Japanese Culture Presentations: March 28th

How to draw anime was the title of the workshop. And it had me at anime. Depositing my camera into my bag I pulled a piece of paper close and clutched my pencil excitedly. Nervous giggles and confessions of lacking drawing skills came from those in attendance. Like the wind passing through a forest of leaves, the sound of papers shuffling tickled my ears as we set ourselves up.  The small group grew quiet as the presenter stepped forward.

The two works to the right are by Emily Chadwick.

The two works to the left are by Emily Chadwick.

“Ok first draw a circle,” issued from Emily Chadwick’s mouth as she stood at the front of the classroom.

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“How big?” was the prompt reply from the students, still hesitating. I was already scratching out my circle when Emily told them it can be any size. My lips drawn tight in concentration I rounded the right and left side to make it less like an oval. My eraser skittered across the paper’s surface as I swiftly erased the excess lines. Not entirely confident in my drawing skills, I was still comfortable enough in this exercise to enjoy it. Step by step my first anime character came to life.

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She turned out younger than I was aiming for, but I’m proud of myself for producing such a fine face my first time. She looks like a Kim.

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I really enjoy watching anime and reading manga: what I jokingly refer to as junk food for my brain. I have a real respect for the artwork though. Some works are so detailed it must take hours to complete one page.

This workshop was part of a series of presentations put on by the Japanese Club on campus. Members were asked to show an event or aspect of Japanese culture that they enjoy.

Shrine Maidens

The event began with a presentation from Emily Chadwick on shrine maidens or miko. They are young girls who perform Shinto ceremonies and do odd jobs around the shrine, such as cleaning and selling wares at the shrine shop. They also communicate with and divide the kami, or Shinto spirits: miko also stands for female shaman. They wear what is called a hakama.

Shrine maidens
Emily Chadwick and her presentation.

Shinto is a Japanese belief that humanity is essentially good. When bad things happen it is because a person has taken on too much pollution. This can be caused by themselves, but is often believed to be the work of evil spirits.

Today there are many manga and anime that centre on miko performing their duties as female shaman. The imaginative creatures that form kami in these books, television shows and movies attract people to the story and the strong female protagonists help draw readers as well. So it was fitting to end the presentation with a manga/anime drawing workshop.

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster

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Chad Finlay tells his audience about the radiation levels.

Once we finished our masterpieces we were drawn into an overview of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster site two years later. Recently, Google sent in a car to document the ghost town Namie in Fukushima for Google street view. You can see a series of photos from the site In Focus by the Atlantic as the car ventured through the virtual town with Google Maps. The town has stayed empty for two years as officials work to hose down every structure and object in an effort to decontaminate the town.

For those of you who missed the news on the event: on March 11, 2011 a 9.0 magnitude earthquake 250 km off Japan caused a tsunami which struck the country and knocked out its power. That power included the back-up energy needed to keep the Fukushima nuclear plant under control. Without pumps to keep coolant water flowing the nuclear material began to meltdown. Reactive material then escaped and went into the atmosphere causing fear for public safety. An exclusion zone was established and people were evacuated.

Japanese Holidays

Following Finlay’s presentation was a more lighthearted one by Cheyanne Bardsley about various festivals in Japan. Some main ones discussed were:

Festivals

Shogatsu (New Years): one of the most important and a time of great travel.

Some common traditions are:

– watching the first sunrise

– going to a temple or shrine

– and eating secial dishes

Seijin no Hi (Coming of Age Day): Youth reaching the age of 20 are celebrated during the second Monday of January. Each neighborhood will hold its own ceremony.

Some common traditions are:

–       young adults of 20 dressing up formally for photos

–        young adults of 20 being given certificates and gifts

Setsubun (beginning of spring/bean throwing festival): though not official, this day is celebrated on the 3rd day of February.

