Thursday, May 19, 2011
10. Higher out from the cave
9. Warm solitude
Will never forget how my Russian friend literally jumped up and ran out from a little hotel bathroom with admiring exclamations like: “They even there take care of people?!”
8. Fashinister’s Joy
Wanna be “kirei” (beautiful) or “kawaii” (cute)? Add some stars, hearts, sprangles, flowers, smiles, dates, signs – anything you will have your imagination on for 3-5 minutes! With all their estrangement, Japanese people love to take pictures in purikura (from “Print Club”, the first trademark of instant photo booths in
) for memory of any eventJ Japan
6. Hilarious Japanenglish
4. On the guard of silence
3. Between Scilla and Haribda
Japanese people are often characterised as being too shy, reserved, indirect and dependent, so we, Westerners, are supposed to change our used way of communication. However, studying in
under American teachers’ tutoring, I have understood that we, Eastern Europeans/ Russians, are quite in between Asian and Western extreme attitudes and styles of communication. For example, it was kind of wild for me how informal the relationships between a student and a teacher occurred to be in the American system of education, and how fastidious to their teacher and free to argue everything American students are. Kansai Gaidai University
I would never think that eating, drinking coffee in the classroom, being half-class period late, coming to school in pyjama, calling a teacher with an authoritative tone might be considered okay. Hmm, in this case – I am happy to be in between American and Japanese systems of respect towards seniors.
2. “Panda” syndrome
No, it’s not a cute Asian bear – it’s a special term for both – us, foreign short-term exchange students and them – Japanese gaijin-hunters (excluding really devoted friends), wo behaves as if they are best friends forever, but in a real situation – it’s all cultural assumptions (rules of the game, learnt by both sides of communication, Befu). Personally I’m very bad at reading people, so my understanding of who is “panda” who is not has gone some stages. In fall, I thought that I had never had soooo many good friends, in winter, when everybody happened to be too busy to pay me that much attention; I’ve realized that I could hardly count my real friends on one hand’s fingers. But further, I looked around and found a great amount of nice people, and except that - a just right number of real best friends – from all over the world, by the way.
1. Different flaw of time – how so?
Trains are always on time; Japanese people are always extremely busy, only me – however hardly I tried, I am never on time. And it’s not in my nature, no-no. Before coming to
, I used to be before an appointed time all the time. What has happened to time? Well, anyways for now, while I’m late in Japan Japan – I have my personal justification: there are 5 more hours till our meeting according to the J Russian Federation
No doubts, there are thousands of things we should never get used to here, in magnificent, charming, moss-covered old and shining newly-built dear Japan. Keep encouraging yourself to find new tiny things to wonder and surprise every day – then our life will become richer of impressions, and our understanding of the world and each other will be smoother and lot of fun. Like I had for those 9 months in Japanese Paradise.
Last Sunday, when I went to Umeda (shop-district in Osaka) with my friend Miho from Tokyo – I bought very stylish to my mind glasses – a little bit reminding the fashion of the 60-s… Full of enthusiasm and this consumerist’s happiness of a newly-bought stuff, I ran into the lounge, full of my American and Canadian friends, expecting all kinds of those well-assimilated Japanese-like admire and exclamation kinds: “Kawaii!” - but I never got either oneL On the contrary, my endless, inspired by black-n-white movies affection to retro-fashion was critiqued utterly by my Western friends, while among my Japanese ladies of taste I managed to have success. Is the fashion (while being such an international thing) that much different between East and West too?
|you will hardly see this kind of jeans in Japan|
You may sign out, my pretty readers – of course, the fashion is very globalized and glocalized (borrowed but assimilated for a local culture) nowadays. However, it’s the understanding of beauty and modesty – what differs pretty noticeably here and there. I don’t want to sound orientalist (Edward Said’s unpleasant sense of this word) and create a fabulously different image of Japan, but the idea of beauty here is closer to what we, Westerners call “cuteness”, “prettiness”, while oversees – especially in the liberalized States – the beauty seems to be associated with words like “hot”, “sexy” and “seducing”… This idea might be proved by the scene we observe every day in KG - Japanese girls experience very many styles of clothing, but they are not tend to demonstrate their bodies the way Westerners used to do to attract sexually.
