Tag Archive: Japan
In Japan, the hobby of kite flying has risen to an art form. Kites, or “tako,” were originally brought to Japan from China by Buddhist missionaries in 649-794 AD. Kites were mainly used for religious events and celebrations, but the innovative Japanese also found a way to use them in the construction of shrines and temples. Large kites were used to lift building material such as tiles to workers on scaffolds and roof tops.
During the Edo Period (1603-1867) when Japan distanced itself from the outside world, kite making flourished. New styles and designs were created, usually depicting characters of Japanese folk lore or artwork with religious meaning.
Kites at the Himeji Kite Festival. | cotaro70s
The Giant Kites of Sagami
One of Japan’s spectacular kite festivals, the Sagami Giant Kite Festival, is held annually on May 4 and 5 at various regions in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Large kites of Sagami, called “Sagami-no-Oodako,” are flown with the help of a team of skilled kite flyers. Just to get the kites up in the air takes much effort. These giant kites can measure up to 14.5 meters in length and width, weigh 950 kilos, and are made of bamboo and Japanese paper. It is a breathtaking sight to see these enormous artistic creations flying about the sky.
Sagami Giant Kite Flying Festival. | chaojikasu
Interesting tidbit: The longest flight of a traditional large kite was in 2001 when it stayed in the air for 6 hours, 7 minutes, and 55 seconds.
Taimeiken Kite Museum
During your KCP stay in Japan, learn more about the history of Japanese kites by visiting the Taimeiken Kite Museum (Tako-no-Hakubutsukan) in Tokyo. This fascinating museum is a spectacle of vivid colors and gorgeous designs, with about 3000 kites on display from floor to ceiling in the showroom. The collection varies from regular bamboo flyers to the more exotic dragon-head kites.
Location: 5th floor of the Taimeiken Restaurant, 1-12-10 Nihonbashi, Chuoh-ku, Tokyo 103-0027. Hours open 11am-5pm, Mondays to Saturdays, with 200 Yen admission fee.
236 kites in flight, at 300 meters long. | tjsander
Lonely Planet Japan, 12th Edition
Spring is here, and with it unfurls new life. Young leaves wave in the cool breeze and flowers bloom in colorful profusion. You can bring the essence of spring into your home, or give it to a loved one, by creating lovely origami flowers that will never wither.
Like most origami designs, the difficulty of making origami flowers depends on your paper folding skills and patience. Here are three how-to videos on making origami flowers. Some may be more difficult than others, but all are equally gorgeous.
Origami roses | fdave
A classic favorite. You can use regular red paper for your origami rose, or combine different hues and shades to create a colorful bouquet.
click image or: http://youtu.be/NjEVM0UNrdw
Origami Lotus Flower
In Buddhism, the lotus flower symbolizes purity of mind, body, and speech. In Asian culture, it represents perfection and grace. Lotus flowers are also just plain beautiful, even as origami.
click image or: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfMGjjW4avc&feature=fvst
Tulips are elegant and immediately bring cheer to any home. This video shows you how to make origami tulips, easily.
click image or: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3564V8laRzo&feature=relmfu
See KCP’s other origami posts here, here, and here.
Kamakura (鎌倉市) is a city about 50 kilometers south of Tokyo. It was the seat of the Shogunate and the Regency during the Kamakura Period (1185–1333). It is surrounded by Sagami Bay on the south, and hills on all other sides, which provided Kamakura with natural fortification and made it a formidable stronghold. Before modern civilization brought about roads and tunnels connecting it to other cities, Kamakura could only be reached by land through artificial passes. The seven main passes were called Kamakura’s Seven Entrances.
KCP students often visit Kamakura during culture classes. It has several ancient historic sites that illuminate Japanese culture and beliefs as seen in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. One example is the Sugimoto-dera, founded in the year 734 according to temple records. Another is the Kōtoku-in temple with its enormous outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha, one of Japan’s most famous icons. The city is also home to the Five Great Zen Temples, the “Kamakura Gozan.”
Students Pose with the Great Buddha statue at Kamakura| KCP Flickr
Kamakura has several festivals and events throughout the year to celebrate the heritage of the city and its people. A visit to Kamakura is truly an eye opening experience!
At the Kamakura bamboo forest | KCP Flickr
Last weekend, Tanaka-san and Kato-sensei, English support class teachers at KCP, led the winter term students to experience Kamakura for the U.S. culture class trip. It was surely an unforgettable visit for everyone.
Getting ready for the Kamakura Trip | KCP Flickr
KCP Winter Term students take a break with some snacks | KCP Flickr
KCP International is offering a summer course on Intensive Japanese Language and Anime and Manga. A highlight of the course is a tour of Toei Animation Studios!
