Japan Blog Matsuri 9-’10: Music!

Japan Blog Matsuri

Awight! It’s the Japan Blog Matsuri for September! It’s all about MUSIC! Classic or contemporary, it continues to move us through the years. The evolution of Japanese music, like its culture in general, is particularly fascinating! I hope these articles serve to further incite your interest, as they did for me.

Last month’s host was Through Eyes from Afar, who did “Japanese Nature/Culture“! A great theme if I ever heard one.

As for this month, we have several entries, and they’re all pretty great!

Oh Enka!

If you had any misconceptions about enka, Rene lays them to rest — a short but informative entry educates us on the slightly traditional music style.

The Soulfuls

What causes great music to endure? It’s guts!! Franzi introduces us to soulful Kansai band Ulfuls.

J-Music and Me: The Little Guys

A degree of immersion in the music scene clues Blue Shoe in to the trials musicians in Japan must face in order to make a name.

Gig Going in Japan

In Japan, and perhaps everywhere, the size of the gig makes a world of difference for both fans and performers, as noted by Shaun.

Hooked on J-Pops Worked for Me!

Have you ever wondered if learning Japanese through J-Pop could actually be practical? Well, here’s Liv’s answer.

Shopping Boogie by Kasagi Shizuko

Harvey shares the history of a key song by the post-war Queen of Boogie that endures to this very day.

P5: Pizzicato Five

The early 90’s group that spearheaded the Shibuya-kei movement! Philip’s article is all about the 16-year band.

Pat Suzuki’s How High the Moon

A slower, sadder version of the classic Jazz song much sought after by Loco, sung by the American Jazz/pop singer.

Japanese Music

Tony mentions music’s ties to culture, his fondness for even national anthems, and Masayuki Suzuki.

Thanks to everyone who submitted! :D

Next month’s Matsuri can be found at Todd’s Wanderings, so be sure to shimmy on over there!

Japan Blog Matsuri September 2010 Theme Is…

Japan Blog Matsuri

Hello, and welcome! Nippon-Ichigo is this year’s host for September’s Japan Blog Matsuri theme!

A big thanks to last month’s host, Through Eyes from Afar, and their great theme “Japanese Nature/Culture“!

Aaand September’s theme is…

“Japanese Music!”

That’s right! I can’t believe this hasn’t been done yet. I’m a big fan, as are many others all over the world. Whether you’d like to talk about artists currently in the Japanese media, different aspects of Japanese musical style, your favorite Japanese songs, Japanese instruments of ancient times, or whatever else have you, it all fits into September’s theme! Just make sure your post follows the Japan Blog Matsuri guidelines for submission.

Rules and Guidelines

  • Include at least one picture. People need visuals!
  • Write enough substance. Not too many pictures, y’all.
  • And, of course, follow all the rest of these guidlines!

Ways You Can Submit

You should send me the url/link to your entry by doing these things:

  • Email me through the contact form on this site! (Preferred)
  • Email me directly, if that somehow fails: self (.) revolution at gmail (.) com
  • Leave a comment in this post with the link to your blog post!
  • Submit it through the Blog Carnival Widget!

Deadline: September 24th

Let’s get to it, and have fun with it! Feel free to contact me about questions, too. Yaaay!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pn5iU1m3NTk[/youtube]

Japanese Nature: Bugs (虫)

Mushi! Bugs! They’re all over the place! And the Japanese variety are just as abundant and cool. I’ve always been a fan of bugs, but sometimes people in Japan have a different kind of fandom going on…

(First things first! This is an entry for the August Japan Blog Matsuri, specifically Through Eyes From Afar’s Nature and Japan entry! Thanks, Lands From Afar Embassy! You should see what other J-bloggers also have to say about nature!)

