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By Catherine Wayland

Dear Readers,

Asia kicks off our World Tour here at International Family Magazine. As an American born, American based Editor who chooses not to travel currently until the boys are of a better age (Brody is 3, Jax 5), I want to do my best in representing any other culture than my own. I undertake this project with humility hoping I do my best to approach this with integrity and respect.

We have presented you with a wonderful children’s website in our Kidz column on learning Japanese culture,

IF Mag has also featured the 2007 Man Asia Literary Prize press releases in both English and Chinese in the Arts and Décor December Column.

Tina Lai, our wonderful resident global gourmet and her company at presents us with Chinese New Year.

In our Holiday and Traditions is the Japanese New Year with text, photos, and links to a You Tube video of traditional cuisine.

In our Travel column, our feature photographer Ernest Tiemann has a wonderful pictorial slide show of Japan on his portfolio site at in his gallery tab.

Brooke Allen, our featured columnist, “Father’s Stories” presents us with 2 features, “Mother Love” and “Arisguwa Park” from his 10 years in Japan.


Asia Society –

I would like to use the global organization Asia Society as a well known and highly regarded gateway to both Asian culture and the international blending of Asian culture with other countries and cultures. Asia Society represents South Asia, Himalaya, Southeast Asia, China & Mongolia, Korea and Japan. Asia Society has worldwide locations in New York, Northern California, Southern California, Texas, Washington D.C., Austral Asia, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Phillippines and Shanghai.


Films: The Road Home, Raise the Red Lantern and Book: Snowflower and the Secret Fan.

Films: The Road Home (Hou and Zhang) -
and Raise the Red Lantern (Zhang) -

Source: Wikipedia

Hou Yong

began his career after graduating from the Beijing Film Academy in 1982 in the same class as Fifth Generation directors Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, and Tian Zhuangzhuang. Hou's early career was spent mainly on Fifth Generation projects, notably those of Tian, and Wu Ziniu. By the late 1990s, Hou began collaborating with Zhang Yimou for a series of films during Zhang's realist period.

Zhang Yimou

was born in the ancient Chinese city of Xi'an in Shaanxi Province. As a child, he suffered derision and stigmatization because of his family's association with the Kuomintang (Nationalist party). His father had been a major under Chiang Kai-shek and an elder brother had followed the Nationalist forces to Taiwan after the 1949 civil war defeat. "Five Black Categories"

When the Cultural Revolution erupted in 1966 he was forced to suspend studying and worked, first as a farm hand, and then, for seven years, as a labourer in a cotton textile mill, much like the one he portrayed in Ju Dou. During this time he took up painting and amateur still photography. He had to sell his blood for five months to get enough money to purchase his first camera when he was 18.

When the Beijing Film Academy opened in 1978, Zhang was already 27, over-aged and without the prerequisite academic qualifications. He wrote a personal appeal to the Ministry of Culture, citing "ten years lost during the Cultural Revolution" and offered a portfolio of his personal photographic works. The authorities finally relented and admitted him into the Department of Cinematography.

As a result, Zhang graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 1982 along with compatriots Chen Kaige and Tian Zhuangzhuang (the latter two from the Directing class). They are often referred to collectively as the Class of 1982.

The students saw films by European, Japanese and American art directors, as well as Chinese - far more than any of their predecessors - including the works of Tarkovsky, Antonioni, Scorsese, Truffaut, Fei Mu, Wu Yonggang, Kurosawa, Kubrick, Malick and Alain Resnais.

As was the norm, Zhang and his co-graduates were assigned to small inland studios, and as a cinematographer, he began working for the Guangxi Film Studio. Though pencilled in to work as director's assistants, they soon learned there was a dearth of directors (owing to the Cultural Revolution), and appealed successively to make their own films. Zhang's first work, One and Eight (as director of photography), was made in 1984 together with Zhang Junzhao. Zhang's input was telling: he shot from obscure angles, and positioned actors and actresses at the side, rather than center, to heighten dramatic effect, using a “unique and emphatic visual style, based on the asymmetrical and unbalanced composition of the shots and the shooting of color stock as though it were black and white". Like his fellow students, these aesthetics signaled a departure from the tradition interrupted by the Cultural Revolution. Local critics immediately sat up and took notice of this new cohort of daring artistes who were defying conventions of Chinese cinema.

Zhang's next collaboration, with fellow graduate Chen Kaige, the latter acting as director, was to be one of the defining Chinese films of the 1980s, Yellow Earth (1984). This is widely considered the inaugural film for the Chinese Fifth Generation directors that were apart of an artistic reemergence in China after the end of the Cultural Revolution. Zhang continued to work with Chen for the latter's next film, The Big Parade (1985). Their collaboration was one of the most fruitful of the Fifth Generation period.

Zhang’s is best known internationally for his work, Raise the Red Lantern.

Snowflower and the Secret FanBook: Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See,

This absorbing novel – with a storyline unlike anything Lisa See has written before – takes place in 19th century China when girls had their feet bound, then spent the rest of their lives in seclusion with only a single window from which to see. Illiterate and isolated, they were not expected to think, be creative, or have emotions. But in one remote county, women developed their own secret code, nu shu – "women's writing" – the only gender-based written language to have been found in the world. Some girls were paired as "old-sames" in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their windows to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.

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