Things Japanese Part I: Traditional Culture

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Kassandra
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Things Japanese Part I: Traditional Culture

Post by Kassandra »

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Image
A typical doll display created each year for Hinamatsuri ("Doll Festival," or "Girl's Day"), which is
celebrated in March.



For the Japan-o-philes out there: I have opened this thread where you could post your favorite Japanese things of a more traditional nature (pre-World War II), including but not limited to:

* Movie reviews (or links to whole videos of movies!) about samurai, etc.
* Your favorite traditional Japanese clothing, like kimono, geta, etc.
* Aspects of classical literature (The Tale of Genji, etc.)
* Aspects of classical theater (Noh, kyogen, kabuki, etc.)
* Aspects of classical visual art/music (painting, shakuhachi, koto, ikebana, tea ceremony, etc.)
* Pre-World War II Japanese history
* Japanese language information ( kanji, hiragana, etc.)
* Japanese anthropology information (the Ainu culture, etc.)
* Swordsmanship info (for example, show us your cool katana collection, or the cool katana collection you'd love to own if you could ever afford it)
* Japanese martial arts information (Aikido, karate, etc.)
* Japanese folklore and religions (Shinto, Buddhism, indigenous shamanism, onmyouji, gods/goddesses, etc.)
* Matsuri (festivals!)
* ...and any other traditional Japanese stuff you like that's not listed above

Enjoy.

(For things modern see http://everythingunderthemoon.net/forum ... 26640.html)



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Kassandra
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Koto Music with a Modern Twist

Post by Kassandra »

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phpBB [video]

A koto "orchestra," lol. Couldn't decide whether this should go in the modern Japanese culture thread,
since it's a song by Tool, or to include it in this thread, since it's about using a traditional instrument.
I think the hakujin (white person) with the dark hair and short sleeved shirt is the owner of the YouTube
channel this is on, and also the organizer of this event. Also featured on his channel are selections from
Chinese guzheng performances. The guzheng is one of several instrumental predecessors to the koto.
Enjoy, ne?!


Here is the what the poster wrote about this video (see the "About" page of his YouTube channel):

I arranged Tool's 'Lateralus' for 8-piece koto ensemble. Here's the first performance, by Soemon in Tokyo, 11/27/09. Check out the rehearsal version video as well. Kazue Sawai was in the audience at this performance. I'd like to dedicate this one to my oldest friend Eric, who first introduced me to 'Lateralus.' The first 6 steps and the 15th step (6=1+5) of the Fibonacci sequence for the numbers 0 and 1 feature prominently in the structure of this piece: (0-1) -1-2-3-5-8-13-21-34-55-89-144-233-377-61­0-987

This is reflected, for example, in the rhythm of the second section, 9/8-8/8-7/8, 987 being the 15th step of the sequence, as well as in the structure of the 3rd section. While the underlying rhythm of this section is 5/8 (the 6th step of the sequence is 5+8=13), the lead melody progresses back and forth through a series of phrases of length 0 to 13, again the first 6 steps of the sequence plus the root numbers, separated by pauses of length 1 to 5, the 1st 4 steps of the sequence. Together the melody phrases and rests form the image of 2 interlocking spirals. The lyrics of the song at this point also reflect the mathematical structure, the first words being 'black then white,' i.e. 0 and 1. The lyrics later in the song make use of extensive spiral imagery.

In my arrangement I tried to incorporate this element of the original composition as much as possible. There are 8 instruments in the group, 6 koto and 2 bass koto. The 6th step in the sequence is 13, which is the number of strings on a koto. The 2 bass kotos together have 34 strings, 34 being the 8th step of the sequence. In the first 9/8-8/8-7/8 section the 8 players are subdivided into 2 groups, one of 5 and one of 3.

The groups play the 9/8/7 figure 3 times, with a variation in the 3rd iteration subdividing it into 3=2+1. The 2nd time through the 9-8-7 figure the groups themselves subdivide into smaller groups of 3+2 and 2+1 for 2 iterations before subdividing again in the 3rd iteration (3=2+1 again). There is so much more, but, as the lyrics in the 4th section say, "Over-thinking, over-analyzing separates the body from the mind." It rocks, and that's all that really matters.





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Kassandra
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Buddhist and Shinto Ancestor Altars of Japan

Post by Kassandra »

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Ancestor altar - emilyrambles-wordpress-com.jpg
Buddhist ancestor altar. Names of the ancestors are written on the
two rectangular black plaques inside the altar. Buddhism was impor-
ted into Japanese culture from mainland Asia by Buddhist missionaries,
and is not native to Japan. The construction of this altar reflects
Korean and Chinese craftsmanship and design, and these types of
altars can cost many thousands of dollars each.


Photo source: emilyrambles-wordpress-com.jpg

Shinto ancestor shrine.jpg
Shinto ancestor altar. Natural materials are valued in the Shinto path
(contrast the raw wood of this altar with the "finished" wood of the
Buddhist altar, above). The white paper things hanging from the rope
represent lightning bolts. The rope and paper thing itself is called a
shimenawa, and whenever you see one somewhere (around a tree, at
the foot of a mountain, etc.) it represents a sacred space in nature.





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Vervain
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Vervain's Kimono Pics

Post by Vervain »

I have some of these up in the creative corner, but this seems to be a good space to show these photos:

Image

Image

Image

Image

I'm still not as good as I would like to be at tying my obi, but I'll get there.

There are more here: http://iwantlovely.blogspot.com/2014/01 ... -this.html

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Kassandra
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Kimono Pattern

Post by Kassandra »

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Vervain, thanks for sharing those pics. Did you know that kimono are super easy to make? They look like they may be complicated, but it's just a bunch of rectangles sewn together. I made a casual (unlined), hip-length one to wear around the house, in about two hours.

