The Mystifying and Powerful World of Japanese Fashion

Many would say that fashion is a representation of the culture and soul. Hence every nation has a unique reflection of its history as well as traditions in one way or another.

 

Japanese fashion is no exemption to this sentiment. This article will go into a few details of how it has changed throughout the years while always remaining intact in its traditions.

 

The Past and the Present

One of the most traditional and familiar Japanese fashion outfits is the Kimono; it is still worn today in more modern designs, it was also adopted by the Western nations because of its desire as well as elegance.

 

Throughout the years Japanese fashion saw very few changes but throughout the years the Kimono was a predominant part of the classic collection and consistently a part of their lives in one form or another. Another kind of Kimono is the Furisode which is worn by young women in their twenties; in Japan, the age to legally drink and smoke is twenty and to celebrate the parent regularly offer their daughters a Furisode.

 

Then the Houmongi takes the stage. This is another kind of Kimono that is worn by married women and similar to the Furisode the parents will give their daughter one when she is married.

 

The formal Kimono is known as Tomesode and is typically worn by married women to social functions such as marriages. Additional variations include the Momofuku which is the funeral Kimono for Japanese fashion and the Uchikake is the wedding Kimono.

 

Last but certainly not least the Obi is the oldest form of the Japanese fashion as they are no longer in production today and rarely will you find someone wearing this type even in Japan.

 

Modern Japanese fashion has several categories in addition to some that are not related to clothes. The Japanese style known as the Kogal is translated in Japan to people who enjoy displaying their higher income by wearing expensive jewelry or clothes.

 

The Ganguro Japanese fashion is designed for those individuals who began changing their hair color and then you have the Lolita as the Gothic Lolita Japanese fashion, which is being expressed by the innocent and sweet dressed (Lolita) all the way to the other extreme type referred to as punk fashion, which is known as Gothic Lolitas.

 

The Eternal Fashion

The world of classic fashion is eternal throughout the world, and Japanese style has their Kimonos to prove it. The use of colors also plays a large part in the world of Japanese fashion as well as their culture as it is directly correlated to the event. Fashion not only reflects and defines an era and a place in time but also the character and personality of the person who is wearing it.

 

Recently, Japanese fashion is all the rage, especially in kid’s clothing. But why is this kind of fashion sudden popular now? What could have triggered the interest in this Asian kid’s clothing trendJapanese kid’s clothing trends often have a deep history and origin. For instance, the Ganguro trend came about due to the Japanese teenagers’ desire to rebel against their adults

 

 

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Japanese Literature

For people who are not familiar with the Japanese literature, scholars generally agree that it is one of the richest, and matches English literature in terms of volume and age. The literature currently found in Japan is made up of works that can be traced from the 7th century. Japan has never experienced a “dark age” where people did not engage in literary development and production. Some of the most common literary production in Japan that have been produced throughout history include dramas, novels, and poetry. However, Japan also has certain types of literary works that are not considered literature in western countries, and they include books that capture random thoughts, diaries, and travel accounts.

The Origins of Japanese Literature

Historians have established that the early writings in Japan were influenced by the Chinese writings. In the first century, before coming into contact with the Chinese, the Japanese were relatively primitive. After the knowledge of Chinese civilization reached them, they rapidly integrated this knowledge, and borrowed the Chinese alphabet. The use of the Chinese alphabet led to the emergence of literary compositions and calligraphy in Japan.

Early Japanese Writings

The oldest Japanese writing was Kojiki, which was a record of ancient issues, and Nihon Shoki that contained more than 120 songs from antiquity to 697 A.D. The Kojiki is the most respected literary work in Japan because it is the oldest document that captures the history and myths of the country.

Classical Japanese Literature (894-1194)

Classical literature refers to literature developed in Japan during the golden era or the Heian period. One of the most significant literary works produced during this era is the “The Tale of Genji”, a novel fiction, written by Murasaki Shikibu. Other significant literary works produced within the same period include “The Pillow Book”, which was an essay discussing the hobbies of royalties and their love life, and Kokin Wakashu, a poetry anthology.

Medieval Literature in Japan (1195-1600)

Zen Buddhism heavily influenced the literature published in Japan during the medieval era. Most of the writers during this period were poets, priests, travelers and celibates. In the medieval era, several civil wars broke out in Japan, and this was reflected in the literary works produced at the time, which included war tales and stories related to war. An example of literature produced during this period is “The Tale of the Heike” that narrated the clash between the clans of the Taira and Minamoto in an effort to control Japan.