|Such loose and pale clothes reminds me of kimono|
The way I look at Japanese society, connecting every contemporary social issue with the traditional thinking from long ago might be annoying and banal, but I can’t get rid of the idea that loose, gentle, spring-like light shirts and one-piece dresses on girls and many-layered clothes on guys have something to do with kimono fashion, which is (thanks kamisama) still very much “alive” in Japan not only on special occasions, but subconsciously - in casual clothing as well. So, nothing is tight or too bright but modest and stylish is the first law of looking pretty here.
|Whole attention on boots, please:)|
Why are young men in
concerned about their appearance so much? They wear various kinds of pullovers, shirts (sometimes with funny signs in broken EnglishJ), shoes (oh, that’s the way the conquered my heart!) and a great deal of different kinds accessories. The material and colours often don’t differ from the girls’ ones, and actually strictly speaking, male fashion seems quite feminine – why? Is it the fault of overcaring and love from parents, called “amaeru” again? Japan
We don’t know. But the fact that the majority of them really cares too much about their appearance (even pull their eyebrows out and take care of a hairstyle almost all the time) might be saying about the collectivistic nature of the Japanese society. Okay, I’ll explain. When you put on pyjama to a school in the Western countries – you are talking for yourself only: I’m just out of bed, I’ve studied yesterday night too hard, I’m going to school to get knowledge but not to show off in a brand-new clothes, etc… While in Japan, whenever and wherever a Japanese person goes – he/she represents or his/her family group, or his/her school, or his/her club, etc – anyways, it’s closely-knitted island hierarchical society, just accept it.
Time to Throw the Rocks…
According to that table, Japanese young people have only some 4 or 5 college student-years for freely expressing themselves, without wearing compulsory dark and identical uniforms. Thus, however little they would think about their styles – it’s already great step to developing unique and independently-thinking identity, which is craved so much nowadays.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Finally, the spring is asserting itself, the Japanese freshmen gaidaisei (Kansai Gaidai University students) are occupying campus and CIE (Centre for International Education’s lounge), and the local shops have started selling sun-protecting hats and gloves…
So, one day I found myself sitting in the Japanese-styled garden on campus, observing Japanese couples billing and cooing now and then – and I asked myself what’s the difference in building love relationships between Japanese and Western attitudes?
The same day by mere chance my new project for the speaking Japanese class happened to be a real survey, we should make among 15-20 young Japanese students and present in front of other gaikokujin (foreign students) classmates.
Thus, my topic has been made up: “若い日本人のデート習慣“(“The Dating Habits of the Young Japanese”).
Where would they meet a partner-to-be in Japan? How do they usually express their affection? Would they consider their parents’ opinions about their complementary half? What is “cheating” for them? Those and other questions were asked to 18 students – both 9 men and 9 women. And here we go – let’s make conclusions together.
Vegetarians and of their ilk…
|borrowed from: http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2129343674521498001/2129344335621625403|
It’s quite well-known that they have two main types of daters in Japan – “vegetarians” and “meat-eaters”. If the first ones are shy, reserved, not able to hunt on a partner-to-be, then, consequently, those of the meat-eaters ilk are very enthusiastic, but at times noisy, fussy and annoying. So, as we see, both types clearly leave much to be desired. And the answers of my interviewees happened to be 50/50%: about 80% of girls identify themselves with vegetarians and 86% of guys – meat-eaters respectively. Here my courteous readers might think that the survey of mine is not interesting at all, but let’s not hurry with conclusions and be patient – what if my Japanese interviewees would lie to us first? Let’s see…
Where to find a Japanese love to live happily-ever after?
