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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Japanese culture & Chikanobu: ukiyo-e and East, West or a Japanese identity?

Japanese culture & Chikanobu: ukiyo-e and East, West or a Japanese identity?

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Yoshu Chikanobu (Chikanobu Toyohara) was a Meiji artist who highlighted many aspects of this revolutionary period in Japan. Chikanobu, like other Meiji artists, was often overlooked in the past but today the art world is changing. Therefore, artists who belonged to this period are now being recognized for the talents they had in abundance.

Chikanobu provides images which show the many faces of Japan and just like the modern period in Japan in the twenty-first century, it is obvious that this nation is still caught between many worlds. The old world of Shintoism and Buddhism survives powerfully during major festivals and when important events occur in the lifetime of individuals. Of course, the degree of influence will depend on the importance of these faiths within the family but even if distant, they still exist and temples and shrines dot the landscape throughout Japan.

Therefore, irrespective if individuals have rejected religion or adopted a new faith, for example converted to Christianity, the power of the old world can be felt within the culture of Japan. Chikanobu, therefore, would probably feel the same forces pulling away at the soul of Japan in the modern period. This applies to Western influence and the role of Chinese culture and where Japan truly belongs – if, indeed, Japan belongs to any single camp. 

This is not unique to Japan because nations like the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan also have complex histories. Therefore, do these nations belong to Asia, Europe or Eurasia? Or, like Japan, does much depend on each individual because no clear answer can be given – it would appear so!

Chikanobu, therefore, lived in a period of real revolution in Japan because he was born in 1838 and died in 1912. Therefore, he witnessed the ending of Edo and the start of the Meiji period in 1868. This period in Japanese history laid the foundation stone for much of the upheavals of the 1930s and the remarkable recovery which was in full swing in the 1960s.

In an earlier article about Chikanobu it was stated that “Chikanobu not only witnessed the new revolutionary period and how elites looked to the West – but by the late 1880s and early 1890s nostalgia also returned.  Obviously for the masses they were outside both themes and the only important thing was survival and adapting.”

“Chikanobu’s famous print series called “Chiyoda no Ooku” (Court Ladies of the Chiyoda Palace) and “Shin Bijin” (True Beauties) highlight stunning colors and show the complexity of this period. This applies to images which show Japanese ladies dressed in exquisite traditional clothes like the kimono and Chikanobu also depicts women in Western clothes.” 

Therefore, by focusing on aspects of his artwork then you can feel the power of “ideas” colliding, sometimes working collectively or a fusion is starting to happen. This means that the Meiji period is also the start of a new complex cultural norm in the body politic of Japan. After all, in the past the role of China is clear for all too see when it applies to kanji, Buddhism, Confucianism, architecture, literature, and so forth. Also, Korea must not be overlooked because important interaction took place and it also must be stated that great thinkers from Japan also spread their ideas in China.

Given this, the rise of Western power would create a new dimension in the Meiji period and even today you can still feel the power of this collision. After all, in modern day Japan the influence of all these factors can be felt. Also, while the power of China appeared to be on the wane the same can’t be said in the modern period because China’s economy is now ticking loudly and Korean culture is spreading once more because of K-pop and the film industry.

Of course, these competing forces don’t have to be negative and often all these complex factors have helped to create new ideas and styles. Therefore, the world of Chikanobu was very complex and he highlights aspects of the changing nature of Japan which was based on modernization. However, true to the nature of Japan, the old world still remained potent and this applied to the role of the Tenno (heavenly
sovereign) in this period.

In a sense, Japanese modernization in the Meiji period was based on the foundation of strong cultural norms which would enable conservatism to remain powerful. This means that modernization was based on traditionalism in order to implement rapid changes.

Chikanobu provides a glimpse into this changing world and his art is highly valued because of many factors. Of course, the main single factor is his fabulous artwork but from an historical point of view and analyzing sociology, it is clear that Chikanobu helps in these important fields to a certain degree.

However, the answer of Japan being based firmly in the Western camp or Eastern camp, or being a bridge between both worlds or belonging to just Japanese culture, remains unanswered.  After all, much will depend on how people see the world and clearly you don’t have one answer or one vision which is binding. Therefore, if Chikanobu was alive in modern Japan he could also highlight the many dimensions of this unique nation.

http://www.depauw.edu/news/index.asp?id=20942

http://moderntokyotimes.com

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

  
 
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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in Japan

 

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Pakistan music: Laal and Dehshatgardi Murdabad (Death to Terrorism)

Pakistan music: Laal and Dehshatgardi Murdabad (Death to Terrorism)

Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Laal is a group which hails from Pakistan and they highlight a vibrant reality which is often neglected in many nations. This applies to a culture which is questioning and challenging normal conventions in society which are keeping people shackled. However, the beauty of Laal is that they do this by connecting their message through catchy tunes, a vibrant message and genuine passion.

