Category Archives: Culture

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2014 Japanese Calendar Sale at YesAsia

It’s that time of year… 2014 calendars are now available to order from YesAsia, with the likes of AKB48, Gackt and various Anime titles including: My Neighbor Totoro, One Piece, Sword Art Online and Attack on Titan.

YesAsia is offering a 10% off sale with an extra 5% on orders over US$100.

Click on the banner to head on over to check out their stock.

PockyMens

Pocky Beats iPhone5 in Tweet Record

Pocky Men'sNovember 11th was Pocky & Pretz Day. Didn’t know? Me neither but if I had of known I would certainly have participated.

The task was to enter the Guinness World Records with the most tweets containing the name “Pocky” — the heading it would be seen in the book would be under the “The Brand Name Most Tweeted in 24 Hours” previously held by iPhone5 with 1.08 million tweets on its release day.
Glico’s Pocky chocolate snack beat the record hands down with 1,843,733 tweets.

via Japan Today

Hayward.Gallery

From Me, Belongs to You Only – Lee Bul

From the Korean Culture Centre UK

This summer, Hayward Gallery transforms into Wide Open School. More than 100 international will lead lead workshops, collaborative projects, lectures and seminars on subjects that inspire them. This is a unique opportunity find out how artists think about and question things and to observe their creative processes.

There are no entrance exams or application forms. You just need to use your intelligence and enthusiasm in unusual ways. Tickets and full programme www.wideopenschool.com / 0844 847 9910

Friday 15 June, 7pm

Lee Bul seeks to share a feeling of intimacy and warmth with the audience in this lecture presenting her working processes as well as her major projects. This illustrated lecture takes its title from a line in a love letter sent to Lee Bul. (In Korean with simultaneous English translation).

Supported by the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK) and the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) with the kind support of the Korean Ministryof Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST).

Part of:
Wide Open School
11 June – 11 July
Hayward Gallery

Fore more information visit the official website.

Fugu sashimi

Fugu Restrictions To Be Relaxed

Fugu sashimi
Blowfish (fugu) sashimi

TOKYO – I’ve never had fugu but it’s been on my bucket list since I first learned of its existence. I’ve always felt that there are things out there that need to be tried and experienced and the thought that there are specialist Chef’s that prepare the deadly blowfish for consumption adds the the thrill. However, when I learned that the laws surrounding the preparation of fugu are to be relaxed, well, fugu moved down the list, just a bit…

It used to take at least two years of training followed by a rigorous examination – of which 33% of all applicants fail to pass. But now the city government is planning to relax the restrictions allowing any restaurant to serve fugu after spending a day at a seminar and providing they purchase it with the deadly innards removed.

Jang Jin

[LKFF] Jang Jin Retrospective at Apollo Cinema

Jang JinDon’t forget, it’s the London Korean Film Festival at the moment (as if you needed reminding), and the Apollo Cinema is holding a rather cool retrospective of Jang Jin films.

A fantastic retrospective of Director Jang Jin’s works will take place exclusively at the Apollo Cinema, Piccadilly. Four of his works will be screened on 8th and 9th November. This also includes Q&A sessions at the screenings of “Guns & Talks” and “Someone Special” and introductions from the director at the screenings of “Good Morning President” and “Murder Take One”.

This is well worth checking out

The-Housemaid

London Korean Film Festival at the ICA

The HousemaidGreat news for Korean film enthusiasts. The ICA is holding the London Korean Film Festival 2010 from 10 – 14 November.

This it’s fifth anniversary sees its debut at the ICA near Buck House and is showcasing the pick of the best in Korean film.
Notable inclusions are: The Housemaid, Moss, Secret Reunion and Blades of Blood. There are also a selection of shorts and animations and special guests, talks and Director Q&A’s.
Head on over to the ICA website or the festival website to check out the details of the entire festival which is a country-wide event.

I will be in London during the festival and hope to attend at least a couple of nights. I will post if anything comes of it… If you fancy tagging along, drop me a line.

Event Schedule after the jump: Continue reading

Aspects of Japanese Cinema

Aspects of Japanese Cinema – Barbican (until 19 December)

Aspects of Japanese CinemaWintertime seems pretty good for any fan of Asian Culture in London. Barbican is hosting a feast of Japanese themed activities including a Japanese Film Festival – Aspects of Japanese Cinema – which runs until the 19th of December. Highlights include some awesome ‘BEAT’ Takeshi Kitano films (Hana bi, Brother and Dolls) and also showing is one of my favourite Japanese films, the super special Sakuran from photographer turned director Mika Ninagawa and starring the amazing Anna Tsuchiya.

