Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Definition of Itadakimasu

I got curious to see what this word actually meant so I looked it up and found out that it actually means "I humbly receive" then Gochisoosama means Thank you for the meal.


Itadakimasu!

I hear this a lot when I watch Anime and Japanese dramas where they always say "Itadakimasu!" before they eat. I knew when it should be said but at the time I didn't know what it meant or why they said it until my Japanese teacher covered it for us. Every Japanese person say it before their meal. It just means Thank you for the food, everyone sat round the table says it.

I'm not sure if its to say thank you to someone in particular who prepared the meal or, if it's saying thank you to nature? God? ..Supermarket?
Or maybe its to thank everyones hard work that earns them the food they feed to the family? This one sounds about right I think.

I once went out for a meal with my Japanese friend called Aki and she mentioned how confused she was when she first came to england and no-one over here said anything like .. Thank you for the food or anything. She thought it was quite impolite at first.

I just love how polite the Japanese are!

Here are some table manners that you should follow if you are in Japan:
(I learnt this in my Japanese lesson and found it interesting)


  • It's alright to slurp noodles/ramen in Japan because it shows that you are enjoying their noodles! 
  • In Japan, people share several dishes together. So when you grab some food from the shared dishes, you must use the opposite end of your chopsticks. Unless they already have a spare pair for everyone to use. 
  • Like other countries, it is very rude to burp during a meal.
  • Never stab your chopsticks into your rice! This will remind them of death and funerals. So keep your chopsticks on the side.
  • Blowing your nose at a table is considered bad mannered 
  • When you eat rice from a bowl, you hold the bowl towards your mouth whilst scooping it in with your other hand using the chopsticks. 
And once they finished their meal they would say "Gochisoosama" (Thank you for the food)

Monday, 30 April 2012

Apricot

I thought this Apricot cream pot that my mother got me looked quite cute itself. I wanted to see if I could make it look any cuter. 

The faces doesn't have to be a smiley to make them look cute. It can be any facial expression as long as it gives them a personality. For my Apricot I decided to give him a kind of a chewing face so that it looks like he's eating which I think really suits him in my opinion! 

Doesn't he look cute?! I'm going to name him .. Sorby! 

SORBY THE APRICOT! 

Friday, 27 April 2012

Origami Heart bookmark

I learnt this off a video from Youtube. Thought it looked very useful if you enjoy reading or just keeping in track of where you left off in your work. The heart makes the bookmark look really cute. Wasn't difficult to make but I did get confused at one point. 

Everyone finds heart shapes cute. Its just so lovely and warm to look at for some reason. 


This is what it looks like when you bookmark a page in your book! you can only see the heart poking out :) 


It amazes me how much you can do with just one piece of paper! Sometimes you can make it into useful stuff such as this book mark or turn it into a box, or something pleasant to look at like a flower. If you ask me, I'd say Japanese are geniuses.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Transformation from Dull to Cute!


What elements do they use to make something cute? ...


  • A facial expression
  • A sense of personality
  • A cute accessory 
  • Girlie colours 
So I decided to give this book a makeover. 



Since I thought the origami bow that I made was very cute, I decided to stick it on the book so it looks just like a hair clip that girls would wear to look cute in. 

I know the faces are photoshopped, but I didn't have any tip-ex on me so it had to be photoshopped. I had to give them a face to complete the Kawaii look! 


Was I successful? Does she look cute now? 


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Interview with a foreigner in Japan

I caught up with a friend who lived in the UK and moved over to Japan to work for a few years. I took this opportunity to interview him. What I want to learn from this interview is the differences between the UK and Japan and his thoughts and feelings about that place. 

Interview starts here: 

Me: what made u want to live in japan?

Laurie: It's a better way to experience a new culture by living and working in a country; I didn't want to be a tourist for two weeks. Jet seemed like the ideal opportunity

Me: what would you say is the minimum amount of stay to not be classed as a tourist?

Laurie: I think working in Japan for any amount of time means you're not a tourist. But I guess 6 months to really get a decent flavour of true Japan

Me: is their working life better over there?

