Japanese reflections on a visit with Hokusai

On Saturday, February 8th, our Japanese Plus group had a special day outside the classroom. First we went to the Freer Gallery of Art to visit the very special exhibit, “Hokusai: Mad About Painting.” We are so grateful (again) to good friend of the program, Robin Berrington, who was our extremely knowledgeable and interactive docent. Then we walked across the Mall and into Chinatown – we were only allowed to speak Japanese the whole time! Last stop was the National Portrait Gallery, where we stopped by a painting by Japanese American artist, Roger Shimomura. Then Eshita-sensei asked students to write about their day – again, in Japanese. A fun challenge!

Cyrus サイラス

今日クラスでフリアーサックラーにいきました。 フリアーサックラーはびじゅつかんです。ツアーをしました。北斎のえを見ました。きれいとおもった。ぼくのすきな北斎のえは「Storm Personified」です。らいじんとしんとうがすきですから、おもしろかった。

Aeris エリス

フリアーサックラーにいきました。ロビンさんは私達のガイドでした。ツアーはとてもおもしろかったです。北斎のえはかんぺきでした、たしかに北斎はよくがんばったとおもいました。びじゅつ学校に入っていますから、本当にたのしかった。ロビンさんはとてもじょうずなガイドでした。私の一ばん好きなえはおしょうがつの女シリーズでした。スタイルはじょうひんだとおもいました。もう一回見に行きたいです!:D

Theo シオ

フリアーでとあるひとのれきしをみました。ツアーのあいだにほくさいさんのえはかわって、もっとうつくしくなりました。あのさいごのえはわたしのいきをとりました。あのいろとかげがとってもすばらしかった。

ツアーもすばらしかった。そしてロビンさんはちしきがありすぎました。ロビンさんからいろいろならえました。そして、わたしはたぶんひとりでもっとべんきょうします。つまり、たのしかったです。もういちどいきたい。

Jonah ジョナ

ほくさいはほんとうにゆうめいです。私の一ばんすきなえはらいじんです。ロビンはいいガイドです。ぜんぶのほくさいのえは、かっこいいです。

Jazmin ジャズミン

ふじがすきです。

みずがいちばんすきです。

ほくさいのまんががすきです。でも今のまんがはわかりません。

Katie ケーティー

ほくさいはおもしろいです。Gazing into the Distanceがいちばんすきです。ふじと男の子があります。きれいでくろいです。

Lucca ルカ

大きいびじゅつかんにいきました。このびじゅつかんはオバマのえがあります。私は2018ねんにみました。すごいですよ。日本のえもあります。日系アメリカ人がかきました。すごいけど、かなしいです。

みんなは三十分ぐらい日本ごではなしてみました。今日はさむかったですから、たくさんの人はコートをきました。でもジョナくんはコートがありません。みんなはほんとうの木をみました。この木はすごく大きいです。びじゅつかんのえもぐこし大きいです。そして、きれいでうつくしいですよ。

みんなはほくさいのびじゅつかんにいきました。ほくさいは日本のゆうめいながかです。ほくさいのえはほんとうにすごいですよ。そしてとてもちがいます。

 

Cleanliness

By Katie Nguyen

In Steve John Powell and Angeles Marin Cabello’s article on cleanliness, called “What Japan can teach us about Cleanliness,” the authors talk about how Japan keeps their streets and buildings clean and it surprises me how this is their everyday norm. In Japanese schools, kids are required to clean their classrooms and empty out the trash to keep it pristine as they have no janitors to do the job. They even leave their shoes in lockers and change into trainers to avoid picking up dirt as they come into the school. Also, on Japanese streets, there are no trash bins, yet people don’t litter.

The awesome seven-minute Shinkansen train-cleaning ritual video, provided in the article, shows how workers are able to clean and check at least 400,000 passenger seats in 7 minutes. You have to watch!

Japanese football players’ supporters in the World Cup football tournament, in Brazil and Russia, even stayed to help pick up trash from the stadium.

