Until next time,
In the last post on my Japanese Tea Ceremony experience (see the "Tea Ceremony" category to the lower right of this webpage), I mention a gift of a beautiful Japanese-style plate that I received from one of my tea ceremony teacher's students. My teacher mentioned that the student creates her works in her own home, so I took the liberty of contacting her, and asked if I could come by to check it out! She kindly agreed, so I'm happy to present the photo gallery of my short and sweet visit.
I also tried molding and painting a small cup with a bit of clay! As you can see, the attempt was quite flawed, but an attempt all the same. There are many ways in which to create a simple cup like this: you can take out a lump of clay and scoop it out to hollow it (apparently very difficult), you can roll it out flat like dough and shape it from there, or do what I was taught and take small chunks and roll them out into snake-like bits, connect the ends to make a circle , and stack one on top of another whilst using your fingers to blend the layers together.
While this was not an official lesson, these tidbits of information on the process I received from both the owner of the shed and her visiting friend were enlightening. As someone who has now practiced tea ceremony for a year, I was impressed to experience the creation of the tools I was using. Afterwards, I was lucky enough to receive a delicious meal, and was presented a clump of my very own clay to take home and practice! This clay was apparently good quality because of its ability to retain moisture, therefore making it easier to mold and fix. I may go play with it now!
Thank you for reading. :)
Until next time,
Asian Americans are a growing presence in media and literature of the world. Easily available and entertaining, I myself use these handy outlets as a way of becoming more aware of Asian-American issues around the world. I will share my favorite findings on this blog, as a part of my goal of encouraging the establishment of an Asian American Identity.
TODAY'S BOOK: THE NAMESAKE BY JHUMPA LAHIRI
Almost exactly this time one year ago, I did a book recommendation on another one of Jhumpa Lahiri's works, Interpreter of Maladies. Check out my post by going to the "Books" category to the right of the webpage, and scrolling down to the very first post. A Pulizter Prize-winning author, Lahiri's fictional works focus on the variety of experiences of Indian-Americans. The Namesake ended up hitting every sort of soft spot for me, set in the heart of Boston (where I go to school), with a focus on a character who struggles endlessly with his racial identity, beginning with his name.
As always, Lahiri's descriptions of Indian traditional culture (food, clothing, relationships, etc...) are breathtaking. But her true value on this blog lies in her ability to capture the flurry of mixed emotions and experiences that come with being multicultural. Whether we like it or not, our racial background effects our lives, from day-to-day life, to who we decide to spend our lives with. The Namesake is a masterpiece that encapsulates this phenomenon.
I found myself recognizing every single character in this book, regardless of cultural differences. I saw my own parents in the mother and father of the story, acknowledging the magnitude of their struggle to move from Japan. I saw myself and my siblings in their children, reliving the pains and joys of being third-culture kids. It is books like these that inspires me to recognize that Asian-Americans as a general community, verses specific groups such as Japanese-Americans or Chinese-Americans, have a collective experience. While I often focus on my Japanese-American identity on this blog, I am reminded of the importance of the Asian-American movement.
Its place on the New York Times Bestseller list is well-deserved! To read it was an intimate, emotional experience. I would recommend it to anyone!
Until next time,
As a Japanese-American with a mean sweet tooth, I am constantly on the hunt to find good-quality Japanese sweets (okashi). In this segment, スイーツタイムSweets Time, I will share with you my experiences of finding, making, and consuming Japanese sweets I find in America.
TODAY'S SWEET: KASTERA (カステラ)
Kastera (usually spelled "Castella," or "Kasutera") is moist sponge cake originally from Portugal, but brought to Japan by missionaries in the 16th century. It is a specialty in Nagasaki, one of the largest cities in the Kyushu island of Japan.
I found a simple recipe for the treat on the convenient site Japanese Cooking 101, and decided to test it out! Check out my experience in the video below:
Hope you enjoyed today's Sweets Time! Check out the category "Sweets Time" on the lower right of this page to see other Sweets Time blog posts!
Until next time,
Those who have come to this page for the first time, welcome! I'm so glad you're here. :) Before we go on, I would like to kindly direct you to the "Tea Ceremony" category to the right of this page. I have previously uploaded a number of blog posts on my experience in Japanese Tea Ceremony classes. If you would like to get a more thorough idea of my experience, please refer to this category, where all the episodes are located!
To the friends that have seen my page before, welcome back! Now that I am out of school, I can dedicate some time to begin my tea ceremony training again. I had my first class in months this week! I was excited to return to my studies, though I did make many a frustrating mistake. However, I am glad to say that my memory did not fail me entirely-- I had been taking classes from time to time in college.
For those of you who are endeavoring to learn the art of Japanese tea ceremony, I would recommend filming yourself. This is a great way to review each specific detail in a way that's difficult to express in words. If you'd like, click here to see me perform the ceremony. I would encourage anyone with even the slightest of interest to take a class! While it seems improbable that an opportunity would be nearby, there are tea ceremony associations that have offices all over the nation. It is a fascinating, cathartic experience. Please check out online what tea ceremony association is located closest to you!
My class today was a simple review of bonryaku temae, a certain way to serve tea that can be considered to be the most basic level. I may be able to try the next "level," usucha (thin tea) next week! Please stay tuned :) I was also lucky enough to receive a gift from one of my teacher's students! The gift is a beautiful, Japanese-style ceramic plate that the student made herself.
I was also able to take a look at some of the tea bowls, or chawan that she made in the classroom. They were extremely well made, and very comfortable to use during the lesson. After the guest drinks the tea, we are to "observe," or haiken the tea bowl to see how the remains of the tea has coated the bottom of the bowl. These particular bowls made the tea look like green leaves painted against a blue sky to me. I'd honestly never seen a keshiki (view) so beautiful.