Popular Mushi

If you’ve got any familiarity about Japan or even just anime, you already know about the Japanese rhinoceros beetle (甲虫 ~ Trypoxylus dichotomus) and the exciting fights they often engage in for money. That’s right, two males are pitted against each other, and people bet on which one will push the other off of a log or table first. Apparently it’s very popular to do in Ryukyu. (For some reason, I couldn’t find any video of this. Figures.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rAJOvmUANs&feature=search[/youtube]

The closest thing I found. How can you tell when a certain one will win, anyway? (I mean, when one isn’t robotic.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GFLxNF9LSs[/youtube]

They also make good pets. I WANT ONE.

Rhinoceros beetles are short-lived, but bright stars burn briefly.

Something you might not have known: The beetle has a fan page on Facebook. Only 18 people are fans as of this posting! C’mon people, these beetles are awesome. I actually owned the shell of a similar-looking beetle when I was a kid, but I lost it in a move. It was pretty awesome, though. It was as big as my hand. (I used to keep giant bugs’ shells after they died.)

Oh God get it away

Another much more horrifying mushi is the Japanese giant hornet (大雀蜂 ~ Vespa mandarinia japonica). Like the rhinoceros beetle, it looks pretty awesome, and I’m pretty sure there are some vehicles themed off of its appearance.

I'll admit I only knew these existed because of FLCL

I say they’re horrifying only because they are awful mass-murdering bastards, and on the off-chance you get stung by one you’ll probably be hospitalized.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fTrSOFyfxs[/youtube]

OH MY GOD RUN

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBDdIZiSgQ8[/youtube]

What happens when a terrifying killer engages my favorite insect? It’s not pretty. (This saddens me, as I only just found out that praying mantises can eat snakes…and I think birds, too. Holy crap, nature.)

Apart from being the enemy of bees, they’re a fine part of the balance of nature… I guess. Hey, who am I to question how nature works?

Some Household Mushi

Here in the US, bugs + indoors usually don’t mix. Me, I can’t get enough bugs, personally, but in Japan there are a handful of good-luck bugs that actually enhance the home. Bugs such as…

Whoa.

The huntsman spider (Sparassidae), which is actually harmless to people, and comes in varying levels of cute and fuzzy.

To this day, this is the only thing I think of whenever I hear "huntsman". Yeah...anyway...
Looks like something that could kill you, right?

And this gejigeji bug, Scutigera coleoptrata, the household centipede. Every kid is informed at a young age that centipedes (or was it millipedes…?) can freaking kill you, so I guess it becomes ubiquitous that avoiding them is necessary. However, these things are also cleaner-uppers for homes and actually won’t kill you. I love giant bugs that won’t kill you! Yay!

Miscellaneous Things About Mushi

Those insanely popular and/or infamous mushi, as well as others, are constantly featured in Japanese media.

The manga series Mushishi obviously takes its influence from little things crawling around in the ground, with its ubiquitous supernatural spirits (also called…”Mushi”) that have existed since time’s dawn.

Pokémon, great game series and childhood favorite of many, was originally inspired by bug-catching. Pokémon executive director Satoshi Tajiri-Oniwa enjoyed collecting bugs as a kid, as did I! Specifically, in an old TIME interview, he said,

The place where I grew up [in Machida, a western Tokyo suburb] was still rural back then. There were rice paddies, rivers, forests. It was full of nature. Then development started taking place, and as it grew, all the insects were driven away. I was really interested in collecting insects. Every year they would cut down trees and the population of insects would decrease. The change was so dramatic. A fishing pond would become an arcade center.

If you recall how the original two games played, there were always a lot of simple bug-catching kids in the beginning, and to this day there’s still lots of wading around in grass, looking for things… even if the pocket monsters these days have grown to ridiculous proportions.

There are several tokusatsu series with bug-themed heroes, such as the Kamen Rider series.

I was into American tokusatsu when I was 10, but I missed out, oh I missed out

Anyhow, bugs are awesome, and they’re a big part of Japan. Should I ever get the chance to go there, I want to go bug-watching. (I also want to hunt bugs in Australia, except I know I’ll probably definitely die over there.)

Flickr credits: kaidohmaru, burleydude, miguelitos91, sakichin, smashedpoodle

Also informative: here

Yokai: the Kappa!

