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Japanese art and Ogata Korin (1658-1716)

Japanese art and Ogata Korin (1658-1716)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The art of Ogata Korin remains potent because of clarity and his own unique ways. However, at one point it appeared that the winds of time would threaten his legacy and if this had happened, then Japanese art would have been the loser. Thankfully, Sakai Hoitsu would change this because this individual understood the powerful art of Korin and he restored his reputation and opened up his art to new artists.

Korin had been born into a wealthy household because his father was a thriving merchant. More important, his father had a keen eye for art therefore he nurtured his son and gave him a firm foundation. This proved to be a rich blessing because Korin was blessed with amazing skills and he also had something new to offer the art world.

It is certainly true that Korin admired Hon’ami Koetsu and Tawaraya Sotatsu because both individuals influenced him. Therefore, aspects of this influence can be felt within the “heart” of Korin but this gifted artist also had his own distinctive style.

For example Korin focused on bold designs and he utilized contrasting colors and the power of this can be felt deeply within his artwork. Also, Korin would manipulate space and sometimes he would disregard the conventions of his day. This applies to rejecting pure realism within his art and manipulating nature in order to expose the beauty he saw within his world. Therefore, while Korin respected Koetsu and Sotatsu to the full, he also had his own unique style and clearly this attracted Hoitsu.

In a past article I commented that “in the history of art the “shadow of time” nearly bypassed him after his death because Korin was becoming a forgotten artist or at least on the periphery. Sakai Hoitsu would change this because he brought Korin back “from the cold” and “into the light” once more.”

“Therefore, with Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1828) reviving the interest of Korin he once more became remembered and interest grew because of this factor.  Hoitsu also reproduced some of the best work of Korin and this was a timely reminder to all lovers of art in Japan that Korin played his role when it came to creativity and expressing serenity.”

If you look at the White and Red Plum Blossoms by Korin it is clear that the angle of the viewer and that of the artist is fascinating. At first, it isn’t noticeable to lay people because everything appears normal but the more you look then clearly the angle is intriguing from a Western art point of view.

On the following website (http://www.all-art.org) it is commentated that “Ogata Korin used none of these Western perspective conventions. He showed the two plum trees as seen from a position on the ground, while viewers look down on the stream between them from above. Less concerned with locating the trees and stream in space than with composing shapes on a surface, the painter played the water’s gently swelling curves against the jagged contours of the branches and trunks. Neither the French nor the Japanese painting can be said to project “correctly” what viewers “in fact” see. One painting is not a “better” picture of the world than the other. The European and Asian artists simply approached the problem of picture-making differently.”

It is factual that Korin is not internationally famous unlike a few Japanese artists who are widely known. However, fame and stunning art doesn’t always go hand in hand and of course the art world is extremely broad and some styles have hit the imagination more and received greater international attention.

Despite this, the legacy of Korin is powerful in modern Japan and he is rightly known for being distinctive and enhancing the richness of Japanese art. Also, the more you focus on his art then the more clear it becomes that his unique style appeals today just like it appealed greatly to Hoitsu. Therefore, Korin left a lasting legacy and when you view the more refined artwork of Korin you can visualize high society in the golden periods of Kyoto and Nara.

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

http://www.asianartnewspaper.com/article/rinpa%3A-the-art-of-japan%E2%80%99s-renaissance

http://moderntokyotimes.com

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

 
  
 
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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in Japan

 

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Murasaki Shikibu and The Tale of Genji: a female writer who broke the chains

Murasaki Shikibu and The Tale of Genji: a female writer who broke the chains

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Murasaki Shikibu (Lady Murasaki) is the most famous Japanese lady in history and many artists have depicted her because of her wisdom and knowledge. Not surprisingly, her prominence remains so strong because very few ladies in Japanese history have come to the fore because of conservative aspects of culture. Obviously, this conservatism doesn’t solely apply to Japan because in history it appears that female emancipation wasn’t on the radar in the majority of cultures. Therefore, ukiyo-e artists in Japan had little option but to focus on Murasaki Shikibu when it came to depicting a powerful lady in Japanese history.

It is known that she was born in 973 but her death is disputed because some people claim that she died in 1014 and others state 1025. However, given the discrepancy then obviously much is down to guess work and is open to many interpretations. The same applies to her final years on this earth because information is patchy but given this period of history then this isn’t so surprising.