Oh, well… To start talking about the way Japanese people deal with their complementary halves, we need to find a subject of our affection, right? According to my 18 Japanese girl-friends, you may meet Him while walking along the street, or at some of your common friends’ parties (per 10% - each), but most likely – in your Kansai Gaidai or wherever you study (over 50%). As for our claiming themselves肉食系 (meat-eaters) guys – the circle of choice comes to nothing else but school acquaintances (78%) and sometimes – karaoke and party in big companies (about 10% each).
Thus, our conclusion #1: don’t expect from most Japanese guys to come in to a girl on the street or at the place, which is not overcrowded with your common friends.
How to express romantic feelings overflowed my heart, in Japan?
So, having succeeded (about to fall apart) in meeting our destiny, we should show how much we are glad to be together, right? By what means do they do it in Japan? My 6 Japanese male interviewees out of 9 found out that the easiest way to make their promised fiancées happy is to take them to some interesting place. And here, we, spoilt by Hollywood housewives movies would admire Japanese men being so romantic (Osaka sky-building, neko (full of kawaii cats)-café, USJ (Osaka’s Disneyland-like), etc.)…
But here I have to disappoint you – no flowers, no poems, no gifts without reasons, according to my Japanese female-friends. Actually, there is nothing to be surprised of, for there is nothing like Western knight culture of conquering a lady in Japan – so where would the romantic courtship tradition appear from? As for girls, 5 from 9 would make some obento (lunch-box) or “His favourite okashi (sweets)”, although there was one nice guy who would make onigiri (rice balls) for his girlfriend as wellJ. This girls’ answer could be explained very clearly too – Japanese culture dictates that a woman needs to cook, take care of a husband and kids and generally learn how to be a good housewife from a very young age.
be ready to meet a real samurai, so being a real geisha is strongly recommended
Do you listen to your parents’ opinion about the girl/guy, you’ve chosen in Japan?
The world today is globalized enough for such questions to be answered the same way in any country, you would guess, yawning and closing this page… But again no! Japan is not “topsy-turvy”, of course, but even my tiny research managed to show some striking difference. So, according to it, while girls would not talk (and actually listen) to their parents (and may be elder siblings as well?) that much (only 3 women of 9), 6 men out of our 9 super aggressive meat-eaters do depend on their elders’ opinion.
Conclusion # 3:
study the concept “amae” (to indulge kids, esp. men) (Doi, Nakamura) so that to understand this tight connection between parents and children in Japan, and you might find out the real origin of 菜食系 (vegetarians) men, who are springing up all over…
What is “cheating” for enamoured youngsters in Japan?
|borrowed from: http://ameblo.jp/chikurappo2/theme-10010846775.html|
The question of “cheating” and “being jealous” might be seen as a very interesting issue, especially, if studied along with the different views on touching in Asian and Western cultures. Anyways, without dipping so deeply, we’ve got 3 finalists, real meat-eater – who wouldn’t let their halves even just go out without them. Other 6 guys wouldn’t tolerate their lovers hugging and kissing someone else. As for the girls – there is only one very jealous lady, who considers just going out as cheating and wouldn’t give her partner enough space…
それにしても、concluding our survey, we have to admit that (although male representatives of Japanese society want to be seen as strong and independent samurai-like肉食系(meat-eaters), the modern reality demonstrates the opposite – a growing number of 菜食系…
Just to clear the issue up, this tendency might be connected with the rising number of strong women as well – even “dorama” (usually romantic Asian series) do kind of propaganda of a Western-like business lady or an independent in terms of relationships woman type.