As you can see, I am thoroughly impressed with her work! I am hoping to see if this student will allow me to watch, or even take a lesson from her in ceramics! If so (fingers crossed), I will most definitely blog about it. Tea ceremony has allowed me to appreciate Japanese ceramics, so I would be ecstatic if I could understand the philosophy behind its beauty.
Thank you for reading!
Until next time,
Hello friends! I apologize for my inexcusable 5-month-long absence, this past semester has been a chaotic whirlwind to say the least. I am happy to say that now my finals are officially over and done, and I can come back to justajae for the summer! As fitting for a comeback, I have a couple of exciting announcements to make. Stay tuned until the end of the blog post to check out what I'm planning for the summer, and this upcoming school year!
I will be starting this summer's blogfest with one of my favorite segments, a drama recommendation. Dramas are an internationally popular aspect of broadcast television in many Asian countries. For myself, a Japanese-American, it was through the lens of Japanese television dramas that I was able to practice the language, and experience the culture. This experience, of course, is a sensationalized, possibly warped one, but it most definitely holds cultural relevance. Whenever I meet Japanese students, dramas are one of the first topics I utilize to break the ice.
I recommend dramas here for this reason; television, film, and media, while having a dark side (paparazzi, misinformation, and of course, money and power) is a beautiful thing that connects people on a global level. It allows people to see, and understand the world to an extent that has never been possible in the past. I encourage the the utilization of the resources that technology has brought to us in the process of developing racial identity. This could be both within the growing Asian-American movement, and on an individual level.
Today, I'd like to look at an example of an international phenomenon: remakes between countries. (Note: click on the photos for links)
YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL (미남이시네요) & IKEMEN DESU NE (美男ですね) / HANA YORI DANGO(花より男子) & BOYS OVER FLOWERS (꽃보다 남자)
Today, I'll be looking specifically at the remakes between Japanese and Korean dramas, two of the most popular Asian drama producers. It is fascinating to watch one drama, and then the other. The stories are almost identical, and yet the presentation is completely different. I'll tell you my perceptions of the four dramas I will look at today, but I would enjoy reading any commentary on your impressions. Please leave a comment in the section below, on my Google+ page, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
First, I'll be looking at one of my favorite Korean Dramas, You're Beautiful. The gender-bender romantic comedy follows the story a girl who stands in for her twin brother in an all-boy band, and all the complications that followed. The hit original Korean series aired in 2009, garnering high acclaim both within and outside of Korea. It is filled with the glitz and glamour of a typical Korean drama. Beautiful people, extravagant settings (it is the life of a rock star, after all), and a string of romances between all those involved. I must admit that I get bored with certain Korean dramas, but this is not among them. The chemistry between the main characters is perfect, and the story never gets old!
In 2011, Japan aired a remake of You're Beautiful, dubbing it Ikemen desu ne, roughly translating to "You're Handsome." It received generally good ratings in the Tokyo area, and has a relatively large fan base. Excluding a few cultural references, the story remained similar. As most remakes of my favorite dramas make me feel, I found this drama a bit off-target. There was definitely less glamour in the costumes, setting, lighting, and make-up. All of the flashiness and perfection in the Korean version seemed to be toned-down, and subdued. And of course, the coupling of Park Shin-hye and Jang Keun-seuk is unbeatable.
Now here's the big one. In 2005, TBS aired the global hit Hana Yori Dango, a television series based off of a manga by Yoko Kamio. The general setup looks similar to You're Beautiful, right? One girl surrounded by an entourage of men. A young lower-class girl Makino gets into one of the most prestigious schools in the country. There, she encounters a group of wealthy boys called "F4" who rule the school. Through a series of unfortunate events, Makino becomes the bullying target of the group's head, Domyouji. Makino retaliates, a surprise that makes Domyouji begin to fall for her. The series follows their growing relationship, which extended to 2 seasons, and finally a movie.
It is clear that this drama was inspired by a manga-- the comical actions, the cutesy romance, and the impossible situations that come rolling in one after another. Not that this is a bad thing! It is simply a particular, Japanese style.
In 2009, the South-Korean television series Boys Over Flowers aired. As you can see just by these photos, the two series have distinct presentations. Setting aside Lee Min-ho's slightly ridiculous effort to curl his hair, the actors in the Korean remake are, as usual, flawlessly polished. The range of F4's wealth is also excessively magnified. Boys Over Flowers has become one of the most popular Korean dramas viewed internationally. As always, I must criticize the remake-- particularly its great length, and the way the chemistry between the main characters seems a bit unsatisfactory in comparison to the original. And of course, the overly perfect feeling produced at the expense of the Japanese manga style.
I can blabber on and on, but just looking at these two pairs of dramas one sees a difference in focus, artistic portrayal, and culture between Korea and Japan. However, it is also interesting to see the stories that became popular in both countries. For example, both these dramas have a focus on a singular female effecting multiple males, wealth, and glamour.
It's also important to point out that both these original dramas have multiple remakes. Both have Taiwanese remakes, for example. I cannot vouch for them since I have not seen them, but I believe it would be fascinating to view the story through the eyes of yet another Asian culture.
Now, I've written way to much! I must end soon. But first, I'd like to make a couple of announcements about some exciting upcoming events! Firstly, I will be going on multiple trips to Japan this summer, and will be vlogging/blogging the experience all the way through! Secondly, in the next school year I am officially studying abroad! Where to will be a surprise :). Stay tuned for more posts, and thanks for reading!
Until next time,
Welcome to justajae, a blog/vlog racial project working towards processing the Asian-American identity, and encouraging the spread of education of Asian and Asian-American culture.