Yellow and fuschia, black and white goth look but still in baby doll dresses, layers of clothing beyond imagination — these are some of the common elements in Japanese street fashion. The Japanese youth sport this look and is it an influence of the Japanese pop icons? Maybe, maybe not. After all, it could be that they are mainly just doing it for fun.
There are so many variations on Japanese street fashion. This is especially for girls. There are those that would fall under the Gothic Lolita group which would go for the black and white lacy dresses. Think of the really funky clunky black boots, Victorian dresses and goth makeup. There are also those who go for the classic Lolita look — lacy dresses in pastels. They even say that the term Lolita is not essentially sexual but it is used more for the youthful appeal.
Ko-gals would also be another category. Maybe they could be said to follow more the American fashion. Some girls would even sport that tanned look. This category in particular would be the trendy girls who spend much on clothes and accessories that are in vogue.
Men are also fashionable. If you take a look at the weekly pictures on Tokyo Street Style, you would see that they are conscious of the clothes and hats they wear. They are also into layered outfits. In any case, the site is also informative as they regularly post pictures every week. Some areas covered include Ginza and Shibuya.
Thinking of turning Japanese? If so, hit the stores and check out the clothes that suit you as you have been inspired by the photos.
Posted July 30th, 2006 by geisha+ | Comments Off
The Japanese seem to have a thing for funky music. Take for example this Korean trio Clazziquai. They have put themselves in a good position in Japan. Their music is an interesting blend of jazz, classical and groove. Their first album “Instant Pig” was released in Japan last year but they already have the remix edition of their second album, “Color Your Soul.” The group also appeared in M-flo’s remix album “Dope Space Nine.” Aside from the collaboration with M-flo, they also have one with Fantastic Plastic Machine.
Their latest album “Pinch Your Soul” which is more or less a collection of remixes of their songs on their second album, Clazziquai has some really awesome tracks. One of the memorable tracks of the album is “Color Your Soul” and you would not be able to resist dancing to it. It is very groovy and you would enjoy its lighthearted feel. “I Will Give You Everything” is one of their English tracks. Horan’s voice is really sweet and soothing. You will easily fall in love with that song. “Sweety” one of their popular tracks is also remixed in the album.
Clazziquai is probably popular because the group’s music is considered as something akin to Shibuya-kei, a fusion of jazz, classical, traditional and other musical styles. The group has signed up with Avex while still being under Fluxus. They seem to have a growing fanbase in Taiwan. There are three Clazziquai sites. One in Japanese, a Korean one and a Taiwanese one.
Clazziquai is on MySpace.
Posted July 28th, 2006 by geisha+ | Comments Off
Younha’s new look for 2006
Do you enjoy listening to J-pop? How about K-pop? If you do, the name of Younha is probably not so new to you. This teen-age girl from Korea is rocking the Japanese music charts. If you want to know what goes on with Youna, check out her diary on the Sony site.
Seeing Younha perform is refreshing. She does not only sing. Younha can play the piano quite well. On Japanese TV shows, you could see her perform with so much enthusiasm. Maybe it is partly because of her age. Youthful energy is very evident!
Most of the stuff she has released are singles but last year she already released an album called “Go! Younha.” She has signed up with Sony Music. Those who are fans of the anime Bleach will be familiar with Younha because she sang the third ending theme Houki Boushi.
Younha’s voice is amazing and with her talent and looks, she will definitely be one of the hottest pop stars in Japan. There seems to be a buzz with her new look (as evident in the image accompanying this entry) because she looks more mature and trendy compared to her more innocent look like when she did Houki Boushi. Younha even has fans in European countries like Italy and France. She is still young and there is much more that we will definitely hear from her.
Posted July 26th, 2006 by geisha+ | Comments Off
There are different anime and manga series in Japan that revolve around teachers. You have Great Teacher Onizuka for one, another is Gokusen. It might be because anime is mainly written for the youth and their lives. As students they spend a lot of time in school and they are greatly influenced by their interaction with their teachers.
In these anime, we’d typically see the different kinds of students. Each episode or chapter would show how they act in school. There would be those events like the Golden Week celebrations and whatever mishaps that happen.
Gokusen is one of the amusing series to read and watch. The main character is Yankumi and she happens to hail from a Yakuza clan. This makes her an interesting character dealing with students in an all boys’ school.