Full details are available from Barbican’s website, but here’s a snippet:

To complement Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion in Barbican Art Gallery, Barbican Film celebrates Japanese cinema with a showcase of modern, classic and provocative films by Japanese filmmakers.
Aspects of Japanese Cinema includes:
The Directorspective: Kenji Mizoguchi 24 Oct – 3 Nov 2010
GirlsWorld: Women in Contemporary Japanese Cinema 21 Oct – 14 Nov 2010
Japanese Halloween Shlockfest Double Bill 29 Oct 2010
The Directorspective: Takeshi Kitano 14 – 15 Nov 2010
The Directorspective: Akira Kurosawa 3 – 19 Dec 2010

UPDATE 3/11/10: I’ll be there on Sunday the 14th to catch Sakuran and two of the Kitano movies… see you there!

There’s also the London Korean Film Festival going on at the ICA, more news on that to follow…

New Tetsuya Nakashima film

NakashimaTo celebrate the upcoming release of the Tetsuya Nakashima film “Kokuhaku,” starring Takako Matsu, a movie festival was held this week to screen Nakashima’s other works. On hand were actresses Kyoko Fukada, 27, and Anna Tsuchiya, 26, who appeared in the film “Kamikaze Girls,” and Miki Nakatani, 34, of “Memories of Matsuko.”

Fukada joked about the filming of “Kamikaze,” saying, “The director was always getting angry, Anna would suddenly get pissed off. It was really rough.” Tsuchiya commented critically about “Kokuhaku,” a film about juvenile delinquency, saying, “The film is really dark and completely different from Nakashima’s past works.”

“Kokuhaku” opens June 5.

Source: JapanToday

Gundam Cafe opens in Akiba

Gundam Cafe

I’m surprised that this hasn’t happened before now, but on Saturday a Mobile Suit Gundam themed restaurant opened in Akihabara, Tokyo.

Customers are entertained with 31 years worth of nostalgia, whilst they are eating and drinking in the sixty seater cafe.
As with Maid Cafe’s, patrons are served by a female staff member, the difference here being that she will be in the uniform of a Gundam character. Photo ops are not just welcomed but highly encouraged!

Ebizo returning to London to perform kabuki

Ichikawa Ebizo XI
Ichikawa Ebizo XI
Kabuki star Ichikawa Ebizo XI will be returning to London in June to perform ‘‘Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura’’ (Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees) at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre. It’s the second time the production has been seen in the UK, the first being in 2006. This run will be from June 4th to the 15th.

Ebizo:

‘‘I want the audience to enjoy watching the ‘aragoto’ (exaggerated acting) and the ‘keren’ (eye-catching feats) and feel the pure love of children for their parents,’’

He will be taking on the dual role of a samurai in the 12th century and a fox turning into the warrior. Originally written in 1747 for the jōruri puppet theatre by Takeda Izumo II, Miyoshi Shōraku and Namiki Senryū I, it was adapted to kabuki the following year.
The play is derived from the sekai of the Heike Monogatari, a classical epic which details the rise and fall of the Taira clan of samurai. The latter portions describe the eventual defeat of the Taira in the Genpei War (1180-85), at the hands of the Minamoto clan, led by Minamoto no Yoshitsune, the title character of this play.

The play returns to Japan in August and will run at Tokyo’s Shinbashi Enbujyo theater and will then move on to Kyoto’s Minami-za theater in September.

Sources: JapanToday.com | Wikipedia | Ichikawa Ebizo XI Official Website

Action!

Akiba Po-Po Help You Relax…

Action!
Action!
A new reflexology store opens in Akihabara today, and being Akihabara you can image it would be a little different from a normal reflexology store.

At ‘Action!’ customers can have their stress relieved by staff who are dressed as Police Women – in miniskirts. The ‘menu‘ items are named after police procedures. For example you can order the ‘Basic Punishment‘ or a ‘Jail Sentence‘ course. There is one option that I don’t think is readily available at the local Police Station though, customers can have a relaxing massage whilst they lie on the mini-skirted ladies laps … Or you can always choose to be ‘rearrested’ … it’s a tough choice – I know…

Cherry Blossom Forecast

Sakura
Sakura
The Japan Weather Association has released information about this years Cherry Blossom Season. Every spring, Japan turns into a glorious spectacle of pink and white and the Japanese people (who don’t need an excuse to party), will be out in their droves to party (Hanami) beneath the Sakura.

Below are the ‘estimated’ best times for cherry blossom viewing in their respective areas. Of course, none of these dates are guaranteed – they are just for guidelines…
[from Japan-Guide.com]

Hanami goes back a long way, it’s said to have begun at around the Nara Period [奈良時代, Nara jidai] (AD 710 to 794) when the Chinese had a lot to do with what was ‘cool’. People enjoyed viewing flowers, but mostly the blossoms of ume were most popular. By the Heian Period [平安時代, Heian jidai] (AD 794 to 1185) it was sakura that had become the in-thing.

Hanami, or flower viewing, is still massively popular in Japan. Each Spring, people swarm to the trees to grab a place beneath the blossom, to drink sake and beer and eat bento in an age old tradition of watching the cherry blossoms and to enjoy the company of friends.

