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Japanese art, culture and the Yamabushi: Benkei and the loyal warrior monk

Japanese art, culture and the Yamabushi: Benkei and the loyal warrior monk

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

In Japanese culture, history and art, it is clear that Saito no Musashibo Benkei left a lasting impression and this continues today in modern culture. This legendary warrior monk belonged to the intriguing period of the 12th century. He was born in 1155 and died in 1189 after serving the famous Minamoto no Yoshitsune.  The images in this article come from the esteemed toshidama (Toshidama Gallery), whereby you can feel the power of Benkei and visually understand how he was portrayed in Japanese art.

Benkei is famous within the folklore of Japan because of his enormous strength which was matched by great loyalty. In the realm of Japanese art and the majestic ukiyo-e movement, then Benkei provides a wealth of images by many famous artists.

It is noted that he was extremely tall because by the age of seventeen Benkei had reached two meters in height. This is still very tall by the standard of today. On top of this was many other great attributes which belong to his fighting skills and the knowledge he obtained during his travels to many Buddhist monasteries.

Of course, within Japanese folklore and the mysteries of history and Shintoism, then many intriguing stories evolve around Benkei. He firmly belongs to the power and prestige of Buddhism and the warrior class that emerged during this period of Japanese history. However, just like Judaism, Christianity and Islam have all been influenced by the Pagan culture where they developed; this similarly happened to Benkei because the power of Shintoism was fused within many elements of Japanese Buddhism and folklore. Therefore, these intriguing stories about Benkei clearly have survived the test of time because he remains a potent figure today in modern Japan.

Much depends on the Benkei which appeals to the storyteller but within Japanese art and the tradition of ukiyo-e; it is clear that the term Oniwaka is merged within the nature of this famous warrior monk. Oniwaka means the “demon or ogre child.” Of course, many other fascinating stories evolve around Benkei including his deeds on the battlefield. For example, it is stated that he defeated at least 200 military men during major battles throughout his life. This of course may be exaggerated or it may not; yet the point is that his fame within the warrior class appealed greatly when judged with his great physical strength and the loyalty that bestowed him throughout his lifetime.

It is also reported that Benkei in time became a yamabushi (mountain warrior monk) and for this reason he is often depicted in a cap. This fits in well with the yamabushi who had many fine qualities. After all, the yamabushi were not only mighty warriors who were blessed with respective supernatural powers. Equally important, was the ascetic nature of the yamabushi and the exemplary knowledge they held related to the Shugendo doctrine.

The Shugendo doctrine evolved around the fusions and integration of many powerful thought patterns. This applies to the school of Shingon Buddhism and the esoteric nature of this faith, the rich heritage of Shinto, the Tendai Buddhist faith and the great philosophy of Taoism. Therefore, the yamabushi were not just mysterious holy men who had mighty powers in the area of military strength; but equally powerful was the knowledge that each individual had obtained in this world and how they utilized this with the mystery of nature.

His loyalty remains famous today and the Toshidama Gallery sums up Benkei extremely well when it comes to the loyalty of this esteemed individual. Toshidama states that “…he was raised by monks who were both religious and military. As a young man he positioned himself at one end of Gojo Bridge and disarmed travelers of their swords. On reaching his 999th sword he fought with a young nobleman, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who won the battle of the bridge and thereafter Benkei served as his principal retainer. They fought in the Gempei Wars between the Taira clan and their own Minamoto clan.”

If you are intrigued about Benkei then this article is providing just a snippet of the importance of Benkei within many aspects of Japanese culture, history and folklore.

http://www.toshidama-japanese-prints.com/item_473/Toshihide-Portraits-of-Sansho–Ichikawa-Danjuro-IX-as-Benkei-1893.htm

http://www.toshidama-japanese-prints.com/item_391/Kunisada-Benkei-and-Yoshitsune-fighting-on-Gojo-Bridge.htm

http://www.toshidama-japanese-prints.com/item_237/Kunisada-Portrait-of-Benkei.htm

http://www.toshidama-japanese-prints.com/item_246/Yoshitaki-Benkei-and-Yoshitsune-at-Gojo-Bridge.htm

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Japan

 

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China, Japan and South Korea fashion show was more than just style and culture

China, Japan and South Korea fashion show was more than just style and culture

Kanako Itamae, Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

China just held the East Asia fashion show in Beijing and the venue was given extra importance because of the current status of Japan and China relations. Indeed, tensions have also increased between Japan and South Korea because of similar issues related to territory and ownership. Therefore, the East Asia fashion show was a timely reminder that outside of the political realm you have enormous sanity.

Junko Koshino, a Japanese fashion designer, commented that “Politics and culture are essentially different…We will go down together if we remain affected by political fallout.”

This statement may be a little over dramatic because while trade and cordial ties are obviously important between the three nations involved in the East Asia fashion show. It is also factual that each nation is blessed with a diverse trading angle and in times of crisis each respective nation will respond by implementing diversification. Of course, hiccups will occur on the way and this isn’t desired but clearly the sentiments behind the statement by Junko Koshino were deeply appreciated.

China is “the new kid on the block” when it comes to fashion because of past constraints by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Yet since the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997) under his leadership, then China began to open up in the economic arena. Following on from this came the loosening of outside influence because greater openness became the norm and a new China emerged.

Therefore, not only did the domestic nature of fashion in China change but also with each passing year more and more international boutiques desire to enter the vast market of this nation. In South Korea K-pop (Korean pop music) is making waves both regionally and internationally. Not surprisingly, the fashion angle is also starting to blossom outside of South Korea because of the growing awareness of culture from this nation. This isn’t surprising because Korean culture is extremely rich.

Japan, of course, is internationally famous for fashion and this applies to various angles. For example, from elegant and refined fashion designers to kawaii (cute) culture and many subcultures within major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Likewise, the quality of Japanese fashion is extremely elegant and the fabrics used are of the highest when it comes to high-end fashion in this nation. One only needs to visit trendy fashion districts like Aoyama, Ginza, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Omotesando, Shibuya, Yurakucho, and many other parts of Tokyo, to understand the power of fashion within this country.

