Posts tagged ‘The Tokyo Times’

July 13, 2012

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

http://moderntokyotimes.com

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July 13, 2012

Japan fashion: Pringle of Scotland to enter Japanese market after deal with Sanyo Shokai

Japan fashion: Pringle of Scotland to enter Japanese market after deal with Sanyo Shokai

Kanako Itamae, Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

On the grapevine of the fashion media it is stated that Sanyo Shokai and Pringle of Scotland have done a deal. Both companies are going to launch the Pringle 1815 and clearly with the success of Burberry in Japan, then Sanyo Shokai appear to be favoring continuity. Of course, Pringle of Scotland have different business ways and their fashion is inspirational by itself. However, you get the feeling that Sanyo Shokai is following certain aspects of the last deal with Burberry which will expire in the near future.

The new launch between Pringle of Scotland and Sanyo Shokai will be focused on the Pringle 1815 line. This appears to be a very good idea because of the rich history of this company which is obviously linked with the name. Likewise, for Pringle of Scotland they fully understand the power of Sanyo Shokai. Therefore, the medium-term “marriage” between both companies makes complete sense from both angles.

According to powerful sources the deal entails extensive apparel and accessories. The target is to launch men and ladies fashion by Pringle of Scotland by utilizing powerful departments stores in Japan and other destinations related to selected shops.

The opening date for Pringle 1815 is set for the spring period related to 2013. This gives both companies ample time to “iron out” any differences or possible confusion related to different cultural and business methodologies. In this sense, it is clear that Sanyo Shokai is going to be the guiding force.

Pringle of Scotland is famous for being an exquisite knitwear company which is in vogue with many famous individuals. Some famous individuals who adore Pringle of Scotland include Madonna, Nicole Kidman, David Beckham, Claudia Schiffer, Sophie Dahl and a host of other famous stars. Therefore, with Pringle of Scotland being connected with the rich and famous it is clear that this adorable company is in the spotlight.

Likewise in fashionable London you can find Pringle of Scotland in Bond Street, Bluewater Shopping Centre and Sloane Street. It is envisaged that highly selected places like Aoyama, Omotesando, Ginza and Yurakucho in Tokyo will be key target areas. Likewise, in Osaka fashionable places like Umeda will be in the running and the same may apply to Kobe which is a very vibrant fashion city in Japan. Therefore, it will be interesting to see the approach that Sanyo Shokai takes.

If individuals click onto http://www.pringlescotland.com/ the website of Pringle of Scotland then clearly you will be treated to adorable fashion. It is hoped that the new partnership with Sanyo Shokai will bear fruit because this company is blessed with an amazing and intriguing history. Also, with Japan being a major fashion centre in the world because of famous cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe, then clearly the new deal between Pringle of Scotland and Sanyo Shokai is full of potential. After all, the products and color coordination of Pringle of Scotland is extremely sophisticated and elegant. Also, this company appeals greatly to both sexes and with such quality fabrics matched with innovation, then Japanese fashion lovers are in for a treat.

http://www.pringlescotland.com/

http://www.sanyo-shokai.co.jp/

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com  

July 13, 2012

Japanese art and Yumeji Takehisa: Radiant artist crushed by humanity

Japanese art and Yumeji Takehisa: Radiant artist crushed by humanity

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

In all nation states you have elites which control and often abuse power based on “special interests” and “secrecy.” Many individuals feel like “fodder” because so many dreams never materialize for the majority of people. This is the reality of life because justice is but a word and democracy without economic freedom is shallow. Likewise, the daily grind of paying taxes to governments which abuse the system based on various agendas is not only frustrating, it also destroys the spirit of many.

However, for individuals blessed with so much talent then these internal convulsions can unbalance and destroy artists because of the countless “false dawns.” Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin are prime examples. They both were blessed with so much talent but the system crushed them and made life extremely uncomfortable. Therefore, in time capitalists got rich on the labor of two individuals blighted by poverty and extreme dark moments.

While Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin faced their internal demons the same reality would also crush the world of Yumeji Takehisa. From radiance to despair, from hope and desire to abandonment and being disillusioned. In the end the final years of Yumeji Takehisa were filled with sorrow and internal alienation based on expectations which his art deserved. Yet the pathway of Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin awaited Yumeji Takehisa.

Paul Gauguin stated “without art there is no salvation” but even in death the “salvation” is mixed for this individual. Likewise, for Yumeji Takehisa even in death you still don’t have any real “salvation” when it applies to international recognition. However, death provided “salvation” for Vincent Van Gogh in its entirety when it applies to international esteem. For Paul Gauguin who was extremely sophisticated, this would have been enough but he remains blighted by aspects of his life which seems to linger when it is often forgotten when related to others.

Yumeji Takehisa died at the age of 49 in 1934 and clearly “the beautiful flower within” was gradually crushed during the final decade of his life on this earth. Likewise, his visit to America and Europe in 1931 didn’t deliver the results that he had hoped for. Indeed, if anything, it confirmed to him that he was “running against the grain” because his artist skills went unrewarded. Therefore, the international recognition that he craved for went unrewarded internationally despite being recognized by lay people in Japan.

