Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Changing Impression

I think there are the typical images for Japanese characteristic such as Japanese don’t try to stand out and focuses on the importance of harmony. Before taking this class, Visual Anthropology of Japan, I didn’t have positive image for such the Japanese characteristic that I also have. For example we are needed to explain our opinion anywhere, however we Japanese have taken education that paying attention what teacher say more than insisting our idea in class. Actually it was not so easy for me to say my opinion in this class. (I am reflecting about that so much…) So I had an opinion that such the particular Japanese characteristic would be to our disadvantage if we Japanese are under the international situation which I mean when we go study abroad or work at international environment.

However through this class, I could realize the positive aspects of such the Japanese typical characteristics. When the presentation about documentary film about Japan in this class, our team focused on Japanese culture harmonized with Western culture. As you can see, the influence of Western culture is speeding into Japan day by day.
(We can see many shops that came from other country anywhere. This picture can be good example. Recently, in Shinsaibashi, new “Krispy Kreme Doughnuts” shop opened. There is always a long line in front of this shop!)

However instead of changing or disappearing our culture, Japan chose to harmonize both Western culture and Japanese culture. So in that way we Japanese don’t need to lose our own culture and rather create a new culture style.
(Famous overseas brands such as H&M, ZARA, Forever 21, TOPSHOP and American Apparel are still popular in young Japanese fashion culture, however UNIQLO is also trying to establish their own color and unfolding their unique production. This is UT advertisement that corroborated with Japanese famous manga character.)

From the activity of the presentation, I could notice the importance of our proper characteristic that can keep harmony with something. If Japan doesn’t have such the special essence, it is not too much to say that uniquely Japanese culture is might no longer safe under the Western influence. My negative impression for Japanese characteristic was changing better.

From this class and my friends from other countries, I was realized about my ignorance of my own country Japan and culture. Now I am planning to study abroad in Sweden and I would like to take classes about Scandinavian aria studies. However, before study other countries culture, I have to expand my knowledge about my own country Japan more. There are still so many things that I don’t know about Japan here.

I really appreciate this class, Visual Anthropology of Japan, professor and my classmates giving me great opportunity to reconsider about Japan and myself. I would like to keep in mind that I learned from this class and I will try to continue posting blog from now on too.

Thank you so much!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Japanese Garden

Spring has finally come and its great weather make us want to go out. Lately I often go to Japanese Garden where is in Kansai Gaidai at lunch time with my friend.
Have you ever been there? Though I am attending here for three years, I had not been there until recently. Now it is one of my favorite places of Kansai Gaidai. When I visit Japanese Garden, I can be proud that I am Japanese. Its tasteful atmosphere make me comfortable and I can compose myself. It is special time for me to spend there.

When I went back my home town, Isikawa prefecture, last month, I visited Kenroku-en.

In Japan, there are the Three Great Gardens of Japan (三名園, Sanmeien), also known as "the three most famous gardens in Japan" are considered to include Kenroku-en(兼六園)in Kanazawa, Koraku-en(後楽園)in Okayama and Kairaku-en(偕楽園)in Mito. All of their name have special meaning. Kenrokuen means "a garden which combines six characteristics" The six aspects considered important in the notion of an ideal gardens: spaciousness, serenity, venerability, scenic views, subtle design, and coolness. Koraku-en means "a garden of pleasure after" and Kairaku-en means "a garden to enjoy with people." Japanese gardens can be also found at private homes, in neighborhood or city parks, and at historical landmarks such as Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and old castles.

I often had visited Kenroku-en with my friend when I was a high school student. I was getting used to seeing Japanese garden. I could see them everywhere such as in neighborhood and my grandmother and grandfather’s house. It always existed in part of my life. So I didn’t have any interest in Japanese Garden before I came to Kansai Gaidai. However through having relationship with international students, I could have many opportunity to think about what is Japan. I always realized positive aspects of Japan that I had forgotten from conversation with them. Recently we Japanese tend to forget our Japanese culture by promotion of globalization. However even in an increasingly globalization, I want to keep in mind Japaneseness.

If you don’t have any plan for this Golden Week, I would like to recommend you to visit one of “the tree great gardens of Japan”. It would give you wonderful experiences!