The East Asia fashion show didn’t disappoint because Beijing pulled out all the stops in order to make it a great success. Exquisite designs and the richness of culture were clearly visible because China, Japan and South Korea are blessed with fabulous designers. Also, areas like Confucius values are shared easily between all these nations despite the impact of modernity and new influences which have entered each nation.

Zhang Zhifeng from China and Chang Kwang-hyo from South Korea also echoed the sentiments of Junko Koshino. Therefore, these three amazing fashion designers, and other important individuals who participated in this fashion show; highlighted the need to build new bridges in order to overcome political obstacles.

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in ASIA, Japan

 

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Tokyo fashion in Yurakucho: Lumine Department Store

Tokyo fashion in Yurakucho: Lumine Department Store

Michel Lebon, Kanako Itamae and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Tokyo fashion is internationally famous and the Yurakucho fashion angle keeps on growing from strength to strength. This factor is also helping other famous districts nearby and this notably applies to Ginza. Both areas naturally flow together because they share the same dynamic environment whereby the crème de la crème of international and Japanese boutiques can be found.

In recent times H & M and Uniqlo have altered the fashion landscape in Ginza by having places to shop whereby the prices suit all pockets. Despite this, Ginza and Yurakucho are famous for luxury boutiques and amazing department stores which enrich the entire area.

Last year the exquisite Lumine Department Store opened a new venture in Yurakucho and clearly this factor is enticing the younger generation to shop once more in this part of Tokyo. This means that you have ample places to shop in both districts which suit all age groups. Also, because of companies like Uniqlo you now have places to go bargain shopping. Therefore, shoppers are spoilt for choice in Ginza and Yurakucho.

In Ikebukuro the Lumine Department Store enriches the west side of this very trendy part of Tokyo. Likewise, Lumine in Yurakucho is also enriching the fashion scene of this district because of the many amazing boutiques to be found throughout this stylish store.

Timothy Schepis, the owner of Tokyo Fashion Daily, commented about the arrival of Lumine in Yurakucho last year that “…the newly redeveloped Yurakucho location will be the 14th for Lumine in Japan and will be the first not to be part of a railway station. At 22,000sqm Yurakucho Lumine will house up to 100 tenants targeting women in their 20s and 30s which make up Lumine`s core customer. Most of the tenants will be fashion brands including United Arrows with the rest of the tenants; cosmetics brands, household goods and restaurants.”

A partial list of the many boutiques which are based within the exquisite Lumine Department Store in Yurakucho includes Adam Et Rope, Beaver, Bshop, Bulsara, Choosy Chu, Couture by Rojita, Deuxieme Classe, Diana, Emoda, Freak’s Store, Gallardagalante, Goa, Journal Standard Relume, Laguna Moon, Manhattan Portage, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Martinique Le Conte, Mercuryduo, Mignon et Enchainement, Muji Nano Universe, Odette e Odile United Arrows, Ozoc, Parigot, Peach John The Store, Piche Abahouse, Ron Herman, Royal Party, Salon De La Trinite, Shel’Tter, Shinzone,  Spick And Span, Spick And Span Accessoires, Stunning Lure, Tomorrowland, United Arrows ( Men’s, Ladies, United Arrows Green Label Relaxing, Urban Research Doors, Urban Research&Rosso and Wjkw.

If you adore fashion then clearly Lumine in Yurakucho will appeal to lovers of stylish boutiques. Like always the choice at this exquisite store is also extremely rich because each individual boutique provides a fresh angle to fashion.

 

http://www.lumine.ne.jp/yurakucho/

http://www.fashion-j.com/E/trend/201010.html

http://tokyofashiondaily.blogspot.com/ – TIMOTHY SCHEPIS  (can be followed on Twitter)

http://tokyofashiondaily.blogspot.com/2011/10/coming-soon-yurakucho-lumine.html

http://www.fashion-j.com/E/trend/201010.html (3rd article from the top shows some images of Lumine in Ikebukuro.)

MODERN TOKYO TIMES IMAGES

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Japan

 

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Japanese art and Kamisaka Sekka: Rimpa, modernism and European influence

Japanese art and Kamisaka Sekka: Rimpa, modernism and European influence

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The artist Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942) is one of the most mysterious Japanese artists to have hit the international world of art. This applies to his magical artwork which expresses the finer aspects of traditional Japanese art but fused with modernism and the impact of European art. Therefore, Kamisaka Sekka was an artist which belonged equally to the old world and new world of art which was impacting on the Japanese art scene.

Kamisaka Sekka was born in the cultural city of Kyoto and one can only imagine the splendor he must have witnessed in his early life. This similarly applies to the stunning reality of Kansai and places like Nara and Koyasan where religion, traditions and Japanese high culture, remains vibrant in the modern world.

The internal convulsions that hit Japan after the Meiji Restoration in 1868 radically altered the body politic of this nation. Indeed, Kamisaka Sekka lived in a period blighted by regional wars and major international wars. This reality highlights the convulsions that were sweeping through many nations whereby nationalism, capitalism, the colonial period, communism, technological innovations, religion, secularism, and so many different forces, were shaping the world for either the better or worse.

However, in the field of art then the same period provided enormous opportunities for Japanese artists to study various different art forms and to travel the world. Kamisaka Sekka would indeed travel to learn about new concepts and to open-up his artistic horizons to an even greater level. True to the nature of Kamisaka Sekka he gained enormously from his travels and studying about new art forms. However, he never lost sight of the power of Rimpa and the inner beauty of Japanese art.

From a very early age it was clear that Kamisaka Sekka was blessed with amazing artistic skills. In the early period he focused heavily on the traditions of Japanese Rimpa. However, he was always open to new art forms and styles. Therefore, modernism and traditions fused naturally together within his heart and this is the beauty of Kamisaka Sekka.

In an earlier article about Kamisaka Sekka I state that “In 1910 the Japanese government sent Kamisaka Sekka to the United Kingdom and while he stayed in Glasgow the Art Nouveau style would influenced him greatly. Kamisaka Sekka was also fascinated by Japonisme and he wanted to understand the attraction of Japanese art in the West and which areas appealed the most. Therefore, his time in Glasgow was most rewarding because his studies enlightened him in many areas.”

