Skip to main content

Some Translations for You

Here's the next round, of sorts, of articles that I've written: one was the interview of the minor-league pitcher, the next is an article on the Gion Matsuri I went to, and the last on is on the kagayuzen kimono dyer I went to visit. I've also been requested to provide a translation of one of the articles, so I'm going to translate this last one for you here, albeit very roughly:

[The one thing I like most about Japan is its "harmonious contradictions." Traditional and modern things are often mixed together in interesting ways. In Kanazawa's 3-choume, I went to visit Mr. Masanobu Ota's studio, Bunan, where he spoke to me about his work combining the traditional "kagayuzen" dying technique with his own modern twist.

Kagayuzen is very difficult and requires a lot of time. First, a base design is drawn in a blue, washable ink made naturally from flowers. Then, on top of that design, a paste made from rice is squeezed out from a tiny tip and is traced over the base drawing. Within those lines, a base color is applied little-by-little with small brush strokes. Finally, in order to make the drawing seem natural and with depth a gradient color is applied over the base color.

I was fortunate enough to get to try applying color to a practice design. A very small leaf took nearly five minutes to fill in. An entire kimono would easily take many months, and it is definitely a form of "wearable art." After trying for myself, a feeling of "ah, I also want to design something as beautiful as this" came to mind.

Foreigners and young people naturally think this form of dying is beautiful, but there isn't much opportunity for either group to wear a traditional kimono. In order to increase interest in kagayuzen, Mr. Ota is putting his traditional designs on modern. objects: coasters, iPhone stickers, and converse. In order to protect the traditions of kagayuzen, he is increasing its scope through modern, easily usable objects.

Thanks to a "global culture" and international cultural exchange many convenient and good things have come about, but there are also some downsides. For example, wherever you go in the world the same brands and stores crop up. Everyone wears the same clothes, listens to the same music, and eats the same food--experience becomes muddles and traditions fall to the side.

Japan however has managed to protect its traditions. Japanese shrines, temples, and traditional crafts are still present. More than other countries, I'd rather return to Japan because it is still unique. Its harmony of the traditional and the modern is what I find to be the most beautiful. ]

If the English sounds awkward it's because I was trying to stay as true to the Japanese as possible, without adding too much information.

And there I am looking serene and traditional, myself.


Popular posts from this blog

Final Touring Excursions

Tomorrow is my last day. It felt strange to write that sentence, knowing that I've been gone six weeks, which feels like both no time at all but also forever. Even though this is my fifth time coming to Japan (and the fourth for an protracted trip), the coming-and-going is something I don't get used to. Just as I start getting over my "ugh, I just want to go home" hump and settling in, well, it actually IS time to go home.

What have I done the past few days?

Well, on Sunday my host family and I took a drive to Yamanashi prefecture (re: near Mount Fuji) to visit the Oshino Hakkai, the Eight Sacred Ponds of Oshino. According to the signage, when people used to hike up Mount Fuji for pilgrimages, they would purify themselves in the ponds before starting their journey. And having stuck my hand in an (acceptable) corner of the main pond, Wakuike, it was FREEZING. Some other ponds have specific purposes, however. One was for people who wanted a good marriage, for instance.

Cat Cafe

Today I went with my host brother to a cat cafe for "research". Yes it is a cafe and yes it has (canned) coffee, but also I really really really wanted to go to a cat cafe. By doing a little research, I found one off a convenient train station that not only didn't require a reservation in advance, but had free drinks and was actually significantly less expensive for more time than other cafes. On to Nyankoto!

For cat lovers, this is paradise:

This shop had fifteen cats, each with their own names and personality described in a photo book:

This cat's name is Kinta and he's a mix--though most of the cats there were breeds I was unfamiliar with and had fur of various kinks and degrees of fluffiness. 
They were all very social, active cats as well.

Kinta greeted my host brother by literally jumping on his back. 
The other cats often ran around chasing each other (one was a very energetic kitten, so he was always pouncing on the others) or flopping down to be pet in co…

Shibuya and Ebisu

The past few days I've been in the Shibuya and Ebisu areas (think: south-west side of Tokyo) to check out some of the up-and-coming cafes, as well as wander around the neighborhood. I've decided that wherever I go, I'm going to find something to do in addition to spending 3-5 hours in coffee shops--while the research and the people I meet are incredible I do regret that I don't get to spend as much time exploring the other aspects of Tokyo. 
Yesterday in Shibuya I checked out The Local Coffee Stand, Coffeehouse Nishiya, and The Theater Coffee. The Local is a pretty unassuming space, even though it is on a main street. It's goal is to be the sort of jumping-off point for people just getting in to specialty coffee: they showcase beans from local roaster and run a website called "Good Coffee" in both Japanese and English to help people find "that local spot" in a neighborhood near to them. I'm including a link to the site, HERE. CLICK THIS.