The Definitive Guide To Japanese Manchester

Travelling is one of the best ways to expand your knowledge of the world. But it’s not the only way to embrace a new culture. Exploring local communities and experiences are eye-opening in their own right. I’m fascinated by Japan and there are plenty of Japanese related activities in my home city of Manchester. There’s restaurants, bars, societies and exhibits dedicated to celebrating the Land of the Rising Sun. It’s why I’ve put together a guide for anyone who wants to explore Manchester through the lens of Japanese culture. Continue reading “The Definitive Guide To Japanese Manchester”

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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 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”

Pop Culture, Cosplay And Japanese History Unite At A Successful Doki Doki 2018

In the pop culture world, there are a variety of festivals that cater to different niches. Pop culture has a habit of infiltrating every culture and one of my favourite events of the year is the Doki Doki Festival in Manchester. A celebration of Japanese culture, Doki Doki brings together people from all walks of life. Anime, manga, comics and history are housed under one roof. The 2018 event featured a diverse set of talks and stalls, ranging from Japanese woodcut prints to cosplaying.
Continue reading “Pop Culture, Cosplay And Japanese History Unite At A Successful Doki Doki 2018”

Katana And The Representation Of Female Samurai

Japan is associated with a lot of images, with the samurai being the most famous in my opinion. The image of a noble warrior living by the code of bushido has become a romanticised ideal. Samurai lived and died by their duty, but men weren’t the only people who could take up the sword. Female samurai existed as well. Called onna-bugeisha (female martial artists), they belonged to the same class as male samurai and were allowed to carry weapons to protect their household.

I think the best comic representation of a female samurai is Katana. The character’s backstory is rooted in tragedy and it follows the tropes of family honour, revenge and sacrifice. Katana is a reflection of the fearlessness of the onna-bugeisha, so I’m looking into her importance as a superhero. Continue reading “Katana And The Representation Of Female Samurai”