Okinawa Eisa

Eisa is traditional dance in Okinawa.  Before I explain, I would like you to watch this video.

沖縄エイサーイベント

This is “Mirukumunari”(ミルクムナリ), the representative song of Eisa.  When I listen to this, it always reminds me of Okinawa and makes me relaxed somehow.  Eisa is kind of traditional dance with unique sounds of various drums.  It originally was danced in Obon season (lantern festival) and people parade with dancing to welcome spirits of ancestors.  As you can see in the video, Eisa is very hard dance.  They have heavy drums and twist the body, jump and squat down. The lively motion and unity of the bunch of people are the most attractive points of watching Eisa.  I feel even their bravely.

Speaking of the song, “Mirukumunari”, the meaning of this song is to celebrate a goof harvest.  Miruku means Buddhist priest, and Munari means dance in Indonesian.  This is by Hidekatsu, the famous writer in Okinawa.  This is an interview of Hidekatsu in Japanese, please check this out!

 

Washoku

Breakfast_by_Ms_President_at_a_hotel_in_Naoshima,_KagawaWashoku has officially recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.

Because Japanese food is known to people in the world as healthy, the value of Japanese cuisine was first recognized on 4th, December.  As the proposal by the Japanese government, they regarded Japanese cuisine as social convention which is an embodiment of Japanese spirit of appreciation to nature from old times.  In other words, we respect various and fresh ingredients, and Japanese well-balanced healthy eating habit.  In addition, it is related to the beauty of nature and the way to express of seasons.

The special feature of Japanese food is, I think, the beauty of Japanese dishes and the each food ingredient which we don’t have to use thick taste seasoning.  I sometimes eat Sushi with salt.  I want to say simple is the best and hope “real” Japanese food, not “Chinese, Japanese food”, will introduce to the world.

Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!


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Max Brenner opened at Omote Sando Hills in November 30th. Do you know Max Brenner? Max Brenner is a chocolate brand which was founded in Israel. Now, it is popular in New York City and 40 restaurants all over the world. Max Brenner wants to suggest the new way of enjoying chocolate.

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There are 4 words which express Max Brenner’s ethos.

・Chocolate Without Boundaries

・Enjoy to The Max

・Chocolate is Good for You

・It’s Simple…All You Have To Do is Love Chocolate

You can drink hot chocolate, eat chocolate pizza and more chocolate food in Max Brenner restaurant. Why don’t you go the kingdom of chocolate?

Daruma

Daruma
Daruma doll
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a priest, Daruma

After I searched snow man in the previous post, I wondered what really daruma is, so I introduce daruma history.  Present day of Daruma is known as doll to which people pray for help in achieving a goal with painting one eye onto the face, and after the dream realized, they paint the other eye.

Daruma is originally modeled after Dharma(達磨) who is the priest came from India and found Zen of Buddhism in the 6th century.  He has legend that he meditated for 9 years toward a wall and lost his legs and arms.  This is why daruma doll has no legs and arms.  In Japan, it has been a symbol of patience and remaining unfazed like Dharma meditated for many years.  Speaking about Daruma dall, the doll always gets up to standing position by itself to represent the patience and not to give up even if people knock it down.  A Proverb says, “Fall down seven times, gets up eight”.  It is the lesson from Dharma, and this proverb teaches us the spirits of Zen.  Not only to pray to Daruma for success, people need to be patient and make efforts by ourselves for many years.

 

Maid cafe in NY

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Maid Cafe in NY

Now almost all people know the name of maid café even if they never have been there.  As you know, Maid café is Japanese special culture that Japanese girls wear frilly and girly costume of Maid and welcome guests saying “Welcome home, my master!”  It reminds anime fans of Japanese manga characters.  T his is basically café where provides cakes or drinks, but guests also enjoy games or shows with the café staff, Maids.

Surprisingly, the Maid café has been opened in Chinatown, north of Manhattan, NY in this August.  Because of the place, the most of customers are Chinese American, Chinese, and American businessmen in NY.  However, while many of customers are men in Japan, American girls are also visiting there, the owner said.  This is because Japanes “Kawaii culture” such as Japanese fashion or anime characters are popular to foreign girls.  Then, lots of girls are visiting the maid cafe to want to be hired.  Even though they are not hired, some girls visit the cafe every day and even they do volunteer at the shop.

Most of people, especially foreigners may have negative images toward Maid cafe, but actually it does not like that and it is not a sexual thing.  According to Satoshi Yoshimura, a music agent who opened “Maid cafe in NY” says, “My goal is to give a sense of [Japanese costume] culture to New Yorkers.

Snow man

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Snowman in America

One day, I found an interesting picture that was drawn by Japanese in Edo era.  This is obviously snow man, but it is little different from what I imaged.