Some common traditions are:

–       shrines hold events

–       beans being tossed into crowds

–       games

–       people eating a special food while facing the lucky direction of the year

Hinamatsuri (Dolls Day/Girls Day): celebrates girls on March 3 and celebrates dolls which are believed to have the ability to contain evil spirits.

Some common traditions are:

–       the displaying of special dolls

–       drinking sweet sake

–       eating special sushi

–       praying for good fortune for daughters

Golden Week (a series of holidays grouped together): celebrated April 29-May 5.

First holiday- Showa no Hi (Showa day)

Second holiday- Kenpo Kinenbi (Constitutional Memorial Day)

Third holiday- Midori ni Hi (Greenery Day)

Fourth holiday- Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day but mostly focused on sons)

Tanabata (Star Festival): This festival is a celebration of the once a year meeting between the deities Orihime (the star Vega) and Hikoboshi (the star Altair). The two lovers are separated the rest of the year by the Milky Way. During this day people write their wishes on paper and hang them on bamboo trees.

Obon (Buddhist event): where ancestors return to the world and visit relatives.

Bon Odori is the lighting of lanterns and visiting of graves and temples.

Taikku no Hi (Health and Sports Day): where schools will put on athletic events.

Bunka no Hi (Cultural Day): where people promote the culture and arts of Japan.

Shichi-Go-San (Seven, Five, Three Day): where children of the ages seven, five and three are celebrated. Girls of three and seven and boys of three and five are dressed up and attend temples on this day. It is believed the festival celebrates these ages because:

– if a child makes it to three then they will live beyond childhood

– boys were began training to be samurai at age five

– and girls began preparing to be wives at age seven.

Taiko

Taiko

Gabor Ohm told us that taiko means drum. So it is amusing that in Canada we refer to these drumming groups as taiko drumming groups or drum drumming groups.

Drums in Japan were first used to direct battles and scare the enemy.

Some drums are the:

Tsuzumi: known as the hourglass drum because it uses threads to hold the skin in place.

Ō-tsuzumi: a larger version of the Tsuzumi.

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Nagadō-daiko: this one has its skin held in place by studs.

Ō-daiko: this one is huge!

There was a local Taiko group called Raiden Taiko who have performed in the International Days event.

Wa Lolita

Jennalee Banman introduced the group to Wa Lolita, a subcategory in the Lolita, sweet-girl fashion world. Wa Lolita is a mix of American clothing and Japanese traditional clothing.

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Emily Chadwick and Jennalee Banman model their Lolita outfits. Emily is wearing a cosplay Lolita outfit and Jennalee is in a Wa Lolita dress.

The other subcategories include:

Guro: focuses less on sweetness and more on horror.

Gothic: focuses on dark Lolita style clothing and dark make-up.

Kuro: Outfits with an all black theme.

Shiro: Outfits with an all white theme.

Country: Outfits inspired by Victorian farms. It’s really a mix of sweet Lolita and classic Lolita.

Punk: Inspired by British punk with the works: tartan, deconstruction, safety pins, studes and chains.

Aristocrat: a more mature style generally considered a gothic sub style.

Sailor: Outfits that incorporate sailor and nautical themes.

Classic: a more mature style with outfits inspired by historical styles. Focuses on elegance rather than cuteness.

Casual: a Lolita outfit that is toned down to wear with casual clothes.

Kodona: or boy-style is as it sounds, a Lolita fashion featuring pants and masculine shirts.

Ero: outfits with a slight eroticism. They show a little more skin than a normal Lolita outfit.

Cosplay: anytime a Lolita outfit is worn while cosplaying or mimicking a character from an anime, manga, television show or movie.

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Sweet: The most child-like Lolita style out there, it has a focus on being cute and girly. Much like living dolls.

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The bottom of Jennalee’s shoe or oboko.
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Emily’s obi back and front (below).

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Jennalee’s obi or sash back (below)

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0 thoughts on “Japanese Culture Presentations: March 28th

    1. Haha thank you for allowing me to blog about it! It was fun! I would have added more information but then it would have been too long for my poor readers! XD

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