Laurie: Pros and cons, they (teachers) work much harder, much longer hours, weekends, and no overtime pay. However they go all out at work parties and holidays. They (teachers) have a much better relationship with students and their parents than UK schools. I would say, generally Japanese people work much harder than UK people; have less holidays and much less free time. I wouldn't want to be a Japanese person working in Japan. Being a foreign teacher in Japan is much easier, and you have much more free time than Japanese people.

Me: oooh i see. That’s quite interesting to hear about their relationships with students and their parents.

Me: is there anything you don't like about Japan?

Laurie: Erm, not really. They do things differently as you'd expect being in another country, so if you're understanding and open minded you'll get along fine. Of course there are things I miss from the UK, but in general Japanese life is great for me. Oh, umeboshi (sour plum).. I hate it haha! Ruins my bento if I accidentally eat it :)

Me: ohh. What do you miss from the UK? Does this mean you would live the rest of your life in Japan if you could?

Laurie: I miss my friends and family a lot. I also miss my cat lol. I miss gaming with my friends and sleeping in late in my comfy bed. I also miss space. My bedroom in the UK is almost as big as my apartment lol. I miss UK pizzas too lol.
If I could continue my job in Japan for the rest of my life and would still be living with my GF I might consider it. I have a great live hear at the moment, and will probably be a little lost when I return to the UK after 2-3 years out here. I have a great life :)

Me: A little lost?
Laurie: As in not sure what to do next for my job

Me: What about the dangers or earthquakes? Does that not put you off?

Laurie: Not at all. If it did I wouldn't be living out here. There are many dangers in life; if you're prepared and know what to do in case of an earthquake then chances are you'll be ok

Me: I guess you’re right about that. But aren't you worried about the radiation and the tsunami that happened in japan?

Laurie: Nope, Japan is doing everything it can to prevent radiation poisoning, they are pretty experienced with the effects after World War 2. You wouldn't know that there was a large earthquake and nuclear disaster that happened a year ago being here in Kobe. Life goes on, Japanese people are survivors

Me: What are the people like over there?

Laurie: Japanese people are incredibly friendly and welcoming. They will pretty much go massively out of their way to help out a stranger if asked. They are nothing like people from the UK in that respect lol. I never once experienced aggression of feeling on edge here in Japan. Despite obviously being a foreigner.
But deep down, Japanese people are just like everyone else; they still have the same worries and thoughts as we do. There may be cultural differences, but underneath all that people are people. Wherever you go :)

Me:  Aww that’s nice of them! So have you made any Japanese friends?

Laurie: Sure, I consider most of my teachers as my friends

Me: Do you find it hard to communicate with them with the language barrier?

Laurie: Not too much, I'm lucky as most of the English teachers speak good English. Just gesture and use key words a lot and you'll get along fine haha

Me: Ohh that’s good then! I’m glad you’re having a great time over there. I wish you the best!

Origami Bow

My origami bow that I just learnt to make! I was just going through my Pinterest to see if I have anything interesting on there and came across this origami bow that I thought was very cute and could use it to decorate gifts. Its great to decorate gifts to friends and family because its hand made which makes it even more special! 


Isn't this cute?! 

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

2nd button

A japanese friend of mine mentioned to me that one their Graduation Day, the guy will give their 2nd button from their school uniform to the person they like. They use this to confess their feelings to that person.

Why the 2nd button?
Because it is closest to the heart. They say the 2nd button contains memories and feelings he kept throughout these years. Receiving a 2nd button means he wants you to remember him and understand his feelings. The girl can also ask for the 2nd button from the guy that she likes. 

I find this really cute! I can imagine how nerve racking it is on the day. I sometimes wish we did that over here in England. It would be interesting to see how many buttons I'd get, if any. I do find it really adorable! 

Why is Japan so cute?! 

My attempt to draw someone in Anime style

At the Japanese festival someone was drawing people in Anime/Manga style so I thought I'd give it a try myself. I attempted to draw my friend Jack and this is the outcome of my drawing. 

I'll be honest and say this doesn't really look like my friend at all. However it does look like an Anime character though which I guess is good enough for now. 


I might give it another go and draw other people. 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Kawaii cupcake!

I found him in one of those grabbing machines in the arcades! Thought he looked really cute and I just instantly knew I wanted him :) This is actually meant to be a cupcake. 

I couldn't help but look at this cupcake and think about how it is related to the Kawaii culture in Japan. 
Kawaii means cute in japanese so I guess you can guess what type of culture that is.