What is known is that Murasaki Shikibu was blessed with many talents and she obtained great knowledge of Chinese classics. Yet, how she obtained this knowledge is also open to interpretation. This applies to historians claiming different things because some state that her father allowed her to study with her brother. However, others dispute this and claim that she was forbidden to study with her brother but because of her inquisitive nature and natural ability, she was able to learn by listening tentatively by the door.

Whatever the truth, it is clear that gender norms in this period meant that she faced an uphill struggle to overcome the obstacles in her way. Also, given the fact that somehow she overcame these obstacles then clearly her output would have been even greater if she had been given freedom to write.  Sadly, even in the modern period it is clear that females in many nations suffer because of gender discrimination throughout the world.

Therefore, it is abundantly clear that many female writers, artists, historians, politicians, and so forth, have suffered “a cultural female genocide” because of male dominance and elitism which deprived women of equality. This reality adds to the power of Murasaki Shikibu because so many others went silently to their grave despite having so much to give throughout the world.

Turning back to Murasaki Shikibu then even her real name is disputed because in a diary which was written in 1007 the name Fujiwara Takako was mentioned. This, according to some individuals, is the real name of Murasaki Shikibu but again nothing is conclusive. Therefore, the most famous lady in Japanese history is based on the legacy that she left and other areas will always remain in doubt unless a hidden manuscript is found – and this appears most unlikely.

What isn’t in doubt is that The Tale of Genji was written by a lady in this period and either her real name survives or a nom de plume was chosen because of cultural factors. However, because of no real clarity then it is best to stay loyal to the name Murasaki Shikibu.

The Tale of Genji is internationally famous and a rich treasure in Japan. Also, this classic highlights the importance of Chinese culture in this period of Japan and this theme remains constant before the events of the late nineteenth century. This classic was written in the Heian period and the richness of style left a lasting impression. Without a shred of doubt Murasaki Shikibu was an extremely gifted individual despite all the negative realities that she faced.

In an earlier article I stated that “Murasaki Shikibu was no normal lady because she desired to express many things and given her stature in society then clearly she had the opportunity to do so.  This lady of letters was a poet, novelist and being in the Imperial court she had certain obligations, therefore, she was a lady-in-waiting.” 

“Her novel called The Tale of Genji left a lasting legacy based on the quality of her writing and the passion that it oozes. Platitudes abound in Japan and throughout the international community and it is a major source of pride for women in Japan and for Japanese culture which is enriched by The Tale of Genji.”

“Ukiyo-e artists have depicted Murasaki Shikibu during the height of this art form in Japan and the art highlights a noble and refined lady.  The art work is based on wisdom, serenity, sophistication, and a lady who had a special aura. Therefore, ukiyo-e artists have transcended Murasaki Shikibu and entered her into a new dimensional world where certainty and an aura of inner-beauty and knowledge are rolled into this remarkable individual.”

The Tale of Genji itself leaves many questions regarding the role of women in Japan. This applies to why did this classic survive and remain unhindered? After all, if females were not allowed to write and study Chinese classics openly, then why wasn’t the book banned? Or does it signify the importance of her background and that she escaped censorship based on her status and knowing high officials? If so, then why didn’t other female writers in high positions leave a lasting legacy in Japan and the same applies to women who knew powerful individuals – therefore, why Murasaki Shikibu and not scores of other female writers?

Murasaki Shikibu entered the imperial court after her husband passed away and during this time she observed and learnt many things. The Tale of Genji became respected in a very short time and again this would indicate that you had few constraints against Japanese female writers. However, history would point in the other direction because you don’t find many famous female writers in Japan in this period.

The earliest manuscript was lost but scrolls in the 12th century were found and clearly The Tale of Genji enriches Japanese culture and highlights many aspects of high society in this period. Therefore, while many aspects of the life of Murasaki Shikibu remain unknown the same doesn’t apply to her legacy because this classic is deemed to be a national treasure.

The last years of her life are also shrouded in mystery because her work appears to cease but again the reasons remain in doubt. Could it be that she was censored after writing this classic?  Or did Murasaki Shikibu retire after achieving what she had always dreamt about?

Again, this is open to many interpretations and for this reason it is unsure about when she died. However, it would appear that her remaining years were relatively tranquil and irrespective of all the uncertainties about her life, it is abundantly clear that The Tale of Genji left a deep impression. Therefore, the legacy of Murasaki Shikibu is very powerful.

