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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Japanese art and Nishikawa Sukenobu: Imperial city of Kyoto, women and politics

Japanese art and Nishikawa Sukenobu: Imperial city of Kyoto, women and politics

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Nishikawa Sukenobu was born in 1671 and until his death in the middle of the eighteenth century, this stunning artist opened up aspects of the role of women in Japanese society. Also, with Sukenobu being based in Kyoto then this provides a rarity within the ukiyo-e art movement. Therefore, with Sukenobu being based in the imperial city of Kyoto this provided him with more freedom and his thinking would be influenced by the environment he resided in.

It is stated about this stunning artist that his images of women were more natural and unassuming and this fact left a lasting legacy. From the political point of view, he appears to have been disenchanted with bakufureforms which were infringing on artists. However, instead of accepting these reforms he appears to have rebuked the bakufu by expressing his thinking through his artwork.

Jenny Preston, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, comments that “Between 1710 and 1722, Sukenobu published some fifty erotic works; following the Kyôhô reforms of 1722 outlawing erotica, he began producing works generally categorized as fûzoku ehon — versions of canonical texts, poems and riddles, all executed in a contemporary idiom. This study contends that these works were an expression of political disaffection; that Sukenobu used first the medium of the erotic, then the image-cum-text format of the children’s book to articulate anti-bakufu and pro-imperialist sentiment.  This radical re-reading of Sukenobu’s work is supported by close reference to the literary output of his numerous collaborators, to contemporary diary and pamphlet literature, and to the corpus of Edo and Kyoto machibure edicts. The study will hopefully shed new light on the role of popular art in the eighteenth century, and its profound political engagement.”

The research by Jenny Preston is very important because it highlights that artists couldn’t be fully constrained by bakufu reforms in their entirety. If, like stated, he had pro-imperial sentiments then this confirms his attachment to Kyoto and the power mechanisms of this city. Also, it shows that the bakufu would tolerate certain dissent in this period but at the same time central institutions were worried about the impact of art when it was deemed unsavory to the sentiments of the bakufu.

The University of Alberta Art Collection website comments that “Nishikawa Sukenobu was a Japanese woodblock print designer, book illustrator and painter. Unlike most of his contemporaries, who worked out of Edo, Sukenobu was based in the imperial capital, Kyoto. He produced book illustrations for the celebrated Kyoto publisher Hachimonjiya Jishō, as well as drawings for several kimono pattern sample books which portray scenes of women choosing kimonos. Sukenobu is best known for his orihon (folded books) and for his unsurpassed skill in presenting graceful and charmingly realized beauties. Sukenobu’s work greatly influenced numerous artists throughout the history of ukiyo-e.”

This bio by the University of Alberta is just highlighting brief facts about Sukenobu but it is clear that this individual artist is viewed with great acclaim when it comes to his depiction of women. Also, the Kyoto angle is highlighted and clearly Sukenobu is opening up a window to the fashion styles of this period in Kyoto. Similarly, he is providing a glimpse into the world of Kyoto with regards to the role of women in society.

Therefore, irrespective if the glimpse is limited or based on a male perception, it is still of cultural importance because his images are very realistic. For this reason, Sukenobu is of great importance because he opens up the keys to imperial Kyoto and the freedoms of women within certain areas of life.

His artwork called Appreciating 100 Women (Hyakunin joro shinasadame) is highly acclaimed because he covers a broad spectrum of different themes. This focus also highlights that his world was very rich and that he could mix easily irrespective of the situation. Therefore, Hyakunin joro shinasadame focuses on issues from the empress to ladies who were employed in the sex trade. Also, irrespective of the subject matter in this series of images, the importance is the style he did this in because the images are very realistic and this reality is what makes his work so powerful.

In another article about Sukenobu which was published by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “…with Sukenobu focusing on women from various different classes then he opens up the reality of old Japan. This in itself is very fascinating because it provides glimpses into the Edo period and this applies to stratification, roles of women, and freedom of women in Japan in this period. Therefore, the Hyakunin joro shinasadame is very important with regards to not only art but because it also relates to social issues and thought patterns of the day.”