Here's a cultural twist I just thought about: a "magical" kimono made of fabric with (silk-screened?) Nordic runes on it. That would be interesting, and probably quite beautiful!



Click to enlarge:
kimonopattern  II.jpg
kimonopattern.jpg

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-Dark-Moon-
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Dark Moon's Japan Memories

Post by -Dark-Moon- »

Like so much of Japanese design, the kimono embodies the propensity for beauty through simplicity which is in itself genius. Kimonos remind me of Kyoto, as if you were lucky you might catch a glimpse of a Geisha fluttering by on the street. i loved the temples there, and the giant indoor Buddha at Nara. I had a Maiko dance for me once and do a tea ceremony In Kyoto. how do the Japanese make such simple things so beautiful and graceful. Japanese ladies made me feel so clumsy in comparison, even though I am quite small myself.

Being in Japan each time was one of the most favourite things I have experienced. I lived next door to a temple in Takanawa in Tokyo, and I used to spin my firestick in the temple grounds in the snow sometimes, and they didnt mind. Some of the kimonos I used to look at in Ginza in Tokyo when I worked there were so beautiful. It's amazing to see how simple they are to make.
I am that which is attained at the end of desire

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Kassandra
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Re: Dark Moon's Japan Memories

Post by Kassandra »

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Thanks for sharing your Japan memories, Dark Moon. You got around to a lot of the spiritual places there, which comes as no surprise to me, given your depth of interest in, and knowledge of, things spiritual. Yeah, even modern Japanese women do that modest, hand-over-the-mouth thing when they laugh. My mom used to do that. I just guffaw American-style. hehe


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Vervain
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Re: Kimono Pattern

Post by Vervain »

Kassandra wrote:.
Did you know that kimono are super easy to make? They look like they may be complicated, but it's just a bunch of rectangles sewn together. I made a casual (unlined), hip-length one to wear around the house, in about two hours.
I'd love to see the one you made!
I did know that, actually, but thanks for sharing!--I was planning on doing an honors thesis on the Japanese-Western cultural exchange, and I used to be a fashion major, so I was going to do a small fashion collection as part of my thesis. That fell through, but I still have some BEAUTIFUL gray silk lying around just waiting for me to embroider white rabbits in the snow on it... I'm just so terrified of messing up, I haven't started. Japanese embroider is so complicated and I don't know what I would do if I ruined the fabric... :'(

shatteredsouls
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Re: Dark Moon's Japan Memories

Post by shatteredsouls »

You make me feel like visiting Kyoto. If I'm there, would like to visit the temples, visit a geisha place (??) if I can then I want stay in a traditional Japanese house and wear their kimono! :D

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Kassandra
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Japanese Ghost Stories of the Weird and Strange

Post by Kassandra »

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Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai
百物語怪談会

Translated Japanese Ghost Stories and Tales
of the Weird and the Strange


Visit: hyakumonogatari.com/
Oyuki.jpg



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Kassandra
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Geta on Pinterest

Post by Kassandra »

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http://www.pinterest.com/georget99/japanese-geta/

There's a Pinterest for the oddest of things, like all things geta (?!), haha. When I was a kid, my mom brought me back a pair from one of her trips to Japan. I used to love walking in them. I still own a pair which I wear on special occasions, like the Obon festival in Fall.
Geta.jpg




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shatteredsouls
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Japanese Gardens

Post by shatteredsouls »

Image
Photo Credit to charlesmann

I found a book that features beautiful Japanese gardens so I became curious about this aspect.

Japanese gardens
Many thanks to Daniel Isaacs for this excellent article on Japanese gardens.

Above all, Japanese gardens demonstrate the Buddhist influences that were brought into Japan in 612; Ono-no-Imoko, an emissary from Japan, visited China and was able to absorb enough of the Buddhist way of life to recreate it once he returned home. At this time, gardens in Japan were solely created as religious representations of various beliefs - which established a comfortable common ground with the Chinese Buddhists.

Every element of a Buddhist garden bursts with religious significance; pathways lead to enlightenment, whilst the soil represents the fertility and nurturing nature of Buddha's mind. Nonetheless, whilst some of the Buddhist ideas were adopted in Japan, it was not to be at the expense of the ancient Japanese religion, Shinto.

It has always been firmly believed that the two religions, Shinto and Buddhism, are able to coexist in harmony; rather than separate each other the two religious intertwine. This fusion of religion has been widely demonstrated in Japanese culture; reflected within the foundational design of Japanese gardens.

Information from : insidejapantours.com/japanese-culture/japanese-gardens

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Kassandra
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Re: Japanese Gardens

Post by Kassandra »

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Thanks for the excellent share, shatteredsouls (and I think that pic would make beautiful computer desktop wall paper).



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shatteredsouls
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Re: Japanese Gardens

Post by shatteredsouls »

Definitely, Kassandra! The book I saw is about decorating your garden in the japanese style so they have many 'wow' pictures of japanese gardens. They're really beautiful and zen. Unfortunately, I do not own a house yet...

I wonder if japanese gardens are easy to maintain...

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Lord_of_Nightmares
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The Japanese Language

Post by Lord_of_Nightmares »

I don't know if I ever was Japanese in a past life. I just love China and Japan, especially Japan. I have a deep affinity for it. I love the language too. I use the terms mazoku and yokai, all the time. I love how polite you can be in Japanese, it is so difficult in English compared to Japanese.
I am the Earth, The Sun and the Stars
And I am the also the Moon
I am all animal and birds,
And I am the outcast as well, and the thief
I am the low person of dreadful deeds,
And the great person of excellent deeds
I am Female. I am Male and I am Neuter.
- Devi

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