In another article I comment that “Murasaki Shikibu also wrote a volume of poetry called The Diary of Lady Murasaki and Japanese artists illuminated this lady of letters to wider society. The art work of ukiyo-e artists in the Edo period and throughout the Meiji period maintained the rich aura of Murasaki Shikibu and her novel The Tale of Genji is a classic within Japanese literature and international literature.”

However, given the lack of female writers, artists, and people in power in Japanese history, then how did Murasaki Shikibu break the chains? Also, if she was allowed to break the chains then why didn’t others follow?

IMAGE ONE: Tosa Mitsuoki

IMAGE TWO: Hiroshige (ukiyo-e)

IMAGE THREE: Kunisada (ukiyo-e)

IMAGE FOUR: Edo period illustration

IMAGE FIVE: Harunobu (ukiyo-e)

http://www.taleofgenji.org/   The Tale of Genji

http://webworld.unesco.org/genji/en/index.shtml  The Tale of Genji

http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/heroine9.html 

http://harvardmagazine.com/2002/05/murasaki-shikibu.html 

http://moderntokyotimes.com 

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Japan

 

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Tokyo fashion and gardens: Rikugien, Kyu-Furukawa and fashion in Omotesando

Tokyo fashion and gardens: Rikugien, Kyu-Furukawa and fashion in Omotesando

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The beauty of Tokyo is that this mega-modern city caters for various lifestyles and areas change quickly. If you adore fashion then Tokyo is an amazing city because you have a plethora of choices. Therefore, each fashion district is buzzing for different reasons and on the opposite side of the coin you have many lovely gardens to relax and enjoy stunning nature.

Omotesando is famous for high-end fashion because you have so many fabulous companies to visit.  This applies to international boutiques and Japanese boutiques. Also, the closeness to Aoyama, Harajuku and Shibuya means that this fashion area is one of the most dynamic in the world. This isn’t an overstatement, it is based on facts and the same applies to the diversity of fashion.

Therefore, in Omotesando you are on the edge of so many different styles. This applies to exquisite and elegant fashion, kawaii trends, street styles, Lolita fashion, Dolly Kei, Vintage fashion, mainstream, and a host of other styles. Also, the age range changes quickly and this all adds to a fantastic buzz and natural energy.

Grimoire is on the border of Harajuku and Shibuya and this company is extremely unique and vibrant. The same applies to many other companies like 6% DOKIDOKI and the talented designer Sebastian Masuda. Therefore, with companies like Grimoire, Candy, and 6%DOKIDOKI (Harajuku), you can feel a lovely individualistic style and other amazing boutiques have created a lovely buzz and vibrant spirit.

If you love more mainstream fashion and elegant designs by top notch boutiques then a visit to Omotesando Hills is a real treat. Inside this building of stunning architecture you have countless international and Japanese boutiques which are sublime.

This applies to stunning boutiques in Omotesando Hills which include Adore, Anterpima, Betsey Johnson, Black Fleece, Escada Sport, Tour H. creer (Merveille H.), Yves Saint Laurent, Zara, Tracy Reese, Kiwa Sylphy, iliann loeb, Milly, Tiara, Apartment Department, Martinique Le Conte, Patrizia Pepe Firenze (Incontro), Oriental News and so many others. In truth, every single boutique is a wonder to behold and the design and architecture of Omotesando Hills is a real treasure.

Therefore, if you love fashion then “think” Omotesando, Harajuku, Aoyama and Shibuya. Of course you have many fantastic fashion districts in Tokyo but this collective area is difficult to beat in any nation. After all, you can travel between each area on foot and the different trends and styles are amazing.

On the opposite side of the fashion coin in Tokyo are the many gardens which grace this amazing city. If you want a lovely contrast between vibrant and buzzing Tokyo with a more sedate and tranquil area, then Komagome is well worth visiting. This applies to lovely gardens and many Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines to visit alongside shops which focus on antiques and other products.

It is difficult to imagine than Komagome is so close to Ikebukuro with all its trendy fashion in yet another fashion district in Tokyo. Alternatively, it is also difficult to believe that Komagome is so close to Ueno which is blessed with so many museums and tourist places to visit. Also, fashion in Ueno is electric but in its own distinctive style and you have a more Northeast Asia feel about Ueno than the usual Tokyo vibe.