Pre-Modern Japanese Literature (1600-1868)

Drama was the most popular literary work produced in Japan during this period because the country was peaceful, and the middle and working classes were steadily growing. Moreover, several genres of literature emerged for the first time during this period, due to the increase in literacy among Japanese that were living in urban centers, and the emergence of libraries that lent books to the masses. In addition, literary works in Japan were starting to experience some western influence because of Dutch people that settled in Nagasaki. One of the new genres of literature that emerged in Japan was fiction that was influenced by Chinese vernacular. Other new genres of literature that came up included comedy, crime stories, horrors, magnificent woodcut prints, and morality stories.

 

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A Look at Traditional Japanese Music

Japan, an island nation in East Asia roots back to 1st century CE as first cited in Chinese History. Over years, Japan has faced transformations in technology, leadership and culture. These changes have been influenced by neighboring countries in Asia, Europe and North America. As a result, Japan is well known for arts like crafts, traditional music, martial arts among others. In this article we will look at the Traditional Japanese music and how it plays a great role in the Japanese culture.

Japanese music has a rich and varied history that has over years evolved greatly. In fact, most musical forms in Japan were borrowed from China early in the 9th Century. These forms were later modified into what we now call Japanese style of music. Musical instruments such as Shamisen and Koto were re-created to suit to the Japanese style of music. With the introduction of theatrical forms of drama such as the Noh in the 14th Century and Geza that is accompanied by the Shamisen, Japanese music has grown to be eclectic and diverse. So what entails Traditional Japanese music?

Traditional Japanese music in other words simply refers to traditional songs, instruments and composers of the early Japan. To break it further, Japanese music is divided into three types namely: – Theatrical, Instrumental and Court Music (also referred to as Gagaku). We will focus on these three types in order to get a deeper understanding of Traditional Japanese music.

Types of Traditional Japanese Music

1.Theatrical

Japan has a few theatrical types of dramatization in which music assumes a key role. The main ones are Kabuki and Noh.

· Noh-This is music played by hayashikata-an instrumental ensemble. The instruments utilized are the taiko stick drum, a major hour-glass molded drum called the ōtsuzumi , a littler hour-glass formed drum called the kotsuzumi and a bamboo woodwind called the nohkan. The hayashi outfit is performed alongside yokyoku, vocal music.

· Kabuki-Kabuki is known for its exceedingly adapted moving and singing and also the involved make up worn by the predominately all male cast. The principal cases of kabuki utilized the hayashi from Noh . Later on, kabuki started fusing different instruments like the shamisen. The music of kabuki can be separated into : Tsuke, Shosa-ongaku,and Geza

2.Court Music (Gagaku)

Gagaku is an old court music from China and Korea. It is the most seasoned kind of Japanese, conventional music. Gagaku music incorporates tunes, moves, and a blend of other Asian-music. Gagaku has two styles; these are instrumental-music kigaku and vocal-music seigaku. Instrumental Music incorporates Kangen – fundamentally, a Chinese type of music and Bugaku – impacted by Tang Dynasty China and Balhae. Then again Vocal Music incorporates: – Kumeuta, Kagurauta, Azumaasobi, Saibara and Rōei

3.Traditional musical instruments

Most of these instruments have their origin in China but were modified and re-created to suit the Japanese culture, and the most essential of these were the shamisen, shakuhachi, and koto.

· The shamisen takes after a guitar; it has a long, thin neck and a little, rectangular body secured with skin. The shamisen is as often as possible used as a backup to Shamisenongaku, Kabuki and Bunraku exhibitions.

· The shakuhachi is a woodwind made of bamboo that is played by blowing toward one side. There are four openings in the front and one in the back, as it’s occasionally called a “five-holed bamboo woodwind” in English. The name of the flute is its length communicated in shaku an old Japanese unit of length.

· The koto, in the mean time, is a huge, wooden instrument with thirteen strings.It has a bended face, and the pitch is balanced with portable extensions put under every string. It’s played with picks worn on the fingers, like those utilized as a part of playing the guitar. Koto accompanies Sokyoku music. Currently it is used together with the Shamisen and Shakuhachi. Of the traditional instruments, the koto is likely the most well known and prominent.

Traditional music in the Modern Japan

As we conclude, lets focus on the influence Western music has on Traditional Japanese music. Western music, presented in the late nineteenth century, now frames an indispensable piece of Japanese society. Traditional Japanese performers now and then work together with advanced Western artists. Additionally, performers make new styles of Japanese music affected by the West yet utilizing traditional musical instruments. Outstanding established composers from Japan incorporate Toru Takemitsu and Rentarō Taki. Pop music in post-war Japan has been intensely affected by American and European patterns, which has prompted the advancement of J-pop(Japanese popular songs).