The track called “Dehshatgardi Murdabad” (Death to Terrorism) is hitting the right chords and this applies to the mixture of the music on offer alongside powerful lyrics and images. Therefore, the video at the bottom of this article is well worth watching because you will be able to connect with the reasons behind their thinking.

Images in the video of men and women supporting the initial revolution in Afghanistan show sexes mingling together and without any concern about how people dress. This is a far cry from modern day Afghanistan once America, the CIA, ISI (Pakistan – Inter Services Intelligence), Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and others, intervened and supported the forces of terrorism, killing apostates, shackling women, and so forth.

Of course, this may seem like an over simplification and not everything was rosy on the other side. However, the “other side” did not desire to enslave women, kill apostates, support terrorism, destabilize nations, and other barbaric methodologies. Therefore, it is clear that one side was more progressive than the other and clearly the side that the West and conservative Sunni Islamic nations supported, was the real threat to humanity in this part of the world.

However, it is also important to get away from the political side because the music of Laal is extremely catchy. This angle is very powerful because great thought patterns may exist but without the power of the musical side then it won’t reach far and wide. Given this, Laal have all the angles covered because their musical style is easy on the ear and you can feel their passion.

It must be remembered that in modern day Pakistan you have many individuals who yearn for the chains to be broken. Also, the beauty of Laal is that they are highlighting the duplicity of past American administrations which supported radical Sunni Islam and international terrorism. Therefore, conservative Sunni Islamic mullahs, terrorists, past American administrations, covert CIA operations supporting Islamism, and others, have all worked to destroy the moderate inner-self of Pakistan. This applies to the spirit of Pakistan which is multi-religious, multi-ethnic, secular, and represents a mosaic of different thinking.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, CIA, and Sunni Islamic terrorism 

Progressives in the younger generation desire a Pakistan whereby Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, Christians, Hindus, non-religious people, women, secularists, socialists, and the entire spectrum of society, can pull together and show the common thread of humanity. It may sound idealistic given the current reality of many nations throughout the world. Yet, the lyrics are noble and with such a vibrant energy, then Laal deserve to have their voice heard and to be taken seriously.

The message of Laal doesn’t belong to the streets of any nation because their message belongs to the common thread of humanity. However, with so many “dark forces” and divisions in the world then it is easy to follow the party line.

Irrespective if you are political or apolitical, the track “Death to Terrorism” is extremely powerful and the video highlights many home truths.

 

http://www.tubelyrics.org/listen_y57elLCPFQ4/laal_dehshatgardi_murdabad_death_to_terrorism_

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y57elLCPFQ4&feature=related Laal and “Death to Terrorism”

http://www.laal.com.pk/Home.html  Laal homepage – please visit

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
 
 

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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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Astral Boutique in California and Vintage Style in trendy Tokyo

Astral Boutique in California and Vintage Style in trendy Tokyo

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Sasha Soukup is a very creative lady and if you visit Astral Boutique then you can feel her deep passion and artistic nature within the styles on show and the presentation given. Astral Boutique provides lovely vintage style clothes and accessories. Also, the impact of nature and aesthetics is clear for all to see within this fashion company. Therefore, while the Sierra foothills in California may appear to be distant from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, in the world of fashion it is just a step away.

In recent years vintage fashion is impacting on the younger generation in trendy Tokyo and even in the Mecca of youth culture in Shibuya you will find vintage fashion. Also, in the smaller fashion districts like Nakameguro you will find the vintage style flourishing. This would certainly please individuals like Sasha Soukup because her company Astral Boutique caters for individuals who adore this type of fashion.

Sasha Soukup (http://www.etsy.com/shop/astralboutique) comments that “I have taken a winding road to end up at my happy home selling vintage clothing on Etsy. I always knew I was an artist, but for a long time it seemed impossible to blend my love of literature, film, dress-up, and magic into one “coherent” form. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I studied Cinema in college, worked in every strange job I could find in my 20s, studied Herbal Medicine, and developed my artistic life in musical performance. Eventually I could not resist the call of the Wild, and I moved to the forest in the Sierra foothills, in a very hippie-friendly community that is full of unique artists. I love my working life because I get to make magic and stories for a living, and sell clothes to happy people all over the world!”