What makes it cute? 

The first thing I recognise when I look at this cupcake is the face. The face gives it a personality, not just because it has a face but also the expression of the face it shows. Its like a cupcake has come to life! The strawberry and the cookie added on top of the cupcake are very girlie and childish taste. I think this makes it a bit mischievous and fun along with the expression kind of winking at the customer tempting them to 'eat me', we all know too much cupcakes are bad for you, but you can't help your temptations when you see something pleasing to the eyes. Lastly, its a cupcake. Whats not to love about cupcakes? Kids especially love cupcakes as much as adults.  

Friday, 20 April 2012

Asian Disney?

Have you heard of Studio Ghibli before? They are a series of anime films by Hayao Miyasaki. Studio Ghibli was formed in 1985, although their first film they released was "Nausicaa of the valley of the wind"in 1984 before Studio Ghibli was founded it is still classed as one of the Studio Ghibli films. 

Studio Ghibli kind of reminds me of Disney a bit but in Asia, I'd say Studio Ghibli is their type of Disney although Disney itself is also big in Asia too. 

I was very young when I first watched these films. The first film I watched was "Grave of the Fireflies" I remember enjoying watching it but I was too young to understand any of it. I became more of a fan when Spirited away came out, absolutely loved it. Since then, I have became a massive fan of theirs. 

Its interesting how Studio Ghibli creates films that seems to be aimed at children because of their style of art, but then the story is a bit complicated for a child to understand. Japanese producers likes to create films with a deep meaning within their storyline. Each of these films has a deep meaning in them which I think shows an important lesson in life that people don't realise. 


This is my collection of the DVD's so far. I've not got many but I plan to collect them all one day hopefully. 

What is it that I like so much about Studio Ghibli?

  • I love their art work 
  • Their secret meanings in the story. You have to look and think deep to understand what they're trying to show to you. 
  • The storyline. Unlike Disney where the princess finds their prince, Studio Ghibli films shows determination and courage, saving the planet, creating peace rather than a fairytale. 
  • I am a massive fan of their music. My favourite music composer Joe Hisaishi composes music for Studio Ghibli films 
  • Each film has its unique story 
  • They use a lot of female heroins 
  • I'm a big Japan fan so the language is also a plus for me 

"Hunger makes humans healthier"

I found a blog from a Japanese woman who talked about a book she found in Japan that caught her attention. It really interested me too. The book was along the lines of "Hunger makes humans healthier" in Japanese.

I thought it was very different to the english health view because we always say we must eat 3 meals a day to stay healthy and live longer. However this Doctor in Japan, Dr Nagumo aged 59 only has 1 meal a day and feels more energetic and looks 20 years younger. I couldn't believe how young he looked for his age!


I couldn't find an image of him other than from that post I saw. 
http://tokyokawaiietc.com/

I think this kind of explains why my brother who is 10 years older than me looks around my age! On most days, he has 1 or 2 meals because of his weird sleeping patterns. I always thought it was strange how young my brother looked but I guess this explains why. 

I'm not sure if I'd ever be able to live with 1 meal a day. I love food too much! But if it really does make you look a lot younger .. maybe its worth it? 

Thursday, 19 April 2012

"A year in Japan"

I was told about this artist called Kate T Williamson who made a book of 30 postcards of Japan. I enjoyed looking through her work showing her experience and differences between our culture and the Japanese cultures. Her images tells us a lot about their tradition sharing her experience from the everyday life in Japan. She illustrates them really well.

http://www.katetwilliamson.com/japan.htm

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Setsubun

I remember when I was working at Yama sushi on the 3rd February a Japanese customer came in and asked for a Futomaki without it being cut into pieces. I thought it was quite strange because its hard enough to eat a sushi in little pieces.

A Futomaki is a really big sushi roll that has cucumber, inari (tofu skin), radish, avocado etc.

Afterwards she explained to me that every year on the 3rd of February japanese people would order a what they call a Eho-maki in Japan similar to the Futomaki. With this you're meant to eat the whole sushi roll facing a specific direction. She explained that each year you face a different direction. It is said that if you do this without talking to anyone until you finish eating your sushi roll, they believe it will bring you good luck for the whole year.

I find stuff like this very interesting and I too was tempted to give it a try. I'll remember to do it next year.

