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Japanese art and Utagawa Yoshitaki: Oni Demon and the dreaded Catfish (Namazu)

Japanese art and Utagawa Yoshitaki: Oni Demon and the dreaded Catfish (Namazu)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Utagawa Yoshitaki (1841-1899) produced several stunning pieces of art related to the oni demon. In the main image in this article called the Oni Demon and Catfish you have two very powerful forces at play. Therefore, the individual in this image faces the wrath of the giant catfish and the clutches of the powerful oni which is intent on collecting souls to take to the pits of hell.

In Japanese folklore the powerful writhing of a giant catfish (namazu) was bad news based on mythology. Thenamazu is a harbinger of devastation when breaking free from the god Kashima.

Therefore, when the namazu escapes from the clutches of Kashima terrible devastating forces are unleashed. These brutal forces apply to potent earthquakes and tsunamis which kill untold numbers. In the world of ukiyo-e the namazu and oni were popular subjects to focus on when highlighting Japanese folklore in the Edo and Meiji periods of history. After all, the oni and namazu are great storytellers and the reality that Japan is blighted by tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons and other potent natural forces; means that in the old world of mystery it did appear that demonic forces were at play.

The role of the oni in the folklore of Japan is very potent because when the gates of hell are opened then the power of this demon comes into play for people who have done “dark deeds” in this world. Japanese artists in the Edo period clearly highlight the oni and the same applies to Japanese literature and kabuki. Therefore, Yoshitaki in his art piece titled Oni Demon and Catfish is putting the person in the scene in a terrible dilemma.

Toshidama Gallery comments about this image that “This print tells a complex narrative. The figure on the left holds a giant gourd – this was known to be one of the few magical ways to quell the much feared catfish which in the print is lying compliantly underneath. The legends of Japan say that earthquakes and tsunamis are caused by the writhing of a giant catfish (namazu) under Fuji. There were popular prints of the quelling of the catfish (Namazu-e) which appeared after natural disasters such as the Ansei earthquake of 1855.”

In this stunning image by Yoshitaki it is clear that the namazu appears unconcerned by the individuals attempt to quell the power it holds according to Japanese folklore. The oni on the other hand looks angry and powerful. It could just be that the namazu knows that the oni is too much for this brave individual who is trying to stop calamity from happening. Therefore, an almost like smirk face persists on the namazu and it could be that theoni is impatient because he wants to collect souls to take to the pits of hell.

Of course, an image by itself is always open to major interpretation but sometimes singular images can be more potent because of this fact. According to some individuals the catfish actually does behave strangely before natural disasters. This fact means that the god Kashima must be alert at all times according to Japanese folklore but sadly the namazu can’t be contained indefinitely because just like the oni, the namazu is extremely cunning.

https://twitter.com/Toshidama  TOSHIDAMA GALLERY 

Please visit http://toshidama.wordpress.com for more articles and information. 

Please visit http://toshidama-japanese-prints.com/  –   On our site you will see a wonderful selection of Japanese woodblock prints for sale. Ukiyo-e (the Japanese name for woodblock prints of the 18th and 19th centuries) are beautiful, collectible and a sound financial investment.

http://www.toshidama-japanese-prints.com/item_428/Yoshitaki-Oni-Demon-and-Catfish.htm

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Japan

 

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Japan and North Korea need to go the extra mile in order to lay the path ahead

Japan and North Korea need to go the extra mile in order to lay the path ahead

Ri Kuk-Chol and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Japan and North Korea have had a frosty relationship for far too long and it is hoped that officials from both nations will have laid the foundation stone for genuinely turning the corner. Of course, expectations are not too high because of countless stumbling blocks on both sides. However, if officials from Japan and North Korea can overcome genuine concerns and at least start to “walk together,” even if not in complete unison, then this will be positive.

North Korea must understand that negative relations with Japan only serve the enemies of Pyongyang. Likewise, political leaders in Tokyo have recently witnessed the “nationalist switch” in China and South Korea respectively. Therefore, it is clear in Tokyo that the only “trusted friend” in the region is Taiwan. Yet if the “Chinese economic bandwagon” one day swallows this island economically, then even this solace may be taken away.

The Russian Federation is also a central nation in the geopolitical reality of Northeast Asia and throughout other parts of Asia. After all, political elites in Moscow fully understand the geopolitical importance of Central Asia and developing strong ties with China and India respectively. At the same time the geopolitical importance of Mongolia is fully understood in the Russian Federation. Therefore, Japan should overcome its petty nationalist tendencies towards this major power and seek a solution to the disputed areas, which continue to hinder a powerful friendship based on mutual trust.

Turning back to events covering the talks today between officials from Japan and North Korea, it is obvious that both nations need to “break their respective chains.” The new political leader in North Korea can show the world that he is open to sweeping geopolitical changes alongside supporting genuine economic reforms with the help of China. Given this reality, Kim Jong-un can genuinely try to reach the masses based on the similar motives of Deng Xiaoping in China when he came to power.

The Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, Osamu Fujimura, stated prior to the meeting that “The abduction issue will be included as a matter of course.” Likewise, Koichiro Gemba, Foreign Minister of Japan, spoke in a similar vein when he stated that “We’d like to ask the North Korean side to positively work on pending issues between the two countries including the abduction issue.”

However, despite the seriousness of this issue it is clear that political leaders in Tokyo must move towards a more broad approach. Surely, other more important issues like the nuclear angle, geopolitical concerns, testing military hardware and building economic bridges must outweigh the continuing stumbling blocks. Once other developments move forward then naturally North Korea will be more forthcoming.

Japan must understand that millions of Koreans died defending Korean nationalism from Japanese imperialism and then against American aggression during the Korean War. After the brutal Korean War the United States then supported successive authoritarian governments in South Korea before the onset of democracy in this nation. It is too easy to point the finger at North Korea but the reality is that all nations have their own histories and outside forces led to a siege mentality in Pyongyang – but this siege mentality was not based on whims but on hard facts related to history.

Japan and North Korea need to forgo the historical and political obstacles in order to radically alter the situation. Osamu Fujimura stated that “We have been working based on the principle of settling the unfortunate past and on restoring normal relations.”

The new leader of North Korea showed sincerity by allowing a group of nationals from Japan to reclaim loved ones who died because of the tragic events of World War Two. Sadao Masaki, who is part of this group, commented that “Things have proceeded to a stage that is beyond what we had even hoped for. We are extremely grateful.”

In another article by Modern Tokyo Times about relations between Japan and North Korea, it was stated thatSome analysts are indicating that North Korea is reaching out because of current tensions between Japan and other regional nations based on territorial issues. For example harsh comments have been made by the leader of South Korea towards Japan in recent times. However, this is too cynical because the new leader of North Korea must be judged on what happens during his leadership.”

Analysts in Japan and North Korea are eagerly awaiting the outcome and clearly major powers throughout the region will be watching events closely. It is only hoped that political leaders in Japan and North Korea will move forward by showing sincerity and mutual respect.

 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 

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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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South Korea, Japan and US fashion styles by Kpopsicle: Stunning international fashion

South Korea, Japan and US fashion styles by Kpopsicle: Stunning international fashion

Kanako Itamae and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Kpopsicle (http://kpopsicle.com) is an amazing online fashion store which caters for stylish ladies who want to connect with the vibes of South Korea, America and Japan. Of course, the styles of these buzzing nations appeal internationally and this is the beauty of Kpopsicle. Therefore, this online fashion company provides stunning female fashion products all year round.

The Kpopsicle website is user-friendly and is updated regularly in order to connect with their client base and to highlight the latest trends hitting the streets of Seoul, Tokyo, New York and other vibrant cities. Also, images of items are extremely clear and taken from different angles in order that viewers can get a real feel about the product being viewed.

On the Kpopsicle website this company states that “We focus on stylish and trendy designs” and this is clearly true. Immediately on entering the website ladies will find an abundance of images and products to search. True to the words of Kpopsicle it is clear that this adorable online fashion company does focus on stylish and trendy designs which will appeal to ladies all over the world.

The models at Kpopsicle are extremely stylish and always highlight the lovely fabrics being used. Also, the color schemes and care of each product is more than noticeable. This means that not only is the Kpopsicle website user-friendly but more important everything seems so natural because the styles appeal greatly. Therefore, you have a lovely online fashion store whereby individuals can buy stunning products at the click of a button once studying the products from different angles on the Kpopsicle website.

International fashion styles hitting the streets of South Korea, Japan and the United States can be felt within the fashion on show. Of course Kpopsicle appeals to trendy female fashion lovers all over the world irrespective of nation. This is the beauty of Kpopsicle because they understand the latest trends and how to relate to fashion lovers.

In recent years the K-pop music angle keeps on growing therefore South Korean culture is in vogue and gaining more international headlines. This is rightly so because Korean culture is blessed with an amazing history. True to the nature of this country you have a culture which is rich in history but which is also ultra modern. Therefore, South Korean culture is ultra modern, vibrant, sophisticated and is connecting internationally. Not surprisingly, the fashion angle of South Korean fashion is also growing in strength because of all the above factors.

Kpopsicle fashion focuses on many different styles which relate to the modern fashion scene. This means that you can feel the latest trends running throughout the K-pop music scene through the fashion products that they sell. Kpopsicle fashion also focuses on elegance, sophisticated looks, streetwise fashion and a plethora of styles which are hitting the streets of major cities throughout South Korea, Japan and the United States.

Indeed, in Tokyo you can envisage the Kpopsicle fashion angle easily when you walk around fashionable districts like Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya and other amazing places in Tokyo. This is the beauty of Kpopsicle and this applies to the “instant connection” which can be felt when viewing their website.

 

The vibrant nature of K-pop with amazing groups and soloists like Girls’ Generation, BoA, Kan Mi Youn, T-ara, Kara, Orange Caramel, Sistar, G.Na, After School, A-Pink and a plethora of others can be felt within the fashion angle of Kpopsicle. Therefore, if you adore female fashion and the “Korean Cool” angle then Kpopsicle fashion will appeal to you.

