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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Ai and Koi

An article in The Mainichi Daily News says that a staggering 61% of Japanese men and 49.5% of women aged 18 and 34 don't have a boyfriend or girlfriend (presumably some men have a couple of girlfriends?). I find these statistics hard to understand as this is not the impression given by the shoujo manga I read in my misspent youth. Although as a genre it is fantastical and if some of the male equivalents are taken into account then perhaps its understandable. Either way I know a few girls here in Blighty who would quite charitably help out in reducing these figures.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Collecting china: bagging a bargain

The Guardian's House and Home blog has published the next installment of its Collecting china blog this time on buying pieces from charity shops.  

Mastering the Art of the Kimono

You wait for a good radio program and two come along at once. Mastering the Art of the Kimono is a look into Japan's dwindling kimono industry. I don't know why this saddens me but it does. Perhaps its because I should think it lovely to live in the 1880s -I would quite happily wander around with a parasol and huge layers of petticoats on underneath my dress, I imagine in this November weather it would be quite warm- and don't like seeing such traditions dying out (see an early post on Harris Tweed here  ). I think perhaps though deep down I do conform to the image of Japan of women wearing furisode  , samurai, tea houses and exquisite gardens, and I do not want this threatened by the likes of globalisation.  

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Off the Page

Another BBC Radio 4 show about Japan, exploring our perceptions of the country and whether they are correct. In good old beeb fashion they've interviewed people who actual have some understanding of the topic, including a Japanese Buddhism professor, The Asian editor of The Times and a comedian.

Pop video of the week viii

Strictly speaking I have again broken my own rules, but never mind. The Beauty Song from House of Flying Daggers:

I want a kimono

I'd really love to wear kimono, I love the silhouette they form. Unfortunately I'm not Japanese, I'm 5"9. I'd look like an adult wearing child's clothing. I think I will have to be content with just collecting them as art works. Style-Arena is a Japanese street fashion website along the lines of Nylon or Fruits just a lot less barmy. They have weekly updated pictures of people on Tokyo's streets and they also have a section on tribes, the uniform of a certain social group. Here's a link to women wearing yukata (lightweight summer kimono):

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Letter writing

Do you still write letters? I do, great three page monsters. I love the anticipation of a reply from loved ones. I also enjoy -rather too much- purchasing paper. I have frequently noticed that the most stylish of note paper frequents from East Asia. I had a wander around Paperchase   today and observed some very sweet little sets produced in Japan and Korea. Is this reflective of these nation's love of correspondence writing or purely an aesthetic consideration? Either way I shall purchase some in the Christmas sales.

On the theme of letters this review made me feel both proud and annoyed: 
Masters of the Post: The Authorized History of the Royal Mail by Duncan Campbell-Smith – review  

On a side note I found it hilarious that the sending of thank you cards (really just plain good manners) increased following the now infamous email sent by a certain mother in law.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Liza Dalby

Having just mentioned her I found this article on Dalby and her life's work in The Telegraph, enjoy:


There's a rather lovely video on the Telegraph about the daily life of a maiko. Now I don't believe all the western assumptions about the profession and like to think I have a read a few credible works on the subject not just Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha (although as a bodice ripper it was pleasant to both read and watch), particularly Liza Dalby's book Geisha and Mineko Iwasaki's Geisha of Gion. One can not help but admire beauty:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

When China Met Africa

A friend (who also has a blog, check it out) brought this film to my attention. I might just have to buy the dvd to have a look-see. After all the world we live in is not the same as it was twenty years ago.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sporting Witness: Ping Pong Diplomacy

A fascinating radio broadcast from the BBC World Service about how the sport was used to forge a closer relationship between China and America in the early 1970s.

Sporting Witness: Ping Pong Diplomacy

Korean Film

Are you a Korean film fan? Honestly I have seen far more Japanese cinema than Korean but I did enjoy A Tale of Two Sisters. I think watching a movie is an easy way to get a glimpse of another culture. Take British film for instance, and especially the likes of The King's Speech (I really did enjoy it. I, at heart, am a monarchist) which really shows us up for what we are. A nation obsessed by both World Wars and the apparently irremovable class system. Here is an interesting article in The Guardian discussing the state of Korean film and how reflective it is of their society:

Do South Koreans actually love film?

Pop Video/Film Trailer vii

I thought this week I'd be a bit different so here's a music video with clips from the film Aoi Haru with music by Thee Michelle Gun Elephant. I loved the film, I also have a bit of a crush on Ryuhei Matsuda.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Asian Art Week Round iii

On Monday night, I had a jolly good time wandering around the Mayfair galleries. A particular highlight was an exhibition of Ishizumi fans by Nana Shiomi at The Oriental Club. It was a wonderful blend of a traditional Japanese art form with modern art, her use of perspective was very beautiful.

Click here to read an interview by Kanji Ishizumi from the Daiwa institute, about the art.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

How to make sushi

Gosh I do love The Guardian. Here's a link they've put up on how to make sushi at home. I've made attempts before, but I never get the rice quite right. On the side bar there are also videos for tempura and miso soup! Yum!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Pop video of the week vi

I know it's not strictly pop music but the Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack was awfully good:

Collecting china: how to buy from eBay

Another article in The Guardian's House and Home blog about collecting ceramics, this time about the perils of buying online.

Asian Art Week Round ii

Last night I went to the Hua Gallery in Battersea. A relatively new addition to the London art scene, its raison d'etre is to showcase contemporary Chinese artists, which I'm very glad about. The artist whose works made up this exhibition was Kuan Ching Mediha Ting. His work had that graffiti pop culture aesthetic that is very popular nowadays. What was interesting about it though was that I have never seen that look combined with a Chinese sensibility. Worth the wander through the jungle that is SW3 to get there.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

I love Jackie Chan

I think I can slightly say that my interest in the Far East has been fuelled by movies. With regards to China, Kung Fu films are some of my favourites. Particularly Jackie Chan (not forgetting Bruce Lee and Jet Li). I can thank Mr Chan for my academic pursuits it seems. And now he's on iPlayer, yay!

Rumble in the Bronx  

Asian Art Week Round i

I left my room, I actually left my room! And wound up on the ever delightful Kensington Church Street.

First stop was Jorge Welsh   for a lecture on a new book they've published called The RA Collection of Chinese Ceramics: A Collector's Vision   by Maria Antónia Pinto de Matos. Which was a very intriguing overview of the how the collector had amassed some very interesting pieces that showed the development of the Chinese ceramic export trade. Next stop was Marchant   for a wander around and then on to Gregg Baker   for some music by a kimono clad koto player and some really rather beautiful Japanese screens.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Asian Art Week

It's finally here! Stay posted for my reports of me actually leaving my room!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

I've just read a really interesting piece on The Guardian's Women's blog about this new film Snow Flower and the Secret Fan adapted from the book by Lisa See. I vastly enjoyed another of the See's books Peony in Love. SFSF is about the life long friendships and the usage of Nushu, a written language used solely by women in Hunnan province. The Memoirs of a Geisha perhaps?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Tokyo day by Day by Paul Church

The Guardian again has thrown up a gem. This time it's an article about Paul Church who has taken some really smashing photos of Tokyo, whilst there on a martial arts course. You can read his blog and see all of his pictures here.

(photo taken from

Witness: The American POW who chose China

Twenty one Americans and one British Marine chose not to return home after the end of the Second World War. An interesting interview from the BBC World Service with one of these Americans.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011