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Japanese Artwork

There are different types of Japanese artwork available. Japan has been known for its wide art. You will find a wide category of arts after you decide to search for the artwork from japan online. There mare many artists who have expressed the tradition of Japan as well as their own perception of different ideas in the Japanese history in different ways. You will easily learn such art from art pieces which they have produced. There are specific types of art which originated from Japan. You will find them being taught in schools as well as in other platforms of study.

 

Types of Japanese artwork

Painting

Painting is among the oldest forms of art in Japan. The plants are unique with distinct features. There are several Japanese painters who have produced creative pieces over the years. The art of painting has evolved over different Japanese periods. For example, the paints were once used in walls. The murals where mostly seen on temple walls. This displayed different historic events in the history of Japan. The history of Japanese paints is very long. There are several types of paints which were used in different periods of history. They play a crucial role in teaching the current generation about the history of Japan.

 

Pottery and Sculpture

Pottery and sculpture is among the arts from Japan. The art was first based on coils which were adored with ropes. But with time, the art has evolved to include different techniques. Pottery and sculpture is among top arts from japan which have attracted great audience. People who are interested in art visit Japanese museums from where they can learn different trends in the history of pottery which are expressed in pieces of art collected.

 

Bonsai

The art was developed about 2000 years ago. It involves a tree in pot. The potted plant art was started in Japan and it has attracted attention in different parts of the world. You will find people from different parts of the world applying the art in their daily lives to achieve great decorative values. The art involves planting a tree in a pot, but it does not stop there. It goes on to prune the tree in a definite shape which makes the tree to quality for the classification. The trees are crafted using Japanese techniques of crafting trees.

 

Ikebana

The art involves arrangement of flowers. The flowers are arranged following certain rules. The arrangement is aimed at attaining balance, harmony and elegant. There are several schools in Japanese which provide a formal form of training as a way of boosting the culture in Japan. The art is very different from other types of flower arrangements experienced in other parts of the world. It uses specific rules which are aimed at achieving certain trends.

 

Origami

This is an art which involves paper folding. The paper can be folded to achieve different shapes and patterns. It is an art which is taught in several Japanese schools. The art can involve combining paper to form things of different shapes. Trained artists can fold different sizes of papers to attain great designs. There are several artists in Japan who have perfected the art and are known to produce great designs.

 

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Writing in Japanese

You need to start by learning the basics of writing in Japanese if you will like to know how to write in the language. Japanese is among languages spoken in the Asian continent. You need to take time and learn the basics just like any other language if you will like to become fluent in the language. The language involves use of kanji characters and phonetic scripts. In order to know how to write in the language, you need to start by learning simple words. You can buy books which are meant for starters from where you will learn simple words and proceed till you master the language. At first, it can seem hard, but with time you will finally know how to write and read in Japanese.

 

Basics of writing in Japanese

Memorize the hiragana script

The script is used in the Japanese language. It accounts for every sound in the language. There are 46 characters in hiragana script. Each character represents a vowel and consonant. You can use the hiragana to write expressions and words. You need to take time and memorize each hiragana script so that you can apply it in all your writing exercises in Japanese. If possible, you can look for a tutor who will teach you on how you can easily memorize different characters in Japanese.

 

Study the katakana script

The katakana script consists of 46 symbols. The symbols create the same phonetic sound and hiragana script. The symbols are used for words which originated from other languages. The symbols are very helpful when trying to write or read about things such as Halloween. There are no vowels in Japanese language, all katakana are denoted by a dash. The script can take you weeks to learn but finally you will master it.

 

Study the characters in a handwritten font

Sometimes computer fonts will look different from handwritten fonts. In order to avoid confusion, start by learning handwritten fonts. Try to memorize as many scripts as possible when learning the fonts so that it will be easier for you to apply the scripts when writing in your own handwriting. Practice each day till you memorize all the 46 scripts.

 

Practice the proper stroke order

Stroke order is necessary to help you write faster. Try to write characters top to bottom then left to right. Horizontal strokes should be made before vertical strokes. Shapes should be made on the middle while doing strokes on the sides. Where dots or smaller strokes will be required, they should come last. Try to memorize the right angle for each stroke.

 

Write a sentence

Try to write simple sentences. Always start by writing in hiragana unless there are imported words. When writing verbs, nouns and adjectives use kanji. Always use the proper kanji if you decide to write using kanji. The strokes should be kept at the right angles.

 

Write in semi-cursive or cursive

If you will like to write faster, you can write in semi cursive or cursive. After you have mastered stroke orders, you can start writing characters in semi cursive or cursive. You need to be persistent so that you will master the writing skills.

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Learning Japanese

Here is the first step if you want to learn to write in Japanese. We will post more soon about Japanese arts and culture. Check back in a week or so.