Chica Manga HinaMatsuri

Hinamatsuri, the japanese Girls Day

In Japan, every year on the 3rd of March comes a traditional celebration known properly as momo-no-sekku, but more casually referred to as Hina Matsuri or Girls Day.

Is a day to wish for the health and success of girls. It’s observed by families with girls until they reach adulthood. It’s a day for the girls in the family to take center stage.

Families with young daughters mark this day by setting up a display of dolls inside the house. They offer rice crackers and other food to the dolls.

Thanks to our friends from Japan Talk, we bring you a summary of what The Festival of the Dolls means and all traditions related to Hina Matsuri:

Chica-Manga-HinaMatsuri-dolls1. Dolls

The primary observance on Hinamatsuri is laying out a set of dolls. This is generally thought to be good luck for the girls in the family. The dolls are laid out sometime in February before girls day on March 3rd. They are strictly taken down by the 4th at the latest. It’s traditionally believed that leaving the dolls up past the 4th is bad luck that will lead to a late marriage for the girls in the family.

The dolls are in the style of a Heian period imperial court. Doll sets vary greatly in size and price. Some include dozens of dolls that are laid out on a 7 layer platform according to the status of each doll. Other sets only include the Emperor and Empress, the two most important dolls.

In the past, a Hinamatsuri doll set was the most expensive item that a daughter might own until she gets her first kimono. These days many families choose smaller sets for modern apartments.

Historically, hinamatsuri dolls were put on boats in rivers throughout Japan and sent out to sea each year. This is known as Hina Nagashi or “Doll Floating.” It was believed that any potential bad luck and disease could be transferred to the dolls in a special ritual. With time this seemed wasteful and people started keeping the dolls and carefully packing them away each year.

A handful of shrines, such as Awashima Shrine in Wakayama, still offer Doll Floating rituals each year. The dolls are collected after floating them and burned.

Peach blossoms are traditionally used to decorate the house on Hina Matsuri. The blooming of peach trees in Japan often coincides well with the day. If you stay at a good ryokan in early March, you may notice peach blossom decorations.
Chirashizushi is the meal most associated with Hina Matsuri. It’s a dish of colorful ingredients such as vegetables, egg and seafood scattered on top of sushi rice. It’s easy to make, popular with kids and can be made in bright colors that feel festive.

Wagashi is a catch-all term for traditional Japanese desserts. The dessert most associated with Hina Matsuri are diamond shaped, tricolored mochi known asHishimochi. Other wagashi such as sakura mochi may also be served.

Whatever desserts are enjoyed for Hina Matsuri are also placed before the dolls as an offering. Some doll sets include plastic food as an offering.

Tsurushi Bina are decorations on a string that are hung from a ceiling for Hina Matsuri. This tradition started in Shizuoka Prefecture but is increasingly common throughout Japan. The decorations include dolls and other symbols of Hina Matsuri. They are often made of thick Japanese silk and are cute.
Girls are usually presented with gifts of candy on Hina Matsuri. The traditional snack is Arare. Other candies are sold for the day that are usually small and fancy in light colors.
If you’re visiting Japan on Hinamatsuri, there’s not much to do because it’s a family day. Nevertheless, there are a few scattered events on Hinamatsuri at shrines throughout Japan. Perhaps the most interesting is the display of thousands of traditional dolls at Tomisaki Shrine in Chiba.
And if you want to sing and dance for a while, you can do it with Minimoni… Enjoy!

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Chica Manga says pins earrings characters kawaii

Chica Manga Says

A few days ago, at ChicaManga we decided to give another design to what we published on Instagram: more fun, and with many stories to tell.

That is why we present a series of the most cute character to tell us in first person how is their life and what is the relationship with ChicaManga. Today we present some of them, with a first part of their history. Surely soon you will find that you can identify with one (or several) of them.

Enjoy the first part of #ChicaMangaSays

 

Chica-Manga-Sakura-Carrot-butterfly-clasp-pinPompom the Rabbit

Pompom the Rabbit loves carrots. If it were for him, he would spend the day (and a good part of the night) eating them. Winter. Summer … in the sun or under the rain. His entire life revolves around carrots, which he considers his best friends. Be like Pompom. Eat them for Breakfast, lunch and dinner, but better if they are Chica Manga carrots!