Also, the trip to Glasgow in 1910 further cemented his deep admiration of aspects of European art. His earlier trip to Europe in 1901 had impacted greatly on Kamisaka Sekka because the Paris International Exposition opened up his eyes to new fresh ideas and concepts.”

One can only imagination how the environment of Kyoto and his studies of Rimpa masters who blessed the Japanese art world had impacted on Kamisaka Sekka. Added to this were major Western art forms like Impressionism and Art Nouveau which reached his heart. Also, Kamisaka Sekka was fascinated about the impact of Japanese art on Western art. Therefore, in a world being torn apart by nationalism and politics you had artists like Kamisaka Sekka who studied the beauty of humanity and the power of different cultures.

The Art Institute of Chicago comments that “Centuries-old schools of art, such as the decorative Rimpa style with its quintessential Japanese literary and seasonal themes, had become unfashionable. To help keep the country’s unique artistic culture afloat, the government established a policy to upgrade the status of traditional artists that encouraged them to infuse their craft with a dose of modernism. Consequently, in 1910 Sekka was sent abroad to Glasgow, where he was heavily influenced by Art Nouveau. He came home to teach at the newly opened Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts. Thanks to Sekka, the Rimpa tradition remains a signature of Kyoto design to this day.”

Kamisaka Sekka highlights how individuals can learn new artistic thought patterns and art forms but remain within the initial environment despite fusing new ideas. He truly is an international artist who pushed new internal boundaries in order to produce stunning pieces of art. Therefore, when viewing his finest pieces of art you can feel many different things related to the past and modernity. This quality was done in a way which was not only natural but is strikingly unique and beautiful.

Many amazing artists have been born in Japan and without a shred of doubt Kamisaka Sekka belongs to the crème de la crème of Japanese art. His creativity and connection with the old world and modernism enabled him to reach new heights and to highlight many artistic angles.

 

http://www.vlinder-01.dds.nl/cdr/other%20art/sekka.htm

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in EUROPE, Japan

 

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Tokyo Times and Lifestyle in Kichijoji: Fashion and Living Environment

Tokyo Times and Lifestyle in Kichijoji: Fashion and Living Environment

Sarah Deschamps, Kanako Itamae and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Tokyo lifestyle provides a wealth of different options which appeal to different individuals. The district of Kichijoji is one of many lovely places to reside in Tokyo which is blessed with a lovely fashion district and places to relax. Therefore, this part of Tokyo is certainly blessed with huge pulling power and appeals greatly to many Tokyoites.

In many ways the feel to Kichijoji resembles the lifestyle of Shimokitazawa, Nakano and Jiyugaoka. Of course each district is very different with regards to design, layout, options available, and so forth. However, the fashion angle and independent feel certainly shares a similar background.

Likewise, these districts are far from the madding crowds of Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Omotesando, Shibuya, and Shinjuku. Therefore, you have a certain “community spirit” which still survives along with all the trappings of modernity. Also, with these fashionable and trendy areas being smaller in size then people can relax and enjoy the respective environments of Kichijoji, Shimokitazawa, Nakano, and Jiyugaoka.

Indeed, the lovely layout of Kichijoji means that people can relax while enjoying the ample shopping options which are provided. Independent boutiques and the fashion angle appeals greatly. Similarly, you have many nice café bars, restaurants and places to visit in order to enjoy the refined nightlife.

The fashion angle caters for people of all ages but Kichijoji also attracts the younger generation because of the vibrant fashion scene. After all, individuals often find “a hidden gem of a boutique” in the alleyways and shopping streets which may have been missed before. Therefore, the attraction of exquisite fashion, relaxing coffee shops, fancy restaurants and a stunning park are luring people to this stylish district in Tokyo.

Inokashira Koen (park) is a beautiful place to relax and think about the finer things in life. This adorable park appeals to friends, romantic couples, families, individuals, office workers and the whole array of factors which apply to beautiful open spaces. Also, Inokashira Koen works elegantly with the quaint alleyways and independent stores selling unique products.

The nightlife of Kichijoji is also vibrant and attracts the younger generation and people who adore music. Therefore, you have many places to enjoy live house, blues bars, jazz kissa (jazz coffee shops) and so much more. Kichijoji is known for the musical angle and this spark also enhances the lovely vibe about this part of Tokyo.

When everything is considered it is clear that the lifestyle of Kichijoji appeals to people of all age groups. Also, this vibrant district is blessed with a lovely fashion and musical angle which is extremely appealing. The central location area is busy because of department stores and boutiques. However, this soon changes when you walk around the alleyways and explore the many features of Kichijoji whereby people can relax at the pace they desire.

Kichijoji is a fantastic place to reside and likewise it is a great place to visit. Overall, the lifestyle is vibrant in the main central area. However, the quaintness in other parts of this district appeals greatly to people who adore a more tranquil life.

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com 

http://moderntokyotimes.com 

 

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Japan

 

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Tokyo fashion: exquisite fashion districts and diversity of boutiques

Tokyo fashion: exquisite fashion districts and diversity of boutiques

Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Fashion in Tokyo is simply dynamic and the creative buzz you can feel in this ultra-modern city is unbelievable. All major capital cities and famous cities will have famous fashion districts and London, Milan, New York, Paris, and Rome run of the tongue when thinking about fashion. However, the diversity of fashion in Tokyo and the numerous fashion districts is what makes this city tick when it comes to exquisite boutiques.

Famous international fashion streets with huge reputations based on sublime fashion applies to Fifth Avenue (New York), Avenue Montaigne (Paris), Bond Street (London), Via Montenapoleone (Milan), Bahnhofstrasse (Zurich), P.C. Hooftstraat (Amsterdam), Stroget (Copenhagen), Rodeo Drive (Los. Angeles) and Calle Serrano (Madrid). 

At the same time you have fantastic fashion in other major cities in Japan and Osaka is extremely trendy. This notably applies to the exquisite boutiques in Umeda and in Namba you have a lovely mix of high fashion and independent fashion. Meanwhile Kobe is extremely trendy and you have a lovely buzz in this city.