Title design?


So I thought I'd try and design my own blog title and this is what I came up with. I thought I'd try and make the font relate to the 'Rabbit of the moon' theme by drawing hidden rabbits within the letters and a moon. Also I quite like the Ying Yang sign which symbolises peace, I took the japanese letter "の" and mutated with this symbol. Not everyone can read japanese so I included some Romaji above the japanese characters. Just like my blog background, I used another cherry blossom image vaguely showing.

This took me 3 hours to do. But it doesn't look right on my blog at all so I'm just going to keep my title as it is.

Monday, 16 April 2012

More Cherry Blossoms

I absolutely love cherry blossoms! I can't help but take pictures of them whenever I come across them.

I used this one as my background image for this blog. 


The colour looks so pure and beautiful. It makes me happy just looking at them! 

Hello Kitty

Since I was a child I have always collected Hello Kitty. Everyone bought me Hello Kitty every year, so as the years go by I end up having a collection of Hello Kitty. People still buy me Hello Kitty stuff. I'm not as obsessed as I used to as a kid, but I'd be happy to accept gifts of Hello Kitty just to add to my collection.

Although I had many Hello Kitty objects thrown away, I still have a fair amount. I can't express how much Hello Kitty has taken over the world. There are literally Hello Kitty everything! From Hotels to gravestones.

Looking at my Hello Kitty collection now, I can spot Hello Kitty .. :


  • Rug
  • Table
  • Clock
  • Bag
  • Models
  • Plush toys
  • Money box
  • Poster
  • Cushion 
  • Lamp
  • Purse
  • Shower gel
  • Shampoo
  • Hand wash
  • Phone charm
  • Diary
  • Notebooks 
  • Crayons
  • Make-up bag
  • Hair bobble
  • Tissue cover
  • Stereo
  • Ipod case
I'm quite impressed with my collection! Although I am moving on from Hello Kitty, I don't think I will ever throw away Hello Kitty's I've collected over the years. 

Thinking back to when I was a kid. Why did I like Hello Kitty so much? 

Maybe because I grew up loving cats. So yes, I am a cat lover so I guess that relates to why I like Hello Kitty so much. 

Did the colour have anything to do with it? ... Hello Kitty was mainly baby pink coloured but sometimes they'd make them baby blue too. I was never a big fan of pink but the majority of the Hello Kitty's I have are pink so I guess the colour doesn't really matter to me as long as it's Hello Kitty. 

Hello Kitty is just a cat with 2 black dots as her eyes, whiskers, a pink nose and a bow on one of her ear. The design is so simple yet everyone loves Hello Kitty.

I'm interested as to why is Hello Kitty so famous around the world? 



Can you tell the difference between Japanese and Chinese?

I sometimes find it difficult to tell between Japanese and Chinese. However, sometimes I can distinguish the differences with the way they act. I find that Japanese people tend to use more body language and are more polite when talking whereas in my opinion, the chinese are more loud. Japanese girls seem to act more cute which I think is part of their culture as well with the whole Kawaii theme going on in Japan.

I asked other people whether they can tell the difference between chinese and japanese.

The majority that said yes was asian and commented that you can see a difference in their eyes and skin tone where the Japanese have paler skin. They also mentioned that they can sometimes just sense whether they'r japanese not. The tone of voice is a lot different to the chinese and also the accent when speaking in English, similar to what I said about the way they speak.

Non asian people finds it a lot harder to distinguish the differences between the Japanese and the Chinese.

I'm chinese and I still find it difficult to tell the difference at times. But that might be because I have not been around Japanese people much at all.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Gundam Models

Looking back on the interview I did in the previous post. I asked people if they collected anything that was related to Japan and Gundam was one of their collections. 

For those who don't know what Gundams are, It is a very well known Anime which has several series and movies. Asia has grown to love this Anime to the extent of building a real life size Gundam in Japan. The actual size that is shown in the Anime. I find that quite impressive. I'm not a big Gundam fan, but I would like to go and see the life sized Gundam one day and just compare the size of that machine. 

I know my brother collects many gundam models. Here is one of his model from his collection. 



The detail of this Gundam is quite impressive to say that it was built piece by piece with instructions.  


