Tuesday, July 15, 2008

From Tokyo to Tehran: Oshin in Persepolis

I learned, out of reading Persepolis, that the famous Japanese dorama Oshin was aired at the Iranian TV station too during the 80's.

I was so surprised, I found it to be funny and a bit shocking. Who would've thought that Iranians would watch Japanese dramas? And liking it too!

Due to the sensitivity of the subject, Oshin's original occupation as a geisha must be altered. As we all know, Iran is a rather strict Muslim country which abides to military and syari'ah laws. And so they changed her occupation to.. surprise surprise.. a hairdresser!

At first, young Marjane found it a bit weird that in the movie, Oshin's boyfriend's mom disliked her because she was a hairdresser. But after she found out about the geisha fact, she understood that it was rather believable because geisha's spent most of their times making chignons.

After browsing for some small research, I found out a bit more about Oshin in the Middle East and beyond. Apparently, Oshin is loved all over the world and left some strong cultural impacts, especially in developing countries, because she is seen as a figure of perseverance.

An Iranian woman was once asked by a radio reporter, "Who is your symbol of Islamic womanhood?" "Oshin," she answered. It was a reply that so shocked Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini that he ordered the arrest of four people from the TV station that broadcast the program.

Currently, The Japan Foundation, with the cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Japan and the state-run television station of Egypt, will provide this NHK TV's legendary serial with subtitles in Arabic, to the Iraqi Media Network (IMN), free of charge, as a part of the reconstruction assistance to Iraq.

Broadcasting of such a program would deepen the understanding of Japanese culture by the people of Iraq. It is also expected that the people of Iraq, who are working for the post-war reconstruction of their country, will be encouraged by watching the life of a Japanese woman living through a turbulent period and overcoming various challenges.

This girl Oshin is pretty amazing, huh?

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