When we travel to Japan as a family, I usually have one or two days all to myself. So I wander around the city taking photos. It’s a lot of fun!
I had such high hopes for NHK’s Mare まれ, the 92nd asadora from NHK, but overall it was disappointing. Tao Tsuchiya (土屋太鳳) is one of my favorite Japanese actors and the story of her quest to become the world’s best patissier showed promise, so I was really looking forward to watching. Unfortunately, the story got derailed by too many sub-plots and consequently never got too deep into the main plot, which was by far the most interesting.
The story had a solid start, establishing that the family “fled” Tokyo after going into debt, and was looking for a new home. We learn about Mare’s personality and her feelings about ambitions and having dreams. So far so good. The story got even better after Mare moved to Yokohama and started her apprenticeship at the patisserie. The relationships she had with the head chef, sous chef and assistant were interesting and fun, and just when it seemed like the the story was going to the next level, the silly sub-plot of the Wajima lacquer appeared and it got booooriiing! What an incredible and effective way to put the brakes on an interesting story – introduce the passion that is Wajima lacquer. Zzzzzz… It seemed like there were a few times when the story went back and forth between being intriguing (and returning to pastry-making), only to turn yet again into a snooze-fest. There’d be a glimmer of hope, only to disappear. Boy, the middle weeks of the drama were really a struggle!
Here’s a short list of the subplots that they should have cut from the script:
- Wajima lacquer
- Ichiko’s big-city experience and wan-wan blog
- Takashi’s weird crush on Mare’s mother
- Maki’s mysterious past
- Keita’s cold relationship with his father
- Mare becoming proprietress of the lacquer business
- The fisherman’s omiai
There were several other subplots that wasted airtime, but I’d rather not spend any more time thinking about them. On the other hand, here are the things they should have kept exploring:
- Mare’s apprenticeship (including France trip that never happened)
- Mare’s relationship with her estranged grandmother
- Mare and Toko’s professional rivalry
- Mare and the Chef’s apprentice/master relationship
- Mare’s pastry shop
- Anything else that has to do with Mare’s quest to become the World’s Best Patissier
My last rant has to do with the plot trying to span too much from a time-frame. For instance, Ittetsu gets married too quickly and has kids. Let’s imagine that he didn’t get married or have kids. The show would have been exactly the same! What a waste of screen time. And then, Mare also gets married and has kids. Too much.. too soon. I know that family is one of the main themes of the show, but really, they could have developed the family theme more quickly and strongly without bringing in kids. The theme of having both a career and being a mother seemed forced, especially since it was introduced so late in the show. They should have kept the theme simpler… sacrificing your career for your spouse’s, which was a theme from earlier on.
In the last couple weeks of the show (when the plot became interesting again), a couple of the characters point out that Mare has lost 8 years of her patissier life… I kept thinking that the show lost 8 years of plot development! That’s a real shame because I think the actors, particularly Tao Tsuchiya, did a great job.
If you take a look at the character chart below, you could pretty much keep the top row of characters, the Yokohama crew in blue, plus Mare’s grandmother, and you’d have a much better show.
Baseball games always cause me to have a lot of stress, so I don’t really like to watch. But I am there at my son’s games to offer him my support and encouragement! And just look at that hit!
BTW, here’s a fantastic article about how to be a good “sports parent”. Valuable stuff!
Within the past year’s worth of traveling I have started traveling lighter, paring down the amount of stuff I take, and it has really improved the travel experience! Rewind to last year’s trip to Japan – I took my North Face backpack. It’s large enough that I had no trouble fitting in the proverbial kitchen sink. My thinking at the time is that I wanted a backpack that I could take anywhere. And that could fit my DSLR camera, lenses, and other electronics. My backpack would be a constant companion which I would take everywhere. Here’s a list of stuff I took in the backpack:
- Sony A77 DSLR
- 16-50mm lens
- 10-20mm lens
- 100-200mm lens
- 35mm lens
- Spare battery
- 2 Chargers
- Extra cellphone battery
- Assorted cables and card readers
- Pens and pencils
- 2DS and 3 games
- Earbuds and MP3 player
- Water bottle
- Small bag with medicine, bandaids, lipbalm, gum, etc.
The backpack was large, but handled all that gear with ease. The main problem was that it was HEAVY. Also, my camera gear was stuffed into the main compartment which meant that is wasn’t easy to take out and use. Plus, walking around in the summer heat in the city just wasn’t so practical. I still thought I wanted to bring all my stuff with me, but what a hassle it was!
I remember a previous trip to Japan. That trip I decided to just take a waterproof point-and-shoot camera. That was actually a super-fun vacation! And the small camera was a big part of it. Sure, the picture quality wasn’t close to my DSLR, but I enjoyed my trip quite a bit more. I didn’t have to worry about the weight or how to carry all my gear. I just put the camera in my pocket and was all set! Thinking back to that trip, I wonder why I didn’t connect my enjoyment of that trip and the small camera.
In April, I went on a business trip to Stockholm, Sweden. Because I thought this might be my one chance to go there, I should take my DSLR kit and big backpack again. I thought that I didn’t want to miss a great shot. I also took a small Fujifilm X-F1 compact camera as a backup. As you can probably see, camera gear is an important part of my travel kit…
This was a trip where I learned a lot about what kind of traveling I wanted to do in the future. Once again, the backpack was heavy and I rarely used the big camera rig. It was just too much of a hassle to keep at-the-ready. My compact camera was my camera of choice for most of the trip. In fact, the DSLR stayed in the hotel safe! And I have to say, I was happy with the results I got from the Fujifilm X-F1. The photos were more than “good enough”. And I didn’t have to worry about where to put my backpack when we went out for dinners. I left it at the hotel.
My next trip was a solo trip to California to visit my folks and see a concert. I was catching on to this “travel light” concept by this time! I decided to leave the backpack at home and just bring my small Patagonia bag and my Fujifilm X-F1. Also, I took my Kindle, Tablet, keyboard, various cables, card readers and chargers. Traveling lighter was definitely something I was starting to enjoy! And the photos turned out great! Hey, I don’t need the DSLR and all the lenses to enjoy photography!
On my last trip, I went to Stockholm again on business. This time I pared down even more. I left my tablet/keyboard at home. My camera was now my Fujifilm X100T. I also didn’t take a water bottle… why do I need that when there is water available wherever I went? I only needed one small USB cable and plug. My only personal computing device was my cellphone. (I did take a work laptop, but that was used exclusively for business) Here’s what was in my bag:
- Fujifilm X100T
- USB cable/plug
- Spare battery
- Cellphone battery
- Small bag with medicine, bandaids, lipbalm, gum, etc.
- Work laptop
My carry-on bag (the Patagonia Minimass) was so light! And when I was on my day off in Stockholm, I didn’t even carry my bag. Just the camera across by body, cellphone, and extra camera battery in my pants coin pocket. It was great not having a bag! And I enjoyed myself even more. My shoulders didn’t hurt, I didn’t have to worry about a bag in small shops or crowded museums. I’ve come to realize that having more stuff just gets in the way of having better experiences. It’s not only the distraction of the extra weight, but the distraction of extra things to think about. The less I have, the less I have to worry about. And that means more time and mental energy to spend on simply enjoying where I am. If you haven’t done so, try traveling lighter. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that you can get by with so little!
My wife bought a sixer of Orion beer to enjoy with yakiniku tonight. Really looking forward to dinner! 🍴🍻😊 And Fuchiko makes an appearance! It’s been a while since she’s been in my photostream.