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

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

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in EUROPE, Japan

 

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Tokyo Times and Lifestyle in Kichijoji: Fashion and Living Environment

Tokyo Times and Lifestyle in Kichijoji: Fashion and Living Environment

Sarah Deschamps, Kanako Itamae and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com 

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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Japan

 

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Tokyo and anime Bill 156: After more than 1 year and no real impact

Tokyo and anime Bill 156: After more than 1 year and no real impact

James Jono, Hiroshi Saito and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

The Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, was adamant that Bill 156 would stem the tide of extreme sexual depictions of children in Japanese anime and manga. Other individuals countered that Bill 156 would infringe on artists and other forms of freedom by enforcing censorship throughout Tokyo. Therefore, both sides were extremely divided by the new measure which was introduced last year on July 1, 2011.

More than one year later in 2012 and it is clear that Bill 156 is either currently ineffective or that individuals with enforcement powers don’t believe that Bill 156 is being violated. Either way, the bullish comments about clamping down on extreme images of minors which can be found in some areas of Japanese anime and manga, appears not to have been materialized.

The Daily Yomiuri, one of the most powerful newspapers in Japan, commented in their article titled “No manga banned by Tokyo as too racy” comments that One year since Tokyo’s youth protection ordinances were revised to prevent the sale of anime and manga containing extreme sexual content to minors, not one publication has been deemed unfit for consumption.”

“Ryokichi Yama, head of the editing ethics committee at the Japan Magazine Publishers Association, which has more than 90 domestic publishers among its members, said the Tokyo government has not applied the new standard to any publications because it is cautious.”

Shintaro Ishihara believes differently because according to him individuals who are in the trade related to sexual images, stories, graphics, and so on, are acting more responsible. Therefore, Shintaro Ishihara states that“Writers and publishers have started using common sense when it comes to publishing books.”

This statement appears rather mild given the comments made by Shintaro Ishihara prior to the enactment of Bill 156. More than likely, both sides have responded in a mutually beneficial way which will maintain the vibrancy of Japanese anime and manga. After all, racy anime and manga can easily be bought in Tokyo and given the mass complexities of regulating a vibrant industry then maybe the “economic impact” is also infringing on a clampdown? If so, this begs the question of enacting Bill 156 in the first place.

It must be stated that many artists, individuals who adore the sexual nature of Japanese anime and manga, organizations which support the freedom of speech and a host of other areas voiced their opposition to Bill 156. The reasons are varied but the main central theme is “civil liberties” because artistic freedom is essential in all societies which are modern. Also, it is argued that the extreme nature of parts of Japanese anime and manga are based on “fantasy,” “connecting to a-make-belief-world” and natural escapism. Therefore, the viewers clearly understand that the images they are watching are nothing more than manga, anime and harmless erotica. This implies that it isn’t depicting reality and given this fact it is complex to clampdown against unreality.

The ordinance passed by Shintaro Ishihara was aimed at sexual scenes related which depict rape, child marriage, sexual abuse of minors, incest, and other areas of concern. Supporters of Bill 156 believe that safety measures are needed in order to protect children and society from sexual predators. However, do individual who watch sexual anime and manga scenes go on and abuse children? This once more relates to Japanese anime and mange being based on fantasy characters and not real life images of children. The gap is enormous and clearly children are abused sexually all over the world but to point the finger at Japanese anime and manga would be extreme.

Also, the ordinance only applies to Tokyo and this in itself highlights that if Bill 156 was regulated tightly then local business in this area would just relocated to Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba. It takes roughly 11 minutes by express train or semi-express train to reach Saitama prefecture from Ikebukuro in Tokyo. Likewise, you can reach Kanagawa very quickly from Shinjuku by using the Odakyu Line and so forth. Therefore, even if Bill 156 was effectual it would not be solving anything – if anything, it would be spreading the problem to other areas.

In a past article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “Also, what if you buy animation which depicts rape, incest, and the abuse of minors, from an online company based in another part of Japan?  Will this also become illegal?  If so, then what measures can prevent packages from containing the newly banned material and if individuals download their new purchase online then are they breaking the law? “

International organizations point the finger at Japan but more than likely Japanese crime rates and abuse against children will compare favorably with any nation in the world. Also, in Saudi Arabia it is legal under Islamic Sharia law for old men of 60 years old and even older, to marry young girls of 8 years of age and 10 years of age. This also happens in other nations which abide by Islamic sharia law. Therefore, which is worse?