In addition, these are some other things Japanese do to maintain a clean place: bringing portable ashtrays, wearing surgical masks to avoid spreading germs, ritual purification in shrines, and many more. Compared to the US, American schools have janitors to clean classrooms and students are able to walk in without having to change shoes. Furthermore, you can see trash on the streets and sidewalks, even though there are trash bins almost everywhere in the US. In my opinion, America should really step up their game and start picking up trash to keep our streets clean so that maybe someday people too can question how we keep our streets clean like in Japan.

Here’s a link to the original article so you can read it yourself: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20191006-what-japan-can-teach-us-about-cleanliness

Tale of the Crane

By Katie Nguyen

The Tale of The Crane is a story about how a man saves a crane that was about to be killed. Soon after, a beautiful young woman comes to the man’s house for a night’s lodging. She later marries him and reveals that she was the crane who the man had saved. So she then promises him a long and prosperous life and returns to being a crane and flies away. This story illustrates how doing good deeds will be later rewarded. This handscroll was made in the Edo period in the early 17th century and was created by ink, color, gold, and silver on paper.

The reason why I decided to choose this artwork from our visit to the Freer was because it reminded me of a vocaloid song, originally by Rin Kagamine & Len Kagamine, called “Seasonal Feathers” sung by Youtubers Lyrratic and SirHamnet. The song is based on The Tale of The Crane, however, the ending is different. In the song, after the man saves the crane and gives her a place to stay, the crane falls in love with the man and was scared that the man would not love her and abandon her because she was a crane. During the summer, the man grows ill while working in the fields, but does not have enough money to buy medicine and cannot earn any more because of his illness. The crane decides to weave cloth to sell, however, she uses her own feathers to make the cloth. The two eventually died later, the crane from overworking and the man from his illness, and it is revealed that the man knew that she was a crane all along, but had still loved her for who she was.

Check out the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0dvRMnmN2w

Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan

By Katie Nguyen

In Tokyo, Japan, there are many things to do. Kim Dao, a youtuber who does makeup, fashion, and lifestyle videos, made a video about 100 things you should do/visit in Japan. In her video, she lists many places in Tokyo like Omoide Yokocho, or “Memory Lane,” an alleyway with small restaurants and bars to go back to what Tokyo used to be; Shin-Okubo, a Koreatown; Akihabara, electric town of Tokyo with lots of electronics and anime based stores; and many more.

All of the place she lists are very cute and interesting and I would really love to go to all the places she mentioned if I ever had the chance. A lot of places are purely based on your interests, whether it would be anime based or about culture, like many shrines, festivals, and Japanese food. It amazes me how Tokyo is really spaced out and open, even though it can be crowded at most times. I can’t even imagine what it would be like in Japan. In DC, it is mostly compact, while in Japan there is a lot of space and many stores featuring a lot of anime merchandise.

This video really got me thinking about where I should go since I never really thought about what I would do in Japan. Places where I would like to go/do is capsule hotels; Shibuya109, a Japanese fashion mall; Akihabara, electric town of Tokyo; Omikuji Fortune, a fortune teller in Asakusa; Gachapon, a store of capsule toy machines; the Ghibli Museum; Don Quijote, a discount chain store for Japanese goods; Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest temple; Sukiyaki, Cup Noodle Museum, exploring, even if I get lost, and many others. I highly recommend watching Kim Dao’s video if you want to know what to do in Tokyo, Japan, or if you are ever planning to go to Japan. Tokyo is it, and it is a great place for tourists to explore.

You can watch Kim Dao’s video for yourself here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYSMJ-lM2t0

Photos are from the video.

Katie’s Final Reflection

By Katie Nguyen

Food etiquette in Japan has greatly influenced my life as it has made me more respectful when eating at the table. Things like coughing or sneezing, sticking your chopsticks into rice, passing food, etc. is rude to do at the table. Coughing or sneezing is understandable, you wouldn’t want somebody accidentally spreading germs onto your food when coughing or sneezing, and is considered bad manners. Instead you should step out to do so or just hold it in till you are by yourself or if you were finished.