“Sukenobu also highlights aspects of fashion with regards to elegant kimono designs. Indeed, many kimono-makers commissioned Sukenobu because of his creativity and the fact that he focused heavily on beautiful women and their lifestyle. Therefore, kimono-makers believed rightly that he could focus on new textile designs and this fact highlights the popularity of his work.”

The political angle to Sukenobu is also extremely fascinating and the same applies to the huge cultural differences within Japan. Imperial Kyoto had many different political intrigues and the world of Sukenobu meant that he was mainly an “outsider” in the world of ukiyo-e.

 

http://www.scholarsresource.com/browse/artist/2142567952 

http://collections.museums.ualberta.ca/uaac/uaac/details.aspx?key=18058&r=1&t=1

http://www.soas.ac.uk/jrc/awards-and-grants/kayoko-tsuda-bursary-recipients.html

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com 

http://moderntokyotimes.com 

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Japan

 

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Ogawa Kazumasa: photos of women in the late 19th and early 20th century in Japan

Ogawa Kazumasa: photos of women in the late 19th and early 20th century in Japan

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The photography of Ogawa Kazumasa in this article is based on images of Japanese ladies in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. In each image you will find nothing revolutionary nor will you find a “hidden mystery.” However, the simplicity of each image and the serene effect is most heartwarming.

Indeed, if you venture into stunning gardens like Chinzan-so and you are lucky enough to see a female dressed in traditional Japanese clothes, then the “ghosts” of these images will instantly connect. It is this simplicity which appeals greatly because Ogawa Kazumasa isn’t showing an agenda or focused on highlighting perfection.

Instead, all these images are highlighting aspects of life in the distant past and from the purpose of female fashion, traditional Japanese clothes, the role of women in society, and other factors, then they do provide a glimpse. These photos also connect with the “mysterious world” of parts of Kyoto which are preserving tradition but from different standpoints. This applies to the serene looks of all the ladies in these photos and how life appears simple, refined, and at one with nature.

Images of the world of geisha and traditional houses called okiya springs to mind when thinking about the old world of Kyoto. This applies to the elite of geisha and the high culture of karyukai (the flower and willow world).

The photos by Ogawa Kazumasa are not based on this mysterious world but the simplicity and serenity of his images does conjure up a connection to “old Japan.” Of course, the reality may have been very different and this applies to all old photos which highlight aspects of past cultures in all societies. However, the dream world of “hidden mysteries” can be found in countless different cultures despite the real truth probably being very different. Yet without this “idealism,” “perfection,” and “simplicity,” the world would be more mundane and less appealing.

Therefore, while Ogawa Kazumasa took normal photos it is often the “outsider” and “dreamer” who will take them to a different level. Despite this, the original meaning behind the images and the importance of these photos from a cultural point of view can’t be underestimated. After all, they do provide a glimpse into the “old world” related to females in Japan irrespective if the area is narrow or not.

In my earlier article about Ogawa Kazumasa I comment that “Ogawa Kazumasa was a pioneer in photomechanical printing and photography. He was multi-talented in the field of photography, printing and publishing and clearly the Meiji era of his youth (Meiji Period began from 1868) was dynamic and a time of change.  Therefore, Ogawa Kazumasa had ample opportunities once his talent was recognized because a new spirit was entering Japan alongside the traditions of the past.”

“Ogawa Kazumasa was born in Saitama prefecture which is near Tokyo and he moved to Tokyo in 1880 in order to further his English skills. After this, he moved to Boston in America for two years and after his arrival back to Japan in 1884 he opened a photographic studio in the Iidabashi area.  This was followed by the creation of Tsukiji Kampan Seizo Kaisha four years later and the following year he began Japan’s first collotype business named the Ogawa Shashin Seihanjo and during the same year he became an editor for Shashin Shinpo.”

The revolutionary period of the Meija era impacted greatly on Ogawa Kazumasa and the same applies to new technology which was opening up a new world. Also, his stay in Boston was most interesting because now he understood the reality of two major cultures. Therefore, he was a true innovator and his legacy is abundantly clear because he was a pioneer in photography and in photomechanical printing.

