Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Sound of Water: Haiku by Basho, Buson, Issa, and Other Poets




Editorial Reviews
Review

"The Zen aesthetic, so often imitated, is presented here without embellishment—full of earthy humor, poignant description, and subtle spirituality."—The Bloomsbury Review

"This is an enjoyable collection . . . and perfect for a Christmas stocking."—The Japan Times

Book Description

Here are more than two hundred of the best haiku of Japanese literature translated by one of America’s premier poet-translators. The haiku is one of the most popular and widely recognized poetic forms in the world. In just three lines a great haiku presents a crystalline moment of image, emotion, and awareness. This illustrated collection includes haiku by the great masters from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Japanese

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Harajuku Girls

Harajuku girl, used to identify girls who gather in Harajuku district, Tokyo, Japan. Their costumes is in several different styles of clothing that originated in the culture of Japan's major cities.

The term is not only monopolized by those who gather in the district themselves, but has become a relatively popular expression in the United States. Popular use originated from the American singer Gwen Stefani's 2004 Love.Angel.Music.Baby album, which brought attention to Stefani's entourage of four supposed "Harajuku Girls" who were hired to portray the look, three of whom are Japanese and one of whom is Japanese American. These "Harajuku Girls" are not in fact the fashion aficionados or the home sewing hobbyists from whence they derive their name.

Harajuku is a popular iconic placed in the world of entertainment, inside and outside of Japan. It was said that the girls of Harajuku are “beauty stars of Japan”. The American singer Gwen Stefani puts Harajuku reference in several of her songs and incorporated four female dancers, appointed under the name of “love,” “angel,” “music,” and “baby,” dressed like girls with Americanised Harajuku, as her background act.

A song is devoted to them on the album which she called after them, entitled of the “Harajuku Girls” and the word “??” (Harajuku) is depicted on the surface of stage during her music video for the Hollaback Girl. In her songs, Stefani mispronounces the word Harajuku. Instead of the Japanese pronunciation, Stefani spells “hair-ajuku,” although the Japanese loudspeakers on its album pronounce the word correctly. Her use--which critics call her appropriation--of Harajuku girls and Harajuku fashion was criticized by a certain number of Asian-Americans, in particular Margaret Cho, to perpetuate stereotypes of the flexible Asian women.

According to the Jan/Feb 2006 edition of Blender magazine, American comedian Margaret Cho has labeled Stefani's Harajuku Girls a "minstrel show" that reinforces ethnic stereotypes of Asian women. [1]. The Harajuku Girls have continued to appear alongside Stefani in the media, and are featured in the music video for "Wind It Up" (2006). If you search the term Harajuku girls in internet, most probably you will find Gwen Stefani name also as the search results.
Gwen Stefani, singer principal of the pop band No Doubt, has lead Madonna-esque fashion revolt in both her recent video clip for her single What You Awaiting For and her solo album Love, Angel, Music, Baby. Its involving in 80’s inspired popish tunes, platinum blonde hair and Like A Virgin kit outside the art cover of album reinforce her homage to the material girl, though it can be slightly language in the cheek. In 2006, Stefani launched a second clothing line, called the “Harajuku lovers,” she said it is inspired by the zone of Harajuku in Japan. But its her references to the girls of Japanese Harajuku peppered in all the album and on a way in particular which drew the interest from a various range of te commentators. However who are these Harajuku Girls?

The Harajuku District of Tokyo and in particular street of Takeshita, a narrow street furnished with the stores is the brilliant house for these fashionistas. Since the end of the Second World War, the “consumerism” and “consumption” are becoming national past-time for most Japanese and in particular to teenager girls who often live at the house with their parents well until their twenties. Their free existence of rent provides them enough funds to gather at Harajuku each weekend, where they transform themselves into baby doll of Lolita-esque caracitures. Of course it is an extreme-pretty combination of dressing, but however you will find kind of oase of japanese dress besides their ordinary-working-day dress which is everything is very ordered and conservative.