Sticking your chopsticks into rice is extremely rude as it is practiced in funerals. When I learned about this, I was reminded to never do this. However, my sibling has done it once, but it was slanted, however my dad got really mad at him for doing so. Passing food seems harmless, right? WRONG. Passing food was also practiced during funerals but instead of using food, they used bones.

Furthermore, in Japan, they also use different styles when eating like saying “itadakimasu,” meaning “I greatly received” (food), before you start eating as a way to show respect for the cooks who made your food.  After finishing, they say “gochisousama deshita,” meaning “thank you for the feast.” Finishing and clearing your food is also considered to be good style. If there is food that you don’t like, then you should tell your server to remove them in advance.

For drinking, you shouldn’t start drinking unless everybody has their drink and the glasses are raised for a cheer, “kampai!” When drinking alcohol, you should let others pour your drink or vice versa, because it is customary to serve each other. Some restaurants allow you to be drunk as long you don’t bother other customers; however, in high end restaurants, it is considered bad manners. If you don’t drink alcohol, then you can refuse to drink and ask for other non-alcoholic beverages instead. All of this made me aware of what to do when eating and gave me some future references if I ever wanted to go to Japan, like when I ever go drinking or eating with friends or co-workers.

Opening Ceremony

By Katie Nguyen

The National Cherry Blossom Festival opening ceremony at the Warner Theater on March 23 was amazing. My favorite part was the Sailor Moon Live show. Me loving musicals made it even better, even though I have never watched Sailor Moon before. Their costumes were spot on and were able to choreograph perfectly too. I loved the details on every character, even the background dancers as well. I was surprised at how they can dance with heavy clothing and still put on an awesome performance.

My second favorite part was when Ikuko Kawai ensemble played Tale of Genji. Ikuko Kawai played so powerfully and with deep emotions that she had me speechless and entranced into her music. Her dress and her makeup were also beautiful and the way she played was also captivating.

My third favorite part was Yusaku Mochizuki, or Mochi; he was spectacular with the way he presented his juggling and the background image/video as well. He timed his juggling perfectly and made it seem like the diabolos were actually moving the background, if that makes sense. I also like how he created a story just by juggling his diabolos and how he had music to go along with it.

Overall, the opening ceremony was phenomenal, even after we had left and I had gone back home, I was still super excited about it.

Amezaiku Candies

By Katie Nguyen

Amezaiku is a Japanese candy craft artistry made from a sugar that is made from rice or potato starch. It is heated to about 90 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The artist must then put their hands in the mixture, the mixture must not be too soft or too hard, and the artist must bear the heat it gives off. The artist then shapes the mixture onto a stick and can use tools such as traditional Japanese scissors, called “Wa-Basami” or “Nigiri-Basami,” paint brushes, and food coloring to shape and paint the candy into a figure. Amezaiku candies are usually formed into an animal so that they can appeal to children.

Here are some people making Amezaiku:

https://youtu.be/g6FosltlFoo

https://youtu.be/SfyBMG0XSk0

https://youtu.be/wkLKb2Ebvdw

Amezaiku was first introduced during the Heian period as an offering for temples in Kyoto; in the Edo period, it became widely available. However, although it has been passed down for many generations, it has started to be in decline. One of the artists, Shinri Tezuka, at 27 years old, is one of the youngest people still practicing making amezaiku. He was self-taught and makes lots of animal amezaikus, like gold fishes, frogs, octopuses, and many more, hoping to inspire the next generation of candy crafter to keep the tradition alive. This makes me feel really disappointed that such a beautiful piece of artwork is in decline, because not a lot of people want to make amezaiku, although they are so fascinated about it. If you are ever in Japan and want some amezaiku, please go to his store in Tokyo, Japan. You can also do workshops that teach you how to make amezaiku.

If you want some more information about this go to the website http://www.ame-shin.com/en/.