On his return to Japan in 1933 he would soon enter a sanatorium because of ill health. The following year he would die in a sanatorium at the age of 49 and one can only imagine the helplessness and frustration that he felt. After all, even when Yumeji Takehisa gave everything to “open the eyes of the art world” he was still rejected. This was the same rejection within academia in Japan despite being popular with art lovers in this country. Not only was his determination in vain but to make matters worse his health deteriorated. This all happened while Yumeji Takehisa was trying to enlighten people within the international community.

Yumeji Takehisa had rebuilt so much after the 1923 Kanto earthquake which destroyed so much of his artwork. However, he bore this with great fortitude because he knew that vast numbers of people had lost so much more because so many people were killed by this tragic event. Indeed, Yumeji Takehisa was a prolific artist because he produced more than 3,000 pieces of art. Also, the poetic nature of Yumeji Takehisa meant that he was blessed with great innovation.

Sabine Schenk (Cultural News) states about his lack of recognition (Cultural News) that “The reason for this 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.”

Sabine Schenk further comments that “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.”

Therefore, despite knowing artists of esteem in Japan during his lifetime and being popular outside of academia in the land of the rising sun, it is clear that his desire failed within the academic world and internationally. Even today you can’t find a great deal of research about Yumeji Takehisa and his name doesn’t ring a bell for the vast majority of art lovers internationally. Therefore, even in death “there is no salvation” for Yumeji Takehisa despite producing many stunning pieces of art. In time, it appears that apart from art lovers within Japan that his art will “not even become a shadow.”

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

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com 

http://moderntokyotimes.com 

July 13, 2012

Kagoshima Governor supporting the nuclear restart wins the election: Nuclear hype in the media

Kagoshima Governor supporting the nuclear restart wins the election: Nuclear hype in the media

Walter Sebastian, Hiroshi Saito and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

The mass media keeps on telling the world that the majority of Japanese individuals are against nuclear power. However, the recent victory for Governor Yuichiro Ito points to the reality that the nuclear issue isn’t the main concern for the majority of Japanese people. Therefore, despite the hype it is clear that the “nuclear option” is viable just like it was for the past few decades. Also, with the increased imports of energy hitting the Japanese economy hard it is clear that more and more individuals will put the economic well being of Japan first.

After the tragic events of March 11, 2011, related to the brutal earthquake and tsunami which unleashed the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the media spin is often anti nuclear. In fact, major agencies all over the world appear to “pick statistics out of thin air” when stating that the vast majority of Japanese citizens reject nuclear power. Yet clearly the election in Kagoshima, just like other elections, doesn’t back up this “alleged theory.”

In various elections held in Japan it is clear that individual politicians who support the resumption of nuclear power have won. Also, even when politicians won who may be against nuclear power, they were elected not on this reason but related to other factors. Therefore, despite the media hype and other negative postures towards nuclear power it is abundantly obvious that this issue isn’t the main focus for the vast majority of the Japanese electorate.

It also must be stated that over 19,000 people died because of the tsunami which destroyed so many places in the Tohoku region and surrounding area along the coast. On the other hand, the death total with regards to nuclear power remains to be zero. This isn’t to underestimate the seriousness of radiation in areas close to the stricken nuclear facility. The same applies to the local fisheries community and towns within the 30km zone which have been hit hard. However, it isn’t the Armageddon which was pictured by many articles during the early period of the crisis.

Not only this, if you visit Fukushima prefecture you will notice that the commercial capital in Koriyama is thriving. Similarly, while “some media agencies appear to have an agenda” this isn’t helping the local economy in Fukushima prefecture. After all, tourist numbers have been down despite gradually increasing in recent months.

Therefore, for individuals who are concerned about the livelihoods of people in Fukushima many have visited the tourist attractions to over compensate for people who have been manipulated by “false reporting” and over-hyped statements. Indeed, if individuals visit beautiful places like the Urabandai region in Fukushima, then clearly the stunning aspect of nature is a clear reminder that the vast majority of Fukushima prefecture is open to the business and tourist community.

Turning back to the Kagoshima gubernatorial election then Governor Yuichiro Ito was elected for the third time to continue to run this part of Japan at the local level. Yuichiro Ito supports the restarting of two nuclear power stations providing the new safety mechanisms have been firmly put in place. His challenger, Yoshitaka Mukohara, desired to block the return to nuclear energy in this prefecture and then scrapping the nuclear reactors in the future.

However, the vast majority of people selected Yuichiro Ito in Kagoshima despite all the media hype about nuclear power. Individuals elected him based on many factors which were unrelated to nuclear power and this is the point. Even if an individual wins who is anti-nuclear, it doesn’t imply that this was the reason why they were elected. Likewise, if individuals are selected because they support the resumption of nuclear power, it also doesn’t imply that the vast majority of people voted for this individual based on supporting nuclear energy.