Yet in Komagome you can enjoy the stunning gardens of Rikugien and Kyu-Furukawa which is in the same area. Both gardens are kept beautiful all year round and the main walkways provide glimpses into the ethics of Japanese gardens.  Therefore, space, time, views, emotions, minimalism, and other elements, fuse naturally with aspects of Confucianism, Buddhism and Shintoism.

A real added bonus in Rikugien is that you can sit down and drink traditional Japanese tea and eat delicious Japanese sweets. At the same time, the view is amazing and you can look out and gaze at the stunning pond and see nature in all its beauty.

The pond in both gardens is the central theme but if you desire you can walk around more secluded areas. Komagome is extremely rewarding because of the therapeutic nature of both gardens. Therefore, if you want to escape the buzzing fashion districts of Tokyo or to enjoy the best of both worlds, then a visit to Komagome is essential.

The shopping district in Komagome is only small but you will find folk art stores, antiques, traditional Japanese sweets, Japanese dyed garments, ceramics, independent shops and so much more. Also, if you search around you will feel the sedate and tranquil nature of this part of Tokyo and another world will open up to you.

Kyu-Furukawa Garden is a little more natural despite the garden being well kept and while Rikugien Garden is the more famous garden, both gardens enrich each other. Not only this, the architecture of the Josiah Condor (1852-1920) Western-style residence in the Kyu-Furukawa Garden is a lovely bonus. Therefore, this building alongside the rose garden provides a lovely British and Japanese theme.

Overall, Omotesando and Komagome may seem like chalk and cheese however, this is what makes Tokyo so special. Therefore, a visit to both places will make Tokyo come alive and Tokyoites and tourists gain from both amazing places.

Please visit the  links  below for more information about both gardens

http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/rikugien/index.html

http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kyu-furukawa/

http://www.omotesandohills.com/english/shops-restaurants/index.html  

Individual fashion companies

http://www.dokidoki6.com/

http://www.grimoire.jp/

http://candy-nippon.com/

Omotesando Hills

http://www.omotesandohills.com/english/  

http://www.adore2005.com/

http://anteprima.com/

http://www.ap-dp.com/  

http://www.betseyjohnson.jp/

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

http://www.erikonail.com/

http://www.escada.com/

http://www.iliannloeb.com/

http://eu.jimmychoo.com/en/restofworld/page/home?notify=yes

http://www.kiwasylphy.jp/

http://www.lebois.jp/  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.ysl.com/d/

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com  

ALL FASHION IMAGES BY MODERN TOKYO TIMES

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Japan

 

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Afghanistan: a nation where converts to Buddhism and Christianity face death

Afghanistan: a nation where converts to Buddhism and Christianity face death

Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and a host of other nations, keep on sending economic support to Afghanistan and how do the leaders of this nation respond?  Yes, they still support an ongoing Islamic inquisition whereby every Muslim convert to Buddhism, Hindusim or Christianity faces the death penalty.

In truth, the policies of Karzai and the Taliban are not so different because both sides support killing apostates from Islam, the prevention of non-Muslim places of worship, continuing discrimination against women and rigid stratification of Afghanistan. Therefore, any positive images of Kabul being shown in the media, is just “a hidden disguise of reality” and corruption is endemic alongside the heroin trade.

Afghan converts to Christianity and other faiths also face persecution outside of Afghanistan and if de-Islamization of culture isn’t installed into the younger generation via the education system, then what is the point?

Therefore, the mosque and Islamic Sharia law needs to be kept out of all major institutions and reformist Muslim organizations should be supported. After all, how can commerce, pluralism, religious freedom, female emancipation, the rights of homosexuals, and so forth, happen under the prevailing conditions of modern day Afghanistan?

Secularism, credit unions to help business initiatives, a growing liberal media network, a judiciary which is free from religious dogma and an educational system based on liberal values is needed. Of course, other important areas need changing and this applies to restrictions on dress and challenging the power base of traditional rulers who care little about modernity.

This Sunni Islamic version of Islam in Afghanistan is mainly ultra-conservative and based on preserving inequality and the subjugation of non-Muslims, women, and maintaining stratification. The Islamic enlightenment in this country is a million miles away. Therefore, the current Western policy appears to be based on the status quo and allowing another generation of girls to be chained by an oppressive society.