Ogawa Kazumasa opens up many aspects of the Meiji era and Taisho period through the photography he did. Also, he influenced many individuals during his lifetime and collectively a great deal of work was done which sheds light on both periods of Japanese history.

http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/unive/  (Photo gallery and very high quality)

http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/ogawa.shtml  

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

Please note that Ogawa Kazumasa was born in Saitama prefecture which is near Tokyo but I have entered him under Tokyo because he was based on Tokyo and this is where his career began in the field of photography, printing, and publishing.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Japanese art and Yokoyama Taikan: stunning art

Japanese art and Yokoyama Taikan: stunning art

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Yokoyama Taikan (1868-1958) was born in the prefecture of Ibaraki but he moved to Tokyo in 1878. This period of history in Japan would witness many events because time didn’t stand still during the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa periods of history. Not surprisingly, some of his work during the nationalist period was tinged by the sentiments of the time. Therefore, not all images of Mount Fuji by Yokoyama Taikan were solely based on art because they also had a political angle. However, irrespective of political issues, the artist himself was blessed with rich skills and his legacy is great.

When Yokoyama Taikan was a teenager he was fascinated by western style oil paintings and he was also interested in the English language. During his university days fellow classmates included Saigo Kogetsu, Hishida Shunso, and Shimomura Kanzan. This extremely talented bunch would all become famous in their own right and Yokoyama Taikan also studied under Hashimoto Gaho.

Once Yokoyama Taikan had graduated he entered the world of academia and this applies to teaching in Kyoto and then returning back to Tokyo to teach at the Tokyo Bijutsu Gakko. However, loyalty was very important to him therefore when Okakura Kazuko (Okakura Tenshin) was forced out of his job because of political reasons he also resigned. This highlights the importance of his background and the fact that he was principled to things that he believed in.

The death of his wife was followed by a period of travelling to Berlin, Boston, Calcutta, London, Paris, New York, and other cities. This must have impacted greatly on Yokoyama Taikan because each place had its own culture and the art world would have varied greatly.

Events in the 1930s eventually led to the Second World War and this meant that artists were being watched carefully in Japan and in other powerful nations. According to the Princeton University Art Museum with regards to art in Japan in this period, it is stated that “One artist who thrived in the ultra-nationalist pre-war environment was Yokoyama Taikan (1868–1959). Born at the beginning of the Meiji period, Yokoyama trained with Okakura early in his career. In 1931, he was appointed as artist to the imperial household, and produced numerous works that drew upon Japanese historical and literary themes. These he presented in a traditional style that drew upon the decorative styles of the Rinpa school and Momoyama–era screen painting. In 1943, Taikan became the chair of the Japan Art Patriotic Society (Nihon Bijutsu Hokokukai), which was set up by the Ministry of Education in an attempt to control the creative output of the country’s artists and put it in the service of its war-time ideology. Taikan in fact joined a number of other prominent artists in choosing to demonstrate his patriotism by contributing the profits from the sale of his works to the military effort.”

It must be remembered that artists, film stars, writers, and so forth, were put in the frontline at home irrespective if the artist resided in America, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, or in other nations which took part in the war. The loyalty that Yokoyama Taikan showed towards his mentor during his early life was part and parcel of his character. Therefore, he naturally followed the ideals of the society that he resided in during a time of crisis.

The legacy of his art isn’t in doubt because Yokoyama Taikan produced many stunning pieces of art and he influenced many important artists. Throughout his life he was always looking for new ideas and angles. Hopefully, this article and the images on view will entice some readers to delve more deeply into his life.

http://etcweb.princeton.edu/asianart/timeperiod_japan.jsp?ctry=Japan&pd=Modern 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Japan

 

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Japanese art and Bunjinga (Nanga): the influence of China and Korea in the Edo period

Japanese art and Bunjinga (Nanga): the influence of China and Korea in the Edo period

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Bunjinga school of thought ran deep within the literati of Japan during the Edo period. Bunjin (literati) artists trace their artistic roots to the literati of China during the Song Dynasty (960-1267). However, the differences between the Japanese literati and Chinese literati, is notable because of the opposite side of the coin applying.  Also, the isolationist policies of Japan in the Edo period meant that bunjin artists didn’t have the complete picture of the cultural reality of the Song Dynasty.