 

Whiskers the CatChica-Manga-Sakura-polka-dot-heart-butterfly-clasp-pin

 

Whiskers is the most sociable cat you can meet: he loves making new friends every day and showing them they are very special to him. He listens to them, spoil them, adores them. And he always waits for the moment to express his friendship with a Polka Dot Heart pin

 

 Chica-Manga-Sakura-cupcake-butterfly-clasp-pin

Sweety the Cupcake

 

Sweety is a most delicious cupcake. She loves being with her friends, and showing them that she loves them madly. She is always smiling, because she believes that the world is a better place if we are all happy and we can prove it. Would you like your life to be as pink and sweet as Sweety? 

 

Dark PawChica-Manga-green-boom-butterfly-clasp-pin

 

Dark Paw is a panda who loves action movies: explosions, bombs, persecutions. His perfect date is at the cinema, and he loves to comment on the movies while they are showing them. He makes sounds and movements just like the actors, for that reason he often has to leave the room. That’s why Dark Paw carries with he an amulet that defines his style. 

 

PenguinChica-Manga-green-penguin-butterfly-clasp-pin

 

Penguin has recently moved and misses his family. Now he lives in a better place, he is not cold all the time and he has more friends than ever, but his family is very important to him. His mother, his father, his little nieces write letters to him and send him boxes of ice and snow, so he does not miss his home. In any case, Penguin always carries with him the image of his family close to his heart. 

 

 

Nigi

 

Nigi  is a famous sushi chef who has dedicated his life to expand his art. He has traveled the world and has made a lot of friends from all the places you can imagine. If he has time, he send small trasures to his friends. so he can remind them their love. When he has discovered Fruits Basket, he has become fascinated with Tohru: he is his soul mate! 

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Shogatsu: New Year’s Eve in Japan

If you are in Japan today, you may want to know what are the best places to spend the New Year’s Eve with all the Japanese spirit.
Our friends from The Culture Trip bring us all the keys:

The New Year holiday, or Shōgatsu in Japan, is a time for quiet reflection. Many people return to their hometowns to be with family, adhere to tradition, and make preparations for the New Year. As more and more Western-style celebrations pop up, Tokyoites are left with more things to do than they can handle. So whether you feel like making the hatsumode pilgrimage or counting down to midnight, these are the places to be on New Year’s Eve in Tokyo.

Hatsumode at Meiji Jingu-mae

Hatsumode is the first shrine visit of the New Year. It’s often done at midnight on December 31st, but anytime during the first few days of January is also acceptable. Every shrine will have its hatsumode visitors, but any shrine as large and well-known as Meiji Jingu will receive more than its fair share of the crowds and is truly a sight to see. Lineups to make your prayers heard by the gods can last several hours.

Celebrate in Shibuya

Shibuya has one of the most active nightlife scenes in all of Tokyo, so it makes sense that people would come out in droves to soak up the energy and bring in the New Year together. Crowds gather at Shibuya Crossing on New Year’s Eve for the countdown. When it’s all over, the neighborhood has no shortage of bars and clubs to help keep the party going.

Joya no Kane at Zojoji Temple

Tokyo’s Buddhist temples ring their bells an even 108 times at the stroke of midnight on December 31st. In the Buddhist faith, 108 marks the number of desires people have and, thus, the causes of human suffering. Visit Zojoji, or Sensoji, to experience the joya no kaneritual firsthand and have your heart, mind, and soul cleansed for the New Year ahead.

Countdown at Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower in Minato Ward has a modest countdown celebration for its own New Year’s greeting. At midnight, the lights change color, the date display changes, and balloons are released into the air.

Hatsuhinode on Mount Takao

Hatsuhinode is the first sunrise of the New Year. The Tokyo Sky Tree and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building host viewing parties in their observatories for the event, but the lottery-selected guest list is limited and not easy to get your name on. Another option is to get outside of the city – watch the sunrise from a vantage point on nearby Mount Takao or Mitake.