Toei Animation Co., Ltd. (東映アニメーション株式会社 / Tōei Animēshon Kabushiki-gaisha), in operation since 1956, is one of the oldest and largest animation studios in Japan. It is responsible for the creation of numerous television series and movies adapted from various Japanese comic books from well-known manga artists such as Masami Kurumada, Akira Toriyama, Go Nagai, Shotaro Ishinomori, and Naoko Takeuchi.
Toei Animation building | t-miki
Some of the popular TV series Toei Animation has produced are Go Nagai’s Mazinger Z, Mahoutsukai Sally (the animated manga adaptation of Mitsyteru Yokoyama’s creation, and the first magical-girl anime series), Dragon Ball Z, and Sailor Moon. The contributions of Toei Animation are widely recognized worldwide. Its works have been recipients of the Animage Anime Grand Prix award for Galaxy Express 999 in 1981, Saint Seiya in 1987, and Sailor Moon in 1992.The many anime series created in Toie Animation Studios have set the standards for Super Robot anime for many years.
The Panda and the Magic Serpent, Toei vintage video (1958) | Z-Grade
Toei Animation Studios is situated in Higashi-Oizumi while the company’s headquarters is in Shinjuku, right in the center of Tokyo (and handy to KCP). The production process of Toei Animation takes pride in practices from its mother company’s traditional beliefswhere the director is responsible for the whole episode, from drawing the story boardsto overseeing the sound effects and voice-over.
The studio boasts of having state-of-the-art digitized technology that you have to see to fully appreciate. The tour will give you valuable insights in the world of anime, where the characters of a story are given just as much emphasis as the storyline. It’s a great way to learn more about the inner workings of Japanese anime!
Sailor Moon Trading Cards | Chris Fritz
Application for the KCP summer language and anime/manga course closes March 27. So don’t delay—apply now.
If you are a fan of the nightlife, head off to Roppongi (六本木), a district in Tokyo known for its vibrant and bustling night scenes. The Roppongi district is located in Minato, Tokyo, and is where several foreign embassies can be found. It is also the location of the luxurious mega-complex Roppongi Hills.
The name “Roppongi” means “six trees”. One popular belief is that it refers to the six ancient and huge zelkova trees that used to grow in the area. Another theory is that six daimyo (territorial lords) with the kanji for “tree” or a kind of tree in their names used to live in the area.
The Roppongi area and nightlight gained popularity in 1890, when numerous soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army were stationed near the area. The Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and air bombing raids during WWII destroyed much of Roppongi but it was later occupied again, this time by the U.S. Army and Allied government officials.
Club Edge, Roppongi | simonglucas
Roppongi became a hip disco destination for both Japanese and foreigners in the late 1960s, and big names in the entertainment business could be found rubbing elbows with other elites. Although the night scene suffered a major setback after 1989’s market crash and resulting recession, it was brought back to life when Roppongi Hills and Izumi Garden Tower were built.
Roppongi Hills is one of the largest property developments in the country and draws in countless visitors every year. It is composed of shops, offices, apartments, museums, theatres, parks, a major TV studio, high rises, cafes, and many other enticements.
One of its most famous landmarks is the Mori Tower, a 54-story high rise that houses the Mori Art Museum, the Tokyo City View (which offers a spectacular panoramic view of Tokyo), the Mori Arts Center Gallery, and the offices of Google and The Pokémon Company, among many others.
Mori Tower, Roppongi Hills | kevin Dooley
Business and Art in Roppongi
Roppongi is well-known for its night clubs, cabarets, bars, strip clubs, and various forms of entertainment. Yet, it is also a significant business district and is the base of many international companies such as Ferrari Japan, Yahoo! Japan, Credit Suisse, and Goldman Sachs. Art and cultural buildings are also located in Roppongi, including the spectacular National Art Center.
National Art Center | DanDeChiaro
Many people who visit Tokyo are not aware of the places seldom visited by tourists. These places are usually overlooked yet can be interesting areas to visit. They somehow tell us more about the culture and ways of a country.
Ochanomizu Station | kanjiroushi
Ochanomizu is a neighborhood in Tokyo that not many tourists know about. Its name means “tea water.” The Kanda River runs through Ochanomizu, and during the Edo period it’s where residents in the area got their water for tea. Ochanomizu is a treasure trove of instrument shops, ski and snowboard shops, and other sports shops, as well as the St. Nikolai Russian Cathedral. It won’t be difficult to get a good deal on anything you need in this area. Ochanomizu stretches from the Yushima section of Bunkyo-ku to the Kanda section of Chiyoda-ku.
Mandolin and guitar store in Ochanomizu | eyeonjapan.com
Several universities have main campuses in Ochanomizu: Meiji University, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, and Juntendo University. The neighborhood is bustling with students. The JR and Marunouchi lines conveniently pass along Ochanomizu Station and provide easy access for anyone wanting to visit the area.