However, what makes Tokyo so special is the sheer size of fashion and the amount of districts you have in this fabulous city which caters for different trends and styles. Therefore, you are spoilt for choice because you have extremely sophisticated districts like Aoyama, Ginza, Harajuku, Omotesando, Roppongi Hills, and Yurakucho. Alternatively, you have a mixture of sophisticated fashion, independent boutiques and the buzzing nature of Ikebukuro, Shibuya, and Shinjuku and elegant areas like Ebisu.

 

International wise you will have a wide mix of famous fashion districts which appeal to individuals. However, without a shadow of a doubt Aoyama, Ginza, Harajuku, Omotesando, Shibuya and Shinjuku will be the most famous internationally but it is the collective which really makes fashion so special and unique in Tokyo.

Therefore, you have smaller suburbs which are brimming with elegant boutiques and their own styles. This applies to Daikanyama, Kichijoji, Jiyugaoka, Nakano, Shimo Kitazawa, Naka Meguro and other trendy places which provide a different ambience and vibe. These smaller districts provide a special feel because the sheer number of fashion areas in Tokyo is amazing. Also, you have other famous areas in Tokyo like Ueno and Odaiba which are fantastic for fashion and tourism is also a major theme in both places for very different reasons.

Jiyugaoka and Daikanyama are extremely popular and the feel in both places is special because you have so many back streets and the energy can be felt when browsing around. In Jiyugaoka the elegant boutiques, café bars, beauticians, quaint shops, famous cake shops (Dalloyau, Roll Ya Cake and Sweets Forest), restaurants, and other factors, all adds up to a lovely suburb which is blessed with stunning fashion.

In Aoyama and Omotesando you have sophisticated fashion in abundance and both places are chic and stylish. Therefore, you have famous international and Japanese boutiques in both districts which share the same space in trendsetting Tokyo.

In Aoyama you will find sublime boutiques in abundance and this applies to Comme des Garcons, Gucci, Prada, Donna Karan, Loveless, Michael Kors, 10 Corso Como, L’eclaireur, Vivienne Westwood, A Bathing Ape, Jil Sander, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Artisan, Stella McCartney, Cynthia Rowley, Paul Smith, Helmut Lang, Mark Jacobs, Tsumori Chisato, Costume National, Carbane de Zucca, Hanae Mori, Diane Von Furstenberg, Undercover, Design Works, Frapbois, and many others like Deuxieme Classe.

Meanwhile in Omotesando you have famous international and Japanese brands and both Aoyama and Omotesando, just like Ginza and Yurakucho, are exclusive areas for fashion. In Omotesando Hills which is a sublime fashion store you have exquisite companies like Adore, Anterpima, Apartment Department, Betsey Johnson, Black Fleece, Escada Sport, iliann loeb, Kiwa Sylphy, Martinique Le Conte, Milly, Oriental News, Patrizia Pepe Firenze (Incontro), Tour H. creer (Merveille H.), Tiara, Tracy Reese, Yves Saint Laurent, Zara, and other exquisite boutiques.

In another article about Tokyo fashion by Modern Tokyo Times it was commented that “The energy of exquisite fashion and individualistic fashion designers can be felt through the entire area which links Aoyama, Omotesando, Harajuku and Shibuya.  In many ways Omotesando represents all the beauty of this area because it links high quality fashion companies with independent and stylish boutiques and in the backstreets you can find street fashion.”

For the younger generation internationally the buzzing areas of Harajuku and Shibuya are extremely famous, while in Tokyo it is clear that Ikebukuro is buzzing with students, teenagers and people of all age groups. However, Harajuku and Shibuya are internationally famous and these districts throng with the latest trends.

Sebastian Masuda the designer and owner of 6%DOKIDOKI is iconic because of kawaii culture and “chaotic punk.” The younger generation who adore fashion in Barcelona, London, Madrid, Paris, and other famous cities, are fascinated by kawaii culture, Dolly-kei, Visual-kei, Lolita fashion, and other trends which keep on changing the scene in Tokyo.

Therefore, companies like 6%DOKIDOKI, Grimoire, Candy, Macaronic, Metamorphose temps de fille, and many others, are followed avidly by fashion conscious youth and young adults all over the world. At the same time you have iconic stores like Laforet Harajuku and Shibuya 109

In a past article it was stated that “Internationally famous designers like Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto provided a strong image for Japanese fashion and their energy was noticeable in the 1980s and onwards.  Yet younger designers and famous individuals are changing the evolving fashion scene and Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Sebastian Masuda, Rei Kawakubo, Nobu Kitamura, Junya Watanabe, Takashi Aoki, Tsumori Chisato, Yoshie Itabashi, Kuniko Kato, Chiharu Kikuchi, and others, are all maintaining the freshness of fashion in Japan alongside companies like Grimoire and Candy.”

The sheer diversity of fashion districts, boutiques, designers, thinking, and the ongoing trends which come and go, alongside internationally famous and Japanese boutiques is what makes Tokyo fashion so special.

Issey Miyake Yohji Yamamoto, and Rei Kawakubo, did so much to put Japan on the map internationally when it came to fashion. Then other generations have followed with their own thinking and styles and designers like Sebastian Masuda have reached out and maintained the rich vitality of fashion in Japan.

Fashion means many things to different people but at its heart it isn’t about famous individuals despite the limelight being hogged by a selective crowd. The heart of fashion belongs to new vibes, new trends, fresh thinking, relating to the times, and alongside this you will have continuity but freshness within exquisite brands. This collectively, and a host of other factors, is what makes fashion so powerful and full of energy.

Therefore, in Tokyo you will find this energy throughout the city and for fashion writers at Modern Tokyo Times it is the smaller fashion districts like Jiyugaoka, Shimo-Kitazawa, Daikanyama, Kichijoji, Naka-Meguro and other places like Nakano, which creates the uniqueness of Tokyo.

Of course the spark of fashion and Tokyo’s international appeal is based rightly on fantastic fashion districts, which include Aoyama, Ginza, Harajuku, Omotesando, Shibuya, and Shinjuku. However, when all the smaller fashion districts are included with more famous districts within Tokyo like Ikebukuro, Ebisu and Yurakucho; then collectively this is “the icing on top of the cake” and this is why Tokyo is unique when it comes to international fashion.