Various fashion styles is available among the girls who spend time in Harajuku, including Gothic Lolita, Gothic Maid, Wamono, Decora, Second-Hand Fashion, and cyber fashion. The Japanese street fashion magazine, FRUiTS, features many of the varied clothing styles that are popular in the Harajuku district. They wear fake blood and bandages, and dark outfits often combined with traditional Japanese clothing (kimonos, fans) and modern Japanese symbols (hello kitties, cell phones, photo stickers). What drives these girls to dress in such outrageous outfits in a weekly ceremony that lasts only a few hours? Is there a really great bordem in Japanese society so this is one of their way to release all of those bordem?

Some of the answers are more immediately visible. For example, we know some of them are imitating rock bands such as Japan X. However, as with all cultural symbols, there are likely to be deeper reasons beyond fashion. The weekly play allows them to temporarily escape, within a group, all of the rules of Japanese society. It gives them individuality not as easily expressible while in their weekday school uniforms, it gives them a voice to express, often in very sexual ways (with ripped stockings, garters, and mini-skirts, etc.), the oppression of the female gender in the largely male dominated Japanese society.

It is whole kind of a pop-art meets pop-culture meets decadence kinda street where oWesternften a t-shirt with a western image like Mickey Mouse can go for several hundreds of dollars a noise. This constant continuation of rock n roll pop star hipness is prolonged with the boys of teenager too. They turn to choose western inspired hip-hop culture of disheveled jeans hanging halfway to their knees, of the hats to all the angles on their heads and surely many, many, many of blings.

So often, the net result resembles something out of a comic book of Manga while the fashionistas of Harajuku compete to look less human and more iconic. Not pay attention to what we in the west may see like a conflict of fashion above substance, girls of Harajuku is different to Goths, punks and bond girls which became trends previously, is not about rebellion to the society. It is just a crazy-extreme-freedom expression of dressing in certain day (sunday), free from those ordinary dress which requires them to dress "politely, nice, and good looking".

Harajuku Girls just like most Japanese, are often extremely polite and happy to pose for photographs with the curious tourists who flock each Sunday to take the happy snap of these caricatures of super-model. Just ask them for a photograph nicely, they will do that happilly. And as a gratitude you can offer them something, ussualy they won't ask something out of your reach. For the girls of Harajuku, their most extreme request can be a simple cigarette.

http://harajuku-style.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 21, 2007

How To Write Haiku Poetry

Haiku poetry originated in Japan many centuries ago. Its popularity and form have spread throughout the world. Haiku is fun and easy to learn in its simplest form, and in its most sophisticated form it is an elegant expression of the spirit of a moment in time.


Basic


The haiku appears to be a very simple form of poetry. A person who might otherwise never attempt to write poetry can easily learn the simple haiku form in a few minutes and proudly produce several haiku expressions a few minutes later.


The haiku generally contains of 17 syllables written in three lines with minimal punctuation. The first line contains 5 syllables, the second 7 syllables, and the third 5 more syllables. The traditional subject of a haiku is a revealing moment in nature that is conveyed directly to the reader without judgment. One or two words indicate the season of the year to which the haiku relates. The traditional haiku is considered complete in itself and is not titled.


Less traditional haiku can be written about any subject that the author wishes. Free form haiku may have more or less than three lines and contain less than 17 syllables. It may use traditional poetic devices such as rhyme, metaphor, alliteration, simile, and others. The free form haiku may be humorous and cute, teasing and erotic, or it may have a didactic message.


Advanced


The traditional Japanese haiku is generally shorter than an English haiku because Japanese syllables are shorter and more numerous than English syllables. Some authors consider a three line format of 2-3-2 to be more consistent with the brief style of the Japanese masters.
The haiku of the masters embodies a certain spirit. The author uses the senses to create a meaningful moment, a revealing observation of everyday life that is not moralistic or judgmental. The poet tries to give the reader the means to experience the same feeling or perception that the poet had without actually explaining the feeling.


Present tense is normally used to reveal the haiku moment. The poet tries to make the moment fresh and immediate, as if the moment were occurring right now. The haiku has a strong presence.