Therefore, Sasha Soukup fuses nature, thought patterns, individualism, art, the environment, and other creative angles, in order to enhance Astral Boutique. In Tokyo you have companies like Grimoire, Hypnotique, Kinji, Panama Boy, Tarock, Cult Party, Qosmos, Kinsella, Monde Garage, Berberjin, Bubbles, and many others, which fuse aspects of vintage styles within the image of Baroque (Grimoire) or remain firmly within vintage fashion (Monde Garage). This creativity is in increasing demand and Grimoire which is based in the Shibuya area (near to Harajuku) is extremely passionate about their fashion designs.

Of course the trendy nature of Grimoire, which focuses on Baroque styles but creates individual designs, is clearly a million miles away from the vintage fashion of Astral Boutique. However, the connection is that past fashions have influenced their modern thinking and you can feel a connection with historical European fashion. Despite this, the beauty of companies like Grimoire is that their fashion is not only distinctive, but it is trendy in a special way and clearly this company is thriving.

The style of Sasha Soukup and her company Astral Boutique may be very different from some of the above mentioned companies in Tokyo. However, they all share an inner passion which is searching for something new but within the fusion of past fashion trends and designs. This in turn generates an individual style and creates fresh ideas which fit easily within “the many worlds of fashion.” Therefore, many young Tokyoites are connecting with vintage styles and other types of products which belong to a different era but which continue to bless the modern world.

Sasha Soukup further comments that “I choose my vintage very carefully, based on timeless design, quality fabrics, and flattering color schemes. I follow current vintage trends, because they are fun, but also stock a lot of classic pieces that will never go out of style. I am a one person operation, and I do all of my photography, modeling, styling, customer service, and promotion myself! It is really fun doing outdoor photo shoots- I love the rural background for my clothes, especially because I carry so many pieces from the 1960s and 1970s “hippie” or “boho” days in California. The natural setting really complements the feeling of these special pieces. I love nothing more than hearing that someone has opened their package and fallen in love with the clothing inside- I think of myself as a channel for beautiful and unique vintage. It sounds funny to say that it is almost a spiritual thing for me, but clothing has a lot of energy! I like to keep it flowing, so I keep my prices very low.”

It is extremely refreshing that you have fashion individuals like Sasha Soukup because just like the fashion company Grimoire in Tokyo, it is individuals and unique companies which are keeping the “heart of fashion alive” and this is essential. After all, behind all the commercialism are individuals who want to express aspects about themselves. This means that individual buyers who adore fashion can connect strongly with fashion companies like Astral Boutique because each individual item is based on passion and utmost care.

In Koenji which is an unusual fashion district in Tokyo you will see many aspects of ordinary life and people going about their daily life. However, amidst the mundane buildings you also have a flourishing fashion district whereby new designers are creating their own styles. Also, retro fashion is in huge demand and companies like Spank!s is showing another angle of Tokyo fashion.

The fashion district of Nakameguro is also blessed with companies which highlight vintage fashion, for example Monde Garage. Also, J’Antiques sells all sorts of different vintage products and if you shop around the old world will open up a new dimension.

Nakameguro, Daikanyama, Jiyugaoka, Kichijoji, Nakano, and Shimo-Kitazawa, are smaller fashion districts in Tokyo but they are enabling the uniqueness of fashion in this mega-city to shine. In truth, the beauty of Tokyo is that while Aoyama, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Ginza, Omotesando, Shibuya, and Shinjuku, hog the limelight; it is the lesser lights which have enhanced the quality of life in Tokyo.

Takako Hotta, who is a stunning model and actress in Tokyo, simply adores shopping in districts like Nakameguro. One of her favorite boutiques is Monde Garage in this part of Tokyo. In her video Takako Hotta comments that “all the clothes are handmade” and this appeals greatly to this elegant and sophisticated lady.

This spirit is powerful and so is the importance of hand made products, individualism, and searching for something special. Of course, the trendy districts of Aoyama, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Ginza, Omotesando, Shibuya, and Shinjuku, are all very special and you have amazing boutiques. However, for individuals who adore vintage fashion then companies like Astral Boutiques in California and Qosmos in Shibuya provide their own unique vibe and spark of creativity.