The Japanese language gave birth to a lot of new words, supporting women’s “fighting-for-equal-rights-spirit” in the nowadays Rising Sun society:
otenba – in English “tomboy”, generally applies to healthy and active young girls; or, otoko-masari – a woman who is superior to men physically, spiritually, and intellectually…
Observing this whole situation with switching gender roles in Japanese society, we, Westerners might be thrown into the depth of despair for both – Japanese males and females, but what would the Japanese representatives say themselves? Personally, I am not sure that the country with a long tradition of careful treating everyone around would be very happy to raise a new generation to be so manly, aggressive, selfish and arrogant, as we are pretty often. So, may be it’s not so much of a problem to be loyal, quiet, obedient and nice?
|borrowed from: http://www.cinematoday.jp/page/N0012262|
Used and Recommended Resources:
1) the film "Japanese Tradition: Dating" (4 parts, downloaded from YouTube)
2) very interesting book - "The Japanese Mind", Rojer J. Davies, Osamu Ikeno (sold in KG campus bookstore, about 2000 yen, worth it :)
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Both – in sorrow and joy Japanese people gather together: to grieve about the victims of Eastern Japan Great Earthquake Disaster (東日本大震災, Higashi Nihon Daishinsai), happened exactly a month ago, on March, 11th, and - to celebrate the short 10-days sakura boom all over the Sun-Rising Paradise…
Whoever of my Japanese friends I would talk to – everybody’s equal in the opinion that the tragedy in Miyagi and Fukushima has made everyone join hands to encourage and stiffen the spirit of those who has lost their families, home, job and peace of their minds… And even living pretty far from Northern Japan, I had felt the united efforts of the whole Japanese nation wherever I would go: TV commercials, donations gathered by various organizations (there is a box for Tohoku victims support near the cash register in all the tiny shops, supermarkets, cafes and restaurants), festivals and services by the churches, temples and shrines of all confessions, baseball in Kyoto, long-distance running competition in Hirakata, concert in Osaka – every single event this month (and I’m sure for the nearest time further as well) has been organized for donating and supporting our Northern neighbors.
Words are useless here, just watch some of the next videos, I’ve found the most interesting to reflect the whole atmosphere here.
- SMAP (Japanese old version of Arashi:) in CM for Japan
- let’s not waste our money on trash we don’t need and turn the electric appliances off so that to help Northern Japan to save electricity and get rid of blackout sooner.
- celebrities persuade us not to waste money and electricity, being caring about Tohoku victims
- Foreigners try to express their feeling as well - listen to this song
… and in joy…
Hanami (花見-literally means “flower” and “look, enjoy”) as a Japanese sakura (and sometimes plum-trees too) cherry-viewing custom first appeared in one of the oldest and fascinating novels in the world - “The Tale of Genji” (Heian Era 794 – 1185). Since that time the tradition is being held every year, although the motivation for cherry-picnic has been changed from highly appreciating the beauty of light-pink pedals flying in the air - to the joy of sakura-flavoured consumerism. This tendency has found its equivalent in the old Japanese saying – 花より団子（hana yori dango – dumplings before flowers http://books.google.com/books?id=qQPWtyEP23kC&pg=PA41&dq=%22HANA+YORI+DANGO%22&hl=en#v=onepage&q=%22HANA%20YORI%20DANGO%22&f=false）.
Meanwhile, this truth works for the best: any main dish, desert (sakura parfe doesn’t need any introduction), ice-cream, perfume, alcohol - every single thing is flavoured with sakura. What kind of clothes do you think is the favourite among Japanese women of fashion? Of course, pink, mild-coloured, in tiny flowers, windy and feminine… Actually it also reminds me what sabi-wabi aesthetic principles say about beauty – simple, harmonic, humble (http://mercury.lcs.mit.edu/~jnc/nontech/wabisabi.html ), but it’s absolutely different story… Anyways, who knows, may be the whole modern かわいい（kawaii - cute）culture roots from the universal Japanese worshipping of sakura blossoming?..
Or may be it’s sakura, what to consider the inspiration for Japanese 頑張る (ganbaru) – working hard nature? Because a new kindergarden, school or a college semester and a working year begins in the very beginning of April. Why? Silly question. Because it’s so beautiful outside, don’t you see?
