Wednesday, 10 December 2014

pochi and gonbei

OK! This is the last thing I need to do for this year, and that is send off money from kokeshi book sales. Also did a flash sale with some of my other titles, and some slightly damaged books.
So we can send 1200 USD which will sponsor Pochi and Gonbei, 2 Fukushima dogs for 6 months.
They are being looked after by Animal Friends Japan(they changed their name from Animal Friends Niigata) - nearly half their animals are a result of the Fukushima nuke disaster. So gut wrenchingly sad.

Thanks to everyone who contributed!!

Having a look around the web about the pets up there, found the work of Yutaka Kamimura, a photographer who is looking after the cats and dogs in the nuke no go zone.
( TДT)

book joy!

Got some print joy in the mail from Roger Gastman, producer of the Hello Kitty con -- his books give you an idea why the show was so diverse, and culture & art focused (he has a prolific amount of culture books out)

Kudos to Sanrio for getting him to put the show on, he has to be instrumental in creating the cult of HK in the US not only with the mainstream but on a subculture level. I'm still in awe at how incredible it was, and to be honest, I think the con and the Japanese American Museum show is more spectacular, and well curated than PURO land, the Hello Kitty theme park in Tokyo. (You leave the con with a greater appreciation of HK, her historical evolution and cultural achievements, that is for sure).

Thank you so much!!!! I love books!!! 
m(_   _)m
 So, the readers of this blog will prob be into the Hello kitty books -- In case you can't get to the exhibition, you can get the book from the Japanese American museum, which has the timelines, and highlights of the show, such as these vintage HK gems. There are also full page art works with many of the big names of the street/ low brow/ outsider/ pop surrealism (whatever you want to call it) artists.
Some faves:
 Audrey Kawasaki
 Buff monster
 Gary Baseman

The Hello Kitty Hello Art! book has 208 pages of art works from graffiti artists like RISK, POSE and  Shepard Fairey. The text is really interesting -- Ryan McGinley did HK inspired art (seriously and how)!? the scope of the art is fantastic, also has some Spotlight Tattoo flash (its worth getting for that alone!)

64 colors
 Angry Aaron Woebots
 Dabs Myla
 Natalia Fabia
 Shepard Fairey
 Travis Louie
 Yumiko Kayukawa

Sunday, 7 December 2014

FCCJ's Dateline

Recently, I did an interview with a journalist, Shirley Lau from Hong Kong (FCC HK) who was in Japan working with the Foreign Correspondent's Club Japan, covering various aspects of Japanese culture. Her post is on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's website.

Thanks so much Shirley for dropping me a line, hope you enjoyed your trip!

It was a scene that kept your eyes busy – and made you feel young and alive. Young girls clad in mini skirts, platform heels and all manner of outlandish accessories happily posed for anyone's camera. Cute-looking models took to the stage and sashayed down the catwalk in trendy outfits. A male DJ in schoolgirl uniform and a blond wig sent the crowd dancing wildly as he danced in his quirky, mockingly cute way in between playing the funky pop tunes.

Welcome to Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival, an extravaganza designed to celebrate Japan's world-famous kawaii culture, and to promote it globally (which explains the free entry for all foreign visitors whereas locals paid an admission fee of 3,500 yen). Held on the last Sunday of September, the event was Japanese pop culture at its most fun, funky and, above all, kawaii. It brought together a dizzying array of Japanese pop elements at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Sendagaya, from music to fashion, cosplay otaku culture to anime. Among the biggest highlights was a performance by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the queen of kawaii.

The crowd consisted of mostly young locals, but there were also a good number of curious tourists and expats living in Tokyo intrigued by the kawaii culture. "I'm here to get inspired by the kawaii style. It's so cute, chic and sweet," said Anne Marie Crandall, a 23-year-old American who teaches English in Seoul and is on a short visit to Tokyo.

Wearing short skirt and a shocking pink blouse with a big ribbon, Miss Crandall is a big fan of the kawaii culture. And she is not alone. The culture of kawaii, which means cute and pretty, has gone global. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has for one gained popularity in the West thanks in part to internet videos that have gone viral. In Paris, there is a girl DJ duo called Girls from Kawaii, formed by two Parisian women whose style is a mix of French chic and Japanese kawaii.

Manami Okazaki, journalist and co-author of Kawaii: Japan's Culture of Cute, believes kawaii has a prominent place in Japanese culture because of its flexibility. "It is adaptable and applicable to many creative outlets, which has made it the dominant pop culture aesthetic in Japan. Many cultural luminaries have [incorporated] kawaii aesthetics into their work, and [so] you can see kawaii culture prevalent in fashion, character design, graphic design, food design, and art. Many of these things are not for children but for adults, as well. With Japan’s top designers, manga-artists, artists and even scientists injecting so much energy into the kawaii movement, it seems inevitable that it would become a something as powerful and ubiquitous as it is now.

Though it is quintessentially Japanese, people like Miss Crandall prove that kawaii also has a strong appeal to foreigners today. "Overseas, I think kawaii culture is particularly strong where there is an anime and manga presence, and a strong familiarity with Japanese culture, such as France," Ms Okazaki explains. "It also provides an alternative to mainstream American pop culture, which celebrates femininity in different ways. Kyary is hyper-feminine, but very sweet and innocent, whereas for many people, mainstream US music icons may seem overly sexual"

So can we imagine a Japan without the kawaii factor? Yes, but life would be a little dull, Ms Okazaki believes. "[Without kawaii], I guess Japan would lose a lot of its charm. Making something kawaii is making it user-friendly, and accessible. It is connected with the notion of thinking about others, and making that extra effort to please people. You can make a bus stop as is, or you can make it charming and funny by designing it into the shape of an apple or a strawberry. A lot of people who dress in kawaii fashion do it not only for self-expression. They also like to entertain other people by dressing in elaborate ways. I also think kawaii culture is an outlet for females in Japan to celebrate their femininity in creative ways."