruction of a temple, destroyed in a fire, in his motherland. His charitable nature makes him all the more appealing as a notable figure in Hakata's history.You may be wondering whether there is any trace of Sha left for us in Fukuoka?As a matter of fact, Sha's grave is tucked away in a corner of land close to Hakata Station that is now surrounded by buildings.At one point, the grave was hidden by a big camphor tree, but today, only its stump remains. Nevertheless, the stump is still well-known by local residents, who have given it the nickname Okusu-sama (Great Camphor).Reference: Hakata no gosho  by Yoko Takeno,  published in 1980 by Ashishobo Location 1 Hakataeki-mae, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka

Ajibi Exhibits Report Vol.1 Take a Ride – Picture Guide to Asian Vehicles Go! Go! Asian Festivals In the lingering heat of the Japanese summer, you may want to escape to the (air conditioned!) Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (FAAM), located on the 7th and 8th floors of Hakata Riverain right above Nakasu Kawabata Subway Station. FAAM is the only museum in the world that specialises in contemporary Asian art pieces. Currently, FAAM is featuring the Take a Ride - Picture Guide to Asian Vehicles and Go! Go! Asian Festivals exhibits. Let's take a brief look at these two exhibits. Picture Guide to Asian Vehicles:July 1st (Thu) - September 28th (Tues), 2010;Venue: Asia Gallery A Flamboyant Bangladeshi Rickshaw The most prominent object in the Take a Ride exhibit is the Bangladeshi rickshaw, located in the centre of the museum. The word rickshaw originates from the Japanese word jinrikisha. Rickshaws have been phased out in Japan, but they are a cheap form of transportation still used in Bangladesh. As you can see, rickshaw owners will paint their favourite stars on their vehicles in vibrant colours in order to stand out in the crowd. Feel free to sit in the rickshaw and have your picture taken! Syed Ahmed Hossin (painter),  (painter), Ali Mistry (rickshaw making) (Bangladesh) Rickshaw 1994 Check it Out! Looking at the painting on back of the rickshaw, you may get the feeling you recognize it from somewhere. That's because you're seeing the work of Syed Ahmed Hossin, a Bangladeshi artist who created several other works (now displayed at places like Ohori Park and Fukuoka Tower) during his stay in Fukuoka. Even the Gods' have Vehicles Vehicles are not limited to trains, planes, and automobiles. One of the most exotic aspects of the exhibit is the collection of paintings of Indian gods in their own vehicle. While they rule the world on animals and plants, they are also living in harmony with nature. Karthikeya rides on a peacock, which in turn is riding on a snake; learning the significance of such images is half the fun. Unknown Artist (Verma Print; India);KartikeyaEarly 1900's The State of Women's Advancement in Pakistani Society The thriving Pakistani movie industry uses both drawings and photographs to advertise movies. In this movie poster, a band of cool Pakistani ladies straddle the seats of motorcycles so tough you can practically hear the engines revving. Since the poster is over 30 years old, you may be thinking that Pakistani women enjoyed the same social status as men...and you would be wrong. Unfortunately, the circumstances of women in Pakistan were completely opposite of those portrayed in the poster, and such women existed only on the silver screen. This exhibit presents a good opportunity to learn more about the changing times and social problems faced by women in Pakistan. Akhtar Girls of Today (1977) Check it Out! You may notice a corner of the museum crowded with children busy colouring pictures while their parents take in the artwork. If you look carefully, you'll see that the colouring pages are actually copies of the Asian-themed works done by artists featured at the museum! You are welcome to take them home to decorate.