They Are Always Together
Did you get the connection between all-over Japan support for Tohoku and all-places sakura-viewing custom? Exactly, their all-overness. Have you ever seen a lonely person doing hanami? If you did – it was me or other awkwardly handling his/her chopsticks gaijin, for sure. No, Japanese people live in various groups, and for thousand years they are used to solve all the problems and share happy moments together.
However, nowadays due to the Western influence (again “white man burden”かもね？) on Japanese culture, it’s become fashionable to picture collectivism negatively and by all means they hurry to assure us and themselves as well that the Japanese nation’s becoming very individualistic. Even our Japanese language textbook refers to this idea, teaching us a remade very-Japanese old proverb:「出る杭は打たれない」- the stake that sticks out wouldn’t be hammered down).
... While the reality shows the magnificent mutual all-over-country support, encouragement and fantastic endurance – to what all other individualistic but unable to unite countries left to admire and learn from tiny but courageous and strong spirited Japan.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
I didn’t want to start my blog in a grumbling and grousing manner like “These days every fool can take a camera, go out and, taking some pretty banal shots, call oneself “a photographer”…
Nor I was going to begin in some condescending tone like: “For you to know, the word ‘photography’ is derived from the Greek words ‘photos’ (‘light’) and ‘graphein’ (‘to draw’), and was first used by the scientist Sir John F.W.Hershel in 1839...”
No, for the photography has been tamed, modernized and popularized in a flash of the 20th century, I’d be more careful with words, to pay my admiration and transports to it.
So, what does the photography mean personally for me? I decided to group three kinds of a photo application in our modern world. Why do we take pictures?
- For memory: we get born, go to school, graduate, get married, give birth, travel, die… - and every family wants to leave at least some portrayals of its members to teach their heirs what kind of mistakes they are going to do in their future as wellJ
- For job: the advertising and the promotion company in general as well as the information exchange – all those kinds of activities need to be confirmed by images, with what photography actually deals - deep message inside or not, we can observe it working everywhere.
- For art: my favourite in this list, for it being a summit of the photography application, especially as nowadays, when the photo-industry has been thrown open to everyone with the light-speed, it simultaneously has been losing its exclusiveness and uniqueness as an art.
Thus, for those, whose job is connected with art and inspired by memories, it’s a great luck to share their original view on life with the whole world, as Annie Leibovitz and James Natchway succeed to do.
Annie Leibovitz: “I’m photographing my time”
|borrowed from www.etoday.ru|
(a fascinating interview - http://www.literalmagazine.com/pdf/L15_annie_leibovitz.pdf)
She’s a legendary figure in the photography history, for sure. The main thing in her job is that it’s her life – she lives, breathes, experiences life with her models on the same wave. And she’s a great woman, who is able to bring three little children up and have as much work as nobody seems ever be able to handle. And as a highly tactful and wise woman, she can listen keenly, please and satisfy, pay attention to everyone, who needs her, and at the same time give as much freedom and private space to her models as they need and expect. And which is of the greatest importance in any work - she is able to admit her mistakes and bring to perfection her every work.
|borrowed from www.liveinternet.ru|
|borrowed from www.etoday.ru|
Her love to the photography was inspired by constant moving around the U.S. (because her father used to be a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force) and further – around the world, so that the first pictures she took were in the Philippines during the Vietnam War. The photography has always been family-based for her, but then the circles of acquaintances start broadening, as she becomes interested in various artistic endeavors, writing and playing music… And then it goes work in “The Rolling Stones” magazine, Rolling Stones group concert-tour of the Americas ’75, last and sound portraiture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono before he was killed 5 hours later, one of the first scandalous pictures of nude and pregnant Demi Moore, world-famous Afro-American star Whoopi Goldberg, lying in a bathtub full of milk, Leonardo DiCaprio with a swan, with its delicate neck twinning round DiCaprio’s, then she cooperates with “Vanity Fair”, realizes projects with Queen Elizabeth II, Walt Disney Company and takes millions of shots, which are admired as world-greatest works nowadays, and no doubts – best examples of studio- and portraiture photographs for us, green young photographers…
|borrowed from www.wordpress.com|
General Tips, taken from Annie’s works:
· To be brave in ideas and way of looking inside people – why not trying the first craziest thing, having come to your head? It’s usually the way all masterpieces are done. From the same raw of “Eureka!”, light-bulbs and sudden dawning upon…
· To play with light, colour and texture (of bodies, wrinkles, sheets, dresses, deserts…) – to draw parallels in-between a person and the atmosphere, the surroundings, to underline one’s personality with a plot behind, but so that not to lose a model in the decorations…
· To be deeply interested and enthusiastic in people’s lives, so that to be able to understand better their views, life-styles, and correspondingly their personality as well.
