Rare Japanese Lessons

Rare Japanese Lessons

Hey friends, Lastterm I took L 106, the intro Japanese course. I lived in Japan briefly when I was young, and although I was once fluent in Japanese, I forgot it quicklyafter moving to the US. Even while growing up in Texas,I watched these amazing films by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli with my family. For those unfamiliar with Studio Ghibli, it’s a studio that makes gorgeous films with thought-provoking stories that remind people to love nature and respect strong women. It was my delight to find many Ghibli fans at Caltech. Last year, my house (Avery) even took on Studio Ghibli as the theme for our annual interhouse party. We painted giant eight-foot-tall murals that brought much-beloved films like Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke to life. It was the best interhouse yet–we spent the month before sprawled on these giant sheets of drywall, coloring in our favorite characters while listening to the beautiful Ghibli movie soundtracks composed by the extremely gifted Joe Hisaishi…

So imagine my doubt when my friend told me that a new young movie director named Makoto Shinkai was making films that rival those of Miyazaki. His most recent one, Kimi No Na Wa (in English: Your Name), was released at Laemmle Music Hall in LA for a week so that the film could qualify for consideration inthe upcoming Oscars.

Luckily, my friends and I were able to nab tickets to see it. We rushed there right after the cooking final. The story is about a guy and a girl… and really I can’t say more without ruining it. It really makes you think, though. The art was magnificent–if you decide to see it, I cannot emphasize enoughthe importance of seeing it in hi-def! The music was also quite swell… literally.

Spoiler alert! The experience was likethe satisfaction one feels from watching a droplet of watergather until it swells biggerand biggerand thenit drops.

The story was well-crafted, but hearing the Japanese (there were subtitles) and seeing the oh-so-familiar-but-just-beyond-the-reach-of-conscious-memory Japanese city scenes… the subway, the apartment complexes, the tall school buildings, the pedestrian bridges… along with the Japanese language of my childhood that chugs along, mingled with that I have been learning in class… only revived a longing fora forgotten familiarity, or* sehnsucht.* Have y’all ever felt that? Or am I just getting old?