Hatsuhinode on Mount Takao

Hatsuhinode is the first sunrise of the New Year. The Tokyo Sky Tree and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building host viewing parties in their observatories for the event, but the lottery-selected guest list is limited and not easy to get your name on. Another option is to get outside of the city – watch the sunrise from a vantage point on nearby Mount Takao or Mitake.

Dance at AgeHa

Welcome the New Year in style at AgeHa, Tokyo’s biggest nightclub. For their ‘Countdown 2018‘ party, they’ll be staying up all night long!

Enjoy and Happy New Year!!!

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Top Reasons Why You Should Read Berserk

If you have been lurking in the anime and manga world for a while, you may have already caught wind of a manga must-read entitled Berserk. Berserk is easily deemed as a classic manga despite the fact that it is still an on-going series until now. For the uninitiated, Berserk was created by Kentaro Miura in 1989. It currently has 39 volumes published in Japan and 38 English volumes published by Dark Horse. In almost 3 decades of Berserk’s existence and 39 volumes released, it would make one wonder, “What makes Berserk a classic?” and “Why should you give it a read?” Well, read on to find out~!

1 Genre and Theme: Seinen. Mature. Dark Fantasy. Medieval Era. Supernatural.

If you would be reading Berserk at about 20 years old or younger, you may find all the carnage and rape too disturbing. However, if you are past your 20’s, Berserk might just interest you for so many good reasons.

In terms of genre and theme, Berserk is classified as a dark fantasy, medieval era, supernatural, seinen manga. It is intended and made for mature readers due to its heavy gore and sexual depictions. If you want to get an idea of what Berserk is all about, just literally look at its title – “Berserk”. The story is full-blown war and punching with no regards to mercy whatsoever. In Berserk, every punch is one that is never held back. The world of Berserk is chiefly ruthless, callous, and brutal. The graphic depiction of dead body trails, torture, murder, and dismemberment is one that cannot be unseen easily. The sexual depictions of rape, incest, nudity, pedophilia, interspecies intercourse, and bestiality were also illustrated in great detail.

But, hang on, all of these violence and sexual overtones are not just here for the sake of attraction or horror. Each piece intricately adds to Berserk’s deep and enthralling story making it look more realistic and immersive. If you have been reading history centered on the medieval times or have watched television series like Game of Thrones and Vikings, you will know that this period is not all perfect and happy. In these TV series, violence can easily boil from a slight mistake, but do not get me wrong, the violence and sexual depictions in these series are easily a walk in the park when compared to the dark violent theme of Berserk, where characters live and fend on their own or die helpless.

2 Berserk can easily trigger your critical thinking skills or initiate a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

Berserk is also one of the classic manga titles that can trigger a different array of emotions. It can also trigger your critical thinking skills. The story of Berserk talks about the different sacrifices that people will undertake just to get to their ambitions. It has heaps of vengeful instances as well as passionate hatred and rage. Aside from all of this, other thoughts and emotions can also come crushing in bringing so much confliction to the reader. You will find yourself asking is this considered wrong or is this still right? You will find yourself weighing what matters most and what is more important should you be living the life in the shoes of the characters? You would even be thinking of how you will react when placed in similar situations. What are you willing to do for you dreams and ambitions? These triggered questions and thoughts can easily bring any reader to care about Berserk’s characters and the lives they live in.

3 Intricately made characters given proper development.

The characters in Berserk are, hands down, well made. The time and effort in building all these characters can be seen on the elaborate development that the creator pushed in the entire story. Each of these characters are made in such a way that the reader will be able to understand and invest emotions in. The main character in Berserk is Guts. He is popularly known as the Branded Swordsman or the Black Swordsman. He is a mercenary who earned a lot of titles and nicknames as the story progresses. If you want to get to know Guts more, all you need to understand is what unadulterated raw rage is. This is the perfect description of Guts. That said, Guts has not all been like this. His character was brought about by an extremely hard-hitting past that he underwent. He is one character in Berserk who is consistently pushed to beyond his humanly limitations, hence all the rage and “badass-ness” in him.