The real issue for the majority of Japanese people is economics and not the nuclear issue. Therefore, Yuichiro Ito was elected on the grounds that he is restoring financial health to Kagoshima.

Some politicians, celebrities, the mass media, and so forth, are hyping the anti-nuclear issue because of their own agenda. Yet just like in Tokyo when anti-nuclear demonstrations are highlighted in the media – it is clear that on the very same day more people will be shopping for fashion items in stores throughout major fashion areas. After all, while the “nuclear issue” is important for anti-nuclear individuals despite the tsunami killing more than 19,000 people and nobody dying from the nuclear crisis, it is clear the majority of people are voting with their feat.

 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

July 13, 2012

Tokyo Fashion and lifestyle in Daikanyama and Ebisu

Tokyo Fashion and lifestyle in Daikanyama and Ebisu

Kanako Itamae, Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Daikanyama and Ebisu in Tokyo are notable for fashion and the lifestyle angle is richly appealing because despite being located in a notable part of this city, the refinement angle is a huge pulling power. Tokyo lifestyle in smaller quaint districts like Daikanyama, Jiyugaoka, Shimokitazawa, Hiroo, Nakameguro, and other sophisticated areas are highly desired. Therefore, despite the fashion angle belonging to all the above, it is clear that each area caters for a nice lifestyle irrespective if single, families, expatriates, students, age group, and so forth.

The fashion angle to Daikanyama is known to be hip, stylish, independent, and where creativity flourishes. The closeness to Ebisu and other adorable areas is another major pulling power. After all, Ebisu is blessed with lovely department stores and the layout is relaxing. The environment within the Yebisu Garden Place complex is a must place to visit because of the European architecture and open spaces.

For fashion lovers you have Mitsukoshi Department Store and Atre Department Store in Ebisu. In both stores you will find exquisite boutiques, lifestyle stores, and other amazing shops. Also, the eating area in Atre Department Store is not only elegant and stylish but the food is extremely delicious. Therefore, many shoppers like to relax in this lovely environment which is extremely refreshing.

Boutiques in Atre Department Store include Salon de la Trinit’e, Papill Onner, Allureville, N.Natural Beauty Basic, ENCHAINMENT UNI point de mignon, Lock Your Hearts, and so many other amazing fashion stores. Atre Department Store is extremely individualistic and on the seventh floor you have a cultural angle. Within the same department store you also have many scrumptious cake shops.

Likewise, in Mitsukoshi Department Store you have exquisite boutiques and many crème de la crème companies selling sophisticated products. Mitsukoshi in Ebisu is also extremely innovative and the location is richly rewarding because this fantastic store is located in the Yebisu Garden Place complex. Therefore, individuals visit for kid’s apparel, lifestyle products, fashion, Art products, shoes, beauty and relaxation, bags, accessories, food and you also have relaxing places to enjoy quiet moments over a delicious drink. After visiting this adorable department store you can then soak up the environment of Yebisu Garden Place.

In Daikanyama you have a delightful “European fashion district” and you also feel the same European influence at the Atre Department Store in Ebisu. This lovely feel about the place means that fashion lovers in Tokyo adore Daikanyama and Ebisu which share the same environment. Also, the independent feel to fashion in Daikanyama is most appealing and when fused with the “European fashion district,” it is easy to understand why this part of Tokyo is highly regarded.

Therefore, fashion stores like Evisu, Hollywood Ranch Market, Via Bus Stop, Actus, Silas and Maria, Loveless, Tsumori Chisato, APC, Arigato, Alfredo Bannister, Hemisphere, AS, and a host of other lovely boutiques, attract fashion lovers from all over Tokyo. The layout of Daikanyama is also nicely designed in the fashion area and you have many places to wine and dine in Daikanyama and Ebisu. This means that both districts appeal greatly based on lifestyle because within minutes of the busy areas you have lovely suburbs.

In Ebisu you also have the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and Beer Museum. Overall, the lifestyle is extremely appealing and for Tokyoites it is clear that both Ebisu and Daikanyama are extremely popular. The closeness to each other and to other districts like Hiroo, Nakameguro, Roppongi, and central Shibuya is also another major pulling power.

 

http://trinity-corp.net/

http://www.allureville.com/

http://www.mammina.co.jp/

http://n.naturalbeautybasic.com/

http://www.palgroup.co.jp/

http://www.atre.co.jp/shiten/index.php?scd=1

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

July 13, 2012

Mount Takao-san in Tokyo is an ideal place to visit

Mount Takao-san in Tokyo is an ideal place to visit

Olivier LeCourt, Hiroshi Saito and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Japanese tourism is internationally famous because of many different angles. This applies to the rich traditions of Japanese culture which can be found throughout this nation. Therefore, images of the Japanese tea ceremony, kabuki, ukiyo-e, Buddhism, Shintoism, Japanese gardens, kimono and other traditional clothes, onsen, sumo, Japanese calligraphy, martial arts, haiku, and a host of other intriguing aspects are conjured up in the mind.