Haiku masters generally create two or three concrete images which are juxtaposed and compared in the short lines. These images create an atmosphere that reveals the meaning in the haiku.


A spirit of lightness is created in haiku by using ordinary, straightforward words that are specific yet brief. Poetic devices such as rhyme, meter, metaphor, and others are not used by the haiku masters.


Minimal punctuation is common in good haiku. A comma used to effect as a pause may occur during or after the first or second line. Good haiku is not just a poetic thought cut up into three lines of a 5-7-5 syllable pattern but the haiku’s images naturally and organically flow into the desired form.


Conclusion


Writing haiku poetry is a fun and enlightening activity. Writing haiku is simple enough to encourage one to get started and the results are satisfying enough to encourage one to keep going. The further one goes in learning the simple subtleties of the form the closer one gets to becoming a master of the haiku.


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Garry Gamber is a public school teacher and entrepreneur. He writes articles about politics, real estate, health and nutrition, and internet dating services. He is the owner of http://www.anchoragehomes.inetusanow.net/ and http://www.thedatingadvisor.com/

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Father Drops Off Preschool Child in Baby Drop Off Box in Japan

I found this article and thought it was interesting. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Make some posts and let me know

Father Drops Off Preschool Child in Baby Drop Off Box in Japan
By Storm Jackson

Time Magazine reports that Japan is now thinking over their baby "drop box" system. In Japan, they have a drop box that you can put unwanted babies in. This is for real. On the very first day this new system was put into effect, a father dropped off his preschool child in the drop box.
Newspapers all across the nation gave warnings that this system could be abused by people. And that the drop box could potentially traumatize kids. The people behind the program condemned what the father did.

The program is being called "Stork's Cradle" and is a 45cm by 65cm drawer built into a wall. This drop off box is at the Jikei hospital, which is located in the city of Kumamoto. This system is supposed to help women who decide they are incapable of taking care of their child. This program makes it very easy for anyone to drop off their baby if they don't want him or her. Anyone can drop off a baby through the drawer, and into an incubator, 24 hours a day.
The first boy who was dropped off is in good health today. He wasn't hurt in the incident. Reports indicate that he was dropped into the box by his dad, and they were holding hands together as they walked towards the hospital drop off box. The boy gave a statement to the Mainichi newspaper and said "I came with Daddy". The boy was able to tell people his name and who he was, but it's not been reported whether or not the father has been identified yet.
The hospital did not want to talk about the incident with anyone. They refused to comment on the incident. The hospital did say, though, that there are age limitations in place. Police in the city say that the father did not commit any kind of crime. The boy was left in a situation where he was not in any danger. Therefore, no charges are being filed.

There was a reason why this program was created. Many people have recently dropped off and left babies in parks and supermarkets. In order to prevent this from happening anymore, they decided to come up with this "Stork's Cradle" program.

"We must rethink the meaning of the baby drop-off," the conservative Sankei newspaper said. "Unlike a baby, a toddler may suffer from trauma". "This little boy must be experiencing great loneliness. We urge his mother or father to come forward," the newspaper said, calling this incident "unforgivable."



Sources:Julian Ryall "Boy of four abandoned at Japan's 'baby hatch'" "http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/05/16/wbaby16.xml"

Hans Greimal "Japan Rethinking Baby Drop Box" "http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1621633,00.html?xid=rss-world"

Monday, May 14, 2007

Japan -The Samurai Were Its First Protectors

Japan is a country that is widely known for its technology. But the more popular interests of the people lie in the history of the first descendants and protectors of Japan.


The first protectors of the people were called Samurai. In order to understand the way of the Samurai, you have to first look at the aspects of their education, their lifestyles, and then the end of their era. The term "Samurai" is derived from a common term in pre-industrial Japan meaning "warrior". Most Japanese Samurai were brought up to respect the attributes of honor and loyalty and were expected to set an example to all those below them. If a Samurai were to be disgraced such as losing a battle, or shamed for something they had done, they believed that the only way to retrieve their honor was to commit suicide. More specifically they had to stab themselves in the stomach with their own weapon. It was also said that a friend or co-combatant had to be there to decapitate them after the initial stab.