If the option is the Taliban who recently stoned a woman to death for so-called immorality, yes, Mohammed married a child of 6 years of age and consummated the marriage with Aisha when she was 9 years old, and by this time Mohammed was over 50 (Obviously morality is conditional on individuals and not their own prophet); or the Karzai government which is corrupt and supports killing apostates via the state; then what option is this?

Trillions of dollars have been spent on Afghanistan and the return on all this money is you have schools which teach basic education to girls. However, this educational system is uneven and in more conservative areas it is still disliked.

Therefore, what are NATO forces and American troops dying for? Why are the sons and daughters of democrats being thrown to “the jaws of radical Sunni Islam” and the complete corruption and hypocrisy of the Karzai regime?

Once Buddhism and Hinduism nurtured the land of Afghanistan but the Islamic inquisition after countless invasions changed everything and one day all Buddhists would disappear because of many factors. These factors apply to dhimmitude, massacres, pogroms, and once the power shift became dominated by Islamic forces then Buddhism was doomed to just being a shell.

However, the Taliban didn’t even like a shell, therefore, the forces of conservative Sunni Islam turned against all Buddhist images. At the same time, the forces of radical Sunni Islam then turned against the Shia and slaughtered them in the thousands but of course Osama Bin Laden believed that this policy was both Islamic and a jihad.

This madness, and it is madness, which desires to kill apostates to Buddhism, apostates to Christianity, kill homosexuals, stone women to death for adultery, and so forth; isn’t being challenged by “the light of democracy;” on the contrary it is being challenged by appeasement and the corruption of the Karzai regime which also supports killing all apostates and not allowing any other religion in Afghanistan.

If Western political leaders just desire the status quo then surely they should stop wasting the lives of military people who are dying for nothing. Also, tax-payers money shouldn’t be thrown at a county which is undemocratic and corrupt.

America likes to rebuke North Korea but women at least have a million times more freedom in this nation than Afghan women. The same also applies to Saudi Arabia where women can’t drive cars and shop freely with men and so forth.

Indeed, you have more Christian churches in North Korea than in both Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. What does this tell us about Western policy and the nature of conservative Sunni Islam? Also, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia are deemed to be allies but from the point of view of democracy, religious freedom, equality of the sexes, and so forth, it certainly doesn’t look like it.

It is time to stop coddling up to despotism and for greater accountability.

http://www.aina.org/news/20111116185325.htm  (Recent article about apostates in Afghanistan)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2060380/Afghan-mother-daughter-stoned-shot-dead-Taliban-accused-moral-deviation-adultery.html  (Woman and daughter stoned to death)

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
 
 

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Paul Gauguin and stunning art

Paul Gauguin and stunning art

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Paul Gauguin left sublime art behind but it appears that his greatness and individualism isn’t being fully recognized. Somehow, the chaos and poverty of his own lifetime appears to be a shadow which still hangs over this man of art. Therefore, a more genuine assessment of Gauguin is needed because he was truly gifted.

Not only was Gauguin blessed with a rare gift in the field of art but he also had high intellect and maybe this was his weak spot. Therefore, while his life appeared normal he also felt crushed by society and the mundane reality of his world. However, his searching spirit inside was made all the more intense because of family pressure and the need to express the real Gauguin.

If Gauguin had been lucky enough to have had a break then his lasting legacy would have been so different and today he would be fondly remembered for his art by all and sundry. However, just like the lifetime of Gauguin he still remains controversial for some art lovers and the deconstruction of one aspect is infringing on the real genius of this man of art and words.

Prior to entering the art world Gauguin had showed little in the line of individualism and creativity and his world seemed normal. This applies to working and providing for his family. However, a spark remained in Gauguin and all the shackles of his life could no longer contain his dream.

Gauguin stated “without art there is no salvation” but sadly while salvation came internally by the art he created, the same does not apply to the salvation of art. After all, every time it appeared that he would finally make a big breakthrough then the further away he was.

In a past article I commented that “…the more fellow artists appreciated his talents and the closer he got to the “promise land,” the greater the rejection when poverty was all that remained. Also, Gauguin’s favorite daughter Aline died of pneumonia and Clovis, his son, died from a blood infection.  Therefore, his world was full of darkness and where was the justice that failed to reward such a talented individual?”

  

“Instead of “without art there is no salvation” it now felt that with or without art there is no salvation.  The death of Aline, a daughter he cherished and who provided a ray of sunshine, must have hit home at all the futility of this life.”

