Totoro to neighboring Nagoya

Well, Nagoya isn’t “neighboring” Tokyo, but it’s closer than USJ in Osaka, and the movie is called “My Neighbor Totoro”, so… (actually, Tokyo Disneyland isn’t really in Tokyo, but neighboring Chiba).

The BBC reports that a Totoro theme park is being built in Nagoya, to open by 2020. Someplace to go before or after the Olympics, perhaps.

Read the article to find out more. There are related links, too, so you can get lots of English input about this topic.

Within the article:

At the end:


Teachable moments

This article from Education Week has a list of ten “teachable moments” from the first Harry Potter book, which was published 20 years ago. (Wow.) They include:

Breaking the rules is sometimes necessary.

Having rules to break is also necessary.

Learning happens everywhere, we just have to take the time to notice.

Two things you could try with this topic:

  • Find video clips from the movies to add to each (or some)  of the things on the list and explain what’s happending in the video (summary).
  • Go back and read that book or another in the series — or a completely different story or movie — and find your own “teachable moments”


Here’s a video clip that illustrates part of the first teachable moment and an explanation of what’s happnening:

We don’t choose familial situations, but we can choose to make the most of what we are given.”


This is at the beginning of the movie, where we discover what kind of living situation Harry is in. He’s made to sleep in the broom closet and he’s given clothes that don’t fit him. Dudley is his “brother” figure, but he’s a selfish brat. On his birthday, he complains about not getting enough presents, even though the living room is full of them. His parents spoil him and are mean to Harry. We can see from Harry’s expressions how he feels about all this, but he doesn’t do anything to show his anger and frustration.

Combining movies & food

Two of my favorite things are movies and food/cooking. The 2014 film “Chef” (Japanese title: シェフ : 三ツ星フードトラック始めました is one such movie about food and cooking (and other things) that I enjoyed and it made me want to make hot sandwiches. Here are a few videos to watch (and whet your appetite):

“Chef” movie trailer:

How to make the cubano sandwiches:

How to make the bread (this guy has an odd sing-song voice, and the habit of saying “We’re going to go ahead and …” but the instructions are easy to follow).

Discussion and writing questions / projects:

  • What movies about food and/or cooking have you seen and enjoyed (for example, “Tampopo” and “Ratatouille” (Japanese title: レミのおいしいレストラン), and here’s how to make ratatouille from the same site as the cubanos above:

  • Do you prefer hot or cold sandwiches? What are your favorite ingredients?
  • The director of “Chef” is Jon Favreau. He also directed the Iron Man series. Who are some of your favorite movie directors? Have they tried very different genres like Mr. Favreau? Do they often use the same actors in their movies?
  • Do you think the movie title シェフ alone would be enough? Does it need the 三ツ星フードトラック始めました」explainer? Why do you think Japanese titles are often more detailed than the originals?
  • The movie “Chef” is, in part, about a man who changes jobs when he’s not happy/satisfied. This seems to be more common in today’s Japan. Do you think it’s a positive trend?
  • Try making a “how-to” video of your favorite recipe. Or, write a recipe and add plenty of photos to show us how to make it.
  • Do you think making your own bread (or any other homemade food) is worth the time and effort?
  • Do you prefer how-to videos that show the person’s face?
  • Tattoos (like the guy in the first how-to video) are not as uncommon in Japan these days. Do you have one? Would you get one?

Diversions and distractions

This short video from The Met explains how different lighting makes us see one famous painting very differently, and probably more as the artist intended us to see it.

… which of course makes me think of the classic movie “Gaslight” and its relevance today. The movie is the origin of the verb “to gaslight someone”.

It also makes me think of the phrase “bread and circuses”

and this amazing circus performance I saw on Colbert the other day:

Discussion and writing prompts:

  • Have you ever been to a circus?
  • Should circuses have real animals?
  • How would you explain the concept of “bread and circuses” in Japanese?  In your own words in English?
  • What do you think are the main “bread and circuses” of today’s society?
  • Have you seen the movie “Gaslight”?
  • How do you say “to gaslight someone” in Japanese? Can you think of an example from the news, history, or a book, movie or manga you have read or seen, of someone being gaslighted?
  • How would you explain the differences between the words “diversion” and “distraction”? Try using both in detailed example sentences.