Despite all this “badass-ness” in Guts, he is still one of the very few characters considered humane as he can literally go through any pain and ordeal just to protect whatever he treasures the most. This resolve can easily get to any reader and trigger their sympathy towards Guts. If this complex character building still does not intrigue you, I do not what will. You really have to start reading Berserk to experience this for yourself.

4 Exquisite artwork!

Berserk follows a good story and character development. Moreover, it comes illustrated with exquisite artwork that is highly detailed yet still very easy on the eyes. Reading Berserk and looking at its graphic is in itself a very pleasant experience. The mangaka also saw to it that the panels are balanced in every page. Speaking of panels, there are several panels, which are drawn without words yet speaks to our minds clearly.

Berserk was on hiatus until Dec 22th as per announcement made in June of 2017, but that said, Berserk is still a classic manga must-read and must-add in your manga library. It has a deep story, awesome characters, excellent art, and cool manga spines! Easily a keeper for any manga collector.

 

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Tenno Tanjobi, The Emperor’s Birthday

The Emperor’s Birthday honors the Emperor of Japan and the Chrysanthemum Throne, but it is also a time for Japanese citizens to have fun and express their patriotism. On the Emperor’s Birthday, people can enjoy many festivities. Currently, the Emperor’s Birthday is celebrated on December 23. The date of the holiday changes to correspond with the birthday of the current Emperor of Japan. In Japan, the Emperor’s Birthday is known as Tenno Tanjobi.

Birthday celebrations for Japanese emperors date back to Ancient Japan. These celebrations were held to honor the Emperor as a person and Imperial ruler. Prior to World War II, the Emperor’s Birthday was called Tenchosetsu. Tenchosetsu corresponded with Chikusetsu, or the Empress’ Birthday. In 1948, the Emperor’s Birthday became a public holiday in Japan. During the same year, Chikusetsu was eliminated and Tenchosetsu was changed to Tenno Tanjobi. Tennor Tanjobi is a literal translation of the Emperor’s Birthday and matches the current form of Japanese used in Japan. Tenno Tanjobi was a celebration of Emperor Showa’s birthday. During the Showa period, Tenno Tanjobi was celebrated on April 29 each year. When Emperor Showa passed away in 1989, April 29 became Greenery Day.

In 2007, April 29 became Showa Day. Today, the Emperor’s Birthday, Greenery Day, and Showa Day are all celebrated separately. After Showa’s death, Akihito ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Today, Emperor Akihito continues to reign over Japan. Empero Akihito’s birthday is December 23. Because of this, the Diet changed Tenno Tanjobi to December 23 before Akihito came to power. Japanese law states that the Diet must change Tenno Tanjobi to the birthday of the current Japanese emperor, so the holiday will be celebrated on a different day in the future.

Tenno Tanjobi currently celebrates the life and accomplishments of Emperor Akihito. Akihito was born on December 23, 1933. His parents were Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako. Emperor Akihito was the first member of the Imperial family of Japan to marry a person from a lower social class. In 1959, Emperor Akihito married Michiko Shoda, a commoner from Tokyo. Throughout his life, Akihito continued to depart from the elitist ideals that the Imperial family had become known for throughout history. Emperor Akihito has also dedicated a large portion of his life to being a humanitarian. Akihito is credited for improving Japan’s reputation in East Asia. He visited many nations to apologize for Imperial Japan’s cruel actions. Emperor Akihito is also known to visit the sites of earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters. Emperor Akihito still continues to do what he can to promote peace and understanding throughout the world. Akihito is also a scholar with a genuine interest in science. Emperor Akihito has published a book on marine biology.

Celebrations

The Emperor’s Birthday is one of Japan’s most unique holidays, so Japanese people have many ways to celebrate.

  • Visiting the Imperial Palace

    Many people use the Emperor’s Birthday as an opportunity to visit the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. On December 23, the Imperial Palace opens to the public. Normally, most of the Imperial Palace is restricted to regular Japanese citizens. On the Emperor’s Birthday, people can take a tour of the Imperial Palace’s inner rooms and courtyards. This is a rare experience, so people from across Japan often travel to Tokyo to enjoy the holiday. There is also a large ceremony at the Imperial Palace. Prior to the beginning of the ceremony, huge crowds of people gather in front of the Imperial Palace to await the arrival of Japanese Emperor. When the ceremony begins, the Emperor will look at the crowds from his balcony. He will often say a few words of gratitude while the visitors shout out birthday salutations. During the ceremony, the Emperor is accompanied by the Empress and other members of the Imperial family.