Some people divide life into two colours – black and white, but I’d prefer to state that there are two other sides – colourful and b&w. So, if Annie Leibovitz is a consummate master of portraying people on the picks of their happiness, prosperity, health, sexuality and beauty, then we should have (and we do) a completely opposite genius, depicting a dark side of our life too - sufferings, grieves, starvation, poverty and death.
|borrowed from www.blogspot.com|
“The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated”
|borrowed from www.jamesnachtwey.com/|
|borrowed from www.jamesnachtwey.com/|
He’s a War-Photographer, a confident and methodical professional outside, but a sufferer and a lonely way-farer inside. He has a goal in his work – to alarm and awake people all over the world, showing them what a horror happens just out of their countries’ boarders, on the same Earth, done by the same, as we are, people. Inspired by powerful images from the Vietnam War and the American Civil Rights movement, while studying Art History and Political Sciences in college, he decided to dedicate his own life to all existing wars – for them to stop existing anymore. Since the 1980-s he started as a magazine’s reporter in hot spots - in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, South Africa, Russia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Romania, Brazil and the United States.
His photographs speak for themselves, so I need to comment them in details, but there are some tips we should borrow from his art:
· Be tactful and attentive towards all people around, especially when they’re grieving
· Black and white works better to strengthen one’s message
· Use lights, shadows, darkness and contrast to make your shots deeper
· Different formats of pictures – foreground, portraiture, background – harmony and balance, follow classical composition rules
· Be courageous enough to break rules of composition and lightening
· Find your aim and style
|borrowed from www.jamesnachtwey.com/|
What is the photography for me personally?
I’ve found a couple of answers on one of our colleagues’ blog: “I love those pictures, in which an author puts one thing, a critique would say another, but the audience would see something different at all…”.
“A complicated in its design a photograph should be simple in terms of meaning, but a simple, without many details, one must be deep and have lots of layers” (http://www.liveinternet.ru/community/bw_world/post80099856/ - my translation from Russian).
I completely agree with those opinions, because to my mind a photograph should have some meaning in it, ideally – some layers. A photograph also is one of the possible ways to express oneself. That’s why for me the main issue here is a personal, unique style of a photographer. Nevertheless, the same way as I really appreciate Takeshi Kitano’s cinematographically different films, I’d really love to see pictures of one author made in different manners.
In stead of good-byeing…
…And daren’t stay a moment longer!
The 21st century is characterised as the fast-pace time: fast food, fast love, fast art… Which may be good for the civilization, but for me – it’s definitely an unfortunate thing. The photograph here kind of saves us – on the one hand it gives us an illusion of living on a level higher than just everyday routine, for we express ourselves and make people around us think, on the other hand – it answers our fast-rhythm life, because few of us has time, patience and skills enough to paint or draw…
But I would like to add that the photograph is also a good “slower” for us nowadays, as it give us a valuable opportunity to stop our race and look around right now and here – to weight, appreciate, judge, conclude and may be a little bit, at least with our own lives – to correct the present for it not to have wars, poverty and misery. Because life is not about yesterday or tomorrow – it’s all about now. The same as the photography art.