Likewise, images of Tokyo and major cities like Osaka remind people of ultra-modernity, state-of-the-art-technology, skyscrapers, and various modern cultural angles related to cosplay, maid café, kawaii culture, anime, manga and a wealth of other areas. However, within Tokyo you also have stunning mountains in and around Mount Takao. Therefore, for Tokyoites and tourists alike, the mountain scenery of Mount Takao is a welcome escape from the buzzing reality of modern Tokyo.

Another major aspect of Mount Takao is that the mountain range is blessed with many religious dimensions. Therefore, during your walking time you will often notice special holy places. This aspect of Mount Takao means that individuals will find an inner-peace based on the natural scenery which is extremely stunning. At the same time, the religious dimension provides a spiritual re-awakening for individuals who have lapsed from religion and the same applies to individuals who may be atheist. This doesn’t imply that people will suddenly find spirituality. However, people can’t fail to notice the religious dimension which blends naturally with the environment.

The cultural aspect of Mount Takao is extremely special and the natural reality of Shintoism means that faith and nature meet naturally within this unique religion. Given this reality, the power of the past remains spiritually alive within the natural world despite the different centuries ushering in more technological progress. Also, despite all the technological progress it is clear that the stunning scenery of the countryside can’t be matched because of the natural potency of nature.

The historical legacy of Mount Takao is also very important because Emperor Shomu ordered the building of the Yakou-in Temple in 744. This rich legacy enabled the religious angle to develop to a greater degree and provided a strong historical lineage to be cherished and honored. Therefore, since the eighth century you have had countless number of pilgrims and non-religious people who have visited Mount Takao because of the cultural and religious dimensions of this part of Tokyo.

In another article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “During your visit you will see a statue of “Tengu” and Tengu is believed to be a deified man who mastered ancient mountain worship. Tengu is noticeable by having a long nose but the undercurrents of ancestor worship, Shintoism, and believing in the spirit world of the mountain is striking……mythology and a wisdom now lost is symbolized by the image of Tengu.”

“From an outsiders point of view Tengu reminds me of a mixture of human form and nature whereby the individual was at one with the mountain that he loved and therefore was deified.”

Mount Takao is protected by the Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park therefore it is a place where wildlife can escape the onset of continuing developments. For Tokyoites who visit regularly, then this stunning place is a way of escaping all the stresses of modern life. Meanwhile, hikers will enjoy the various contours of Mount Takao.

Therefore, Mount Takao is a very special place to visit and it is protected by the Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park. This stunning part of Tokyo is a reminder that the old world is still alive and ticking. Also, despite the modern reality of Tokyo you still have a magnificent mountain range on the edges of this fabulous city to explore and enjoy.

Mount Takao is extremely therapeutic. Therefore, tourists, religious people, romantic couples, individuals seeking refreshment, photographers, school children, artists, culture vultures, and so much more, will find this adorable place deeply refreshing.

 

http://www.takaotozan.co.jp/takaotozan_eng1/  – Mount Takao-san

http://www.japan-guide.co  – Mount Takao-sanm/e/e3029.html

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/tokyo/takaosan.html  – Mount Takao-san

Takaosan-guchi Station via the  Keio Takao Line

http://moderntokyotimes.com  (please visit)

July 13, 2012

Tokyo fashion and tourism in Harajuku and Omotesando: Meiji Jingu to fashion

Tokyo fashion and tourism in Harajuku and Omotesando: Meiji Jingu to fashion

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

In 2012 the Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku (Omohara) opened for business and this vibrant new shopping complex which caters for fashion highlights the dynamics of Harajuku and Omotesando. This applies to new fashion styles, major changes related to architecture, fresh thinking, and other powerful dynamics. Therefore, Omohara, just like Omotesando Hills, is continuing with this fresh approach but the beauty of the entire area is that Harajuku and Omotesando remain to be distinctive.

Fashion tourism is increasingly growing in Tokyo and this applies to both individuals who reside in other parts of Japan and to international tourists. Powerful fashion areas like Aoyama, Harajuku, Ginza, Shibuya, and Shinjuku, are internationally famous to individuals who adore fashion. The reasons behind this are various and extremely dramatic because this applies to refined boutiques to kawaii culture and a host of other fashion trends.

However, for first time visitors to Harajuku then clearly you have many dimensions to this stunning part of Tokyo which flows naturally into Omotesando. One major attraction is the Meiji Jingu shrine which is a stunning Shinto religious place of worship. The grounds are enormous and the natural flow of nature and Shinto is enshrined by the beautiful design and landscape which works magically together.

Therefore, the Meiji Jingu is a must place to visit in Tokyo because individuals can contemplate in the spacious surroundings and enjoy the adorable garden. Also, the freedom of the Shinto faith is a rich blessing because you don’t have any restrictions on dress sensibilities, no overt missionary work, and of course Shinto and nature are embedded together. Given this, the stunning architecture of the main religious area blends naturally with the environment. The various walks within the grounds are also very therapeutic and it is easy to forget that you are in central Tokyo. If you are lucky, then you may witness a wedding, special event or see Shinto holy people walking around in unique dress styles related to their faith.