  • Flags

    Since the Emperor’s Birthday is a patriotic holiday, many Japanese people hang the national flag of Japan on their homes. People also bring miniature flags to the celebration at the Imperial Palace.

  • Letters

    During the week before the birthday celebration, many Japanese citizens write letters to the Japanese Emperor. Most of these letters are generic, but some people write messages that are quite personal. These personal letters often come from individuals that have been directly impacted by the Emperor’s actions. Emperor Akihito often receives letters from people who are appreciative of his dedication to humanitarianism. Before the Emperor’s Birthday, many street vendors sell parchment and postage to people who want to write a letter to the Japanese Emperor.

Since all of the events for the Emperor’s Birthday occur at the Imperial Palace, Tokyo is the best to celebrate the holiday.

The Emperor’s Birthday is a patriotic holiday that honors the current Japanese Emperor and his life.

Source: Public Holidays
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Fullmetal Alchemist: The Story Of Two Brothers

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Story Of Two Brothers is by far one of the most popular manga that won the 49th Shogakukan Manga Award for the shounen demographic in 2004. With over 64 million copies in print around the world along with having received two very successful anime adaptions, this is a manga series that redefined what a shounen manga series can be.

Fullmetal Alchemist was one of the few manga series of it’s time that focused more on a narrative than being the typical lighthearted action-comedy manga that shounen was known for. There isn’t just one thing that makes it such an incredible read but culmination of amazing storytelling, character development and action with a touch of romance.

A Story That’s Complex & Captivating

Even after all these years finding a manga with a story like Fullmetal Alchemist is just not possible. The story right off the bat starts on a rather grim tone with both the protagonists losing all or parts of their body’s and seamlessly transitions into a more lighthearted tone before going full dark again.

Each chapter you read will keep you on the edge of your seats always anticipating what will come next only to be left speechless of how the plot paces itself. What truly sets the story apart is that even during the darkest moments of the series there’s always a bit of hope to push the protagonist on.

An Amazing Blend of Action, Comedy & Drama

The action scenes in Fullmetal Alchemist might not be the best but they aren’t definitely bad by any account. Considering the manga is only 116 it doesn’t leave a lot of room for extended fight scenes but the ones we do get are choreographed extremely well and the art is top notch as well which just makes it even more enjoyable to read.

When it comes to comedy and drama, the series tends to lean towards the dramatic sides but manages to add in enough moments of over the top comedy to not let the drama go stale without overstaying its turn.

Character Development Done Right

Even though there is a greater focus on the story but this is still an action-packed manga. Unlike most manga where you have to trade character development for more flashy action panels on the page, Fullmetal Alchemist manages to find the perfect balance and manages to flesh out each character to an amazing detail.

Every character in Fullmetal Alchemist is downright amazing. From their designs to their personality and even their backstory, this manga gets each character just right without even trying to justify their actions which makes them feel all the more realistic. The protagonists, Ed and Al, in particular, go through so much growth over the span of 100 chapters that by the end of it you feel that you have an emotional connection with them.

Should You Read It?

Fullmetal Alchemist is by far not a perfect manga and it has its fair share of problems which include the length of the series among many others. But, overall, Fullmetal Alchemist manages to be incredibly entertaining and thought-provoking while staying true to the tradition of Shounen manga. If you’re someone that enjoys a mind-blowing story with equally amazing characters then reading Fullmetal Alchemist is highly recommended.