Bunjinga is also called Nanga and on the British Museum website it states that “The Japanese Bunjinga school of literati ‘scholar-amateur’ artists flourished in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is also known as Nanga (‘Southern painting’). The school was based on the literati movement that developed in China over a long period of time as a reaction against the formal academic painting of the Northern Song dynasty (960-1126). Rather than technical proficiency, literati artists cultivated a lack of affectation in an attempt to tune in to the rhythms of nature. In Japan, this was only partially understood: many Japanese bunjin were simply trying to escape the restrictions of the academic Kanō and Tosa schools while imitating Chinese culture. At first, the only models available were woodblock-printed manuals such as the Kaishien gaden (‘Mustard Seed Garden’) and a few imported Chinese paintings. Some Chinese monks of the ōbaku Zen sect taught painting in Nagasaki. Unlike their Chinese counterparts, the Japanese bunjin were not necessarily carefree artists and scholars from wealthy, bureaucratic backgrounds, and many had to sell their work to make a living.”

The political reality of the Edo period meant that Japanese artists were forbidden to travel to China. This policy was called sakoku (locked country) and clearly this prevented the real study of the Song Dynasty.  Therefore, the free movement of people leaving or entering Japan was enforced strictly and only limited “windows” were open.

Given this, the real terminology should be kaikin (maritime prohibitions) but from the point of view of bunjingaartists, then clearly sakoku created major restrictions in their pursuit of knowledge and reality. Japan wasn’t fully isolated because cultural meeting points happened with the people of Ryuku (Okinawa) and the Ainu. Also, Nagasaki, and a few other places, enabled outside cultural interactions despite the severe limitations on “real interaction” based on the freedom of movement.

Bunjinga artists therefore resided in a world where restrictions were put in place and clearly even in the modern world certain nations are still hostile to outside influences which threaten the status quo. For example, in modern day Saudi Arabia all converts from Islam face death, just like all converts to Christianity faced death during the Edo period. Meanwhile, in North Korea this nation wants to maintain severe restrictions on the outside world based on political motives. In both Saudi Arabia and North Korea many windows are open in the field of trade. However, despite the huge differences of these two nations, you do see aspects of sakokudespite major cultural, political, religious, and other differences in these societies.

Therefore, the world of bunjinga artists in this period of history had severe restrictions to overcome. However, unlike ukiyo-e artists who focused on many aspects of Japanese culture, mythology, history, the spirit world, and so forth; for bunjinga artists their problems were different because of their admiration of Chinese culture. This meant that ukiyo-e artists could connect with the world they knew but for bunjinga artists much of their literati world was clouded by the restrictions of obtaining real knowledge of the world they wanted to portray.

Famous artists who followed the bunjinga school of thought applies to Gion Nankai, Sakaki Hyakusen, Yanagisawa Kien, Okada Beisanjin, Kameda Bosai, Hanabusa Itcho, Ike no Taiga, Watanabe Kazan, Tomioka Tessai, Yosa Buson, Uragami Gyokudo, Tani Buncho, Takahashi Sohei, Okada Hanko, Ki Baitei , Matsumura Goshun, Yokoi Kinkoku (1761-1832), Yamamoto Baiitsu, Nukina Kaioku, Takahashi Sohei, Nakabayashi Chikuto, and many others.

In an earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “This school of thought flourished in the late Edo period and highlights the power of traditional Chinese culture in Japan despite the ongoing isolation of this nation. The bunjinga, the literati according to their mode of thinking, all had one binding feature and this applies to their deep admiration of traditional Chinese culture. This enabled their individuality to be linked together within the ideas and art work of bunjinga concepts.”

The Philadelphia Museum of Art comments that “The mid-eighteenth century in Japan was a time of political and social stability and economic prosperity. The Tokugawa family of military rulers (shogun) was firmly ensconced in the new eastern capital of Edo as the de facto political power, while the emperor reigned as spiritual and cultural sovereign in the ancient imperial capital of Kyoto in western Japan. Regional schools were established to spread the Chinese studies that the central government espoused along with the Confucian-based political system. The study of fields such as Chinese literature, music, and medicine became specializations among the educated elite of the newly rich merchant class as well.”