In Japan it is clear that young children are protected by Japanese law from being forced into marriages which they don’t understand. This is in stark contrast to nations like Saudi Arabia and Yemen where state sanctioned Islam allows children to get married to old men. Therefore, are nations claiming that child marriage in Saudi Arabia is leading to an epidemic of child abuse in this country?

Japanese anime and manga is based on fantasy, escapism, and other aspects, and clearly you have a very creative angle to the characters involved, even if people don’t agree to the context. If you had a firm link between child abuse and rape in the real world then artists would come under great pressure in Japan. Yet, unlike the reality of Saudi Arabia and child marriage, it is clear that Japanese anime and manga is based on “unreality.”

Therefore, the best solution is for a compromise between both parties and not to force this situation underground because this would be more dangerous. Also, if Tokyo began to take legal action against artists involved in making anime and manga, then this could open up “a can of worms” related to other subjects.

http://www.costume-designer.info/page/4

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120702004395.htm

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

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

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Japan

 

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Tokyo tourism: Chinzan-so garden, delicious food and rich in culture

Tokyo tourism: Chinzan-so garden, delicious food and rich in culture

Olivier LeCourt and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Chinzan-so is a stunning garden in Tokyo whereby you can view the natural beauty of an amazing Japanese garden, beautiful architecture, elements of Buddhism, the magical world of Shintoism, and so much more. Also, unlike the vast majority of stunning gardens in Tokyo which close early this doesn’t apply to Chinzan-so therefore at night the garden is also extremely beautiful and you have many restaurants to eat scrumptious Japanese food. However, being Chinzan-so, then even the restaurants blend in with the natural environment and clearly this beautiful place would bless any major city in the world.

The natural beauty of Chinzan-so is so refreshing because not only can you connect with stunning nature but also this garden is rich in culture and history. The stunning pagoda and aspects of Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, and the sacred 500 year old tree, also highlights the exquisite nature of Chinzan-so.

Luxury can also be found at (http://www.fourseasons.com/tokyo/the Four Seasons Hotel which can be found throughout the amazing city of Tokyo and internationally. The Four Seasons Hotel highlighted in this article applies to the hotel which is located in the same Chinzan-so area. Therefore, if you adore luxury, architecture, the backdrop of an amazing garden and so much more; then the sublime Four Seasons Hotelfused with your stay in Tokyo and the richness of Chinzan-so garden is an amazing break which will stay long in the memory.

Chinzan-so is like walking into the past and into a magical world where you can imagine the amazing animation film called “Spirited Away” by Hayao Miyazaki. This applies to the stone deities, aspects of Buddhism, small Shinto shrine, and famous religious tree. Therefore, the spiritual nature of Chinzan-so is a welcome dimension and at night if you have an “over imagination,” then you can feel the mystery of the old world which is also highlighted in the animation film called “Spirited Away.”

This stunning garden enables people to feel the hidden magic of the Edo period and the changing times of Japan in the Meiji period. Also, it is clear that the opulent wealth of the elites in the past developed this splendid garden and they did so with an eye on culture and aesthetics.

Prince Aritomo Yamagata built his magnificent mansion where modern Chinzan-so stands but of course modifications have been made. The name Chinzan-so means “House of Camellia” therefore you will find many types of camellia throughout this exquisite and stunning garden.

In a past article about Chinzan-so by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “The prestige of Prince Aritomo Yamagata and his importance and how Chinzan-so is viewed can be judged by the fact that the Emperor Meiji held many important meetings in this place, in order to plan the future with dignitaries who held important seats of power.  Therefore, it is abundantly clear that the stunning environment, remote settings where seclusion could be found from prying eyes and the cultural aspect of Chinzan-so meant that it was an ideal setting.”