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Japanese Arts & Crafts (Part 3 and last)

This is the last part of Japanese Arts & Crafts

Byobu are Japanese folding screens that were historically used to partition rooms for privacy. They are typically adorned with shodo or landscape paintings.
Gyotaku is the Japanese art of fish printing that evolved as a way for fishermen to record their impressive catches.
Samurai Masks, known as Mempo, are a type of battle armor designed to protect the face and strike fear into the heart of an opponent. They were designed by special craftsmen to reflect the personality and preferences of each Samurai.
Japan has one of the world’s biggest and oldest film industries with a history of over 100 years. The country currently produces more than 400 films a year. In most years, Japanese films do slightly better at the box office in Japan than foreign films. Countless Japanese films have received international awards and recognition with several considered amongst the top films of all time.
Kimonos don’t have pockets. This historically posed a problem, particularly for men who tended to travel light. A solution evolved in the Edo-era whereby men hung decorative containers known as netsuke from the obi of their kimono. These containers, known as netsuke, were typically hand crafted sculptures that depicted historical scenes, myths, lucky symbols, women and other themes that Edo-era men found interesting. Many are comical with a double or hidden meaning.
Creative professions are extremely popular amongst young generations of Japanese students. Art programs at colleges and universities are thriving. Creative professions are extremely competitive in Japan but many graduates manage to find a niche and pursue a productive career as an artist. Any art that doesn’t follow an established tradition tends to be heaped together and categorized as contemporary art. This is an extremely broad category of art that’s ever expanding.
Washi Eggs are a somewhat rare craft in Japan that are produced by removing the contents of an egg and covering it in washi paper.
Rice paddy art is a picture made completely of different varieties of rice plant. It’s a relatively new tradition that began in the 1990s in Inakadate, a small northern town that was looking for a way to boost the local economy. The town of 8000 residents involves more than 1000 people in the rice art planting. Each year the art attracts more than 200,000 tourists. The success of the program has led to rice art in other northern communities.
Source: Japan Talk
Photos: Mask by S1L3N0Z / Street art by Bong Grit
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Fruits Basket, my favourite Shojo

Fruits basket is a manga created by Natsuki Takaya and published in the magazine Hana to Yume. This manga was published for the first time in 1998 and ended in 2006. The series has 23 volumes. Fruits basket became so popular that they made an Anime series of 26 episodes in 2001 and in 2015 they released a sequel: Fruits basket another. Undoubtedly, it is one of the best known manga in Japan and in the rest of the world. The Fruits Basket franchise became a great success due its charisma and attractive plot.

Fruits Basket is part of the Shōjo Manga. But what is a Shōjo manga? Shōjo literally means “Young Woman”. This type of Manga can speak both of historical and fanciful facts. However one of the most important elements of the Shōjo is that the stories focuses on the love relationships of the characters and their feelings. Shōjo is usually full of drama and love triangles. This type of stories is directed for a young female generation.

In this case, Fruits Basket is based on the story of a poor orphan girl. After the death of his mother, Tohru Honda moves with his grandfather, however it is not so pleasant. The girl decides to leave her home and live in the forest. One day, in the woods, she stumbles upon a very particular house. In it lives his classmate Yuki Sohma and his relatives Shigure and Kyo Sohma. What she does not know is that the Sohma family hides a secret. Each of the members has been cursed and, when in contact with a person of the opposite sex, becomes animals of the Chinese zodiac. Tohru Honda promises to help the Sohma family in exchange for being allowed to stay in the house. Upon learning of the peculiar situation of the family, Tohru is surprised but does not change at all the relationship she has with her friends.

Tohru is a girl who has been through very bad times. She is a sensitive girl who can not resist keeping her feelings. Tohru finds refuge in his new home and his new mission. However, this calm does not last long as she is trapped in a love triangle.

Throughout the series, she is confronted to choose between Yuki and Kyo Sohma. Both have mixed feelings towards our protagonist.

Yuki and Kyo are two completely opposite characters. That they are always fighting. Both have many disagreements, however there is one aspect in which they always coincide: protect Tohru. Yuki and Kyo feel the duty and the need to keep her close to them. However, each one has a different idea of ​​how they should provide protection. Yuki is more open with her feelings and feels that he protects her by being honest with her. Kyo, on the contrary, is more mysterious and avoids talking about what he can feel.

Given this dilemma, Tohru has to choose who is the most suitable person for her.

Definitely Fruit Baskets is a manga that you should not be missed!

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Japanese Arts & Crafts (Part 2)

We continue with the description of the main japanese Arts & Craft that we started in the previous post.