Another amazing aspect of the Meiji Jingu is that just outside the main gate you will often see young adults dressed in amazing outfits. This applies to Lolita fashion, cosplay and other unique trends which can be found in this part of Tokyo. Therefore, within seconds people pass from the world of new fashion vibes and daring styles to the uniqueness of the Shinto faith. However, because of the laidback nature of Shintoism everything seems natural.

Within minutes of leaving the main Harajuku Yamanote train station you either enter the world of religion or the world of fashion. Of course, for tourists, they will enter both worlds and enjoy a nice walk in Yoyogi Park. Turning to the fashion angle, then the Takeshita-dori is extremely busy because so many youngsters who adore fashion and the subcultures of Harajuku visit this place. Indeed, for young Tokyoites it is “a rite of passage” and the same applies to young people visiting Harajuku from surrounding prefectures which include Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama.

The beauty of Harajuku and Omotesando is that the Takeshita-dori is a million miles away from the fashion vibes of the main street which connects these two amazing fashion districts. Therefore, the youthful nature of the Takeshita-dori, kawaii culture, Lolita fashion, mainstream fashion, casual fashion, exquisite styles, and so much more, can be found within the same environment. Given this, within minutes you enter different fashion zones and styles and the same applies to the architecture. Also, the backstreets of Harajuku going towards Shibuya and similar backstreets in Omotesando are laden with casual fashion companies and independent and daring boutiques.

Omotesando Hills on the main street which connects Harajuku and Omotesando is blessed with fantastic boutiques. The architecture of this shopping mall is also very stylish and inside you have a mystical feel about the place because of the layout and lighting. Exquisite boutiques follow naturally inside and this applies to Adore, Anterpima, Apartment Department, Betsey Johnson, Black Fleece, Escada Sport, iliann leob, Kiwa Sylphy, Martinique Le Conte, Milly, Tiara, Oriental News, Patrizia Pepe Firenze (Incontro) Tour H. creer (Merveille H.), Tracy Reese, Yves Saint Laurent, and Zara.

If you visit (http://www.omotesandohills.com/english/ ) the website of Omotesando Hills then you will note that you have many companies inside which cater for lifestyle and beauty. A partial list of companies related to this angle includes Createur Reveal (nail salon), hair make Pas de deux (hair salon), le bois (spa and beauty treatment), M.A.C. (cosmetics), and shu uemura beauty boutique (cosmetics).

Another recent angle to Harajuku and Omotesando is the new Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku complex which highlights fashion and other angles related to the area. The nickname of this place is Omohara and not only is this mall blessed with sophisticated boutiques but also you have a nice garden and places to sit outside. Omohara links both Harajuku and Omotesando together therefore the name Omohara is most suitable.

Inside this elegant building you have many exquisite boutiques and various different fashion trends. Fashion companies located within Omohara applies to The Shel’tter Tokyo, Charms, American Eagle Outfitters, Minnetonka, Laboratory Work ReCurrent, Pink Trick, Rady, Rione Doras, Juge ETTA, Loaves, Phoebe, Roomy’s, Amo’s Style by Triumph, Tommy Hilfiger, Cheek by Archives, Choosy Chu, Glam Baby, Flag, Goa, Humor Shop by A-net, and Jewelna Rose.

Also, within Omohara you have lifestyle stores and places to relax and enjoy your shopping experience. The rooftop observatory is also a real delight and clearly this attraction is extremely appealing. Therefore, Omohara, Omotesando Hills and Laforet Harajuku are collectively creating a real buzz and vibe. This buzz and vibe continues within independent boutiques like 6%DOKIDOKI throughout both fashion districts and this is what is so special about Harajuku and Omotesando. Simply put, the amazing diversity and creativity of both districts is not only a gem for Tokyo but it is also “an international fashion gem” for all fashion lovers.

Laforet Harajuku (http://www.laforet.ne.jp/is an iconic store alongside Shibuya 109 and Marui One in Shinjuku. Within Laforet Harajuku you have a plethora of diverse boutiques which cater for many different styles. Laforet Harajuku just like Shibuya 109 is “a rite of passage” for fashion lovers in Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures. Boutiques like Deicy, Topshop, Nomine, Lowrys Farm, and so many other amazing boutiques can be found in this fantastic fashion zone.

Harajuku and Omotesando are must places to visit if you adore Japanese and international fashion. The independent spirit of companies like 6%DOKIDOKI to the buzzing casual scene in the backstreets is a real treasure. Similarly, mainstream fashion and exquisite styles can be found in so many stores and fantastic shopping malls. At the same time, the Meiji Jingu is a reminder of “the spiritual dimension” to this lovely part of Tokyo providing individuals seek solace. Overall, both districts are extremely special and collectively they provide a fantastic destination to visit.