Therefore, while the Edo period is famous for being isolationist it is abundantly clear that the Tokugawa ruling elites spread the power of Chinese studies. This makes sense given the fact that the political system was Confucian based.

Influence of Korea

The role of Korea in this art movement is often neglected despite cultural interaction and influence which went in both directions. On the Princeton University Press website it is stated (based on the book by Burglind Jungmann) that “It is well known that Japanese literati painting of the eighteenth century was inspired by Chinese styles that found their way to Japan through trade relations. However, because Japanese and American art historians have focused on Japanese-Chinese ties, the fact that Japan also maintained important diplomatic–and aesthetic–relations with Korea during the same period has long been neglected. This richly illustrated, cogently argued book examines the role of Korean embassies in shaping the new Japanese literati style, known as Nanga in Japan.”

“Burglind Jungmann describes the eighteenth-century Korean-Japanese diplomatic exchange and the circumstances under which Korean and Japanese painters met. Since diplomatic relations were conducted on both sides by scholars with a classical Chinese education, Korean envoys and their Japanese hosts shared a deep interest in Chinese philosophy, literature, calligraphy, and painting. Texts, such as Ike Taiga’s letter to Kim Yusöng and Gion Nankai’s poem for Yi Hyön, and accounts by Korean and Japanese diplomats, give a vivid picture of the interaction between Korean and Japanese painters and envoys. Further, the paintings done by Korean painters during their sojourns in Japan attest to the transmission of a distinctly Korean literati style, called Namjonghwa. By comparing Korean, Japanese, and Chinese paintings, the author shows how the Korean interpretation of Chinese styles influenced Japanese literati painters and helped inspire the creation of their new style.”

The book by Burglind Jungmann called Painters as Envoys: Korean Inspiration in Eighteenth-Century Japanese Nanga is very intriguing because the Korean angle is neglected too much. However, cultural interaction within the richness of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese culture, went in all directions. Therefore, irrespective of the alterations which developed because of different cultural concepts within each different society – and within regions of all societies which had different energies and thought patterns – the Korean dimension is a reality and needs to be studied and highlighted more.

Timon Screech (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) comments that “This is an important book that will be useful to scholars and students alike. In elegant prose and with excellent scholarship, Burglind Jungmann proposes that Korean amateur painting had a large impact in Japan. This point has never been so closely argued before, in any language. The author has been diligent in finding little-known works in many collections around the world to support her claims. This is the first book on the subject, but it is much more than an introductory work.”

The bunjinga movement is interesting within the context of sakoku (locked country) because it opens up many intriguing questions. Also, the Korean dimension further hints at deep cultural interactions despite policies by the Tokugawa ruling elites.

Therefore, the bunjinga art movement is an area of great richness when it comes to art, thought patterns, cultural interaction, and understanding aspects of Japanese culture during the Edo period. Famous bunjingaartists have also left a rich legacy because of the art they left behind. This article is meant to intrigue people to delve into the many amazing artists who belonged to the bunjinga school of thought and then to focus on the shared civilization of Northeast Asia, despite the unique richness of all societies involved.

 

http://www.philamuseum.org/exhibitions/108.html?page=3

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/7743.html 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 

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Austria Gracey: Tokyo Style Fashion with an American Touch

Austria Gracey: Tokyo Style Fashion with an American Touch

Horace C. White and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Austria Gracey has always been inspired by fashion and beauty. This elegant lady began her involvement in the fashion industry as a fashion model. Her modeling career started in 1994 in Tokyo, Japan, and her unique looks and professionalism helped her to develop into new exciting fields. Austria is currently signed with the designer brand, NEODANDI (http://neodandi.com/v1/), which is known for creativity.

In the past Austria worked for and was mentored by BGN PARIS (www.BGN.fr) under Susan Vesser from 2003 to 2006. This gave her a fascinating start in the fashion industry and highlights the internationalism of this exquisite fashion designer. After leaving this company she then moved to NORDSTROM from 2007 to 2009. Throughout her intriguing fashion journey, Austria found the courage to start her own brand of clothing and accessories for women and men, with its official inception in August of 2011.

