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Saturday, March 29, 2008

I'm Going To Japan (For 2 Years)

Guess it's time to make the announcement now.

The recent lack of blog updates had a lot to do with my impending departure for Japan. I've received the MEXT scholarship to further my film studies as a research student (will probably do my Masters') at Waseda University in Tokyo.

Waseda University

Waseda University

I'll be leaving next Tuesday.

Yes, on April Fools' Day.

I've kept a relatively low-profile on this, because I have a feeling not many will believe that I'm leaving for Japan on that very day. The sad thing is, even if I were to send text messages to friends saying goodbye, most will think that I'm pulling off a prank.

After more than a year here in Malaysia, I'm returning to university life. This is by no means a surprise, since I've actually applied for the scholarship at this time last year, and have undergone its numerous painstaking procedures over the months.

No, I don't know Japanese at all, so I'll be learning the language for the rest of this year before I actually begin my studies.

While I've asked my friend, Hui Jing to take over the reins of Greenlight Pictures during my absence, I'm most likely continuing my producing duties despite being in another country. So you won't hear the last of Greenlight Pictures from me. I'll still be scheming and plotting something new. And since I've gotten into a nice productive and creative streak this year, it's likely that I will make another short film when I'm there.

The past few days had been a blur. Visiting the Japanese Embassy, meeting friends and saying goodbye, wrapping up some of my Greenlight duties in Malaysia, and the non-stop fine-tuning of CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY (I've shown numerous people numerous cuts of the film and am still trying to make it as good as possible, I think I'll still be working on it even when I am in Tokyo) It's almost strange that after three more nights, I'll be flying off.

During my two and a half years in Perth, I've made numerous Japanese friends, so I'm not going to be totally alone in Japan. There are people I can seek out in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. I'll probably try to go to Hokkaido by the end of this year, or if possible, Shirakawa-go, a beautiful little village I spent an all-to-brief one night at nearly nine years ago.

Speaking of which, the last time I celebrated Christmas in Japan was ten years ago.

Besides the current Japanese Prime Minister, other noted alumni of Waseda University include (copying and pasting from Wikipedia, obviously, and I'm including only the business leaders and authors cos the list is too long):

Business Leaders

* Hiroshi Yamauchi, President of Nintendo
* Masaru Ibuka, co-founder of Sony
* Michael Kogan, founder of Taito Corporation
* Nobuyuki Idei, ex-CEO of Sony
* Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, founder of Seibu Railway
* Lee Byung-chul, Founder of Samsung (dropout)
* Isao Okawa, ex-chairman of Sega
* Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung
* Shin Kyuk-Ho, founder and Chairman of Lotte Group
* Takeo Fukui, CEO of Honda
* Tadashi Yanai, CEO of Fast Retailing-Uniqlo
* Kenichi Ohmae, founder and ex-Senior Partner of McKinsey & Co's Japan office
* Mikio Sasaki, chairman of Mitsubishi
* Soichiro Fukutake, president of Benesse
* Park Tae-joon, Founder and Chairman of Pohang Iron & Steels Corp, POSCO


* Edogawa Rampo
* Haruki Murakami, novelist, translator, writer, recipient of Franz Kafka Prize
* Ichirō Ōkouchi
* Kitahara Hakushu (dropout)
* Kunikida Doppo
* Hiroyuki Yoshino
* Lee Hoesung
* Taku Miki, poet, novelist, translator
* Manabu Miyazaki (dropout)
* Masuji Ibuse (dropout)
* Yoko Ogawa, novelist
* Ototake Hirotada (sports writer)
* Shuji Terayama
* Taneda Santoka (dropout)
* Yoko Tawada
* Tawara Machi
* Yajima Teruo (dropout)
* Yokomitsu Riichi (dropout)
* Risa Wataya


I'm curious to know whether Risa Wataya is still studying at Waseda or not. She seems pretty low-profile these days.

And the dorm I'm going to stay in for now is the same dorm Haruki Murakami was at. Oh the irony. :D