 

http://www.meijijingu.or.jp/english/ Meiji Jingu Shrine

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3006.html Meiji Jingu and other tourist information

http://omohara.tokyu-plaza.com/en/  Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku (Omohara)

http://www.japanforum.com/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=2    (Harajuku fashion)

http://sebastianz.jugem.jp/?eid=508     (personal blog of Sebastian Masuda)

http://www.dokidoki6.com/    (Please visit this fashion website of 6%Dokidoki) 

http://www.metrocity.nl/tokyo/streetfashion/harajuku-fashion/

http://www.omotesandohills.com/english/  Omotesando Hills Shopping Mall

Partial list of stores in Omotesando Hills

http://www.laforet.ne.jp/en/harajuku.html Laforet Harajuku 

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/

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/10/14/tokyo-fashion-omotesando-hills-and-adorable-fashion-in-tokyo/ 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://www.moderntokyotimes.com

July 13, 2012

Pierre Bonnard and Japanese art: powerful thought patterns of Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard and Japanese art: powerful thought patterns of Bonnard

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Pierre Bonnard was born in 1867 in France which was one year before the Meiji Restoration in Japan. His father had hoped that Bonnard would become a barrister but clearly Bonnard was destined for the art world. In the early 1890s Bonnard met the enigmatic Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and throughout this decade his art would develop greatly.

Bonnard stated that “The artist who paints the emotions creates an enclosed world… the picture… which, like a book, has the same interest no matter where it happens to be. Such an artist, we may imagine, spends a great deal of time doing nothing but looking, both around him and inside him.” 

In 1890 it is reported that Bonnard truly came into touch with Japanese art despite first admiring this art form from the late 1880s. From this point onwards the richness of Japanese ukiyo-e remained within his artistic soul. Therefore, Bonnard would collect Japanese art throughout the rest of his lifetime. It must be stated that Japonisme (Japonism) was in vogue in the later part of the nineteenth century within powerful artistic circles. However, the first notable period of the growing influence of Japanese art within the Western artistic consciousness can be traced back to the 1860s. In saying that, the development of Japonism was exceptionally powerful in the last three decades of the nineteenth century.

Other artists who adored Japanese ukiyo-e includes Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre Auguste-Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Mary Cassatt, and many other artists including James Abbot McNeill Whistler. Therefore, Bonnard was following in the footsteps of many artists outside of Japan who fell in love with the rich traditions of ukiyo-e.

Bonnard stated that “Painting has to get back to its original goal, examining the inner lives of human beings.” He also commented that Art will never be able to exist without nature” and that “You cannot possibly invent painting all by yourself.”

Bonnard was a member of an important artistic group during the most formative years of his art. This group was called Nabis which means prophet in the Hebrew language. Other significant members of Nabis include Maurice Denis and Edouard Vuillard. The artists within this group were inspired by new thinking and approaches to art. Therefore, a more personal and extremely decorative style was “set in stone” within an abstract style which was most rewarding.

The nickname of Bonnard highlights the power of Japanese ukiyo-e because he was called the “le Nabi tres Japonard.” It is clear that this nickname was cherished by Bonnard because it means “the ultra-Japanese Nabi.” His art studio also was further evidence of the power of ukiyo-e because individuals who visited him noted paintings by Hiroshige, Kunisada and Kuniyoshi.

Bonnard like Paul Gauguin and other notable artists was a deep thinker. He commented to Henri Mattisse that‘I agree with you that the painter’s only solid ground is the palette and colors, but as soon as the colors achieve an illusion, they are no longer judged, and the stupidities begin’ — stupidities, such as worrying about the correctness of a reflection?”

If “a reflection” of the art work of Bonnard is going to be focused on then the “reflection of Japanese art” can’t be ignored. Of course, just like the Nabi group and his deep thinking towards art, no single event or artistic movement can describe Bonnard. He was a free thinker during his youth and clearly Japanese art was one aspect of this rich artist who was blessed with amazing artistic skills. Likewise, the influence of Paul Gauguin and Stephane Mallarme, who was a Symbolist poet, entered his consciousness but Bonnard was never interested in following any concept which constrained his approach to art.

Bonnard stated that …when I and my friends adopted the Impressionists’ color programme in order to build on it we wanted to go beyond naturalistic color impressions – art, however, is not nature – We wanted a more rigorous composition. There was also so much more to extract from color as a means of expression. But developments ran ahead, society was ready to accept Cubism and Surrealism before we had reached what we had viewed as our ami…In a way we found ourselves hanging in mid air…”

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art responds to the above comment by stating that “Thus, the irony was that Impressionism was both a starling point and a trap for Bonnard. Yet it is acknowledged that Bonnard was not hostile to modern developments in art, rather he simply absorbed what he needed for his own experiments with color and form. As a result, Bonnard is in some ways a deceptive artist because his experiments were far more radical than one may realize at first glance.”