Official website of Kenroku-en
Official website of Kouraku-en
Official website of Kairaku-en

Monday, April 19, 2010


Have you ever taken Purikura in Japan? Purikura became popular from the 1990s between Japanese teenagers and it is known as one of Japanese pop culture now.

I often watch the situation that international student take a Purikura when they come Japan. There are some interesting products of Purikura to attract foreigners. These are examples. It is in Narita air port and made to attract foreigners.

And also, in Ryogoku Kokugikan, known as Sumo hall in Tokyo, there are unique Purikura machines that we can take Purikura with Sumo wrestlers.

When I was elementary school student, Purikura started coming in Japan. At that time, it had only a few functions such as making flame and putting on stamp in the picture. However it gradually improved its function such as painting, changing background color, setting the light and so on. Therefore it became popular year by year. Now it is also still improving its functions. Recently, in some Purikura machine, we can make our appearance better than real to use the functions such as changing our hair color, making big round eyes, long and curly eye lush, long legs and slim body. And also there are some Purikura website that tells us some technique of taking Purikura and some information about it. Using these things we can change our appearance easily. I saw some of my friends Purikura but it was loaded too much. Her eyes were too big and she had slender body which was looked like foreigner model. To tell the truth, she was so cute and lovely however it was difficult to know who she is and it seems a little strange and go too far. I supposed that Japanese tend to care about their appearance too much and we can see Japanese is trying to be like foreigner even from Purikura culture.

Recently I had opportunity to take a Purikura. Then I was really surprised. When it was printed and came out, false eyelashes also came out as a free gift!

I’m interested in how Purikura culture go on now more…

second and third photos are taken by here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A coming-of-age ceremony and Kimono fashion

Last Sunday, I had a coming-of-age ceremony(成人式) in my hometown, Ishikawa prefecture. Generally, this ceremony is held on coming-of-age day in second Monday of January. However because of my hometown’s terrible winter weather, it is held in first Sunday of April, beautiful cherry blossom season. In this ceremony, people who have turned or will turn the age of 20 during the current year are cerebrated as new members of society. Then almost all girls wear Kimono that called Furisode and lately most of boys wear suits but some boys who want to stand out in this ceremony tend to put on Hakama that kind of Kimono for men.

Every year, in coming-of-age ceremony season, the latest trends of this ceremony’s fashion such as way of girl’s hair, makeup and Kimono style are usually featured on TV programs or magazines. We can know there are many way to dress Kimono and it is very interesting to realize change of Kimono fashion. I think it become more modern year by year. I could see many people who wore Kimono in my city’s coming-of-age ceremony and they tried to dress it by their own style.

Lately many girls tend to arrange their hair make more largely. This style is called “Mori Hair” (盛りヘアー) that is popular in Japanese GAL culture. This culture is also penetrating into Japanese traditional fashion style such as Kimono.

And some people seemed to enjoy their own unique and original style. This is my good friends. This girl’s style is rare in my city’s ceremony. She is looked like trying to mix with European and Japanese style to use hair dress and lace gloves. And he is also looked like rare because most of boys who wear suits are wearing a tie but he is putting on bow tie.

Most surprising thing for me was some girl’s way to dress Kimono. They tried to take off it to their shoulder and show it. This style of wear Kimono is used by Japanese famous singer Kumi Koda, so it seemed they are attracted by her original style.

Through This coming of age ceremony, even if the way to put on Kimono is changing, it is one of Japanese traditional thing that we should be proud of it. I could feel I am a Japanese and to be grown-up!

If you have an opportunity, I want you to try to wear Kimono and Hakama in Japan!

Forth pic is taken by here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Annie Leibovitz and James Nachtwey

Through watching the films Annie Leibovitz: Life through a Lens and War Photographer, I could realize who took the impressive pictures that I have ever seen somewhere. Both American photographers Annie Leibovitz and James Nachtwey are very talented and well known photographers. Although they have same job such as professional photographer, from comparing them, I could see some different points in them.

I suppose there are big differences from way of photography and approaching to take pictures.
First I would like to focus on the case of Annie Leibovitz.
Her photograph is more artistic that be utilized her high sensibility and almost all her works are colorful and very blight. She uses creative sets and makes unique circumstances when she takes pictures.