Life for a Samurai was very demanding and strict but one of the recreational activities that they all enjoyed was called "Kabuki". Kabuki was a form of theater performed by other members or guests. The Japanese men would perform in front of the audience, singing songs, performing mime tricks, and dancing. Not all Samurai were allowed to go to the Kabuki, but hardly any obeyed this strict rule, and they often went in disguise.


The Samurai believed and stood by a rule that if a son was born into a Samurai family, his sure destiny was to be Samurai. The father would teach him "Bushido" which is the "way of the warrior" and the term is the code that is used by all the warrior classes.


Skill in battle was the primary qualification for becoming a Samurai and the higher ranked warriors would usually get to marry higher ranked women. Divorce was frowned upon, as it damaged a warrior's reputation. Only one reason for divorce was accepted among the people, and that was if the woman could not bear a child.


The coming end of the Samurai period first became apparent during the "Tokugawa" period. Their status was still high, but their incomes became more unstable, and the need for warriors started to decline. Many lower class Samurai would be seen in the streets on their knees begging for money as people walked by and they often had to do dirty deeds or manual labor for the merchants, without any compensation, as a way to pay back their debts. The lower ranked men also had to obey any order given to them by a higher rank without any complaint. This is when the Samurai started to lose all self-respect for themselves and times were so severe that if they somehow could not fulfil an order they would actually kill themselves with the honorable suicide in order to escape from the impossible situation.


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Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Japan
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Tokyo - Kabuki Theatre



Tokyo - Kabuki Theatre

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Monday, May 7, 2007

Art schools in Japan

Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts, College of the Arts
2640 Nishinoura
Tsurajima-cho Kurashiki-shi
Okayama, 712, Japan
086-440-1005 Fax: 086-440-1013
www.kusa.ac.jp/arts/ | otsuki@hq.kusa.ac.jp

Courses and/or Programs Sample: Fine Arts


Kyoto City University of Arts
13-6 Ohe-Kutsukake-cho
Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto, 610-1197, Japan
+81 75 332 0701 Fax: +81 75 332 0709
www.kcua.ac.jp/ | www-admin@kcua.ac.jp.
Courses and/or Programs Sample: Fine Arts, PrintMaking, Product Design, Sculpture

Friday, May 4, 2007

The opportunity to teach English in Japan a highly requested offer

It is already common knowledge that English is the preferred language in a great number of fields of activity. It is also common knowledge that Japan and other countries in Asia are beginning to be an important market for both buying and selling different products at an international scale. This is the reason why ESL jobs in Japan have become such a flourishing concept for people. Moreover, people who want to teach English in Japan and other such regions, apart from China, also feel encouraged, because the opportunities on the Asian continent suit the preferences of many recent graduates.

Working conditions for the ones who choose to come and teach English in Japan are highly acceptable if not appealing. Furnished accommodation is one of the features included in the job offer, including a television set, telephone and computer connected to the Internet. The salary differs according to working hours, but employers state that it is more than acceptable in order to maintain a fulfilled living, with money to spare. All weekends are off for ESL teachers, except for five per year, this applying only in some of the teaching institutions that host varied activities.

ESL teachers who come to teach English in Japan also benefit from initiation in many traditional arts, such as calligraphy, tea ceremony, origami and a great number of other varied arts and crafts.

What makes ESL jobs in Japan and other countries of Asia so appealing is that they make a domain providing young graduates with the possibility to practice what they have learned in school. The employers are responsible and well-aimed persons who want to think that the opportunity for foreigners to teachEnglishinJapan and other Asian countries is a challenge, but also an inspiration.

Applicants for this job must be over 25 years of age, and not older than 60. There are no specific qualities requested, but that the employee must be a native speaker of English. They will make proof of this quality by attaching to their curriculum vitae and cover letter a copy of their passport or any form of identification that states their nationality. Of course, a certain degree of fluency in the Japanese language is of great importance in the eye of the employer.
The requirements when an employment contract has reached a final form are merely the normal ones in such a situation. ESL teachers should be able to provide a teaching plan and work by it in order to achieve as many good results as possible. They are also expected to be creative and innovative and to give both oral and written tests in order to be able to grade the level of knowledge of their students in other words, they have to prove the value of their ESL teaching skills.