This article provides a brief glimpse into the importance of Japanese ukiyo-e for Bonnard. However, it is hoped that individuals will be inspired by the beauty of his art and the thought-patterns which meant so much to Bonnard.

http://www.sbmadocents.org/Collections/European%20Collection/Bonnard.html

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

June 25, 2012

Kanzashi in Japan being utilized for many fashion styles and occasions

Kanzashi in Japan being utilized for many fashion styles and occasions

Hiroshi Saito, Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Edo era witnessed the real growth and power of kanzashi in Japan despite aspects of the roots being traced back all the way to the Jomon period. Japanese artisans increasingly utilized new innovations throughout the Edo period and this enabled greater sophistication which enhanced the power of kanzashi. Also, the ukiyo-e art movement blossomed throughout the same period and many famous artists highlighted the beauty of Japanese women. Therefore, the visibility of kanzashi was witnessed within many Japanese traditions.

Today in the modern world the concept of kanzashi is equated with beauty, sophistication, stunning artistry, and within traditional dress styles of Japan where hair ornaments enhance the beauty to another level. However, modern day kanzashi is easily available and extremely cheap providing you shop around. Therefore, the degree and sophistication of kanzashi varies enormously and this applies to price mechanisms, quality, dress-style, purpose, and so forth.

Kanzashi is also very flexible when it comes to different age groups and the same applies to utilization. This means that you can witness kanzashi on the streets of Harajuku (Tokyo), Namba (Osaka), Ikebukuro (Tokyo), and throughout trendy fashionable areas in Japan. Alternatively, kanzashi can be witnessed in the most refined areas of Japan where sophistication and tradition remains powerful.

It did appear that kanzashi would be marginalized in Japan once modernization began to flourish. After all, the changing nature of Western hairstyles, dress, music, and other important areas, meant that new approaches to beauty and dress were in full sway throughout the twentieth century in Japan. The earlier root of modernization belongs to the Meiji era but clearly further developments throughout the following century would alter the landscape of Japan.

This meant that kanzashi was becoming marginalized and mainly connected with Japanese high culture and traditions. Therefore, kanzashi became equated with the world of geisha, high culture, traditional weddings, Japanese tea ceremony, and other important aspects of Japanese culture. In a sense, it is true that kanzashi still remains powerful within cultural traditions in Japan but today the development of kanzashi continues to spin in many directions.

After all, kawaii (adorable/cute) culture within the dress style angle does enable kanzashi to flourish because of the natural beauty and concept of this thinking. Of course, kanzashi is not part and parcel of kawaii culture but it is an angle which is utilized by individuals who adore the fashion side of this movement.

Another major development of kanzashi is that today you can find fashion conscious individuals all over the world being fascinated by this Japanese cultural angle. Therefore, the power of the “old world” and high culture in Japan is a huge pulling power internationally. At the same time, the influence of kawaii culture, maid café, animation, and other major themes within Japan are also being transmitted to a greater international audience. Of course, kanzashi isn’t naturally linked to animation but the cultural power of Japanese anime/manga means that younger individuals all over the world are being drawn into learning more about Japanese culture. Also, in some anime you will witness kanzashi and it just highlights how this medium is spreading into new directions.

In an earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “Of course nothing remains static because purest kanzashi is based on gold/silver plated metals, tortoiseshell, lacquered wood and silk – but in the world of accessible fashion and accessories then kanzashi is also being made by using plastics and other materials.”

“Traditional makers of kanzashi remain loyal to the firm foundations of this fashion piece in Japan and international makers also desire to maintain the high culture aspect and rich artistry of kanzashi.”

The power of kanzashi is that it can be utilized to highlight mainstream fashion accessories, high culture, alternative fashion, festivals, and within many areas of traditional Japanese culture. Therefore, kanzashi can be seen in many aspects of modern life while also being powerful within rich Japanese traditions. The same also applies to the price mechanism and quality of individual kanzashi hair ornaments. For this reason, kanzashi continues to thrive and develop within Japan and internationally.

http://www.atelierkanawa.com/#!tsumami-kanzashi

http://www1.odn.ne.jp/maya/english/enknshop.htm

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

June 25, 2012

Japanese art and history: Kano Eitoku and cultural impact of Oda Nobunaga

Japanese art and history: Kano Eitoku and cultural impact of Oda Nobunaga

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

In modern Japan the importance of Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) and his legacy remains extremely strong even today. After all, he laid the foundation stone for the future centralized Japan despite certain limitations during the Tokugawa period. However, often the more dynamic side of Oda Nobunaga is neglected and instead the focus is on his military prowess and cruelty. Therefore, the linkage of Kano Eitoku with Nobunaga is most illuminating.

Eitoku was one of the most prominent and highly respected artists of the sixteenth century in Japan. He was born in 1543 and died eight years after Nobunaga in 1590. Yet the linkage between the artistic mastery of Eitoku with Nobunaga provides a different angle and one which may have been hidden for political and religious reasons.

Nobunaga was an innovator but sadly his inquisitiveness and openness to international influence would be crushed by following leaders. In time the Tokugawa period (1603-1868) would condemn all converts to Christianity to death and isolate Japan from the world despite some “windows” staying open. The power of Buddhism would be utilized by the state and Confucian order would lead to greater stratification.

