Tag Archives: must see

All the Small Things: Studio Ghibli’s Newest Film “The Secret World Of Arrietty” Hits Theatres Tomorrow

16 Feb

Giant cat or tiny person? You can never tell with Studio Ghibli...

Chances are that even if you’re not overly familiar with anime, you’ve probably heard the name Studio Ghibli before, or watched one of their films without knowing it.

Akin to the Disney of Japan, with a huge following around the globe, Studio Ghibli movies have the unique distinction of  being  among the few Japanese films that get widespread release across the United States.

The latest film to grace the silver screen here in the US will be The Secret World Of Arrietty, a re-imagining of the classic English tale The Borrowers. Showing across a record number of 1200 screens, the film will be coming out tomorrow, February 17th.

While some of you may have already seen the Japanese version, or plan to catch The Secret World Of Arrietty after it’s available for at-home viewing, I highly encourage you to go see the film in theaters for a few different reasons. Continue reading

Interview with Matthew Meyer: Author and Illustrator of the Upcoming Book “The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons”

1 Sep

For those of you who loved my last article about Japanese folklore, you’re in luck: I recently had the opportunity to do an interview with the talented Matthew Meyer, professional artist and soon to be author and illustrator of the upcoming book The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons.

Featuring 100 distinct yokai that Matt has researched extensively (both by pouring over Japanese texts and speaking to residents of the Japanese village where he currently lives), this book will offer non-Japanese speakers a peek into the wonderful world of yokai.

But I’ll leave it to Matt to tell you more about his book, the inspiration behind it, and, some fun facts about life in Japan!

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1. Before I talk to you about your upcoming book The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons, would you mind telling me a little bit about how you first became interested in Japanese art and culture, and how that interest has impacted you as an artist and as an individual?

Hitotsume Kozou

Hitotsume Kozou

Like most people my age, I grew up surrounded by pieces of Japanese culture — Nintendo games, Japanese animation, the ninja craze of the 80’s, and Saturday afternoon samurai flicks on TV. I think these sparked an interest in Japan, though I was aware that I was getting a watered-down, American-filtered hybrid culture. Later I studied the art of Japan a bit more in art history classes. When I was in college I also had the opportunity visit Japan on a home stay program for one month, and there I was really able to witness firsthand what would become such a big influence on my life. I was studying illustration at an art school at the time, and the impact and simplicity of Japanese design — especially of the woodblock prints of the 18th and 19th centuries — struck me, and had a profound influence on my art. I knew that I wanted to come back to Japan, and so I did. And I have been living here for over 4 years now.

2. For those who aren’t overly familiar with yokai, could you explain a bit about them, and talk about why you chose to center your book on yokai specifically?

I’ve always been somewhat of a nerd, and interested in history and mythology of different cultures. The monsters of European mythologies — elves, dwarves, ogres, fairies, minotaurs, etc. — are well known to most people, at least indirectly, by the fantasy movies and games that way play. I had studied other cultures’ myths and folkore in school, and I had read many books on African, Native American, and Asian mythologies so I thought I was somewhat familiar with global folklore. But when I came to Japan I noticed that there was this “monster culture” that was completely different from what I was familiar with. I had known about Pokemon, and Godzilla, and things like that, but I had always thought of them as modern inventions without realizing that they had their own ancient roots. There is an entirely different universe of monsters and mythology over here that evolved separately from those of the West, and so it became a sort of an obsession for me to learn as much as I could about this branch of mythology that was almost invisible to the Western world. Continue reading

The Top 8 Must Visit Asian and Japanese Art and Culture Museums in the US

11 Aug

Ever since falling head over heels for anime and manga, it has been one of my life’s goals to visit Japan. And while I can’t wait to do the whole Akihabara thing, one of the things I’m most excited about doing in Japan is visiting some of the amazing museums it has to offer.

While it will take the equivalent of a small mortgage and learning to speak Japanese before I can fully appreciate the art and culture of Japan, there’s no reason that I can’t experience a great deal of Asian and Japanese art and culture in the meantime—albeit a little closer to my home in the good ol’ US of A.

So whether you live on the East Coast, the West Coast, or somewhere in-between, here are the top eight US museums where you can get your fix of Japanese and Asian culture!

The Freer and Sackler Gallery


Freer and Sackler Gallery
1050 Independence Avenue Southwest
Washington D.C., DC 20439-0001
(202) 633-1000

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The Freer and Sackler Gallery is the only museum I’ve visited on this list (so far), and I have one word for it: classy. As expected of the Smithsonian, they have done an amazing job with this museum. Everything from the collections to the architecture make this museum a gem.

While the museum focuses on Asian art and culture as a whole, they often have special exhibits that are from one particular country in Asia (such as Japan) and it’s always a real treat. They also frequently work with the  JICC (Japan Information and Culture Center), a part of the Japanese Embassy, to put together film festivals and other events, most of which focus on Japanese film and media.

If you are ever in the DC area, this museum is a must visit; even if you can only pop in for an hour or so, you will not regret it.

Japanese American National Museum Continue reading

Mameshiba: Because Only Japan Could Make Beans This Cute

7 Jul

I recently started watching the anime Ao No Exorcist (Blue Exorcist) and at least once during each episode, this commercial would crop up:

Needless to say, its cuteness left me completely enraptured, and for the first time in years I found myself not fast forwarding through a commercial.

And, as I can’tspeak Japanese yet, I thought to myself, “aww, how adorable; they must be advertising baby toys.”

Content with my idea of these little toys lining the shelves of Japanese toy stores everywhere, I didn’t give much more thought to what the commercial was actually advertising, thinking that something so cute could only be intended for the blissful masses of Japanese babies who would not doubt have many happy hours playing with them.

My idea that these pillowy rabbit/dog looking caricatures were intended for babies was only reinforced by this commercial, which cropped up after a few more episodes of Ao No Exorcist: Continue reading

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