Her main concept when she started Austria Gracey, The Brand – The Label, was to design and manufacture her clothing in the U.S.A. and this specifically applies to Seattle, WA. Distribution and growth was aimed at important markets throughout Asia and clearly with links in America and Europe then future possibilities are endless. After all, with such background experience at NEODANDI, BGN PARIS, and NORDSTORM, and with starting her modeling career in Tokyo, it is obvious that not only is Austria experienced within the fashion industry, but equally important is that she is truly multi-national and extremely creative.

The global economy is down worldwide but for many fashion companies they are still experiencing positive growth in major cities like Tokyo. This notably applies to top notch boutiques and given the exquisite nature of Austria’s fashion designs then this is extremely positive.

Austria is hoping to reinvigorate the fashion scene in Seattle and elsewhere in the U.S.A. and to show the world the inner-creativity of this dynamic fashion designer from America. Also, distributing her goods around Asia is near and dear to her heart because of her multi-ethnic background. Her mother is mixed Asian and her father is Irish-European.

The Tokyo and Japan angle is very fascinating because the majority of her childhood was spent in Japan and her modeling career began in Tokyo. Therefore, given the exquisite nature of her designs then clearly they would fit in well throughout high octane fashion districts in Tokyo and all major cities in Japan. In Tokyo the extravagant nature of fashion in Aoyama, Ebisu, Jiyugaoka, Ginza, Omotesando, Yurakucho, and other adorable areas, would certainly be enriched by the creativity and elegance of her designs.

Also, the beauty of Austria and her exquisite designs is that this lady is not only a fresh thinker and always looking at new angles, but her designs are also extremely versatile.  Therefore, they appeal to many different fashion trends. This means that her designs would be equally welcome in daring parts of Tokyo like Harajuku and Shibuya, and this is the beauty of this unique fashion designer.

The international nature of fashion in Japan whereby the crème de la crème of European, North American, and Japanese boutiques can be found, suits her background completely. Japan has always especially loved the American lifestyle and trends, with everything basically being on a larger scale and on a different level. This, along with the European angle, means that Austria is one step ahead because her fashion background and living in various international cities, means that her “mindset” suits all major cities internationally, irrespective of the continent.

Austria designs with fervid inspiration and extreme passion. She personally loves to test out her own designs, to wear what she created and see the emotional reaction of others. When she was ready to unveil her first dress that she sold, the Jeffrey Dress, in November 2011, she wore it to the Asian Hall of Fame Event and the Diamond Ball at Tracy Castle. After receiving many compliments, and through casual networking, she was able to make her first sale.

Whenever she wears her ensembles, there is a feel good factor and memories are created because of the stunning nature of her fashion designs. Austria also adores her favorite clothes and each special garment of hers is cherished because of the memories attached. Therefore, she understands the importance of fashion and the special feel it creates to the respective individual and this connection and passion can be felt in all her exquisite designs.

This means that Austria wants people to experience the same passion when they buy her lovely fashion designs. She wants her garments to inspire you to confidently feel and look your ultimate best. Likewise, live, laugh, and love passionately comes to mind when you think about her exquisite designs. This fascinating approach means that Austria always gives everything when creating a new design and immediately you can see and feel her passion.

She is NOT a one-note fashion designer. Austria envisions different looks, which are inspired by her mood and the way she would want to dress. Whether ruggedly casual, heroically athletic, rocker with a hint of S&M, bohemian-ethnic, ethereally cute, stealthily sophisticated, or glam goddess – all of these looks, designed and styled together, are always sexy and chic through her interpretation.

Without a shadow of a doubt this talented and creative fashion designer brings fresh sparkle and creativity. Therefore, the fashion brand Austria Gracey should continue to flourish and expand.

https://twitter.com/#!/AustriaGracey  – twitter account of Austria Gracey

Austria Gracey was the stunning model in photo one and photo three – this highlights the many dimensions of this multi-talented lady. 

http://www.facebook.com/AustriaGraceyLLC

http://davidmbaileyphotography.zenfolio.com

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Japan, NORTH AMERICA

 

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Japanese art and Yumeji Takehisa: Taisho Romanticism and the shadow of Shusui Kotoku

Japanese art and Yumeji Takehisa: Taisho Romanticism and the shadow of Shusui Kotoku

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Yumeji Takehisa produced many stunning pieces of art but he never received the international acclaim that he fully deserved during his lifetime. He was born in 1884 and passed away in 1934 because of illness. Indeed, the final years of his life were left unfulfilled because despite producing striking pieces of art, his visit to America and Europe was mainly disappointing in 1931.