English jobs in Japan and other Asian countries make a proof that English is still one of the most sought languages. Moreover, they stand for an Asian market that is considering expanding and accepting relationships with English-speaking nations.
Working conditions, taking into account what we have stated earlier, and the statements of the employers, are of high quality. The beautiful Japanese landscape provides a great environment for a foreigner to come and teachEnglishinJapan. Of course, such an aspect is relevant for the rest of the Asian countries as well, where ESL teachers have the opportunity to practice their ESL teaching skills.

About the Author
ESL jobs in Japan and other Asian countries have made more attainable the opportunity for young graduates to teach English in Japan, China and other countries in Asia. Thus, they have the chance to acquaint with new and beautiful cultures while practicing what they have learned in school.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Meiji Art In Japan



What is the Meiji Era?

The Meiji Era was a time period in Japan, under which Emperor Meiji started Japan’s modernization. Under Meiji, Japan climbed to world power status. Emperor Meiji’s rule ran from October 23, 1868 to July 30, 1912. The Meiji restoration effectively brought the Shogun feudal system to an end and restored imperial rule.

The Effects of Meiji and the Restoration

The Meiji and imperial restoration was largely responsible for the industrialization of Japan which allowed Japan to rise as a military power by 1905. This was accomplished in mainly two ways: the first was the 3,000 or so foreign experts that were brought into Japan to teach an assortment of specialist subjects; the second was government subsidies to students to go abroad into mainly Europe and America. This vast influx of western culture and ideals impacted many aspects of Japanese life in this era, one being the arts.

Art in Japan during the Meiji Era

These new western ideas split Japan in two directions, upholding traditional values or assimilate these new, different – sometimes radical – new ideas into their own culture. By the early 1900’s, many European forms of art were already well known and their intermingling with Japanese art created some noteworthy architectural feats such as the Tokyo Train Station and the National Diet Building. During the Meiji Era, manga were first drawn; manga was inspired from French and English political cartoons. The polarity of traditional versus western cause two distinct art styles to develop: Yooga (Western-influenced) and Nihonga (Traditional Japanese style). Yooga was characterized as Renaissance style painting – oil paintings on a canvas, dramatic lighting, the subject matter is adorned in western attire, using the third dimension and using techniques such as vanishing points and having distant objects be vague. Two artists who were important to the expansion of western style painting and art were Kawakami Togai and Koyama Shoutaro. Because of these two men, and Togai’s assistant Takahashi Yuichi, western art became a school of art in the Meiji period. However the pendulum swung both ways; while many seemed to embrace the new western lifestyle, there were also those who opposed change. This rapid influx of foreign culture also caused a state of confusion, many Japanese felt that Japan had lost its identity and would often look towards Asia for a reminder of where they fit in. This also had an influence on the style at the time, Yokoyama Taikan’s “Ryuutou” or “Floating Lanterns” is an example of an attempt to confirm Japan’s identity as part of Asia. The Meiji era ended in 1912 with the death of the Emperor.

Japanese Prints: The Art Institute of Chicago (Hardcover)


Japanese Prints: The Art Institute of Chicago (Hardcover)

Another in the Abbeville's Tiny Folios series, this little book is a real gem. The Art Institute of Chicago houses one of the world's most beautiful and comprehensive collections of Japanese woodblock prints in the world. Clarence Buckingham, of the famed Chicago family, donated 12,000 prints alone. The book covers this exquisite collection of work from the 17th to 19th centuries in four sections: Primitives, Courtesans, Actors, and Landscapes. It includes work by well-known masters such as Hiroshige, Hokusia, and Utamaro, as well as lesser-known talents such as Shun'ei, Shunko, and Kiyonaga. While the trim size is small, none of the subtle colors, delicate paper texture, or intricate fabric design is lost.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Mount Fuju (Fuji-san) and a Geisha

















Art of Bonsai

The bonsai is a perfect combination of art and science. It is a product of human ingenuity, practicality and creativity. As such, it is only natural for people to get captivated and mesmerized by these little bundles of joy... even after 200 years. If you're one of the bonsai plants fans, then you better read on to understand the principles of art which lies underneath its cute and colorful façade.

