Second Draft

Research in the Middle of the Night

Posted in Research by Jill Snider Lum on Monday, July 27, 2009

Insomnia isn’t anyone’s usual productivity tool of choice, but last night when I had it, I found myself engaged in some bleary-eyed 2a.m. research.

TCM was running a Japanese movie I’d never heard of, but ought to have:  Ugetsu (the original title was “Ugetsu Monogatari”).  It’s set a little later than the time period of our novel; Demon Gate takes place in 1506, and this movie happens near the time of Oda Nobunaga, which was several decades later.  Be that as it may, besides being an eerily haunting story in its own right, it provided a beautifully-made representation of that part of the past.

Some things I found interesting and/or relevant to the novel we’re working on:

– The samurai belonging to the minor daimyo in the story mostly fought with spears.  Was this because he was a traditionalist, preferring his men to use spears over swords?  Because he was broke, or cheap, and preferred arming his men with less expensive weapons?  Or because the director liked the look of samurai using spears?

– Even though this film takes place after the Portuguese introduction of firearms to Japan, the only time I noticed a gun being used was hearing it when someone offstage was being executed.  Was this because firearms would have been expensive, and the daimyo was, again, not wealthy (or was tightfisted)?  Because firearms really weren’t that common at the time of Oda Nobunaga?  Or because the director liked the idea of the men not using guns?

– Some of this movie takes place in the mountains surrounding Lake Biwa; and so does some of our book.  If these scenes were shot on location, it’s going to be a big help when we’re writing those parts, being able to watch actual humans moving throught he landscape for reference.  Was this really where those scenes were shot?  Or did the director just like the looks of some other area, and film the scenes there?

– When the main characters are boating across Lake Biwa, they meet a dying man who claims he was attacked by pirates.  Were there really pirates on Lake Biwa in the sixteenth century?  Or did the director just like this idea as the motivaton for the wives to go back to the village?  (Must check this out somehow.  If there were really pirates, we can maybe find something fun to do with them.)

Okay, so maybe this wasn’t quite “research”… but it might have been.  Must do some research and make sure.


One Response to 'Research in the Middle of the Night'

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  1. Zaphod said,

    Well, I guess I should learn a thing or two about Japanese mythical creatures by reading the novel. I only know Godzilla and Gamera and somehow I don’t think they are authentic historic beings. Of course who doesn’t like Gamera. He was my favourite monster.

    If Gamera and Godzilla had a race, who would win? I bet Gamera. Godzilla would stop and destroy some little village like he had all the time in the world and then Gamera would slowly walk on by and surprise him.

    Well, good luck on the novel. I will look forward to reading it.

    Perhaps you can teach us how to speak Japanese in this blog too.


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