The Study of Kappa

Although I didn’t like it very much at first, the kappa has quickly become one of my favorite mythical creatures. What is it that I like about them? Is it the fact that there are many different interpretations of them historically, or that they can be downright adorable in modern depictions? Or maybe it’s just that little bowl of water on their heads. Let’s talk about it some more!

But first, note that this is an entry for this month’s Japan Blog Matsuri. Mazikeen is hosting it this time! Awesome! Thanks, Mazikeen! Take a look at the other yokai-related entries, too.

Raising kappa: is it easy?

Anyway, kappa. At first I thought they looked terrible. Duck-things with reptilian bodies! It didn’t help that I don’t really like ducks or turtles. (Except sea turtles. They’re adorable. Kappa sea turtles would be adorable, too, I guess.) And if I were to see one in reality, they would frighten me. I mean, that’s just too creepy to see walk up to you, realistically.

But the cuter they look, the more acceptable they become… (Which I believe is a general rule. Do you think anybody would have cared about Pandora if all the Na’vi resembled Gremlins? Exactly.) Kappa are known as troublemakers, and also consumers of children. Of course, they don’t really seem to have any ill will towards humanity. Why else would we love them?

The kappa that appear in Muramasa: the Demon Blade are actually annoying as hell and frightening to boot, but the helpful kappa children that appear are ADORABLE.

I am in fact writing and drawing a short comic story for print centering around a kappa right now, which should be out later this year. Perhaps I’ll post about that then. Another one of my comics, this one online, involves many yokai and other types of demons, and a kappa may make its way into its story as well.

I can show you the kappa my mom drew for me for the print story:

D'awww.

Kappa Stuff

Ooo, scaaaary

The famous King Bowser Koopa from the Mario game series may have taken inspiration from kappa. He’s not very watery, though. You’ve got to admit, their names do sound similar. (His name actually is more closely inspired by a Korean food dish. Appetizing!)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMaa1FNbTFo[/youtube]

Trailer for an animated movie called “Summer Days with Coo”, which I absolutely need to see

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxUya5wCJg0[/youtube]

A very old series of ads spanning many years (1939-1980) for Japanese Sake Kizakura, using kappa

Stay! Good boy!

Kappa no Kaikata (カッパの飼い方, How to Breed Kappas) is an anime series about…raising kappa. I haven’t seen it, but it hosts an adorably unforgettable kappa.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fu5DYKOP3w[/youtube]

A Spore-created kappa with interesting…features.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtpxdWKNiJc[/youtube]

A kappa-related independent short animation

As you can see, the kappa is fairly popular in Japan. (Understatement!) I’m beginning to understand why! People cosplay them, they crop up here and there in stories of all forms, both ancient and modern, and they serve as friends, symbols, and mascots. Long live the kappa!

A very informative historical perspective on kappa: http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/kappa.shtml

Historical kappa pictures and Kappa mummies!!! from Pink Tentacle

Another nice kappa article: http://monsterama.blogspot.com/2007/10/clap-for-kappa.html

Top 7 Japanese Independent Short Animations

Awesome!

Yes! My personal Top 7. Why 7? Because it’s lucky!

I’m a great fan of short things; short stories, short animations. They’re all opportunities to show a powerfully concise moving, touching, or just plain funny story. They require a special kind of skill to execute, and all the better when they’re visually unique!

I won’t say too much about each of these animations, or else I would be spoiling them. Needless to say, they mostly speak for themselves.

This is my entry to this month’s Japan Blog Matsuri, as hosted by Muza-chan. Thank you, Muza-chan! (Not familiar with the Matsuri? Well, you should read up on it. You should also check out this month’s other entries.)

7. Takumi K. & Mayuko K. “Sarumomo”

Actually, this one is a little sad. Stories like this always make me cry… Yet, so sweet. Apparently there would be more parts to this, but I did not see them.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WMN0DMxr0Q[/youtube]

Continue reading Top 7 Japanese Independent Short Animations