The contrasting styles between Japanese, North American, and European fashion, comes alive in Tokyo. Alongside this are established companies and new trends and brands which maintain such freshness and vitality. In Tokyo you are literally spoilt for choice when it comes to fashion districts, new styles, exquisite boutiques, independent boutiques and the sheer diversity of this mega-fashion city.

Simply put, Tokyo is “a real pearl” when it comes to fashion. Therefore, international fashion lovers have so many places to visit and multitudes of boutiques and styles to pick from in exquisite and trendy Tokyo. 

Famous stores

http://www.laforet.ne.jp/floor_guide/floor_1f_e.html  Harajuku Laforet

http://www.isetan.co.jp/icm2/jsp/store/shinjuku/info/iclub/index.jsp Isetan

http://info.keionet.com/foreign/index.html Keio Department Store

http://www.lumine.ne.jp/shinjuku/  Lumine

http://109guide.com/top_f.html Shibuya 109

http://www.maruione.jp/en  Marui

http://www.shinjuku-mylord.com/ Mylord

http://www.omotesandohills.com/english/  Omotesando Hills Shopping Mall

http://www.parco.co.jp/customer/  PARCO

http://www.takashimaya.co.jp/shinjuku/store_information/ Takashimaya

http://www.japan-hotels.ws/tokyo/aoyama/shopping.htm Where to shop in Aoyama

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3011.html   Information about Shinjuku

Boutiques in Tokyo

http://www.adore2005.com/

http://anteprima.com/

http://www.ap-dp.com/

www.bape.com/   

http://www.betseyjohnson.jp/

http://www.brooksbrothers.co.jp/fleece/index.html

http://candy-nippon.com/  

http://www.commedesgarcons.org/

http://www.10corsocomo.com/  

http://www.cynthiarowley.com/

http://www.dokidoki6.com/   (6%DOKIDOKI website)

http://www.donnakaran.com/

http://www.erikonail.com/

http://www.escada.com/

http://www.frapbois.jp/

http://www.gucci.com/us/home

http://www.iliannloeb.com/

http://www.incontro.co.jp/

http://www.isseymiyake.com/en/

http://www.kiwasylphy.jp/

http://www.lebois.jp/

http://www.leclaireur.com/en/

http://www.lov-lab.com/  

http://www.maccosmetics.co.jp/

http://www.macaronic.jp/    

http://www.melrose.co.jp/martinique/index.html

http://www.melrose.co.jp/tiara/

http://www.merveilleh.co.jp/

http://www.metamorphose.gr.jp/english/

http://ameblo.jp/oriental-news-omotesando/

http://www.pasdedeux.co.jp/

http://www.paulsmith.co.jp/

http://www.prada.com/

http://sebastianz.jugem.jp/   (Sebastian Masuda)

http://www.smackyglam.com/   

http://www.stellamccartney.com/default/stores/Tokyo

http://store.costumenational.com/

http://www.tracyreese.com   

http://www.tsumorichisato.com/index.html

http://www.viviennewestwood.co.uk/

http://yaplog.jp/grimoire-blog/  

http://www.yohjiyamamoto.co.jp/

http://www.zucca.cc/index.html

http://6girls.jugem.jp/   

Images of fashion in Tokyo

http://www.fashion-j.com/E/trend/201010.html

http://tokyofashion.com/6dokidoki-world-tour-harajuku-kawaii-experience

http://shibuyafashion.metrocity.nl/

http://www.metrocity.nl/tokyo/streetfashion/harajuku-fashion/     

http://tokyofashion.com/candy-sister-fashion-shibuya/   

Past articles

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/10/14/tokyo-fashion-omotesando-hills-and-adorable-fashion-in-tokyo/

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/10/20/tokyo-fashion-lumine-to-open-a-new-store-in-trendy-yurakcho/

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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Japan

 

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Mishima, Murakami, the Dalai Lama and CIA: genius, banality and the closet

Mishima, Murakami, the Dalai Lama and CIA: genius, banality and the closet

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Yukio Mishima

Haruki Murakami is clearly popular and sales of his new book, 1Q84, will hit the roof because of huge demand. It is therefore abundantly clear that Murakami is a writer who appeals to millions of people throughout the world. However, one of the most iconic food chains in America is equally popular for different reasons but in a sense you do have a connection.

The connection is banality but an enjoyment all the same and both the American iconic food chain and Murakami are in huge demand but sometimes it is difficult to understand why they stand out against other options.

In truth, this world is complex and often contradictory beyond reasoning. After all, the Dalai Lama is a man of peace but was sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency of America (CIA). This certainly doesn’t fit the imagination but the $1.7 million dollars a year in the 1960s and early 1970s certainly helped to boost his profile.

However, in the world of reality and unreality, then the Dalai Lama being sponsored by the CIA does make sense.  After all, the United States spends vast sums of money on redeveloping Afghanistan and propping up the Karzai regime and many soldiers have died for “freedom” and fighting for their country.  However, all apostates from Islam to Christianity face the death penalty in Afghanistan and clearly the Dalai Lama would have difficulty in building a Buddhist temple.

This may appear to be getting away from the point but actually it is meant to be getting nearer.  Therefore, while the appeal of Murakami continues to grow and nobody can doubt this based on sales, it still doesn’t hide the banality of Murakami compared with Yukio Mishima.

It is not only the placid nature of Murakami’s writing when compared with Mishima but also the richness, passion and mystery of Mishima which pales the other author into oblivion.  Yes, it is factual that intellect means little if people ignore and if the individual can’t connect but Murakami certainly can connect despite his lack of creativity.

It must be remembered that Leon Trotsky was an intellect unlike Joseph Stalin but we all know that an ice pick awaited Trotsky while Stalin manipulated power control mechanisms.  Therefore, just like many great artists who lived in poverty and died in debt or with little money to their name (their art today costs untold sums of money), intellect and genius didn’t spare Trotsky and countless artists who struggled to survive.

Therefore, reality and unreality is very difficult to define with so much chaos. However, the passion of Mishima is rare even if this passion turned against “the self” and ultimately led to his brutal death which he desired.

In Mishima’s novel, Runaway Horses, he writes on page 236 that “Isao’s young lips had yet touched no other lips, and he brushed them delicately against the petals of this withered lily with all the exquisite sensitivity that they possessed.”