I asked my brother why he enjoys collecting Gundam models so much and his reply was:

"I think the Anime is really cool to watch with full of action and sci fi technology. I'm interested in their detailed technology and art of the machines which inspires me to collect and build their Gundam models. I enjoy following their instructions to completing the model and looking back at them makes me feel proud. Every Gundam is different so it is easy to be tempted to buy more."

Monday, 9 April 2012

Japanese Lemonade

Not quite sure what they call this drink in English. This Japanese Lemonade drink has a tint of bubblegum taste in it. I really like the bubblegum taste to this which makes it different from any other drinks invented.

What amuses me the most about this drink isn't the flavour, but the bottle design which kept me amused. In order to open up this bottle, you must use that green cap to push the marble into the bottle. I needed to use quite a lot of force to push the marble in which fizzed and bubbled up as it went into the drink. I found it very fascinating at first, seeing a marble bubbling inside the bottle. 

Before the marble got pushed in

Marble inside the bottle (You can see the bubbles surrounding the marble)

For some reason, I was very entertained just by shaking the bottle about hearing the marble rattle against the glass. Apparently the bottle was designed for little kids to play with in Japan, but I couldn't help but think how dangerous it would be if they smashed it up. Although the bottle was quite secure and strong. I liked the marble idea so much that I tried to take the marble out of the glass bottle by picking the mouth cap open, but it just seemed impossible. The only solution I can think of is to smash the glass, which might not be a wise idea. 


The cap feels very pleasant to drink out of with the smooth, round surface. 

I have never come across a bottle design like this before. 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Final Fantasy Piano Collections

So one of my favourite thing about Final Fantasy is their music. I admire their music so much! Their music composer is very well known to people who are fans of video games. 
His name is Nobuo Uematsu. One of the most famous music composers in Japan. I absolutely love the music they composed for the games and they released Piano collections from the music. 

I was inspired when I first heard their piano music and knew that I had to learn to play the piano because it sounded so beautiful. It is surprising how just this one game has inspired me in different ways. 

Being a big fan, I plan on collecting all the Final Fantasy piano collection books. However it isn't easy to get ahold of being in the UK. Its a shame that none of our music stores have these books in stock. So I'm having to order them online which costs a lot considering shipping costs too. 

So far I only have 2 piano books of theirs. This one is Final Fantasy 8, but this isn't the piano collection. This one is just the original soundtracks just played on piano which I don't think sound as good as the piano collections. 

 Final Fantasy 7 Piano Collection. I was so happy when I first got this! 

Why am I so interested in Japanese piano songs more than english?

Most of the piano songs I hear in english are mainly classical which kind of sound similar to each other. I find that it doesn't express emotions enough. I do still like them very much. But I have grown to love
Final Fantasy piano music so much that I can't stop and move on until I've learnt the songs that I loved. Maybe this could relate back to my childhood memory too?

With english games, I find that the music isn't as important in their games because they don't express it as much as they do in Japanese games. They use the same theme for each series which doesn't make each game as individual as they should be, or maybe thats how they want it to be seen?

Music always expresses the story more and makes it more dramatic which is what I love about these Japanese games. Now their music is really big around the world especially asia, where they started doing tours and concerts which I really want to see at some point. I am truly touched with their music.

Final Fantasy

What made me so obsessed with Japan?

Thinking back, I remember when I first sat and watched my brother play on a game called Final Fantasy. There was something about this game that really captivated me although the story was slow. Maybe it was the music, graphics and also the story combined with a fantasy twist that took me into another world. Since then I grew up playing Final Fantasy games, I knew it was made in Japan so as a child it was my dream to work for them. 

Final Fantasy is one of the most well known game in Asia and now everywhere in the world. This is by far one of my favourite game. Out of the many series of Final Fantasy, I can't decide my favourite although I wasn't so keen on the newer ones. 

(Final Fantasy also taught me how to read roman numerals) 

So here are FF10-2, FF10 and Dirge of Ceberus which is an extra from the number 7 series. 

 FF7 (one of the most popular) and FF8 

FF9 and FF origins (1, 2 and 3)

FF13-2 (the newest one) and FF13

FF12. I'd say this is probably my least favourite. 

So there are numerous reasons why I like Final Fantasy so much. But I wonder what other peoples opinions are for this game. 



Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Interview!