Go! Go! Asian Festivals! July 08(Thu) - October 05(Tue), 2010 Venue: Asia Gallery B Asian Festivals Nothing says summer in Japan like a summer festival! Just as Fukuoka is proud of its lively Yamakasa festival, other Asia countries cherish their many festivals. All of these paintings show people playing music and having a great time. If you close your eyes, you can practically hear the bustling sounds of the busy festivals.. This picture is of one of Thailand's major festivals, Yi Peng, in which hundreds of giant, hot-air paper lanterns are released all together into the night sky! The vivid portrait really makes the viewer want to see the actual festival! Pornchai Jaima (Thailand) Yi Peng 2007 Similar to Matsuri (Japanese Festivals)? In stark contrast to the fun atmosphere depicted in the other works, this picture of demons called Ogoh-ogoh tearing through the streets is a little frightening.The picture depicts the Ngrupuk parade on the eve of Nyepi day in Bali, Indonesia. Nyepi is a Balinese Day of Silence that commemorated every Isakawarsa (Saka new Year) according to Bali's Calendar.The Ogoh-ogoh are shaped like demons or fairies and vanquish evil demons so that people can ring in the new year with piece of mind. Making and parading the huge floats through the streets vaguely resembles Yamakasa in Fukuoka.Check it Out! If you're feeling tired, you can always take off your shoes and sit on the tatami mats. From that perspective, you may even see the works in a different light! Ida Bagus Putu Taman (Indonesia) Ngerpuk 1985 Who's the Fairest of Them All? A picture depicting a beauty contest in Laos. In 2002, the artist was invited to stay in Fukuoka for three months, creating artwork related to the traditions of Fukuoka and Laos. This is one of his works that shows shimmering ethnic clothing and traditional customs of Laos. Kham Tanh Saliankham (Laos) Ms. Laos Contest2001 Check it Out!After seeing these pictures, don't you feel like drawing one of your own? There is paper and coloured pencils available at the exit of the museum. Feel free to try your hand at imitating one of your favourite works, or capturing the feel of a festival you enjoy. Adults and children are all welcome, and you can post your work in the display room if you'd like. Interested in either of these exhibits? Just pay a casual visit to the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, where you can see, feel, draw, and experience art! Fukuoka Asian Art Museum Click here to visit the website Admissions: Free Asian Gallery Admissions: Adults - 200 Yen; High School / University Students - 150 Yen; Junior High School Students and Younger - Free

Asian Treasure Asian Cuisine Journey: Vol.1 Hotteok A Tasty Korean Street Snack  that will Have You Saying Yum!.Whenever I come back from Korea, I miss a Korean snack called hotteok. Hotteok is made of flour and pressed flat. It resembles a kind of local Japanese snack in Fukuoka called umegaemochi except that instead of anko (sweet bean paste), it is filled with melted brown sugar and topped with your choice of cinnamon, peanuts, pine nuts. People like to eat it while it's still piping hot, so it's a typical winter snack you'll find at Korean streetcarts street food. The taste differs from cart to cart among stalls, with the most popular drawing long lines of people.I heard a rumour that there are Korean hotteoks in Nishi Nakasu, so I thought I'd check it out. I was imaging a steamy or smoky hotteok cart, but what I found was a regular restaurant. The only clue I had that it was even a Korean restaurant was the painting of a lady in a chima jeogori on the wall outside. When I went inside, I realised the lady was in fact the owner. The painting gave me a very good first impression, so my hopes for the food were high.Patrons can watch the hotteoks being made. The hotteoks here are made with green tea and contain green tea leaves, so if you're a green tea fan, you'll love them! The so-called well-being boom has recently struck Korea and is driving the sales of green tea hotteoks through the roof. In order to obtain the original Korean taste, this shop get the ingredients from Korea. Just as in Korea, the restaurant cuts the cakes it in half and puts them in a paper cup to serve you. A freshly-made hotteok is sticky and chewy. The slight bitter taste of green tea really works up an appetite, and you may be tempted to put the whole thing in your mouth at once, but be careful: the filling is really hot! The hotteoks here are seasoned with sunflower and sesame seeds. One green tea hotteok costs 300 Yen, or get two for 500 Yen.Besides hotteoks, the restaurant serves Korean sushi, jeon, japchae, and kimchi (each just 500 Yen), with takeout available. They also sell Korean groceries, such as sauces and tea as well as organic sesame oil made from scratch. Just a few drops will add great aroma to any dish, so it's popular among chefs.The upper floor can sit about 10 people. Full course dinners start from 3000 Yen (reservations needed for 4 or more people). You can order single dishes or enjoy drinks with your friends. The restaurant is furnished with neat Korean furniture, creating a Korean tea house-like ambience best for small meetings.The staff speak Korean and go out of their way to make you feel at home. If you feel like going to Korea without breaking the bank, come visit this restaurant.

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