Kpopsicle simply means style and vibrancy which connects easily within the complexity of international fashion. The reason Kpopsicle can connect easily with international fashion is because this online company understands the current trends hitting major international cities. Therefore, with a click of a button on your computer you have an adorable fashion company to view and then buy amazing and beautiful products.

 

http://kpopsicle.com Kpopsicle

ALL IMAGES BELONG TO KPOPSICLE

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in ASIA, Japan, NORTH AMERICA

 

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Japan Tourism in Toyama: Kurobe Lake and the amazing beauty of Toyama Prefecture

Japan Tourism in Toyama: Kurobe Lake and the amazing beauty of Toyama Prefecture

Hiroshi Saito and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Japan is blessed (http://www.alpen-route.com/english/) with so many amazing places to visit that tourists are literary spoilt for choice. Familiar names for international tourists will apply to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Kamakura, and countless other places like beautiful Koyasan in Wakayama. Therefore, with so many places to pick and choose it is difficult to pick one special place because you have so many fantastic places to visit.

If you adore stunning nature whereby you can relax and see the majesty of this world then Kurobe Lake and the beautiful prefecture of Toyama is highly recommended. Toyama prefecture is relatively small but despite this the area is a wonder to behold because of stunning nature throughout this delightful part of Japan. In the north you will find the Sea of Japan and Toyama is bordered by Ishikawa prefecture, Gifu, Nagano and Niigata.

One very special place is the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route which attracts around one million visitors each year. This amazing place is known internationally because of the stunning scenery and abundant places to visit and enjoy a special holiday. Prior to 1971 the remoteness of the area meant that it was difficult to travel around but since this year the transportation system opened up a real gem of an area.

Despite this, the local government of Toyama desired to maintain a natural balance between sublime nature and creating a tourist trade which would benefit the local community, tourists and preserve nature and the amazing environment. Therefore, you have major areas which protect wildlife and all development projects took enormous care in creating an environment which enhanced all angles. The end result of this well thought out plan is that you have a destination place which tourists desire to visit because they also understand that the natural environment remains un-spoilt.

The stunning (http://www.info-toyama.com/english/index.htmlmountain range of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is an enormous pulling power because the scenic views will literally melt the heart. This special route is approximately 90 kilometers long and this exquisite natural paradise is called the “roof of Japan.” The North Alpine mountain range is a place where seeing-is-believing and if you have never been to this part of Japan before then once bitten always smitten. Another special feature is the transportation system which enhances everything and this applies to the train system, cable car, ropeway, highland bus routes and trolley bus. Therefore, depending on when you travel to this part of Japan you can see the first signs of new life during the spring period, feel the increasing power of the sun throughout the summer time, witness the adorable red leaves of autumn and view the first snow falls which changes the landscape quickly. However, the area does close during the real cold winter time because the snow falls are too deep and dangerous.

In an earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “If you want to witness magnificent “Snow Walls” then you must visit between the middle of April to the end of May. The “Snow Walls” are very beautiful and it is an amazing experience and clearly this season is very popular. It must also be added that the Murodo-daira area of Tateyama on average reaches roughly seven meters of snow during the winter season. Also, in some areas you have snowdrifts reaching around twenty meters and the region gets some of the heaviest snow falls in the world.”

“The Kurobe Dam is a major tourist attraction and from June 26 to October 15 you can witness the water discharge from the dam which is spectacular to say the least. Therefore, this central point is a lovely place to visit and the panorama views are amazing and this applies to the Tateyama Mountain Range and the North Alpine area.”

Another lovely feature of the Kurobe Dam is that you can enjoy boat trips on Kurobe Lake and gently walk around parts of the lake at your own pace. In every direction you will see adorable views which will last long in the memory. The Kurobe Gorge is beyond your wildest dreams. Also, the Kurobe Gorge Railway transportation system will enhance everything. This applies to providing amazing views while you travel in this adorable part of Japan. The ropeways and cable cars which connect everything also blend naturally within the environment and this is because of the care of the local government.

Throughout Toyama you have so many amazing places to visit that the following places are only a partial list. Therefore, it is essential to check all the websites provided in this article and to search around carefully. This partial list applies to the stunning Kurobe Valley; the fascinating Gokayama Village which is rightly a World Heritage site; the Unazuki-onsen which is a pearl of a place to visit because it soothes the body and mind; the Zuiryu-ji Temple which connects people with the bigger picture in life; the amazing Shogawa-kyo Valley area; and a host of other amazing places to visit.

Another (http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/toyama/) important website to visit is the Japan National Tourism Organization because this website provides essential information about Toyama Prefecture. Also, like the name implies, the Japan National Tourism Organization provides information about tourist destinations throughout Japan.

Toyama prefecture is very special!

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/toyama/index.html

http://www.alpen-route.com/english/

http://www.kurotetu.co.jp/en/index.html

http://www.info-toyama.com/english/index.html

http://www.alpen-route.com/english/Highlight_theater/index.html

http://www.kurobe-dam.com/

http://www.alpen-route.com/english/map/index.html Alpine Route Map

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/destinations/

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Japan

 

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