Returning back to the charming and sophisticated Sasha Soukup she comments that “I am lucky to have built a fan base of loyal customers from all over the world. The Etsy community is so friendly, and many fellow sellers and customers have become my “real life” friends! There is also an appreciation for artistic presentation on Etsy, and some people have even used my shop photos as templates for their paintings. It is a real artistic community, with inspiration shared all around.”

Therefore, if you adore vintage fashion then please check the website of Astral Boutique because within each fashion item is an inner spirit of care and passion. Individuals like Sasha Soukup bless the fashion industry because  buyers of vintage fashion, designers, people searching for old vintage styles, lovers of fashion, and so forth, all have their own part to play in order to maintain a diverse fashion scene. Also, the artistic images on her adorable website, highlights the vibrant spirit within Astral Boutique and this is most noticeable.

ASTRAL BOUTIQUE

https://twitter.com/AstralBoutique Twitter account of Sasha Soukup

http://www.etsy.com/shop/astralboutique Astral Boutique (PLEASE VISIT)

TOKYO FASHION

http://www.style-arena.jp JAPAN STREET FASHION AND IMAGES

http://www.grimoire.jp/ GRIMOIRE

http://www.dokidoki6.com/ 6%DOKIDOKI

http://tokyofashion.com/ TOKYO FASHION IMAGES AND INFO

http://www.japanesestreets.com/ IMAGES OF STREET FASHION

http://www.lacarmina.com/blog/ La Carmina

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYIqXrZ9G2Y  Takako Hotta and Monde Garage

http://www.takakohotta.com/  Takako Hotta

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/11/28/tokyo-fashion-four-essential-websites-for-fashion-and-consumer-news/  MODERN TOKYO TIMES ARTICLE

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 ALL IMAGES BELONG TO SASHA SOUKUP AND ASTRAL BOUTIQUE

 
 
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Posted by on December 26, 2011 in Japan, NORTH AMERICA

 

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Japanese tourism: Jigokudani Monkey Park in winter time in beautiful Nagano

Japanese tourism: Jigokudani Monkey Park in winter time in beautiful Nagano

Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

In Nagano prefecture you have the Jigokudani Monkey Park whereby visitors can watch Snow Monkeys (Japanese Macaques) bathing in a natural onsen (hot spring). The best season to watch from a photographic point of view is the winter season and between December and March you usually have a good covering of snow. Also, the scenery is most enjoyable and of course you have many onsens for humans doted all around Yamanouchi. This applies to many stylish onsens in Shibu, Yudanaka, and Kanbayashi.

The monkeys are very confident on the whole therefore you can take really good photos. However, people are forbidden to touch and feed the monkeys because of safety reasons and this applies to both ways. Therefore, Jigokudani Monkey Park is a great place to see wild monkeys whereby you are in touching distance. Also, the sight of seeing monkeys bathing in the hot spring will return adults back to their childhood.

If you visit in the winter season then it is essential that you have proper winter clothes on because the temperature is very cold. Also, it is vital to make sure that your footwear is adequate and warm socks are a must. However, if people are well prepared and visit this part of Nagano for the day or stay for a proper holiday, then it is well worth the preparation.

Snow monkeys are clearly visible before entering the main area and the walk takes a little time depending on individual speed. In fact, while it is called a park it is in reality a forest and the walk is extremely pleasurable and makes the occasion special.

If you want to experience aspects of Japanese culture and you plan to stay at least one night, it is highly recommended that you stay in a ryokan in Shibu, Yudanaka, Kanbayashi, and other areas near to Jigokudani Monkey Park. Ryokans like all places where people stay cater for different budgets but these traditional Japanese style inns will expand your cultural knowledge of Japan. Also, many ryokans have been in the same family for generations and if you stay at a ryokan with a good reputation, then the atmosphere and cultural traits will impress all tourists.

Maids who work at the ryokans will be dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono and the tatami mats in the guest rooms will make you feel nice and relaxed. At night you will sleep on a futon which is a traditional kind of mattress and the sliding shoji doors adds to the quaintness. In the room you will also have a small area called tokonoma where you will see ikebana flowers and a scroll picture. This creates a nice ambience and will enable you to embrace the occasion to a higher degree.

Of course each ryokan will have different facilities but if individuals do some basic backgrounds checks then your stay will be most rewarding. After all, Western style hotels can be found all over the world therefore it is a great opportunity to feel the uniqueness of Japan.