 

“Much of the historical legacy today which can be viewed must be credited to Baron Heitaro Fujita because he utilized the stunning grounds and topography.  This applies to adding important historical monuments and many of these came from Kyoto and Toba. However, the stunning pagoda which is very beautiful was relocated from Hiroshima.”

Therefore, the historical legacy and richness of culture is abundantly obvious because Baron Heitaro Fujita utilized every positive aspect of Chinzan-so and today Tokyoites and tourists can witness many intriguing aspects of Japanese culture. Also, from a religious and philosophical point of view the Taoist images from ancient China fuses naturally with aspects of Buddhism and Shintoism. These images and the numerous stone lanterns are a wonder to behold and the delightful pond, exquisite pagoda, images of Taoism and Buddhism, small Shinto shrine, a sacred 500 year old tree, waterfall, and the stunning layout of the garden means that Chinzan-so is very special.

Throughout the grounds you also have many restaurants to visit and for tourists and Tokyoites you can enjoy not only the natural beauty of Chinzan-so, but you can also eat scrumptious food. This applies to “Kinsui”which is a traditional restaurant which is famous for the kaiseki cuisine; “Mokushundo” where they provide delicious Japanese box lunches, fondue, and barbecue; “Chuu-an” restaurant serves up Edomae sushi and other delicious food; and “Mucha-an” restaurant provides delicious food and is known for their delicious Japanese soba.

The beauty of all these restaurants is that they blend in naturally within the stunning grounds of Chinzan-so. Therefore, the dining experience is a real treasure because not only can you eat extremely delicious food, but the backdrop of the stunning scenery is really special. Not surprisingly, all these restaurants are of the highest quality and cater for different styles of Japanese food.

Also, you have a firmly established restaurant called “Camellia” in this stunning environment and this dining place is famous for its French cuisine. This restaurant is rich in history because for more than 50 years it remains highly acclaimed based on the mouth-watering food which is provided.  The view is also extremely majestic and the setting is spacious. Therefore, if you are a connoisseur of scrumptious French cuisine then restaurant “Camellia” will certainly please you.

Within the main hotel complex overlooking Chinzan-so you have “Café Foresta” which is very spacious and a great place to relax and drink tea, coffee, and other choices, and to eat a delicious cake and so forth “Café Foresta” also provides amazing views of Chinzan-so if you are lucky enough to find a place by the enormous windows. At night, the view is fantastic because of the lights which highlight the beautiful pagoda and other special areas.

Chinzan-so is a must place to visit in Tokyo because of everything highlighted in this article and so much more.

http://www.chinzanso.com/english/restaurant.html

http://www.fourseasons.com/tokyo/ Four Seasons Hotel

http://www.chinzanso.com/english/

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2012 in Japan

 

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Tokyo tourism and Odaiba: backwater to fashion, architecture and ultra modernity

Tokyo tourism and Odaiba: backwater to fashion, architecture and ultra modernity

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

In Tokyo several places really stand out for being unique in style and this certainly applies to Odaiba. If this is your first visit to Tokyo then Odaiba is a must because of the stunning architecture on show. Also, if you travel by New Transit Yurikamome by connecting at Shimbashi Train Station, then your first view of Odaiba and the entire area will always stay with you because this ultra-modern transport system highlights the creativity of buzzing Tokyo. Therefore, in the modern period Odaiba is clearly on the tourist map and a must place to escape the madding crowds of buzzing Shinjuku, Shibuya, and many other high octane areas like Ikebukuro.

However, not so long ago this part of Tokyo was rundown and the future looked bleak. This is difficult to imagine given the trendy boutiques on show in several elegant shopping malls and the beach which is a welcome escape. Also, at night the stunning Rainbow Bridge is a treat in itself and the same applies to watching boats passing by with people enjoying life.

Yet in the early 1990s this scene was difficult to predict because the bubble economy meant that new hope for Odaiba seemed distant. Indeed the history of Odaiba is fascinating by itself because this part of Tokyo was constructed in 1851 to keep America and others at bay. However, the winds of change meant that this dream couldn’t be maintained because Western encroachment was spilling all over Asia.

It is somewhat ironic today that you have a Statue of Liberty based in Odaiba with its French roots. This iconic image for Americans and people all over the world is a little out of place in Japan and the same applies to the history of this district which was built to keep international trade at bay.