Ochanomizu is a picturesque district. Most universities are located in Meidai Dori Avenue. The musical instrument shops are also along this street. The sports shops are situated along Yusukuni Dori. The St. Nikolai Russian Orthodox Cathedral is on Hongo Dori Avenue near the Hijiribashi Exit of JR Ochanomizu Station.
Nicholai-Do, the main Japanese Orthodox Church | Matt Perreault
St. Nicholas of Japan (Ivan Dmitrievich Kasatkin) introduced Eastern Orthodoxy to Japan in the 19th century and continued efforts to convert many Japanese people in a time when it was prohibited by the Japanese government. He was the first bishop of the Japanese Orthodox Church. The headquarters was moved to Tokyo in 1863 and in 1886, the Japanese Orthodox Church had more than 10,000 converts.
Ochanomizu offers it own unique quintessential character that makes it worth a visit in the less-well-known facets of the Japanese culture and history.
Learning a second language is essential in gaining an advantage in the competitive world of business. Many of the top colleges and universities in the U.S.A. recognize the advantages of this. Thus, they encourage young American students to pursue a foreign language.
Tokyo metropolis with Tokyo Tower| KCP Flickr
Furthermore, learning a new language, especially in that country, is an eye opener and a life-changing experience. The study abroad experience can be a defining moment in a student’s life no matter how long the stay in that country.
Some of the advantages of pursuing a study abroad education: it contributes to personal growth since you must learn to negotiate another culture, the inter-cultural knowledge gained helps shape future global leaders, and it contributes to overall academic and career advancement.
Many young Americans recognize the wealth of Japan’s popular culture and its role as a driving factor in anyone’s career, especially those involving politics or economics. This is evidenced by the upward trend in American students choosing to study and learn Japanese.
KCP students and the buddha | KCP Flickr
Japan is the third largest economy, after the U.S. and China. For any student interested in international business, technological advancement, trading in the Pacific Rim, getting ideal background knowledge on business practices, learning a rich culture and so on, Japan is a prime destination. Its capital, Tokyo, is an ultra-modern city diverse in population and rich in culture. It is full of shrines, temples, museums, and other historic sites. Its many thrilling attractions, vibrant nightlife, and the biggest concentration of educational institutions make it arguably the best place to learn about Japan’s language and people.
KCP students enjoying Hanami | KCP Flickr
For anyone with a thirst to discover the world, gain valuable perspective, and achieve personal growth, studying in Tokyo, Japan is the answer.
For more information, you can check out these sites.
Many people say that Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world. That is true, unless you know the many fun things you can do for free.
1. Feast on free food. Hungry? Get your fill of free food samples at the basement food halls in almost all of the major department stores in Tokyo.
2. Play video games non-stop. Check out all the newly released video games and consoles at Yodobashi, Bic Camera, Ishibashi or Sakuraya. There are also other places that set the mood for all-day free gaming like X-Box Café in Omotesando and the Sony design center in Ginza.
3. Revel in the beauty of the city at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (TMGB). The 45th floor has two free observation decks that allows you majestic views of Tokyo and Mt. Fuji. TMG Office is open from 9:30am to 5:30pm (7:30pm on Sundays).
View from TMGB No. 1 | ksuyin
4. Be entertained at Yoyogi Park. Sundays at the park will give you free outdoor concert entertainment from live bands, street performers, and other performing artists. Aside from the live entertainment, you can take a relaxing stroll in beautifully manicured lawns of the park.
Yoyogi Park | Jun Takeuchi
5. Marvel at the Imperial Palace and East Garden. Situated in the center of Tokyo, the palace groundsares enclosed by stone walls and moats. The beautiful gardens are open to the public for free from Tuesday through Thursday. You can also book a free tour of the inner grounds.
6. Discover your spirituality at the shrines and temples. Many of the Shinto and Buddhist temples around Tokyo are free. Each weaves a story of its own, written in the age old artifacts that are displayed within their walls. Some of the more popular are Meiji Shrine in Shibuya, Zozoji Temple located near Tokyo Tower, and Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.
7. Join in the fun at the Harajuku District. Experience Japanese pop culture and see cosplayers dress up as famous anime, manga, and other popular comic book characters. Sundays are the busiest and liveliest times to visit.
Cosplayers in Harajuku | ehnmark
8. Fiddle with the latest gadgets at Akihabara. This is the place to check out all the latest gadgets in Tokyo. See and play with all the high-tech gadgetry you can get your hands on, from the newly released game consoles to huge flat screen televisions and digital cameras.
9. See the catch of the day at the Tsukiji Fish Market. For early birds who are up at 4:30am, witness the fish auction at 5am-7am Mondays through Saturdays. Here you’ll find the freshest seafood in all of Tokyo.