I interviewed 4 people about their interest in Japan. Its interesting to see other peoples thoughts on Japan as well as my own so I prepared 10 questions.

Q1 - What do you like about Japan? 

Person1: Culture, anime, traditional architecture, sense of pride in work, meritocracy, language, history and natural beauty

Person 2: I really like the culture and i find it unique and intriguing like the tradition with samurai's, pagodas etc. The modern side is cool, beautifully futuristic cities. Being a video games fan, I have grown to love the country through their superior creation. I gained huge respect for their abilities in the field of study.

Person 3: Their creativity, food, video games.

Person 4: Pretty, clean, hi-tech, very cool. They have a lot of innovative stuff invented.

Q2 - At what point in your life did you first find an interest in Japan? 

Person 1: Since 18 when I started to study Japanese. 

Person 2: I guess I have been interested in Japan almost as far as I remember. Played games since the age of 4 and was aware of the fact that the best ones were made in Japan. As I got older, I took more and more interest in the country. I started importing games from Japan in early teens. Always wanted to learn the language so I could understand it all. Interest kept growing and I find it all really fascinating and unique. 

Person 3: 2001/2002 when Metal Gear Solid 2 came out and realised it was a japanese developer. 

Person 4: 14-15 

Q3 - What interests of yours are related to Japan? 

Person 1: Anime, Games, Japanese Novels. 

Person 2: Video games. I think most people with an interest in Japan find enjoyment out of all Japan's entertainment exports. I however, have never really got into anime or manga comics. Not a massive fan, but I think traditional Japanese music interests me also. The old Japanese instruments such as biwa, shakuhachi, taiko etc. Nothing as enduring as my passion for Japanese video games, but it's something I find interesting. 

Person 3: Video games, food (sushi) and art such as manga. 

Person 4: Food, technology (gadgets), beauty products and make-up. Not keen on clothes because I find them a bit too funky for me. 

Q4 - If you went to Japan, where would you visit first? 

Person 1: Tokyo. Capital of Japan. 

Person 2: Although the traditional side of Japan is very interesting to me, it would have to be ultra modern city of Tokyo! I'm more of a city person, and Tokyo seems like such an amazing city. So much to see and do! 

Person 3: Kyoto. Would rather see the more traditional side first. 

Person 4: Countryside and traditional area. Maybe some place like Kyoto. 

Q5 - Is there anything you collected over the years made/originated from Japan? 

Person 1: Gundam models and anime. 

Person 2: Japanese video games and import games. I had Japanese versions of each major console but I used to buy games from a mail order shop in Leeds who specialised in Japanese imports. Buying import games is rare for me now, but I still collect PAL versions of video games from my favourite Japanese companies such as Sega, Namco and Capcom. 

Person 3: No, nothing really. I wouldn't be counting manga, it's hardly a collection. 

Person 4: Studio Ghibli movies. 

Q6 - What do you find negative about Japan? 

Person 1: Can be quite sexist. Xenophobic (not welcoming to foreign people and culture) and unpleasant history. 

Person 2: I think the danger of the country is something that puts me off slightly. Obviously it cannot be helped, but the frequency of earthquakes would be quite terrifying for foreigners. Foreigners find the fact that they feel an earthquake about twice a week very frightening and although the natives I know are used to it, they still find the prospect of another large earthquake very unsettling. I would fancy living in Japan for at least some part of my life, but the constant possibility of danger is obviously a negative. 

Person 3: Some of their attitudes are stuck in the past, but that counts for over here to a lesser extent. For example, women are still seen as second to guys. 

Person 4: Quite patriotic. Keeps to themselves and quite strict with their culture. I think its not good to live there if your not Japanese. 

Q7 - Would you ever consider living there permanently? 
If yes, Why? 

Person 1: Yes, nice place to raise kids and good education. 

Person 2: Yes, I would definitely consider it. I'm a little patriotic, so staying in England is ok by me, but if I had to pick a country to go and live, Japan would be my top choice. Plus it's the home of the industry I like the most, so if I get a chance to work making games in Japan, that would be a dream of mine. 

Person 3: Am considering it after university. Ideally now. Would like to get a job in games either in Konami or Square. I find their industry is better than the UK's. 

Person 4: No, can't speak their language. 

Q8 - Do you have any important object/collection that relates to Japan? 
What makes you so attached to them? 