“Here is the source of my purity, the warrant for my purity,” he told himself. “I am certain that it is here. When the time comes for me to turn my sword against myself, lilies will surely rise from the morning dew and open their petals to the rising sun. Their scent will purify the stench of my blood. So be it! How can I have any more doubts?”

This passion is what made Mishima special and the fact that he had high intellect is secondary because without this creative spark then his novels would still be of high quality, just like Murakami, but they wouldn’t stand out or hit a raw nerve.

Also, while Mishima is tainted by “progressive liberals” for being too nationalistic it is ironic that many of the same “progressive liberals” will revere the Dalai Lama.  However, Mishima had no CIA closet or links with an organization which sometimes went to extremes via covert and bloody operations.

Michael Backman in The Age commented that “The government set up in exile in India and, at least until the 1970s, received $US 1.7 million a year from the CIA.”

“The money was to pay for guerilla operations against the Chinese, notwithstanding the Dalai Lama’s public stance in support of non-violence, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.”

“The Dalai Lama himself was on the CIA’s payroll from the late 1950s until 1974, reportedly receiving $US 15,000 a month ($US 180,000 a year).”

“The funds were paid to him personally, but he used all or most of them for Tibetan government-in-exile activities, principally to fund offices in New York and Geneva, and to lobby internationally.”

Therefore, whatever the failings of Mishima and his nationalist leanings which are reviled by “progressive liberals,” at least you see and feel the “real” Mishima unlike the closet of the Dalai Lama.

In literary terms Murakami is “progressive” and unlike Mishima he doesn’t veer to the right-wing mindset. However, the image of Murakami suits the style that he writes and unlike the “CIA closet” of the Dalai Lama, you don’t have any bombshells within his books and this is what is so disappointing.

Yes, books by Murakami appeal to vast numbers of people and clearly he thinks deeply about his writing. However, I fail to see a spark or “a bigger picture” but maybe Murakami is correct on this point because it could be that all “bigger pictures” are illusions.

It may well be that 1Q84 by Murakami is very special but given past novels, I hesitate to believe that he can break free and reach a new height.  Therefore, while it is difficult to put Mishima’s book down it is equally difficult to believe that a fresh book by Murakami will be unique based on past novels.

In an earlier article I wrote about Mishima I state that “The book Sun and Steel relates to Mishima throwing away his earlier novel, Confessions of a Mask.”  Now Mishima was building up to be a man of strength and the Nietzsche “ubermensch” was born within the ego and spirit of Mishima.” 

Further down in the same article I comment that “The boy from Tokyo was enigmatic and had a raw passion and sadly the passion of Mishima is missing today and maybe this is where his genius belongs.”

“In Mishima, you can imagine the energy of the past and where the individual is visionary; therefore, the failings in his life, like the failings of all people; must be brushed aside because to ignore Mishima’s writing is to ignore a potent force within the literary energy of Japan.”

“Mishima, unlike the majority of writers, transcended the nation he belonged to because his writing hits a raw nerve within the “inner soul” and he will continue to be read by millions of people all over the world.”

Of course individuals are different and the energy of Mishima and the self-destructive nature of his thinking is rare, to say the least.  Therefore, while Murakami connects with millions of people all over the world, which is amazing by itself, it mainly applies to a mindset based on commonality and un-uniqueness.

Mishima, however, can be felt in the fervor of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the communist take-over in China, the disillusioned in all societies who see a crumbling indigenous culture being swept away by globalization and a growing monoculture.

The first aspect, the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the communist take-over in China, was based on self-made illusions and both events unleashed suffering, brutality, and mass persecution, especially in the early stages.

However, the second aspect, fearing the destructive nature of globalization, a growing monoculture, societies disconnecting with past history and culture, is more understandable, irrespective if people disagree.

It is easy to visualize, even if incorrectly, cosmopolitans and “progressive liberals” championing a writer from a different culture. After all, what could be more hip and internationalist?

Yet with Mishima, you feel “the shadow” and “the marginalized” and his books can appeal to people on many different grounds.  Not only this, Mishima’s writing style is on a different wavelength when compared to Murakami.

Turning back to the Dalai Lama and taking money from the CIA and relating this to this article, then unlike the reality and unreality of life, the action by the Dalai Lama was all too real.  The unreality about the Dalai Lama is the myth behind the hidden agenda.

Mishima equals complexity, intrigue, creativity, and chaos. However, Murakami represents normality, safety, and predictability but he is a writer who appeals because he delves deeply into the reality of the characters he writes about. The Dalai Lama represents “unreality” because the picture is clearly not the real image which is being provided. Despite this, it could be argued that his realistic approach serves the Tibetans well because CIA funding enabled the Tibetan cause to become known but it shatters the “peace myth” about the Dalai Lama.

It could be that the over-hype about Murakami is correct and that I am mistaken and maybe I am just an ignorant individual? However, the passion and spark of Mishima was potent, irrespective if people welcomed or liked his thinking.  Therefore, the unreality of the Dalai Lama’s image which based his CIA funding on reality is the best way to sum up the popularity of Murakami – that is, I fail to see what makes him stand out unlike the genius of Mishima.

http://www.nytimes.com/1998/10/02/world/world-news-briefs-dalai-lama-group-says-it-got-money-from-cia.html  Dalai Lama and CIA 

http://www.theage.com.au/news/business/behind-dalai-lamas-holy-/2007/05/22/1179601410290.html    Dalai Lama and CIA cloak  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRXFyOh6yzQ&feature=related   Video of Dalai Lama and CIA

http://www.vill.yamanakako.yamanashi.jp/osusume.php – Yukio Mishima Cyber Museum

http://dennismichaeliannuzz.tripod.com/index.HTML   – Tribute to Yukio Mishima

http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/mishima.htm    – Yukio Mishima

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/oct/14/haruki-murakami-1q84 

Haruki Murakami

http://www.murakami.ch/main_4.html  Haruki Murakam i

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com 

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Tokyo fashion: Aoyama is refined, chic, elegant, and sophisticated

Tokyo fashion: Aoyama is refined, chic, elegant, and sophisticated  

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Aoyama fashion is famous in Tokyo because you have so many exquisite boutiques in this very exclusive area.  The fashion boutiques are a splendid mixture of American, European, and Japanese fashion, and the various mosaic within European fashion means that you have lovely contrasts and an abundance of choice.

