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The new Kanji of the Year (2011) was announced a few weeks ago, just as I mentioned. I previously said that discussion on it was moot because they'd choose 'kizuna' for sure. They did, of course, choose 'kizuna'. Here's an article
describing why. They also noted that the two kanji I said they had already "used up" came in second and third.
I've been busy performing and attending workshops these past two weeks.Theatresports, Shinjuku (December 10th, Saturday)
An improv format where teams 'compete' to spontaneously produce the best type of scene. In this case, they received suggestions from the audience, which were written on little sheets of paper before the show. I was a little disappointed by this, because I was the only audience member not given a pencil, and also the only (visible?) foreigner in attendance. Coincidence...? Anyway, while I was a little sceptical about letting an elementary school group compete against three adult groups, their final scene (helped along by one of the adult groups) was spectacular.Impro Comedy Workshop (December 13th, Tuesday)
The workshop was listed amongst the English events of the "International Improv Festival" and headed by a teacher from the States, but I found out just a couple of days beforehand it was aimed at Japanese speakers only! I eventually decided I wanted to go despite all this and ended up having a great time. Yes, I had to improvise in Japanese, but since I was getting all the instructions directly in English (which was then translated into Japanese for everyone else), it wasn't as hard as I thought it might be.Theatresports Student Showcase (December 14th, Wednesday)
This also used the Theatresports format. I headed up the Lesser Pandas, which is the Japanese name for the red panda, although it's also used in English. A little. Being the team leader meant that I spent a lot of time talking to the audience from the stage, getting suggestions, and facing down R who was captain of the other side. We have a great chemistry together because we're basically anime-style rivals. So we had a good time hurling comedic insults at each other, which went down rather well.
For our final scene, we challenged the other team to the best scene encapsulating "courage". I went out in front of the audience and I asked for the name of something that they really wanted. We got the answer "cake" and the scene featured a waiter with sexy hands, a birthday cake and a proposal. Our team won!Friday Night Magic (December 16th, Friday)
Card-gaming. I won my first match and lost my next two. I would have won my third if it wasn't for the bizarre way I just kept drawing land and no creatures. Will tweak the deck and return next (this) week.Trance Masks Workshop (December 17th, Saturday)
I'm not sure how to even begin to explain this. It was run by a famous Japanese improviser -- he literally wrote the book on it (in Japanese). He had a collection of about 16 half-masks made using techniques he learned from a Noh craftsman.
First, you choose one that appeals to you and put it on. He shows you your own face in the mirror and tells you to change your mouth shape to match the mask. You then have to respond by making an 'emotional sound' as loud as possible, while he mirrors your sound to encourage you. He then sets your new character free to interact with other characters in the same sort of "trance" and a whole table full of silly toys from the 100 yen shop.
Well... I'm glad I tried it once. It was interesting, but I probably won't do it again.Bounenkai (December 17th, Saturday)
Later that day, I went to an end-of-year party in Shibuya. First though, I went round the 109 Tower for the first time(!). I figured I should do it once, right?
Anyway, the party was held in a karaoke-kan and mostly attended by improvisers and stand-ups, which a) made it a lot of fun and b) meant the alcohol flowed freely. Seriously, we were a group of only ten (grew to about 15...) and yet when we arrived they gave us four or five bottles of soda, two large bottles of Suntory whisky and a round of beers!
I vaguely remember singing Velvet Underworld and not being very good at it. I don't think it gets much drunker than that.
I remember standing outside the karaoke-kan and giving these guys riding bikes that were more Akira than Akira the thumbs up. They were returned, of course. Pirates of Tokyo Bay (December 18th, Sunday)
I went to see my friends' improv show on Sunday night. It was held at What The Dickens, which is a great British pub in Ebisu. Very difficult to find though! Luckily W called out to me as I passed some of the performers while going in completely the wrong direction.
It also doubled as J's leaving party and a bunch of us from the Other improv group were there too.
and friends were there. Probably the last time I'll see her, but who knows? I hope that isn't the case.Stand up (December 20th, Tuesday)
I went to the Tokyo Comedy Store Open Mike Night and did a set. Does it matter if it was good or bad? I got up there and did it!
As it happened, I got plenty of laughs and they were with me, not at me. The organiser said 'well done,' and he doesn't say that often. Of course, it'll be long time before I can get to another open mike night.
I went to see Genji Monogatari
the other day. It's a very beautiful film, with literally every screencap a perfect picture. The screenplay though? Terrible. It starts with Genji (the hero of the story) getting kind of rapey with Murasaki (the writer of the story) in a beautifully lit, flower-filled forest. Abe no Seimei shows up and summons a few shikigami later. Complete nonsense. But very, very beautiful.
And, for what it's worth, I attended WWE Raw World Tour
in Yokohama Area on December 1st, something I completely forgot to mention several posts ago. To my surprise, William Regal was added to the line-up. He's one of my favourites.