The next major push to alter Odaiba was a public park which was refurbished in 1928 and the remnants of this venture remains today with further modernizations. However, the real momentum for Odaiba was based on the success of the Expo ’85 which was held in Tsukuba. Therefore, with the economy being in full swing in this period and the success of Tsukuba, major plans were made to turn Odaiba into a futuristic city.

This applied to designing places for exclusive living, modern architecture, important business structures, and other relevant areas. Yet after the bubble economy much of the new planning appeared like one big disaster because by the middle of the 1990s you had many vacant lots, a minor population which couldn’t maintain Odaiba and other areas were still a wasteland.  Therefore, development was very uneven and far from being a showcase it was a remnant of over-spending and grand ideas which seemed out of place.

However, in 1996 fresh thinking emerged which laid the foundation for a buzzing Odaiba and this applies to allowing entertainment districts and commercial ventures. Within a short time trendy shopping malls were entering the scene along with hotels and large companies which would alter the landscape. This can be seen today by the iconic Fuji TV building which was a trendsetter and even today it is a famous landmark. Also, new transportation links opened up the area and the attractiveness of the seaside became a winner which would be connected with the park, trendy shopping malls, new entertainment ventures and other important factors.

In an earlier article about Odaiba by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “Odaiba is a major tourist area in Tokyo and the beauty of this place is that you feel that you are visiting a different Tokyo because of the beach, walkways, Statue of Liberty, and the colorful boats which light up the see at night.  Therefore, while Odaiba is full of life during the day it is also true that the atmosphere changes at night because of the stunning views of Rainbow Bridge at night.” 

“Odaiba is also a great place for romance because at night you will see many romantic couples walking hand in hand and you will often see people smooching near the beach area or on the beach.”

“The development of Fuji TV Building, Tokyo Big Sight, Telecom Center, and other futuristic buildings, all helped to create a new Odaiba.  Each new lavish development complimented Odaiba and by the end of the 1990s it was clear that tourism would begin to take off.”

  

In the Odaiba of 2012 you have many lovely boutiques to visit in Decks Tokyo Beach and Aquacity Odaiba. The boutiques are a mixture of Japanese fashion and international fashion and clearly many Tokyoites love to visit these fashionable malls. Also, in Aquacity Odaiba you have a major cinema complex and the wooden decks outside provide stunning views of Rainbow Bridge from various different angles.

Another great place to find elegant boutiques is Venus Fort which is designed like an eighteenth century South European town. The boutiques and restaurants in Venus Fort mix well with the stylish architecture. Therefore, the fashion aspect of Odaiba can’t be ignored and you have many conventions for cosplay and other trendy aspects of Japanese culture.

Tourists are also spoilt for choice because you have many tourist attractions and this notably applies to Telecom Center Area; Odaiba Seaside Park; Daikanransha Ferris Wheel; Museum of Maritime Science; National Museum of Emerging Science; Ariake Colosseum; Palette Town; Leisureland; Toyota Mega Web; Oedo Onsen Monogatari; Panasonic Center; Zepp Tokyo; and Tokyo Big Sight is a huge exhibition and convention center and the architecture is extremely bold.

In 2012 you have more grand designs in the pipeline and clearly Odaiba will continue to flourish. The beach is a welcome place to relax and Rainbow Bridge at night is truly beautiful.  Therefore, if you are new to Tokyo then Odaiba is a must place to visit because you will witness an ultra-modern area which is fused together with modern tourist concepts.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3008.html

http://www.aquacity.jp/en/shop/fashion01_2.html

http://www.venusfort.co.jp/multi/index_e.html 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Japan

 

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Japanese art and Kawanabe Kyosai: the power of folklore and culture

Japanese art and Kawanabe Kyosai: the power of folklore and culture

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Kawanabe Kyosai is extremely fascinating because of his individualistic spirit and this is witnessed in his art. Kyosai, just like the mysterious Tengu, belonged to two worlds and this applies to the old Edo period and the modernization of Japan which began in 1868. The Meiji Restoration of 1868 was truly dynamic and revolutionary. Also, the center and periphery relations altered the status quo of the Edo period which relied heavily on stratification.