The architecture of some of the shopping malls and major fashion houses also adds to the spice.  This applies to ultra-modern buildings and the occasional touch of classical styles and this rich blend is visually appealing and creates a feeling of sophistication.

Aoyama is part of the rich vein of exquisite fashion which covers this non-stop zone of lovely boutiques. This applies to Aoyama, Harajuku, Omotesando and Shibuya whereby you leave one fashion zone and enter another.  Not only this, the diversity and age groups which each area caters for and the back streets of Harajuku, Omotesando and before entering central Shibuya proper, is amazing.

Therefore, it is very rewarding for people who adore fashion to browse around and soak up the environment and come across new fashion outlets.  The entire fashion zone in the backstreets is awash with creative fashion, riskier boutique styles, street vibes and American influences, independent boutiques and the buzz this creates is truly unique.

In Aoyama you have countless sophisticated boutiques to visit and a partial list includes Comme des Garcons, Gucci, Prada, Donna Karan, Loveless, Michael Kors, 10 Corso Como, L’eclaireur, Vivienne Westwood, A Bathing Ape, Jil Sander, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Artisan, Stella McCartney, Cynthia Rowley, Paul Smith, Helmut Lang, Mark Jacobs, Tsumori Chisato, Costume National, Carbane de Zucca, Hanae Mori, Diane Von Furstenberg, Undercover, Design Works, Frapbois, and many others like Deuxieme Classe.

In a recent article by Modern Tokyo Times the attention was on the elegant Omotesando Hills shopping complex and the quality boutiques and other shops in this exquisite mall. In Aoyama you have trendy and sophisticated stores which include Boutique W, Dress Camp, Flair Aoyama, Loveless and other exclusive shopping stores.

Cibone is another very trendy shopping mall which caters for futuristic furniture, clothing, dinnerware, restaurants, electrical appliances based on innovation, and so much more. The store is a magnet for fashion conscious individuals and the concept is challenging but richly rewarding.

Famous stars also love Aoyama fashion and Comme des Garcons fashion is internationally famous just like countless other fashion companies in Aoyama. The list of famous people who adore Comme des Garcons include Kanye West, Vincent Ng, John Waters, Chloe Sevigny, Mary Kate Olsen, Leila Aldik, Matt Bellamy, Tilda Swinton Justin Bieber, Selma Blair, and many others.

Aoyoma fashion is clearly debonair, sophisticated, international, and chic beyond your wildest dreams. The entire area is uplifting and the architecture and fashion displays are delightful. Therefore, if fashion is in your veins and you want to see sublime Japanese and international fashion, then Aoyama is a district that you must visit to see the latest trends and exquisite fashion styles.

PARTIAL LIST OF WEBSITES

http://www.commedesgarcons.org/

http://www.10corsocomo.com/  

http://www.cynthiarowley.com/

http://www.donnakaran.com/

http://www.frapbois.jp/

http://www.gucci.com/us/home

http://www.isseymiyake.com/en/

http://www.leclaireur.com/en/

http://www.paulsmith.co.jp/

http://www.prada.com/

http://www.tsumorichisato.com/index.html

http://www.stellamccartney.com/default/stores/Tokyo

http://store.costumenational.com/

http://www.viviennewestwood.co.uk/

http://www.yohjiyamamoto.co.jp/

http://www.zucca.cc/index.html

www.bape.com/    

AOYAMA SHOPPING LINKS TO HELP TOKYOITES AND TOURISTS

http://www.japan-hotels.ws/tokyo/aoyama/shopping.htm

http://www.aoyama-net.com/fashionmap/index.htm – Map of where the fashions companies are

http://tokyofashion.com/tag/aoyama/   – Aoyama fashion

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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Japan

 

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Kan Mi Youn and K-pop groups in Japan: behind the beauty real hearts exist

Kan Mi Youn and K-pop groups in Japan: behind the beauty real hearts exist

Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The “Korean cool” image is generating a real buzz in many nations because the energy which came out of South Korea many years ago is reaching a head of steam. This momentum is based on many fabulous K-pop groups and soloists coming from South Korea.

This collective momentum is rapidly changing the image of South Korea internationally and music lovers in Japan are eagerly awaiting new tracks from Girls’ Generation (SNSD), Kara, T-ara, G.na, Chocolat, Sistar, and other buzzing groups. At the same time you have great soloists and Kan Mi Youn is one special lady because of her creativity, individualism, adorability and a lovely voice which fuses all her special attributes.

However, behind catchy tunes and powerful images of music stars who have so much to offer to their adoring fans, you also have another angle which is mainly hidden for all the right reasons.  This applies to individuals and groups which have reached out in different ways in order to help others who are not so lucky. Therefore, while K-pop stars don’t want to make capital from this because the reasons are genuine and sincere, it is still nice to focus on this side of music.

Recently Kan Mi Youn released another fantastic music track and like the high octane “Paparazzi” single it is clear evidence that 2011 is a fantastic year for this special lady. At the same time many K-pop groups are hitting the heights in Tokyo and throughout Japan. This fact is great for the music sector in Japan because it is refreshing the J-pop scene and the more raunchy style and sophisticated approach within K-pop is hitting a chord in cities like Tokyo and Osaka.

However, for K-pop groups which are based in Japan or are targeting the Japanese market, then they are fully aware of the devastating effects of March 11. This applies to the earthquake which triggered the deadly tsunami and created the nuclear crisis in Fukushima.

Therefore, Kara donated all their profits from their hit single called “Jet Coaster Love” in order to help the needy in areas hit by the devastating tsunami. Gu Ha Ra commented that “It breaks my heart to think about the pain of the Japanese people, who have showed us so much love.”  Her comment, and other comments made by this classy group were deeply appreciated in Japan because it showed you that in times of crisis, that people with hearts of gold come to the fore and help others.

Girls’ Generation also donated heavily from their hit single and like Kara these elegant ladies showed that despite all the glamour and mega attractions of being famous, that underneath the image, stunning fashion, lovely dancing and beautiful looks, are sensitive individuals whose hearts are in the right place.