Person 1: No

Person 2: I have many games and things from Japan that holds sentimental value, due to them being bought for me by my parents. Although I could make a fair amount of money selling them, it wouldn't feel right, they are important to me. Also I have a really nice scarf which was knitted for me by my Japanese girlfriend, that is really important to me! 

Person 3: None. 

Person 4: No. 


From interviewing others, I have learnt a few things. I learnt that the majority of the people who find an interest of Japan are mainly through the Japanese entertainment fields such as video games, anime etc. There's nothing about the Japanese technology or entertainment that anybody dislikes. The majority are already considering to live in Japan at some part of their lives. Was very interesting to see other peoples thoughts on Japan. 


Monday, 2 April 2012

Koto

A japanese woman performing on her Koto. Sounds lovely and calm and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance. Its not something that I'd listen to all the time but I would like to learn to play the Koto. It looks really advance to play. The way they read their music looks a lot different to how we read music for piano, guitar etc. 

I love how elegant the movement is in the hand. 


Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Abake Limb Type

Here's a type that you wouldn't have seen before in the world of Typography. Abake uses human limbs to spell Japanese words.
A very interesting design type. 

U G Sato

Here's a Japanese artist called U G Sato. He does a lot of environmental posters combining animals with nature to portray the meaning. 


"Taku-san no Fushigi" - I think Taku-san is known as somebody and "no" is a belonging word in Japanese but I don't know what the last bit means unfortunately. 

I really like this Poster with the elephant. If you look at it closely in the negative spaces, you can see there are other animals embedded between the gaps that matches with the elephant. Not just the elephant but also the dog and the cat. It's very easy to distinguish the animals in this drawing.

Here's the website: http://ugsato.com/

Origami

Since I was 8 years old, I grew an interest in Origami. It was my mums friend that randomly folded a T-shirt out of paper that really fascinated me. I was really impressed as a child and so she decided to teach me. Since then I became more interested in this art form and moved on to learning to fold other objects. 

Origami never fails to impress people. I live in England, so maybe very few people know Origami so they tend to find it amusing. I find that Origami is more of an asian thing and is more well known in Asia than it is here, in Europe. 

Origami's a beautiful thing. It gets people so confused as to how you made something so beautiful and delicate out of one piece of paper.

I wonder if people will still be as impressed as the people here?

Here are my Origami's:

The one above is a Lilly. One of my favourites! 
 Heart with wings. Works better with different coloured sides. 
 Butterfly. Relatively simple, but hard to remember I'd say. 
 Love Heart. You can fold this using a £5 note if you wish. Always makes a great gift! 
 T-shirt. This was the first one I learnt.
 Star shaped box. Quite handy to store stuff in. 
Cranes. Probably one of the most popular and well known one in the world. 

I give a lot of my Origami away to my friends and family as gifts. It is a great way to impress people :D 
Where did I learn these? I had friends who knew some Origami and I also buy Origami books. Some instructions won't be easy to follow. But nowadays you will find a lot of video tutorials on Youtube. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Akira Yoshizawa

As most of you will have noticed the google logo on the 14th March wednesday, they celebrated the grandmaster of origami who would've reached 101 that day.



Yoshizawa turned origami from a children's pastime to a serious art form known across the globe. He was known for his innovative folding techniques. 
A japanese magazine commissioned him to illustrate the 12 signs of the Japanese zodiac using paper folding techniques which put him onto the international stage. Since then, his work has been exhibited around the world and he has published more than a dozen books on his art form. 

I've always been a big fan on origami and learnt to fold quite a few things. What I love about origami is the beauty that comes out from something so plain and simple. Its amazing to see a piece of paper transform into something so beautiful. I didn't know where origami came from until I noticed the google logo that day which caught my interest. 

Monday, 26 March 2012

1000 Cranes

Origami cranes are really popular in Japan. There is a story about these cranes. It is said that whoever folds 1000 of these origami cranes, their wish will be granted. 

There was once a girl who had an incurable disease and wished to get back to good health. Each day she would fold paper cranes in hope that she would reach 1000. Sadly before she could make 1000 paper cranes, she passed away. 