The Tengu also belongs to two very different traditions and highlights the power of Shintoism and the mysteriousness of this religion. Not only this, the Shinto impact on Buddhist thought patterns and traditions emanating in China were completely turned on its head. Therefore, the Tengu becomes part of the richness of nature within the Shinto faith rather than the dark demons of Buddhism and other faiths which highlight the power of evil. This fact also shows the power of Japanese culture and the indigenous faith of Shinto which could absorb different thinking and traditions.

Kyosai was born in 1831 and died in 1889 and the rapid changes in society clearly impacted on him. He was an individual who was independent in mind and thought and Kyosai expresses this through his art.

Kusumi Kawanabe, Director of the Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum, comments that “This great artist has grown in stature as we have been able the better to get the Meiji period into perspective. He studied at an early age under Kuniyoshi and later under Kano masters, but eventually he went his own independent way. Essentially a nationalistic painter, he was nonetheless fully aware of Western art – indeed, he dealt with it quite broadmindedly in his book “Kyosai Gadan” published in 1887 – but he was robust enough not to succumb, as so many of his contemporaries did, to the blandishments of foreign styles, and was one of the last great painters in the truly Japanese tradition.”

The main focus in this article is to highlight aspects of Kyosai and link this with the Tengu and the underworld of Japan where mysterious creatures, spirits, and ghosts played a powerful role within the culture of this fascinating country. Also, it is clear that the outside influence of China and Korea impacted greatly on Japan. However, despite this the indigenous faith of Shintoism and other powerful aspects of culture would transform many of these new thought patterns and create a truly Japanese identity.

The yokai represent aspects of the mystery of folklore in Japan and the transformation of Tengu is also fascinating within the changing thought patterns of Japan. The yokai are creatures with supernatural powers and the Tengu are one of the most widely known monster-spirits in the land of the rising sun.

The Tengu have constantly gone through transformations in Japanese folklore and while early artists depicted the Tengu with beaks this changed in time and now the most distinctive feature is their long nose.

Within Buddhist thought patterns the Tengu were demons and it was believed that they were harbingers of bad times and this applies to war and other calamities.  However, within Shintoism the Tengu were sometimes worshipped as revered spirits (Shinto kami) which had magical powers.  Therefore, the Tengu also witnessed the fusion of aspects of Buddhism and Shintoism because in time their image changed into a more protective force.

However, despite this transformation the Tengu still had dark and dangerous powers and people in the mountains and forests had to tread carefully because of the several natures of the Tengu. This meant that local people couldn’t take the Tengu for granted and great respect was needed during visits to special shrines which highlight this mysterious folklore creature.

Kyosai certainly depicts the power of the Tengu and the mysterious features and nature of various types ofyokai.  Therefore, Kyosai is showing images of the old world despite the new reality of the Meiji period.

In Japanese history the Tengu went from demonic creatures into positive aspects providing care was taken and nature was at peace with the underworld.  For example if we apply this to children then in early Japanese history the Tengu were believed to abduct children. However, in later history this all changed because the Tengu became enlisted in searching for children who were scared and needed help quickly.

Another positive side of the Tengu is that their shape-shifting power applies to animal and human form and this meant that their attributes were powerful. Therefore, the Tengu used this in order to play tricks on arrogant Buddhist priests or people who abused their power.

In this sense, while the Tengu belong to Japanese folklore it could be said that Kyosai shared some characteristics and this applies to attacking political elites.  After all, Kyosai was known for being a political caricaturist and he often got in trouble with the law and the dominant political power of his day.

Kyosai was a free thinker who highlighted the richness of the spirit world in his art and Japanese folklore.

http://kyosai-museum.jp/ENG/about.htm

http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/tengu.shtml

http://www.obakemono.com/obake/tengu/

http://www.robynbuntin.com/MoreByArtist.asp?ArtistID=388

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Japan

 

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Japanese art and Yumeji Takehisa: final years of sorrow

Japanese art and Yumeji Takehisa: final years of sorrow

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

Yumeji Takehisa was born in 1884 and died at the age of 49 in 1934. The last decade of his life was often traumatic and had many moments of bleakness because of natural events and disappointment during his lack of recognition when he visited America and Europe in 1931. After this, he returned to Japan in 1933 but his health had deteriorated and the following year he would pass away.

