Delving Into The World Of Jizai Okimono And Japanese Art

Japan is known for having some of the most unique art in the world. Building on centuries of feudal culture, Japanese art has its own style. A famous example of Japanese art is jizai okimono, which translates to ‘move freely decorative object.’ Jizai okimono involves the crafting of articulated sculptures. Beginning in 17th century Japan, the art form is highly specialised and fascinating. But what are the origins of jizai okimono and how has it evolved in modern times? Continue reading “Delving Into The World Of Jizai Okimono And Japanese Art”

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Growing Up In A Family Of Samurai: An Interview With Michiko Hashiba

Japan attracts visitors from all over the world, with many being drawn to the country because of the samurai. Japanese history is entwined with warriors who followed a strict code of honour, devoting their lives to duty. There were many proud samurai and one of the most famous was Toyotomi Hideyoshi. A capable general and politician, Hideyoshi was considered the second ‘great unifer’ of Japan. He rose to prominence during the 1500s and founded the Hashiba samurai line.

I’m fascinated by samurai history, so I couldn’t help but be excited to interview a descendent of Hideyoshi.  I’m pleased to present a conversation with Michiko Hashiba about what it means to come from a family of samurai. Continue reading “Growing Up In A Family Of Samurai: An Interview With Michiko Hashiba”

The Essential Reading List: Wolverine

When reading about a certain character, it’s helpful to know about the best stories. In this edition of The Essential Reading List, I’m highlighting important Wolverine stories. The character has appeared in a number of classic X-Men stories and in his own series. With his attitude, healing factor and tragic backstory, Wolverine is one of Marvel’s most iconic superheroes. Here are the must-read stories of the man known as James ‘Logan’ Howlett. Continue reading “The Essential Reading List: Wolverine”

The Physical Power Of Memory: Armour And The Value Of Family

In Japanese culture, family is an important part of daily ritual. Japanese families are considered multigenerational, linked by a respect for ancestors. Ancestry is a powerful force within society and a comic character that highlights the importance of family is Armour. A member of the X-Men, Hisako Ichiki has the power to create a shield made out of memory. Through Armour, I’m going to explore the concept of memory and how it can hold families together. Continue reading “The Physical Power Of Memory: Armour And The Value Of Family”

How The Oni Transformed From A Japanese Demon Into A Pop Culture Icon

Japanese folklore is filled with all types of creatures, with one of the most enduring being the oni. Considered to be a type of yokai, oni took the form of giant, supernatural trolls. Their demonic appearance gave them an evil reputation. Oni have been identified as bringers of chaos, delighting in the punishment of mortals. The connection to the darkness has translated into pop culture, as oni have appeared in art and literature. However, their role has changed over time to reflect modern interpretations. Continue reading “How The Oni Transformed From A Japanese Demon Into A Pop Culture Icon”

Helen McCarthy Talks About What It Means To Be An Anime Writer

If there’s one thing I enjoy about pop culture, it’s the idea that it can connect people from different walks of life. Comics, gaming, anime and cosplaying are all part of the same phenomenon. Anime has experienced a huge increase in popularity and it’s writers like Helen McCarthy who’ve championed it as a legitimate field of study. Helen has written 13 books, which have been translated into seven languages, on anime, manga, art and Japanese pop culture. They include 500 Essential Anime Movies, Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation and Anime! A Beginner’s Guide To Japanese Animation.

I’m pleased to present an interview with Helen about her writing experiences and her connection to pop culture. Read on to find out about what it was like meeting Jonathan Ross in a comic book store and how she braved a snow storm to see her favourite Japanese shrine. Continue reading “Helen McCarthy Talks About What It Means To Be An Anime Writer”

Why Is The Sukajan Jacket An Icon Of Japanese Fashion?

Like everything in pop culture, fashion has a unique look and distinctive story. What started out as counterculture has evolved into the mainstream. Souvenir jackets have followed a similar pattern, transforming from controversial fashion statements to cult classics. Originating in Japan, sukajan jackets have an interesting history. There has been debate over the origin of the name, with some claiming it to be a mix of ‘Sky Dragon Jumper’ in Japanese. Others believe the name to have come from Yokosuka, an area where American soldiers were stationed. Either way, the story of the sukajan needs to be told. Continue reading “Why Is The Sukajan Jacket An Icon Of Japanese Fashion?”