GTO or Great Teacher Onizuka is another one. Onizuka started out as a teacher in a class that seemed hopeless. He is a tough teacher and so he was seen as someone who could help ‘straighten’ out these students. The manga, live action series and anime have variations on the story. The manga is longer, as usual, hence the need for it to be shortened.
If check these manga, anime and live action series you might think that all students in Japan are tough and have discipline problems. It might be that there are cases that these things happen. Or you might think that teachers fantasize that they are as tough as GTO or Yankumi. Then again, you can also view it as a reaction of the creators to the way Japanese students are being taught.
Posted July 24th, 2006 by geisha+ | Comments Off
Tokyo Jihen strikes a pose here!
Shiina Ringo has formed Tokyo Jihen, also known as Tokyo Incidents. Shiina Ringo is quite popular as a solo artist and she has performed with others like Hikaru Utada. Now she has embarked on a somewhat different path by collaborating in a band such as Tokyo Jihen. Their debut album was launched in 2004.
Current band members:
- Shiina Ringo, guitar & vocals
- Seiji Kameda, bass
- Toshiki Hata, drums
- Izawa Ichiyou, keyboard
- Ukigumo, guitar
They sound interesting. It sounds like some fusion of J-pop, rock and a bit of jazz. Not everyone might enjoy Shiina Ringo’s vocal style but it is still quite an experience to listen to their songs. The album Adult has some awesome tracks which include Shuraba and Blackout. The drumbeats are amazing.
This is the complete list of songs in the album Adult:
Shuraba (Adult Version)
Incidentally, there will be a new live DVD to be released in September 6 of this year. There are also PVs of their songs on YouTube, just search for Tokyo Incidents or Tokyo Jihen.
Fans of Shiina Ringo consider her some kind of a godess or a princess. She does have something about her that you can’t help but want to listen to her or watch her perform especially in the videos. Maybe it is also the kawaii factor that draws people to her. In any case, Tokyo Jihen is a band to listen to and enjoy. Their fusion of different sounds will blow you away.
Posted July 23rd, 2006 by geisha+ | Comments Off
San-x characters — kawaiiyo!
In Japan you would see different kinds of cute things. The Japanese word for cute is kawaii and even in other countries, Japan is known for the kawaii things. It is seen as a natural thing. In anime and manga there is the chibi or super deformed drawings of the characters. It is called super deformed in English because the characters are drawn as small and chubby. They are usually drawn like that when they are mad, or hyper or feeling emotions extremely.
Other kawaii things include Pokemon, Hello Kitty, Tokyo street fashion, San-X characters. There is actually a whole lot of cute things. Even the way they package their products, they seem to emanate cuteness.
But what is it about cuteness? An article on Mainichi shared the following answers:
1. Skeptics say that is “a sign of infantile mentality.”
2. Cute is a reflection of the Japanese desire to not grow up and that it breeds non-assertion. (According to Hiroto Murasawa.)
3. The author of “Cool Japan,” Tomoyuki Sugiyama, says that the country’s culture which loves harmony is the root of the cute culture. He says that even way back in the Edo period, people have collected tiny carved charms. He added that the Japanese seem to look for respite cute things.
In any case, it is undeniable that cute is cool in Japan. You could not help but see it everywhere. It might not exactly be understood by the non-Japanese but it is becoming prevalent. Could kawaii culture be coming to the rest of the world?
Posted July 21st, 2006 by geisha+ | Comments Off
Segregation of men and women in trains have been going on because there are women who get sexually harrassed. Trains in Japan could be very crowded sometimes and it leads to such incidents. That is why there was a need for segregating men and women. However, there are other establishments that now offer segregation. Some of these are spas, convenience stores, bars and restaurants, pachinko parlors and sports clubs, companies and so on. The owners of these establishments saw that there is a market for women who just want to relax or just hang out.
With this trend, men have reacted negatively as shown in the survey by AERA. They see it as discrimination. However, an article in Mainichi also pointed out that for businesses, they see that women are perceived to spend well. That is why it seems that this segregation is pretty good for businesses.
There is a dilemma, however, because this could really be seen as gender discrimination. In the case of trains, it is obvious why it should happen that way. Maybe what some establishments could do is try to study both markets and see how they could cater to both. If for example, in their establishment, more women clients prefer to have a time that would like women’s time or a separate section, maybe that is perfectly reasonable. Although there will also be that dilemma when it comes to implementation. There would be clamor for equal rights one way or another.
Posted July 19th, 2006 by geisha+ | Comments Off
The Japanese language is an interesting one. Reading Japanese signs, books and all sorts of written material will require you to at least know katakana, hiragana and some kanji. Each set of characters have an importance in the language.