This may appear to be a strange way to introduce Yumeji Takehisa but his final decade on this earth sums up much about his lack of notoriety in Europe and North America. Indeed, during his lifetime he had many ups and downs and this applies to wanting to focus on poetry and getting divorced after a very short period.

Yumeji Takehisa also lived during momentous times in Japan and this applies to the liberalism of the Taisho period and the growing popularity of nationalism and socialism in Japan which would create many political convulsions in the 1920s and 1930s. Indeed, the spirit of the times can be felt by the fact that he never studied under any real mentor. Therefore, the romanticism and hope of the Taisho period for individuals with ambitions rubbed off on him.

In the artistic circles of his day much of his work was disregarded but he was popular amongst lay people outside of the artist inner-circle. This aspect of Yumeji Takehisa summed up his desire to be a poet in his early adult life because he soon realized that he couldn’t earn enough money in this field. Given this, he put great energy into his art and the free spirit of the times enabled him to move forward.

Tragedy struck Japan in 1923 because of the Kanto earthquake whereby vast numbers of people were killed and great devastation hit many areas. This event also impacted greatly on Yumeji Takehisa because he was forced to restart once more. However, with great dedication and being a prolific artist who created more than 3,000 works, then he overcame the many obstacles he faced.

In 1931 he left Japan and visited America and Europe but overall he was left dissatisfied because his work wasn’t accepted on the whole. Also, his health became bad because of a very serious disease and after returning to Japan in 1933 his days were numbered. The following year he passed away in a sanatorium and clearly the final years of his life were filled with great sorrow.

Sabine Schenk comments (Cultural News) that “Takehisa Yumeji, however, is still not well known in America and Europe and there are only a few non-Japanese references on him. The reason for that is that he didn’t fit the academic definition of fine arts during his active period from the 1900s to the 1930s, and that his work is not restricted to visual arts only, but ranges from painting, through all kinds of commercial arts, to poetry.”

“It is not easy to categorize him and outside of Japan he has not been recognized as part of the history of fine arts and, therefore, has not been the subject of detailed research, yet.”

Sabine Schenk further comments that “Yumeji had tried to enter the contemporary academic circles, but although he had been rejected, he maintained good relationships with recognized artists of that time such as Fujishima Takeji (1867-1943) and others.”

Yumeji Takehisa did create an impact within the Japanese art world and this applies to Shinso Okamoto, Osamu Shibuya, and others. However, you get the feeling that if the cards had been dealt more kindly, then his impact would have been greater both inside Japan and internationally during his lifetime.

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

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Japan

 

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Tokyo tourism and gardens: Rikugien and Kiyosumi are exquisite gardens

Tokyo tourism and gardens: Rikugien and Kiyosumi are exquisite gardens

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Tokyo is an enormous city which attracts Japanese tourists, international tourists, and business people, all year round. This ultra-modern city means many things to different people because for some it is all about modernity but to others they want to dig deep and see the rich culture of Tokyo and Japan. Of course, for others it is a mixture of both and for busy business people it may just be a flying visit because of the nature of commerce.

However, irrespective of the reason why people visit Tokyo or if you are a Tokyoite, the gardens in Tokyo provide a place to relax, to look at sunning nature, to understand aspects of Japanese culture, and more important, to escape the “madding crowd.” Therefore, the gardens of Tokyo are not only therapeutic but the richness and style is a wonder to behold because you can feel continuity, a fusion of ideas, and feel the passion of Japanese gardeners who put everything into their work in order to create a different world

Rikugien Gardens and Kiyosumi Gardens are just two of the many gardens to visit in Tokyo and both provide a different ambience. Also, both gardens are located in quiet parts of Tokyo because Komagome and Kiyosumi Shirakawa are a million miles away from the fashion orientated districts of Shibuya and Shinjuku. This aspect makes a welcome change because the pace of life is much slower but you still have many quaint shops in Komagome which cater for handcrafts, antiques, and local goods.  