The folding fan was invented in Japan. Japanese fans are considered a cultural item that are used in ritual, dance and festivals. They were also historically used as a weapon of war by the samurai. Japanese folding fans, known as Sensu, vary widely in quality and often feature original art.
Kirigami, literally cut paper, is like origami except that the paper can be cut to create more elaborate designs. Kirigami are made from a single piece of paper without gluing.
Maki-e are a type of Japanese lacquerware decorated with powdered metal such as gold or silver. An artist uses a fine brush to shape the powder into decorative patterns. It has an old fashioned and elegant feel and is used in Japanese interior design. Maki-e is the type of thing you’d find at a Japanese-style luxury hotel. It’s also used to decorate small items such as jewelry boxes and pens.
Amigurumi is the Japanese craft of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and creatures. Designs typically adhere to the kawaii aesthetic.
Chochin are collapsible bamboo lanterns covered in paper or silk that emerged in Japan around the year 1085. They are usually adorned with shodo or a painting. Chochin are hung at temples and as decorations for matsuri. They are also traditionally used to mark shops and restaurants such as izakaya.
Temari, literally “hand ball”, are a Japanese folk craft that were historically created with old silk kimono as a toy for children. The outside of the ball are covered in a detailed embroidery. It was once common for parents to put a small paper at center of a temari with a goodwill wish for a child.
Japan has a rich tradition of tattooing known as Irezumi that was historically influence by Ukiyo-e art. Tattoos were once used to punish criminals in Japan and are still considered incredibly taboo.
Source: Japan Talk
Photos: East West Center and Jeff Laitila
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Japanese Arts & Crafts (Part 1)

Japanese art evolved unique techniques, traditions and aesthetics as the country’s artists were isolated from the rest of the art world for centuries at a time. When Japanese art finally exploded onto the world stage in the 1860s, it changed everything. For example, Japanese art was one of the inspirations for the Impressionist movement in Europe and America.

The following are a few major Japanese arts and crafts:

1. Shodo

Shodo is the Japanese art of calligraphy that’s created with a brush. It’s highly stylized and often almost illegible. The art mostly evolved at temples and has been greatly influenced by Japanese Buddhism. Works of shodo often look vaguely like a landscape painting. Most Japanese people have studied it and have an appreciation for the art.
Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese art that thrived from the 1600s to 1880s. They were printed in great numbers using wood block printing methods. In most cases, they depicted popular topics such as kabuki, geisha, travel, history, myth and politics. Ukiyo-e greatly influenced European artists such as Vincent Gogh.
Most historical structures in Japan such as temples, shrines, castles and palaces are made of wood. The Japanese had unique techniques with wood and were able to create remarkably large wooden structures. For example, the great wooden stage of Kiyomizu-dera was constructed without a single nail. Modern Japanese architecture is equally interesting with hundreds of buildings and mega-projects such as bridges that have been recognized for their design.
Manga are Japanese comic books. Japan began producing dark, irreverent, sensual, violent graphic novels as early as the 1760s that were essentially comic books. These books were largely banned in 1787 but the art continued nonetheless. Modern Japanese manga represent an vibrant and popular form of art and writing.
Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper to create decorative art. The classic origami that every school child in Japan learns is the crane. According to myth, anyone who strings together 1000 origami cranes is granted a wish. The Japanese traditionally believed that cranes live 1000 years.
Japanese sculpture is traditionally associated with religion. Wooden sculptures of protectors of Buddha such as Nio and Shitenno guard the gates to many temples. Shinto gods known as kami are often depicted in sculpture at shrines. Several of these are priceless cultural artifacts including sculptures that rank amongst the largest in the world such as the Buddha of Todaiji.
Bonseki are miniature landscapes on black lacquer trays that make use of white sand, pebbles, and small rocks. The art dates back to the 7th century and was historically used to plan real gardens. Bonseki faded with time but interest in it has recently resumed and a number of bonseki classes are now available in Japan. It’s rare for bonseki to be preserved and they are viewed as temporary works of art that are more attractive because they are impermanent according the Japanese aesthetic of mono no aware.
Source: Japan Talk
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