The art of bonsai growing originated and flourished in China about two hundred years ago. At first, this planting technique was merely done in order to make transportation of medical plants easier. However, the beauty and challenge the bonsai trees exuded captured the heart of many. It then began to reach another level of popularity. With this social evolution, the art claimed its title as one of the most popular and everlasting arts when it comes to plants.

As an art, there are certain schools of thoughts that the bonsai plant adheres to. The Japanese school of thought uses the bonsai as an expression of awe to the heavens and the earth. As such, you can often find these kinds of bonsai teeming with rich flowers and trees such as the juniper, flowering cherry, apricot and others. As a Japanese art, the main theme of the bonsai is "heaven and earth in a pot".

Its existence as a Chinese art is equally as meaningful. According to the Chinese school of thought, a bonsai plant is a statement that embodies the yin and the yang. This positive- negative kind of thought was formed due to Taoist philosophies most of the Chinese people believe in. Some of their common subjects are the maple and the Acacia. What set's apart Chinese bonsai is its supreme creativity, spanning from both plant shapes and size to the color and definition found on the pots they use.

Even with the existence of these two, you are still free to create bonsais just the way you want them. All that you need to be sure of is that you express yourself completely, and succeed in limiting the plants growth. You can merge both influences or simply be yourself as you grow the perfect combination of bonsai plants into little gardens of delight and joy.

The flourishing art of the bonsai has now conquered the whole world. From its humble beginnings in China and Japan, it has now become a statement of human power and creativity all over the world.

Try using the bonsai as a tool of expression ad art too. Who knows? You might just like it! Just read on a bonsai guidebook for a moment or two. After acquiring necessary knowledge, you will be able to express yourself through this amazing planting technique.
About the Author

Owner of http://www.mishobonsai.com , he been practicing bonsai for a decade. Found an interest in seeds. Mishobonsai.com sells tree seed and provides bonsai supplies.

Japanese Paintings

Painting is one of the most popular forms of art in Japan. Japanese paintings, which were highly influenced by Chinese style of painting, are exquisite and at times can be very intricate. In the Muromachi period (1338-1573), Chinese paintings were introduced in Japan, owing to the influx of Chinese trade. Many Japanese noblemen started purchasing Chinese paintings to adorn their house and developed a liking for the Chinese style of painting. Due to this affinity for Chinese paintings, many Japanese painters adopted this style to create fine masterpieces that would appeal to Japanese taste.

The Japanese painters belonging to the Muromachi period reflected deep sense of space and each painting depicted a story. Later, landscape painting was developed in the Momoyama period (1573-1603); the paintings were usually produced on giant screens. During the Edo period (1603-1867), a different style of painting evolved where paintings had gold leaf backgrounds to create an effect similar to holy mosaics belonging to the Western Medieval period. Around the same time, the Ukiyo-e style emerged; it involved woodblock printing.
In the Meiji period (1868-1912), Japanese paintings came under the influence of western styles as well. Several painting schools were established in Japan and each school pursued a style of their choice. The term "Suibokuga" refers to paintings that utilized black ink for painting. It was inherited from China and bore the distinct mark of Zen Buddhism.

Kano Masanobu, along with his son Kano Motonobu (1476-1559), laid the foundation of the Kano painting school, which was started in protest against the Chinese black ink painting method. The Kano school made use of bright and vibrant colors and experimented with bold compositions that included large and flat areas. These paintings became a source of inspiration for the Ukiyo-e designs. The "nanga" painting style was highly prominent during the Bunka and Bunsai era.
Japanese paintings have managed to capture the hearts of many people mostly due to their sense of space and aesthetic beauty. Japanese artists utilized a wide range of mediums for their paintings. Some of the popular subjects of Japanese paintings include landscapes, women, famous places, and spectacular views.

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