Take for example hiragana. Those are the basic characters that will let you get by in Japan, especially if you see that the kanji have furigana, the small hiragana on top or at the side of them. Hiragana are rounded characters that show you the basic syllables of the language.
Aside from the basic hiragana, you have to also learn the more sharp and pointed characters of the katakana. Each katakana corresponds to a syllable. Sometimes you may see how the katakana resembles the hiragana or how it could have been derived from it. Katakana is generally used for foreign words, like those that have been assimilated. Take for example the word donut. In Japanese, it is written with the katakana characters donatsu. It would take a while to get used to it.
This is tougher to learn. After all, these are the more complicated ideographs. Think of the Chinese characters you see but somehow some of the Japanese ones are simpler in form. In Japan, they even have different readings for each kanji. They have what is called the onyomi and kunyomi. Kunyomi is reading it the “Japanese way.” This reading is usually for nouns, adjective or verb stem. Onyomi is when it is part of a phrase or sentence.
There is really so much to learn when it comes to the language. After all, three sets of characters could be such a task! But it’s better to be prepared when you go to Japan.
Posted July 17th, 2006 by geisha+ | Comments Off
Osenbei or rice crackers are common snacks in Japan. They are pretty much traditional too. It is basically made of rice, water and soy sauce. There are variations on osenbei. They could have red pepper, sugar, green tea or plum as flavoring. Here are the steps in preparing the oishii, or delicious, snack.
1: Select the kind of rice you will use. Make sure it is fine. Grind it with water. Crush it then steam it. Afterwards, let it cool down with clear water. Do that several times.
2: When the steamed rice has gotten to room temperature, pound it into a cake. It will be shaped with a mold so that the size and thickness will be uniform. Let it dry for more than eight hours.
3: After letting the cakes dry, they will be ready for baking. A handheld metal is used to press it and turn it over. You know it is already cooked if oyu see that its surface is slightly burnt. Lightly brush the crackers with soy sauce before serving them.
Note that the taste of the osenbei may vary, depending on the weather, heat temperature, amount of air involved and how long it took for it to be turned over.
In Asakusa, there are shops that sell osenbei near the temples. You could find osenbei and other traditional snacks along Nakamise, which is known as the shopping street. Osenbei could be bought in packs.
Osenbei is also served as a part of the Girl’s Festival or Doll Festival, also known as Hina Matsuri. The Girl’s Festival is celebrated on the third of March. Osenbei, as well as rice cakes and gomoku sushi are enjoyed then. In any case, you could enjoy osenbei anytime and anywhere. These snacks are filling and quite healthy too.
Posted July 14th, 2006 by geisha+ | Comments Off
Onigiri, or rice balls, are commonly brought by those who are going to sporting events or when viewing flowers (Hanami time). They are common in bento boxes as they are easy to prepare. Aside from that, they still taste good even when they have already cooled down. Inside the onigiri are pickled plums or fish roe. Common shapes of onigiri are oval and triangle.
Onigiri is not difficult to prepare. What you basically need are the following:
- boiled rice
- roasted sesame seeds
- fillings: pickled plums, smoked salmon, or anything you would like
Make sure that your hands are clean before you prepare them. Get them a bit wet with water before you start preparing them.
- In your hand put a bit of salt and sesame seeds and also around half a cup of rice. Cup it all in your hand.
- Make a hole in the center of that cupped rice and put in your favorite fillings.
- Cover the fillings with rice. Press firmly with hands to ensure that the filling is secure.
- Squeeze it so it will be oval or triangular in shape. It’s up to you which shape you would have.
- Wrap nori around it.
It is quite simple, isn’t it? You could even teach your children how to prepare this food. Whether you are the kind of person who lives home alone or you have a family to take care of, onigiri will easily be staple in your home.
In the Heian period, this was called tonjiki. It was food given to the lower class by the nobility. Later on, people were also making the leftover rice rolled into balls, broiled and they put soysauce as flavoring. It was called yakimusubi. Currently anything goes as fillings in onigiri.
Check out the different bento boxes. They would usually have prettily made onigiri. Regardless of how simple this meal could be, it is flavorful and could be prepared differently. It is not just about the shape of the onigiri. It could also be through the amount and shape of nori you will use to wrap it. What matters is that this food is enjoyed by the person eating it.
Posted July 12th, 2006 by geisha+ | Comments Off