Best Viewing Times for Sakura, Spring 2010:
Tokyo March 30 to April 8
Kyoto April 2 to 11
Kagoshima March 31 to April 8
Kumamoto March 27 to April 4
Fukuoka March 26 to April 4
Hiroshima March 31 to April 8
Nara April 3 to 12
Osaka April 2 to 11
Nagoya March 31 to 9
Yokohama March 30 to April 8
Kanazawa April 8 to 16
Nagano April 17 to 25
Sendai April 15 to 23
Hakodate May 6 to 13
Sapporo May 8 to 15

Anime Top 10

Wherever you go on the interwub, there will be flame throwers aimed at you from every corner for your taste in everything – this is especially the case when it comes to anime. Anime fans can be extremely touchy when it comes to their own favourite features, whether your preference is Cyberpunk, Shounen, Shoujo, Josei or the weird and surreal world of Fan Service – it doesn’t matter, you’re gonna get flack from somewhere. But don’t let that sort of thing stop you from enjoying this amazing little piece of animation wizardry. Anime is (and should always be) a Japanese phenomenon that we in our Western World can only hope to be a part of – if and when the fansubbers or licensees get to task of subtitling.
Being a fan of all things anime, I find myself watching a lot of stuff that falls into every category and as time has passed my own preference has veered from Cyberpunk to the more drama or comedy oriented anime. Saying that, my own top 10 still features two major Cyberpunk features in the top positions.
Feel free to flame – I don’t really worry about that stuff, but why not reply with your own top 10 and then I’ll compile a larger list depending on how many votes each anime gets…

The LoLyfe Top 10 Anime:

  1. Akira
  2. Ghost In The Shell (Movie)
  3. FLCL
  4. Neon Genesis: Evangelion
  5. Welcome to the NHK
  6. Lucky Star
  7. Cowboy Bebop
  8. Trigun
  9. My Neighbour Totoro
  10. NANA

Didn’t quite make it but worth a mention:

Tastes vary and I find my own Top 10 changing with the kind of mood I’m in. Just now I’m in the process of re-watching Evangelion and loving every minute of it – but I’m also watching Skip Beat! over at CrunchyRoll – and that kicks ass! Two very different anime’s with different appeals but still great fun to watch.

Links in this post will take you directly to the product at Yes Asia, who over free shipping worldwide.

ICA: Cult Japan Season 7 July – 31 Aug

The ICA in London is always a great place to hit for the weird and unusual or just downright awesome. A few months back I went there to see Asobi Seksu, a New York based Shoegaze band that sings mostly in Japanese. And it was – downright awesome.
Today my inbox had the usual spatterings of junk, a few funnies and this message from the ICA:

7 July 2009 – 31 August 2009

Classics new and nearly new, comic, horrific, pre-modern and sci-fi, all from Nippon.

Films featured are:

  • Ichi
  • Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
  • Tokyo Gore Police
  • Chanbara Beauty
  • Ping Pong
  • 20th Century Boys: Chapter 2

Visit the ICA website for more details.

Life Size Gundam Almost Done!

::via Yahoo! Japan::

The 18m life size replica of a Gundam has had it’s head put on!
The Mecha is scheduled for completion in July ready for the 30th anniversary of the anime. Located on the artificial island of Odaiba in Tokyo, the giant robot will be open to the public at the Shiokaze Park. There are to be 3 phases of the anniversary. This phase is the “Real G” phase, August sees the “Feel G” phase with the Gundam Big Expo, and it’s topped off with the “Soul G” phase which is to be a music festival type event.

Gundam
Gundam

Original link Yahoo! Japan using Google Translate with 6 videos to watch (make sure you have Silverlight installed).

Kuniyoshi Exhibition

Mitsukuni Defies the Skeleton c. 1845
Mitsukuni Defies the Skeleton c. 1845
Master of woodblock printing, Utagawa Kuniyoshi [1797-1861], has in the region of 10,000 colour prints to his name. Along with Katsushika Hokusai (who’s to blame for the oft used ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’) and Utagawa Hiroshige pretty much pwnd the Edo period when it came to woodblock printings.
The Royal Academy of Arts is currently running an exhibition in collaboration with Arthur R. Miller and the British Museum, presenting some 150 pieces from the collection.
I’ll be attending next week, at which point I hope to have a few photo’s or scans to upload. I’ll also try and play art critic and do a proper review.
I went to the last exhibition of this kind the Academy put on back in 1997, Hiroshige: Images of Mist, Rain, Moon and Snow, and I have to say that I was enthralled by the work. I expect it will be as good if not better, so if you’re in town and looking for something to do, you couldn’t go wrong here.
Also worth checking out is the British Museum where they always have a few pieces on show in the Japanese Exhibit AND the book store is selling some amazing books collecting works from each of the artists mentioned in this post.

Kuniyoshi: From the Arthur R. Miller collection, Royal Academy of Arts, London, until June 7 2009. Admission £9.