Sushi stalls at Tsujiki Fish Market | James Trosh
10. Visit a sumo training hall. Sumo wrestling is one of the most popular sports in Japan. There are more than 50 sumo training halls or stables all over Tokyo. If you come early you can watch sumo wrestlers practice and train.
Aside from enjoying all the free sights, there are still more things you can enjoy for free, such as samples, magazines, and tissues. Tissue packets are given out for free almost everywhere. Tokyo classified magazines are free from Tower Records in Shibuya, and some of the branches of McDonalds in Ginza will give out free refills, useful for a long day ahead.
Noh or Nogaku (“talent,” “skill”) is the oldest traditional form of Japanese musical drama, performed since the 1300s. A Noh performance combines drama, dance, poetry, and music. Noh actors were usually all male and wore masks. All-day performances consisted of five Noh plays plus the shorter, comical kyōgen plays. Now, Noh is usually composed of one kyōgen play between two Noh plays.
Noh masks | sigusr0
Noh performances are codified using the iemoto system, which is a Japanese term that refers to the founder of a Japanese school of traditional art. Noh evolved from folk art forms such as Dengaku and Shirabyoshi.
Noh was initially performed only for the Japanese aristocracy. During the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), Zeami Motokiyo and his father Kan’ami, both actors and playwrights, established the Noh theater of today. It became a popular form of entertainment for all social classes during the Edo Period. Noh has greatly influenced other theater performance forms such as Kabuki.
Noh performance | raichovak
Noh combines elements of Shinto, Buddhism, and minimalism that have been refined through generations. Noh performers rehearse as a group only once before the start of the show. Otherwise, they practice individually with the assistance of a senior school member. A performance does not rely on just one actor, but rather on how they interact and connect as a whole during the show itself. It follows the aesthetics of transience embodied in the saying, “one chance, one meeting.”
Noh theatre workshop | Fusion Youth Theatre
The Noh plays are identified by theme and categorized into five types:
Kami mono – a mythic story that depicts the worship of a particular deity. The first act portrays a human who transitions into a deity in the second act.
Shura mono – a warrior play with a shite, or main character, as a ghost in the first act. He becomes a warrior wearing full battle gear and depicting his death scene in the second act.
Katsura mono – a women’s play where the shite is a female persona. It showcases the most sophisticated dances and songs of Noh theater.
Kyōran mono (madness plays), Onryō mono (vengeful ghost plays), and other miscellaneous plays – there are about 94 kinds of plays that cannot be categorized.
Ori mono (demon plays) and kiri mono (final plays) - the shite performs as demons or goblins in bright colors. Usually tense and fast-paced.
The National Noh Theater of Tokyo (in Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku) stages Noh plays about 16 performance usually lasts 6 hours. English-speaking audiences are given a one-page explanation of the plot.
Noh stage | Mike Raybourne
Kabuki is one of Japan’s classic theatrical arts known for its dramatization of the conflicts of human emotions in ordinary life. Kabuki is interpreted as “the art of singing and dancing.” The term is further said to have come from the word “kabuku,” which means “to be out of the ordinary.” Hence, this dance-drama is further interpreted as “bizarre” or avant-garde” theater.
Fuji Musume| chrn
Kabuki was more popular among common people than with the upper social classes in Japan. It dates back to 1603 when Izumo no Okuni, who was believed to be a miko or “shrine maiden” in one of Japan’s ancient Shinto shrines, performed dances in the riverbeds of Kyoto to dramatize a story. Decades later, in the Edo Period (1629-1673,) women were prohibited from performing and yarō kabuki (cross-dressed male actors) took on the female roles. The Genroku era (1673 -1841) was the golden age of kabuki. During this time, Japan encountered many changes, including opening its doors to the West in 1868. This influenced Japanese culture and kabuki itself. Kabuki plays gained structure and developed important style elements.
Kabuki exhibit at Edo-Tokyo Museum | Ali San
Kabuki plays explored such sentiments as love, moral conflicts, and historical events. Actors speak in monotones and are usually accompanied by the shamisen, biwa, and other traditional Japanese musical instruments. The rotating stage is known as kabuki no butai. It is built with trap doors that allow the players to suddenly appear and disappear. Footbridges called hanamichi, built to lead actors through the audience area, are another trademark of a kabuki stage.
Kanamaru-za traditional kabuki theater | Yoshikazu Takada
Presently, kabuki is one of the most popular traditional dramatization styles that considers Japanese culture. Many of the modern kabuki actors extend their skills beyond theater and also appear in film and television
Several kabuki performances are held in Shinbashi Enbujō (Shinbashi Playhouse or Shinbashi Theater) in Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood, as well in the National Theater in Miyakezaka.
Kabuki-za, Tokyo’s premier kabuki theater| Maru fish