They say that folding 1000 paper cranes pleases the gods so they do you a favour and grant you one wish.
I love hearing stories like these, even though there wasn't much of a story in them. But I find it cute how they believe that doing something like this would grant them their wishes. 


Do I believe that my wish will be granted if I make 1000 origami cranes?

Hmmm... I'd like to believe it would happen. Can't say I'd rather sit here and fold cranes in hoping my dream will come true one day rather than going out there trying to achieve it. I've been folding paper cranes for a long time but who knows how many cranes I've folded. I normally give them away to a friend or family, Its not something I do everyday. 

Maybe I should give it a try as some experiment one day?

I'll let you know if my wishes do come true :) 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Joe Hisaishi

So I thought I'd share with you my favourite music composer. He is the music composer for the famous Studio Ghibli films in Japan which are well known around the world. I absolutely admire his skills in composing and performing, always puts a smile on my face whenever I watch videos of him performing. I hope that one day I am able to go to his concert!

Heres one of his performances performing "Summer"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEb4TG10jW8&feature=BFa&list=PL95A723BF1FCDAC68&lf=plpp_video

Absolutely beautiful! I wish I can play the piano as good as him one day.

What is the difference between Anime and Cartoons?

It's easy to distinguish the differences between anime and cartoons just by looking at them.

For example:
 Dexter's Laboratory
Suzumiya Haruhi

Just by looking at them you can straight away see the differences between them. Cartoon drawings tends to be dull with very little detail as you can see Dexter only has 3 fingers and a thumb. The first thing that many people notices when they watch an anime for their first time is the characters eyes. Anime characters tends to have big glossy eyes. Not just the eyes, but the hair is very important too in anime design. Their hair design has mainly 3 different shades whereas the cartoon character only has 1 shade. Anime characters has a very detailed human figure and the details are flawless from head to toe and even the costumes. 

Its not just the looks that are different, but I think anime are more aimed at young teens to adults. Yes, a lot of adults are into anime. Why? I think because of their well art and story. Anime stories tend to have a twist in them and the plots are a lot more complicated than Cartoons. 

Me in Manga drawing

Do you ever wonder what you might look like as an anime character? 

Well here is a drawing of me in anime style. I was wearing a Kimono at the time. In my opinion, I don't think this looks very anime style, but I do still think it looks good. The hair style looks quite similar to my real hair but I'm not sure about the colour. 
I went to another person who was also drawing people in anime style. I wanted to see what the other girl's style of anime looked like. 

I thought the 2nd drawing looked more like an anime character however I still think the eyes should be a bit bigger to fit in the style of anime. My hair colour matched more in this image. 


What distinguishes an anime/manga style drawing?

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Calligraphy

Calligraphy is something I wanted to try for a while. I love how each brushstroke follows a particular direction and where the flicks end up. I think this adds a traditional and historical element to it. 

The right hand side is what a Japanese lady had done for me to imitate and the left hand side is what I did. You can tell a big difference between someone who has never tried calligraphy before and someone who is trained in calligraphy. 

Writing a few letters using a calligraphy brush was harder than expected because you have to make sure you point the brush at the right direction, stop at the right time, know when to flick, etc.  

This piece of work spells my name 'Helen' in Japanese. I would love to try more on calligraphy. 

Monday, 19 March 2012

Japanese store

At the Spirit of the Japan festival they had a store that sells japanese stuff there! Such as drinks, sweets, mini anime models, books, manga's etc. all originated from Japan. Most of the sweets and drinks I have never seen before. I decided to buy this Peach flavoured drink seeing as I quite like the sound of Peach flavour but it didn't appeal to me. I thought the flavour was too bland, well it didn't really have much flavour in.

The white bottled drinks are called Calpis which I have tried before at work. I still can't decide whether I like it or not. It kind of tastes a bit milky with a tint of yogurt taste but a bit fizzy with a tiny bit of sourness to the beverage. Not something I'd choose to drink but I'd drink it if there was no other preferences. I do prefer this Calpis drink to the Peach one I tried recently. 


Japanese sweets 

Tea Ceremony


Their tea ceremony looked very interesting and I wish I had the chance experience what a tea ceremony was like. However, just looking at how the table is set up makes it look very traditional and very cultural. I find their pots very elegantly designed and also the use of colour signifies nature. 


I love how the colours gives it an imperfection but at the same time it makes it look beautiful.