However, if individuals prefer modern hotels then you have many fantastic places to stay and the hospitality and views of many are extremely pleasing on the eye. Not only this, each hotel will provide a unique atmosphere and individuals are spoilt for choice because you have many splendid ryokans and hotels in this part of Nagano.

Nagano prefecture is also very beautiful and for individuals who have many days to relax and enjoy the stunning nature of this part of Japan, then your decision will be rewarded. Jigokudani Monkey Park is a great place to explore Nagano and the winter period is so scenic. The monkeys also bring a nice dimension because the sight of seeing these beautiful creatures really warms the heart.

PLEASE CHECK THE LINKS BELOW FOR GOOD INFORMATION

http://www.nagano-cvb.or.jp/english/excursions.html

http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6028.html

http://www.yudanaka-shibuonsen.com

http://www.besttravelstories.net/jigokudani-hell-for-humans-but-paradise-for-monkeys.html

http://www.mustlovejapan.com/subject/jigokudani_monkey_park/

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2011 in Japan

 

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South Korean fashion: Kpopsicle, international fashion and Tokyo

South Korean fashion: Kpopsicle, international fashion and Tokyo

Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Kpopsicle is a stunning South Korean company which sells stylish clothes and accessories online. The international community is fully aware about the “K-pop music wave” hitting the international community. Therefore, with fashion companies like Kpopsicle, the South Korean “fashion wave” should follow because of the ongoing creativity in this nation.
If you check  http://kpopsicle.com it becomes apparent immediately that this online fashion company is clearly trendy and they are selling quality clothes and accessories. Also, the models highlight the products from many different angles and this is extremely helpful and the website is user-friendly and creates a warm feel. This applies to stylish photography which highlights the style and elegance of Kpopsicle products.

Not only this, but because Kpopsicle is focused on modern and trendy fashion they desire to make the clothes and accessories come alive. Therefore, exquisite models highlight the products which are for sale and images show each item in a stylish and practical way. At all times you can feel the care of this company and the pride they have in their fashion.

Kpopsicle fashion suits modern and elegant ladies irrespective of nation because you have many lovely styles to pick from. This means that Kpopsicle fashion suits the streets of Jakarta, London, New York, Osaka, Paris, Seoul, Tokyo, and in any nation where fashion is adored throughout the world.

Modern Tokyo Times clearly puts an emphasis on Tokyo and other major cities like Kobe, Nagoya, Osaka, Yokohama, and throughout Japan, when it comes to fashion. However, this does make sense because the fashion market in Tokyo alone is one of the largest in the world. Therefore, in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka you will have crème de la crème fashion in many districts.

The streets of Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Omotesando, Shibuya, Shinjuku, and other areas, are buzzing in Tokyo. Obviously other major cities like Osaka and Kobe are amazing places for fashion. In Osaka this notably applies to Namba and the Umeda area which are awash with fantastic boutiques and internet fashion also continues to grow.

This means that Kpopsicle and other South Korean fashion companies have huge potential to spread the creativity of this country which is blessed with a rich history. Also, the K-pop music wave and television series which are spreading to other nations is really creating enormous interest in Korean culture. This means that fashionable ladies in many cities throughout the world are watching the South Korean fashion scene more closely.
Therefore, the elegance and trendy nature of Kpopsicle is showing the buzz and vibrancy of South Korean fashion. This company knows the latest trends and the reputation continues to grow and flourish. Therefore, when you view http://kpopsicle.com it is abundantly clear that the “hype” is factual and this stylish fashion company continues to stay one step ahead by focusing on elegant and stunning products.
In another article which highlighted this buzzing fashion company it was commented that If you check http://kpopsicle.com then you will see a South Korean fashion company which sells vibrant female fashion clothes online. The fashion available clearly matches all the latest styles and trends in the K-pop music scene. Given this, you can see style, elegance, street wise fashion, sophisticated looks and a plethora of styles which suits the modern and trendy lady.”
Kpopsicle takes great care before choosing their products and this applies to material, color schemes, texture, and photo angles to highlight each individual product. Also, Kpopsicle studies the latest fashion vibes in order to make their client base happy and to attract new customers to this stunning online fashion company.

If you adore female fashion then a visit to Kpopsicle is a must!

 http://kpopsicle.com Kpopsicle – STUNNING FASHION AT THE CLICK OF A BUTTON

https://twitter.com/#!/kpopsicle_com/followers  Kpopsicle twitter account

ALL IMAGES FROM  http://www.kpopsicle.com/ AND BELONG TO Kpopsicle

leejay@hotmail.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in ASIA, 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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