Her rich ideas seem to fascinate for some celebrity people who be tired of being taken ordinary portrait such just beautiful. And also she tries to become part of them when she takes person’s photograph. In the film Annie Leibovitz: Life through a Lens, she mentions “To become part of them is the best way to take the greatest photograph”. I think the reason why she can create “story portrait” that people call her works is in such her words.

Next I would like to focus on the case of James Nachtwey.
His photograph is more natural and almost all his works are used black and white. Such as monochrome photograph show us the bitter truth of war more directly than bright color photograph, I think.

And his way of approaching to take pictures is also different from Leibovitz. When I watched the film War Photographer, I was wondering why local people admitted his existence although they were in helpless circumstance because of war and poverty. However he tries to approach people to respect him when he takes a photograph. I could see his gentle behavior that tries to not speak loudly, move smoothly and eye contact with people. From his act I learned it is important to approach people with respect when we are taking photographs.

I had never cared about way of photography and approach to take pictures before I watch the films Annie Leibovitz: Life through a Lens and War Photographer. So it was good opportunity for me to reconsider about my style of photography.




Monday, March 1, 2010

A portrait of the people

I would like to write about one of my friends Lacey, is from Florida, The United States. It was last hot summer when we met first time. We were same group of “Kyoto Tour”. We went to Kyoto together and visited Kiyomizu Temple, ate Okonomiyaki and famous green tea parfait (It was really great, I recommend you to try it while you are in Japan.). After Kyoto Tour, we are also keeping in touch and hanging out together.

I took this photo in front of fountain at Kansai Gaidai. It was sunny and hot day, so we ate lunch together there and talked a lot as usual. She is crazy about one of Japanese famous idol who is Yama-P. I don’t have interest in such idol (sorry, Lacey!), but I really like when she talk to me about Yama-P. I hope she can meet him someday. And also, we talked about “name” at the time. She was interested in Japanese name and said I want to get that. So my friends and I tried to think about her Japanese name. But we couldn’t find nice name then, so we will find and present Japanese nice name for her until when she leave Japan.

Recently we went to TSUTAYA and she bought manga to study Japanese. The manga that she bought was ONEPIECE which is most popular manga in Japan and also my most favorite manga. In that manga, there are many kanji but kana is also written above it, so it seems not so difficult for her to read it. Sometime she asked me what her unknown words, and I thought her that mean. I am glad to feel her Japanese is improving. On the other hand, she always helps my study English too. When I depressed about my English skill, she gave me positive words and encouraged me. It made me motivated to improve my ability of English more. I hope we help each other from now on too, and make a good relationship more!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Neighborhood Miyanosaka

About two years have passed since I moved in Osaka from my hometown Ishikawa. Now I live in Miyanosaka, Hirakata City by myself. I would like to introduce about my favorite neighbor Miyanosaka.

This is one of my favorite places “Amanogawa” (天野川) that name means “Milky Way River” in English.
This river is the place remembered in connection with the “Tanabata” (七夕) that is famous tale of Japan.
Have you heard of the Japanese Tanabata festival? The festival is usually held on July 7, and celebrates the meeting of two stars, Orihime (Vega of the constellation Lyra) and Hikoboshi (Altair of the constellation Aquila). The story behind Tanabata is quite romantic. Once upon a time in the universe, the stars Orihime and Hikoboshi met and fell in love with each other. However after the marriage, Orihime would no longer weave cloth and Hikoboshi would no longer herd cows. The god of the universe became mad, and separated the two by laying the huge Milky Way River between them. Ever since then, Orihime and Hikoboshi are allowed to see each other only once a year on Tanabata, the night of July 7. So this river, “Amanogawa” is known as “Milky Way River” of Tanabata’s tale.
And also, In the spring, we can see a lot of cherry blossoms in this river’s dry riverbed and many people gather to enjoy a picnic under the cherry blossoms(お花見) every spring. If you have chance, please come to experience お花見 with your friends!

This is “Kudaraou Shrine” (百済王神社) which is one of famous place in Hirakata City. When I moved in Hirakata, I went to pray to my new life in Hirakata in this shrine.

Do you know how to pay homage at a shrine? This is how we worship. At first, Please stand before the altar ,bow once, and ring a bell. Next, throw small change in the offering box and take deep bows twice. Put your hands together and pray and bow again before you leave.
You can go there about 15 minutes on foot from Kansai Gaidai, so if you have a free time why don’t you go visit there?
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