This was a far cry from Nobunaga who lifted major economic restrictions on the peasantry, had favorable relations with Christian preachers, modernized the military, and introduced other favorable reforms in the realm of economics. The political intrigues of Buddhist elites who desired to preserve their power concentration were alarmed by Nobunaga. This notably applies to his favorable policies towards the peasants and Christian missionaries. Indeed, Nobunaga is reported to have had little time for stratification and practices which held back progress. He remained to be an atheist but his brother converted to Christianity. Not surprisingly, this alarmed Buddhist elites which feared that their wealth may be challenged by peasant reforms and a competing religion.

If you click on http://www.buddhanet.net/nippon/nippon_partI.html this website the most notable feature is the anti-Christian and anti-Nobunaga bias. It is stated by Buddhanet and Japan Buddhist Foundation that“When Oda Nobunaga overthrew the military government of Ashikaga in 1573, he actively suppressed Buddhist institutions because he feared the increased power of the leading temples and monasteries which sided with his enemies. He favored the newly introduced foreign cult of Christianity for purely political reasons.”

Note that the usage of “foreign cult” could also be stated about Buddhism because this faith wasn’t born in Japan. Also, for the non-religious then all religions could be deemed to be “cults.” However, the most important point is that for hundreds of years you have had massive negative opinions about Nobunaga in certain quarters. Therefore, much of his openness and innovation was hidden by elites who feared the policies of Nobunaga. After all, his fresh thinking alarmed many traditional elites whose only desire was to maintain their power concentration.

In the field of the arts the role of Nobunaga was very important and it is in this area where the connection with Eitoku materializes. This applies to Eitoku being a patron of Nobunaga and other powerful leaders. Even before Nobunaga amassed power and wealth he was always interested in the arts.

Therefore, during the period of Nobunaga a cultural renaissance was also beginning to take shape. This applies to major gardens of stunning beauty being built along with castles which were blessed with rich architectural designs. Indeed, the Azuchi Castle which is located on the shores of the famous Lake Biwa is deemed to be one of the most beautiful castles ever built. Inside, this castle it was adorned with stunning ceiling paintings by Eitoku and other major areas of art related to high quality statues.

Nobunaga also used his innovation in relationship with the Japanese tea ceremony.  Also, the usage of the Japanese tea ceremony during talks about business, trade, and politics were firmly established under Nobunaga and reached a new dimension within the body politic of Japan. Therefore, Sen no Rikyu who was a famous tea master under his rule had an important cultural part to play in developing greater refinement. At the same time Nobunaga was also intrigued by aspects of European culture therefore he collected Western art and studied other areas.

The first Christian church to be built in Kyoto in 1576 was because of Nobunaga’s patronage. While the first steps of modern kabuki began to materialize under his leadership and during the Tokugawa period this important cultural symbol would flourish. Alongside all these innovations Nobunaga had hoped to install a rational political system which moved away from superstition and stratification. This can be seen by his openness to outside ideas and economic policies which enabled trade to flourish, for peasants to have greater freedom and the same applies to artisans. However, his period in power could not fully implement all the reforms that he had desired. Therefore, in time you had a counter-revolution in the realm of ideas which persecuted Christianity, isolated Japan, infringed on the rights of peasants, and whereby traditional power mechanisms once more stifled many areas of life.

In an earlier article about Eitoku and Nobunaga by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “Eitoku was born in Kyoto and clearly he belonged to a prestigious family because he was the grandson of Kano Motonobu (1476-1559). Therefore, with the guidance of his grandfather and with being blessed with such talent, which had been recognized when Eitoku was a very young child, he soon came to prominence and patrons like Nobunaga loved the richness of his style.”

“The influence of Chinese painting styles was clear and this was only natural for the day and clearly Motonobu was very proud of his grandson. Eitoku maintained the pre-eminence of the Kano school which was founded by Kano Masanobu (1434-1530?).

Eitoku is a reminder that despite all the carnage during the period of Nobunaga, the cultural realm remained strong and art was highly valued. Therefore, despite the passages of time Eitoku stills remains potent in modern day Japan because he produced many stunning art pieces.”

Eitoku like Nobunaga left a lasting legacy despite the reasons being very different. However, without the patronage of Nobunaga then the amazing skills of Eitoku would have been hindered on a national scale. The relationship between both individuals highlights the sophistication of Nobunaga and the mastery of Eitoku and his stunning pieces of art.

Nobunaga was much more than just a warlord because he helped many aspects of Japanese society to flourish. In the field of culture and art his legacy is extremely rich. Therefore, the artwork of Eitoku provides a glimpse into the world of Nobunaga and his unbelievable free spirit.

http://www.kyohaku.go.jp/eng/tokubetsu/071016/tokubetsu.html  Kyoto National Museum

http://www.all-art.org/asia/japanese_prints/japan_art2.html 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com 

http://moderntokyotimes.com