As you see the picture, while the present day of snow man is shaped by 2 or 3 snow balls, the snow man in Edo era is shaped as real Daruma doll which is Japanese traditional doll without legs and arms.

I am going to introduce what really snow man in Japan is, and how different from European and American snow man is.

First of all, snow man in Japan was originally made by adults to surprise children who came to wake up in the morning.  And same as real Daruma dall, they put eyes and mustache with charcoal.  It seems high quality work, but putting parts of face is same as another countries culture.  But the different is, while we originally make only head and the body parts, they build legs and arms in Europe and America.  This is because they make by imitating literally snow “man”.

This is interesting that we can see the cultural different by taking one example of snow man culture.

NIHON BUYOU

g1KDc4FbICgzKSCBYCBJTUdfMDAwMnAdFirst of all, I would like you to watch this video.  This is magnificently beautiful.  Always I watch this, I become to almost cry and I think I want to be her.  It is natural because she, actually he is Tamasaburo Bando, a professional actor of Japanese traditional dance called NIHON BUYOU in Japanese.  I have learned Japanese dance since 3 year-old.  So this time, I would love to introduce this traditional culture.  Nihon buyou is since Edo era.  Basically it is with holding various props such as Japanese hand towels called Tenugui, fans called Sensu.  As you can see, she in the video is holding the flower called Fuji, wisteria in English.  This song is Fujimusume, one of the most famous music of Japanese dance.  The schools called “Ryuha(流派)” are over 200 in Japan such as Nishikawa, Fujima, Hanayagi etc.

As you only see the dance, you feel this is easy.  However, actually Japanese dance is very hard because they are bending their knees all the time while dancing to make them-selves look beautiful and ladylike.  And sometimes Japanese dance is speedy depends on the music, so performers are actually with sweat and getting out of breath.  Additionally, at an actual performance on a stage, they wear 2 or 3 Kimono and a wig (Katsura) with ornaments, sot he total weight is over 10 kg to 25 kg.  But they need to make the audience feel the performance is lightly.  I am sure if you try this dance once, you can be modesty woman.

Japanese Kawaii culture

f0215907_2259964Japanese and American fashion culture is completely different. Some people say American fashion is kind of boring, but Japanese girl admire for the style which is simple and cool. That’s the reason the brands of American Eagle or American Apparel is now popular in Japan. On the other hand, Japanese fashion is becoming popular to Asia, Europe and America girls as well. The famous fashion style to foreigners is “Gyaru fashion”. Actually this is very special and sometimes difficult to be accepted by all of Japanese. Gyaru culture has long history since 1970 and it continues changing. Each generation has trends of fashion items or hairstyle like long boots, getting suntan. It is quite difficult to define what exactly Gyaru is, but I can say all Gyaru has flashy makeup and hairstyle, and always be a center of attention. As I said, this culture has introduced to foreign. Let me share the famous blogger who is chosen as the most influence girl in Asia. She is Cheesie, a Malaysian girl. She first became to like Japanese manga, and currently she is a model and participates in events of Gyaru fashion brand. She really looks like Japanese, I think she completely adopt Japanese Cawaii culture. Japanese fashion magazines like “ViVi” or “S Cawaii”are also translated into another languages.  However, depends on countries, the trend of Gyaru is different.  Speaking of American Gyaru, girls tend to get suntan and flashy make up around eyes with fake eyelash which is little bit old in Japan. In Thailand, surprisingly colored dental orthodontic is the trend among young girls, according to Record China. When I hear that, I am not sure if they really follow the Japanese Cawaii culture, but it is true that foreign girls are really inspired by Japan.

Tokyo Ramen Show 2013

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Tokyo Ramen Show 2013 was held from 15~24 in November. The greatest ramen markets from all over Japan gathered in Komazawa Olympic Park. This year, the festival had 40 ramen shops, and  more than 20,000 people visited there to enjoy various kinds of ramen.  The shops contend for precedence in this festival. The shop that sell the largest number of ramen can become the champion of this year’s festival. The results of the ranking has not announced yet. Last year’s champion shop sold all of 14,645 bowls of ramen.

Oseibo

oseiboI have written about Ochugen culture in Japan before, but Japan has Oseibo culture as well.  Oseibo is the custom sending gifts to people such as co-workers, relatives to express a year’s worth of thank. People start sending from middle December while Ochugen is middle of July.  Usually we send gift which people may need for new year, such as alcohol, coffee, ham that can be preserved long.  If you received gifts, you have to write a letter to thank. However, according to Yahoo enquete, 70% of Japanese think this custom is unnecessary.  Definitely it is troublesome and bothering to return gifts, but I think this is great chance to express our appreciation to people who have helped us.