Gauguin’s poverty was also all too real and the art world did not reward this exquisite artist who blessed the world with amazing art. Instead, it crushed his soul and the death of Aline, poverty, and other areas of his life meant that economic freedom could not be found.

However, what is galling is the vindictiveness of many art critics in the modern world and how Gauguin is marginalized. Adrian Searle (The Guardian) in his article called Paul Gauguin: guilty as charged comments that “As Belinda Thomson makes clear in her excellent Tate catalogue essay, in looking at his work, what we have to overcome, first of all, is the embarrassment of Gauguin’s life and personality. Self-promotion and self-invention are inextricable from the art itself. Thomson shows us an artist, both outsider and careerist, who is a little bit dodgy in a way that anyone acquainted with today’s art world would recognize.”

I find this comment and others too strong because many talented individuals and individuals in general, will have closets but Gauguin never forgot about his children and he had many fine qualities. Added to his psyche is the loss of two children, endless poverty and the sheer predictability that nothing is going to pan out like planned.

Gauguin commented “I am inclined to a primitive state” and that Tahiti was a place “where material life can be lived without money.” In other words he was abandoning the desire of wealth and religious images in his art may have been based on Tahiti being heaven on this earth

In the past I commented that “If Gauguin succumbed to “the apple” then he did so because of the reality of an unforgiving world which was based on injustice and trapping so many into the wretchedness of poverty and debt during his lifetime.”

“However, if he succumbed to “the apple” based on love after fleeing so much hardship and escaping convention, then who are we to judge given the reality of the world that Gauguin belonged – if Gauguin had impure intentions then he would have left his family well behind before this and he would have desired the flesh much earlier.”

Tahiti was but one piece of the jigsaw and by this time the ravages of life and the endless cycle of poverty had dismantled all hope of heaven on earth in Europe. Therefore, the forbidden fruit in the garden now became a self-made image and maybe now Gauguin was even turning against redemption.

Whatever the private life of Gauguin it can never take away from the genius of this amazing artist. The profile of Gauguin should be much higher because Gauguin had a very rare talent.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/sep/27/paul-gauguin-tate-modern-exhibition   PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/08/14/gauguin-in-print-japanese-influence/

http://moderntokyotimes.com please visit

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in EUROPE

 

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Tokyo Tourism: Rikugien Garden and Kyu-Furukawa Garden in Komagome

Tokyo Tourism: Rikugien Garden and Kyu-Furukawa Garden in Komagome

Olivier LeCourt and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Tokyo is ultra-modern and because of the sheer size of the population and rich diversity of this superb capital city, you have endless places to visit. However, if you want to feel a more sedate side of Tokyo and enjoy beautiful gardens, then Komagome is a real treat because Rikugien Garden is very beautiful and Kyu-Furukawa Garden is within walking distance.

Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that Komagome is so close to the buzzing districts of Ikebukuro and Ueno. This applies to the slow pace of life which is in stark contrast to the intensity of life in the other two mentioned districts. However, despite the sedate nature of life in Komagome you have splendid places to visit and the area is higly desirable.

Not only this, you have many quaint shops selling pottery, antiques, clothing, and other types of goods. Also, you have beautiful Buddhist temples and a genuine feel of a refined Tokyo where the old culture survives and not only in images. This in itself is a lovely contrast to the mega fashion districts of Tokyo and the commercial heartland.

The gardens in Komagome are very beautiful all year round and both gardens have their own style and unique feel. Rikugien is a stunning garden which is extremely well cared for and away from the main walkway you have areas which are relatively quiet even during a busy day.   

Another added bonus of Rikugien is that you can drink traditional Japanese tea and eat a small Japanese sweet while being surrounded by stunning nature. This is most rewarding because the lovely taste of traditional Japanese tea matches the serenity and stunning views which are provided by this exquisite garden.

During your visit to Rikugien you will notice many gardeners who care deeply about their work and because of their professionalism and focus on detail, the visitor is blessed by the ethical aspects of the garden. This applies to space, time, minimalism and fusing the world of nature within the concepts of Japanese culture and ethics.

The walk around the pond is very therapeutic and uplifting and if you desire to escape and venture into a more wild area of the garden, then the choice is open to you. The contrast of both areas fuses well together and the feeling of serenity is very refreshing.