Yet when you look at the art of Yumeji Takehisa it is difficult to understand why he didn’t make a breakthrough internationally. After all, his art is visually very beautiful and you can feel the passion and creativity of this sublime artist. Not only this, when viewing his most notable art pieces it is clear that his unique style and sophistication hits the heart immediately.

Also, this energy and passion comes alive in his art work. Therefore, the lows in his life and lack of international recognition must have hurt him deeply because many lesser artists were received with much more attention.

Within Japan Yumeji Takehisa was highly regarded during his lifetime. On the Artelino website(http://www.artelino.com) it is stated that he was Born in Honjo village of Okayama prefecture in the south of Honshu island, Yumeji Takehisa reached an outstanding popularity in Japan. As a painter, illustrator and printmaker he was one of the leading exponents of the Taisho period (1912-1926).”

It is also stated that He also became famous as a writer and poet. Tokyo dedicated a museum to Yumeji Takehisa, where one can see his paintings, watercolors and art prints.”

Therefore, his art and other skills were noticed within Japan during his lifetime but this notably applies to lay circles. Yumeji Takehisa did know famous artists but he couldn’t really breakthrough when it came to contemporary academic circles. This also is a little mystifying given the creative nature of his art and the stunning images he produced.

Artelino comments that Being active in the hanga (Japanese for “print”) movement, Yumeiji Takehisa was influenced by modern Western art, out of which a new style developed: “Taisho romanticism.”

“Takehisa became one of its major exponents – mainly in the field of color woodblocks. He filled the decorative element of this style with a melancholic, poetic atmosphere which formed a beautiful harmony with the charm of beautiful women.”

Indeed, the “Taisho romanticism” of his work suited his bijin-ga images because of the sensitivity of his most sublime pieces of art. It is also known that he was a strong friend of Shusui Kotoku (1871 – 1911) who was a well known socialist and anarchist.

Sadly, Shusui Kotoku also died very young after being executed for “alleged treason.” Given the “Taisho romanticism” of his work and adorable bijin-ga pieces of art, it is easy to believe that the “romanticism” of his friend impacted on his art work. Indeed, the liberalism of his lifestyle may also indicate that despite his friend being executed in 1911 – his “shadow” remained with the heart of Yumeji Takehisa.

The final period on this earth was very traumatic and difficult for Yumeji Takehisa but the spirit of Shusui Kotoku and himself remains long after their respective deaths. After all, despite both dying young their passion will always stay within the legacies they left and created within their respective work.

They died under different circumstances but both had fresh dreams and ideals. The legacy of Yumeji Takehisa is remarkable given the stunning art he produced and he truly deserves to be acclaimed internationally.

 

http://www.artelino.com/articles/yumeji-takehisa.asp

http://www.culturalnews.com/?p=539

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Japan

 

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Japan tourism and amazing Wakayama: Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau

Japan tourism and amazing Wakayama: Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau

Walter Sebastian and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Wakayama Prefecture (http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/index.htmlis blessed with an extremely stunning landscape. On top of this is the rich cultural history of the region and the religious dimension is unbelievable. In truth, this part of Japan is not only rich in culture and history but the options available are amazing. This applies to the stunning castle in Wakayama, the legendary Koyasan where Kukai preached, the stunning beaches of Shirahama, beautiful temples of Negoro-ji and the surrounding area, the amazing Kumano Kodo pilgrimage, and so many other fabulous destinations.

The Kii Peninsula is where dreams are made and the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route ties people to the rich history of this amazing country. This article is focused on the Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau because their website is full of valuable information about this stunning region.

The Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau (http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/index.htmlis an amazing website because it is not only well presented, but the information available flows easily and this website clearly opens up this amazing tourist destination. You have ten main areas for information and this applies to Kumano Kodo, World Heritage, Onsen, Area Guide, What to do, Transport, Lodging, Dining, Itineraries, and Reservation System.

This easy layout means that individuals can find valuable information at the flick of a button and more important, the information provided is top notch and extremely helpful. If you click on the World Heritage section it is stated that “Located deep in the rugged mountains of the Kii-peninsula are three unique sacred sites: Kumano Sanzan, Koyasan and Yoshino & Omine. These sacred sites, and the spectacular pilgrimage routes that connect them, were included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list on July 7, 2004 and are known as the ‘Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes of the Kii Mountain Range’. This vast natural area with its formidable mountains, rugged coastline, gigantic old growth trees, abundance of waterfalls and scenic rivers, has been revered and worshiped since ancient times. Considered a sacred dwelling place of the gods, these sites became sanctuaries with Shinto Shrines.”

“The shrines gradually blended with the Buddhist traditions introduced from China and Korea, creating an original and mixed belief system. The religious fusion and cultural development was shaped by the lush natural environment surrounding the shrines. With a history that spans thousands of years, the spiritual traditions of the Kii peninsula form an outstanding and unique cultural landscape that blends nature and religion in a powerful sacredness.”

Links about the above information are situated below this paragraph and each link highlights the stunning reality of each sacred place. Also, the presentation and details provided are fantastic and clearly the Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau cares deeply about the rich history and culture of this part of the Kii Peninsula. Therefore, please click on each link below and view the natural beauty of each place mentioned and read the rich history of this sacred part of Japan.

http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/world-heritage/index.html

http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/world-heritage/koyasan.html

http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/world-heritage/yoshino-omine.html

http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/world-heritage/pilgrimage_routes.html

Another amazing fact about a tourist holiday to this part of Japan is that Wakayama Prefecture is in easy reach to Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Osaka, and the stunning island of Awaji. Therefore, the entire Kansai region is blessed with a rich and dynamic reality which fuses culture, religion, modernity, state of the art technology, and so much more. This in itself is very enticing because for individuals who plan to stay in Japan for several weeks then clearly the Kansai region is a perfect location because of the diversity which is available.

The http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/kumano-kodo/index.html#ohechi following link focuses on the many pilgrimage routes which highlight the importance of the entire region. Not only this, the fusion of Shintoism, Buddhism, esoteric Buddhism, and other thought patterns, shows how the indigenous culture was open to new ideas and that syncretism was a way of life. This in itself means that you have many stunning holy places, museums, and a wealth of culture which is awaiting new individuals to discover.

Also, this link http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/onsen/index.html highlights the refreshing reality of the Japanese onsen. Therefore, if you are a first time visitor to Japan then this is a great way to spoil yourself while being surrounded by beautiful nature.  Once more this area on the website provides all the information you need about this great way to relax and unburden all the stresses of this life. Like usual, the Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau provides all the appropriate information which is required and they also highlight many amazing places to visit and enjoy a traditional Japanese onsen.

Overall, the Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau is providing a crème de la crème website about this amazing part of Japan. Each link opens up more information and more stunning images. Irrespective if you are a first time visitor to Japan or you reside in this beautiful country, one thing is for sure, a visit to this part of the land of the rising sun will always stay with you.

Therefore, please check the Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau website and take your time over all the information which is provided.

http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/onsen/index.html Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau in English.  Also, you have information in other languages and this applies to Japanese, French, Chinese, and Korean.

http://tb-kumano-news.blogspot.com/ Kumano News Blog

Other websites about Wakayama

http://www.negoroji.org/

http://www.pref.wakayama.lg.jp/english/charm/01.html

http://www.nk-kumano.com/ (Nachi Katsuura)

http://www.shukubo.jp/eng/ (Koyasan)

http://www.kumano-experience.com/01/en/ (Kumano Experience)

http://www.sekaiisan-wakayama.jp/english/index.html (Wakayama)

http://www.nanki-shirahama.com/eng/index.html (Shirahama)

http://farstrider.net/Japan/Castles/Wakayamajo.htm (Wakayama Castle)

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Japan

 

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