Musically, Girls’ Generation, Kara, T-ara, and many other K-pop groups, have so much to offer and they are blessing Japan with their talent and other new bands will follow in their footsteps in the future.

However, music is just one side but when music stars come to the fore and show their humanity, then this is the icing on the cake.

Kan Mi Youn is also another lady who is a great role model because all too often famous music stars, sport stars, and so forth, forget their roots and easily fall into the trap of looking down on others or distancing themselves from reality.  However, for Kan Mi Youn she is not only a fantastic singer who is blessed with passion, individuality, creativity and stunning looks – but her heart is clearly in the right place.

This applies to being a volunteer at a rehabilitation center in Seoul whereby she helps elderly citizens and infants who have various issues to deal with.  This information was published by Soompi (http://www.soompi.com/) on their website.

Soompi caters for latest K-pop news and other areas of the entertainment world emanating from South Korea. In the report by Soompi they express several comments by Kan Mi Youn and she states that “When it’s about time for me to come, the elder grandmothers and grandfathers with behavioral problems wait outside for me. They warmly hold my hands and lead me into their rooms, sharing stories and even candy with me. When it’s time for me to leave they wave and say goodbye until they can’t see me anymore.”  

It is also clear in the article by Soompi that Kan Mi Youn began voluntary work many years ago and this fact shows a new angle to this exquisite lady.  Therefore, irrespective of individuals doing voluntary work, charity, or donating, it is nice to know that so many groups and individuals have their heart in the right place.

Of course individuals are attracted to these music stars because of their voices, melodic beats, style, movement, expression, connection, raw energy and based on so many other factors.

However, it is nice to see glimpses into the world of music stars and when you hear about individuals like Kan Mi Youn volunteering, despite her limited free time and the host of options available to this talented individual – then it is a reminder that some individuals are “real role models.”

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/03/23/2011032300710.html  (Gu Ha Ra from Kara)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhseD2tRLUY  Girls’ Generation – Mr. Taxi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AwFX_59Ryo  KARA – Honey

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfUrnMCLXAc  Girls’ Generation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=na83qZNWX3w&feature=fvwrel  KARA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzlQ1KtWsFA&feature=related   Kan Mi Youn and “Paparazzi”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_1KfUDB1zU    Kan Mi Youn and “Going Crazy”

http://girlspic.blogbus.com/logs/14277489.html  Beautiful photos of Kan Mi Youn

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KcQWl3Zw34 T-ara (Bo Peep Bo Peep Japanese Version)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBMzk0qFO6U&feature=fvsr T-ara (I Go Crazy Because Of You)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bPhbYl7rV0 T-ara (Like The First Time)

http://www.thecnstar.com/     Magazine for latest K-pop/culture/entertainment

http://www.kanzume.jp

http://www.soompi.com/news/kan-mi-youns-secret-life-of-volunteering

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Posted by on October 17, 2011 in ASIA, Japan

 

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Sesshu Toyo and historical art in Japan (1420-1506)

Sesshu Toyo and historical art in Japan (1420-1506)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Sesshu Toyo during his lifetime was highly revered in Japan and China because of his artistic talent related to the visual arts. He was educated with the intent of being a Rinzai Zen Buddhist priest and the importance of interaction between China and Japan was the norm in this period for the elites within society.

Chinese Song Dynasty landscape art was very important to Sesshu Toyo unlike Ming Dynasty art which didn’t have the same creativity according to him.  However, other aspects of the Ming Dynasty appealed to Sesshu Toyo and this notably applies to temples built in this period.

His art work titled “Sansui Chokan” (Long Landscape Scroll) highlights the richness of Sesshu Toyo. However, with the psyche of culture being very different from Western norms whereby individual artists desire to highlight themselves, this logic did not enter the mindset of many Japanese artists because of cultural differences in this period.

Therefore, many art pieces may state Sesshu Toyo by bearing his signature or seal but many of these paintings were done by his pupils or were copies of his work. This complicates things for art lovers who are lay people but the discerning eye of experts have distinguished his artwork based on several factors.

Xia Gui and other Chinese artists influenced Sesshu Toyo but he had a distinctive style despite this. This applies to a more pronounced variance related to light and shadow and his lines were heavier. Other areas were notably different and this applies to the depiction of space and dimensional attributes.

My personal favorite piece is the “Huike Offering His Arm to Bodhidharma” because you have a clear spiritual dimension. This stunning artwork was done in 1496 and is based on the first patriarch of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma, and below him is Huike who became the second patriarch.

Despite Huike cutting off his arm after being rejected many times by Bodhidharma you don’t feel any warmth or reverence. Instead a battle of minds is at play and the aloofness provides a mystical aspect because while Bodhidharma is depicted with a different aura and power, this does not deter or infringe on the thinking of Huike. Therefore, does the real power belong to Bodhidharma or Huike?

Many interpretations can be given but in the painting it appears that Huike desires knowledge and he will do anything to obtain this. However, does he desire the knowledge in order to reach another dimension? 

If Huike revered Bodhidharma then why doesn’t he offer the arm with respect or at least seek eye contact and to express his piety by kneeling?  It seems that the arm which was offered and the knowledge that Huike desires from Bodhidharma, is a means to an end and that he seeks to reach deeper into the spiritual world but seeks to surpass his master.

Of course, you will have many different interpretations and different cultural and religious thinking alongside individualism and other areas. However, the painting does not show “love,” “piety” or “trust” but instead it shows realism and coldness.

Could it be that the depiction is a duplicate and in truth the meaning is far from what it is perceived to be?  In other words, Bodhidharma is Zen Buddhism and Huike is Sesshu Toyo and the arm depicts his love of art.

This may appear far-fetched to many individuals but this artwork was done near the end of his life. Also, it is reported that he was punished for loving art more than studying Zen Buddhism when he was much younger. Therefore, while Zen Buddhism was a powerful reality within his mindset the pull of art was also deeply embedded within his soul and psyche.

Irrespective of personal views about this remarkable piece of art it is clear that Sesshu Toyo enriched this world.

 

http://www.japanese-arts.net/painting/zen_sesshu.htm 

http://www.dharmanet.org/Zenart.htm

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

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Posted by on October 5, 2011 in Japan

 

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