On leaving Rikugien Garden it is well worth browsing around the small shopping area because Komagome is also a treasure by itself. The shopping district is only small but you will find folk art stores, antiques, traditional Japanese sweets, Japanese dyed garments, ceramics, independent shops and so much more. 

Another stunning garden to visit in the same district is Kyu-Furukawa Garden and despite the rose garden section, this garden is more natural. This applies to the more wild nature of the garden whereby nature often dictates over human interference.

Of course gardeners maintain the garden and have reshaped many aspects but you still have the feeling that nature is more natural in contrast to the ethical aspects of Rikugien. The pond and the garden appear smaller in size compared with Rikugien but the contrasting feel compliments both gardens and you have a nice ambient feel in Kyu-Furukawa.

Josiah Condor (1852-1920) designed the Western-style residence in the garden and this feature creates a distinctive environment. This fine building blends together a nice English and Japanese theme and Kyu-Furukawa gains from the creativity of Josiah Condor.

Irrespective if you are a Tokyoite or a tourist, it is clear that Komagome should be high on your list if you adore gardens and culture.

http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/rikugien/index.html

http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kyu-furukawa/

Please visit the above links for more information about both gardens

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
 
 
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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Japan

 

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Tokyo fashion: Lumine to open a new store in trendy Yurakucho

Tokyo fashion: Lumine to open a new store in trendy Yurakucho

Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Lumine in Tokyo – MODERN TOKYO TIMES

The retail fashion expert at Tokyo Fashion Daily, Timothy Schepis, who can be viewed at the following websitehttp://tokyofashiondaily.blogspot.com/, is highlighting the opening of Lumine in Yurakucho which will be open for business on October 28. Lumine is a very trendy fashion store whereby you have many exquisite boutiques which target young ladies in their 20s and 30s.

In Ikebukuro the Lumine store certainly helped to rejuvenate the west side because the boutiques inside are elegant, stylish, lovely quality, and trendy. Also, Lumine is building on from Marui, H&M and other fashionable stores which have opened up in the same Yurakucho and Ginza neighborhood.

Therefore, the demographic make-up of shoppers in Ginza and Yurakucho is reflected by these recent changes and if anything, it really compliments the entire fashion set up of Ginza and Yurakucho. This applies to extremely up market fashion boutiques which are focused mainly on a slightly older client base and this blend of diverse shoppers is creating a fresh buzz.

Timothy Schepis comments 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.”

Timothy Schepis is also highlighting the fact that the new store will “be the first not to be part of a railway station” and this is intriguing because it shows either new thinking or realism? Realism applies to retail space available and the fact that the train station isn’t designed for a trendy store of such high quality.

However, surrounding Yurakucho train station you have many exquisite buildings and fashionable areas. Also, with the fame of Ginza and the fact that Ginza and Yurakucho are connected means that a sizeable hub of fashion keeps on growing and this makes good commercial sense for Lumine.

After all, Marui, H&M, and other stores, have already began to alter the nature of fashion in the area. Therefore, Lumine, which is a fantastic company because it moves with the times, clearly saw an opening and the omens look good despite the negativity of the economy of Japan.

It is also noticeable that United Arrows will be a tenant at Lumine’s new fashion store because this company is doing sound business. Timothy Schepis comments that “United Arrows success stems from their strong product merchandising and ability to understand fashion trends and translate them to strong merchandise and sales.”

It is clear that changes are happening in Yurakucho and the surrounding area and this adds to the beauty of fashion in Tokyo because it never remains static. These fresh ideas and new stores opening is what makes Tokyo fashion so special because companies can’t rest, and if they do, then others will simply take their market away from them or reduce their market share.

Lumine and Hankyu will also be connected and this is a continuation of past policies by Lumine. After all, the trendy Lumine store in Ikebukuro on the west side is also connected with Tobu Department Store.  This fact will be a clear winner for both companies and clearly this is a strong safety mechanism.

The new buzz created by Lumine and other companies will certainly add spice to the entire area because other stores like Printemps Ginza focus on a similar market. This competition will create a fresh dimension and Matsuya Ginza and Mitsukoshi Ginza began their “Ginza Fashion Week” on October 19.

The word is out thanks to Timothy Schepis and other fashion experts who provide essential information about Tokyo and Japanese fashion.

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

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 TAKEN IN LUMINE IN IKEBUKURO

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
 
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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Japan

 

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