Komagome is extremely close to Ikebukuro and Ueno by the Yamanote Train Line and in a way Rikugien Gardens is a perfect link. This applies to the bustling nature of fashion and commerce in Ikebukuro and the many museums located in Ueno. Also, in Ueno you will find the fashion scene in full flow and a major park which is the central theme to this lively and important part of Tokyo.

However, Komagome is a sleepy suburb but a great place to relax because of Rikugien Gardens and nearby is Kyu-Furukawa Gardens. Therefore, garden lovers have the opportunity to visit both stunning places because they are in close proximity.  

All the main gardens in Tokyo are beautifully maintained and Rikugien is extremely spacious. This enables individuals to follow the main route around the exquisite pond or to walk around more natural parts of this garden by relaxing in quiet areas. The winter period, spring season, and late autumn are most relaxing because you have no dreaded mosquitoes bothering you unlike in the height of summer whereby you need mosquito spray.

Another lovely aspect of Rikugien Gardens is that you can rest and drink delicious traditional Japanese tea and eat a scrumptious small Japanese sweet. The location of the small resting place is located near to the pond and the scenery is truly stunning. Therefore, while drinking delicious Japanese tea you can feel the spirituality of Rikugien and this simplistic pleasure creates a lovely feeling for tourists who want to feel the old Japan.

Kiyosumi Gardens is equally beautiful and to reach Kiyosumi Shirakawa you need to take either the Toei Oedo Line or Hanzomon Line. Also, in Kiyosumi Shirakawa and the surrounding area you have many museums to visit and a good guide book will enhance your visit.

In a past article about Kiyosumi Gardens by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “The Iso-Watari section is a real treat because the stepping-stone pathways lead across the pond where it is shallow. For children, it is a time of fantastic pleasure because they can enjoy playful times and be connected with nature at its best. Also, for adults, the “child inside” comes flooding back when you walk on the stepping-stone pathways and at all times you will have opportunities to see fish in the pond.”

“Inside Kiyosumi Gardens you also have stylish buildings and this applies to the Ryotei building and Taisho Kinenkan. These buildings heighten the cultural aspects and ambience of Kiyosumi Gardens. Therefore, if you enjoy photography you can combine architecture and nature together and of course each angle provides a new image to treasure.”

Kiyosumi Gardens is a place where individuals, friends, or groups touring Tokyo, can sit back and look at sublime views. Also, the little pathways by stepping stones are an enthralling feature of this exquisite garden. Given this, the pamphlet guide in different languages is most welcome because it highlights important factors about Kiyosumi Gardens.

Japanese gardens are also spiritual and philosophical and each garden may have a different angle. This applies to the fusion of the respective garden with Buddhist elements, Confucian aspects, Taoism factors or being Japan, a mixture of all and of course the role of nature in the indigenous faith of Shintoism is powerful. Given this, the background of each garden is often very intriguing because Japanese gardens connect “the self” with nature. Also, space, layout, monuments, and other aspects, are meant to transcend everyday life therefore you can clearly feel the therapeutic nature of gardens in Japan.

The entire area provides many hidden treasures and this applies to the Fukagawa Edo Museum, Basho Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art and the Morishita Culture Center. Therefore, it is important to check respective websites to see what options are available to you when you visit this part of Tokyo.

Koto City in Tokyo highlights a different ultra-modern city by focusing on culture, art, haiku, music, history, and other rich traditions. Kiyosumi Gardens is a lovely central point to your visit and the different museums open up a new world and this applies to either tradition or the modern vibes of the Museum of Contemporary Art. 

The gardens highlighted in this article are truly beautiful therefore please visit the links provided below.

Please visit the links below for more information about the gardens highlighted

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

http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kiyosumi/    Kiyosumi Gardens

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

More tourist information about places named

http://www.kcf.or.jp/fukagawa/event_list.html   Koto City Fukagawa Edo Museum

http://www.kcf.or.jp/basyo/index.html  Basho Museum

http://www.mot-art-museum.jp/eng/  Museum of Contemporary Art

http://shintomin.com/xoops/modules/chapox2/content.php?lid=12   Morishita Culture Center

ALL IMAGES FROM MODERN TOKYO TIMES

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2012 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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