Japan made itself rich in its industrial era by selling things like cars, TVs, and VCRs, but it made itself loved in those Lost Decades by selling fantasies. Hello Kitty, comics, anime, and Nintendo games were the first wave—“the big can-opener,” as the game designer Keiichi Yano put it. Now those childhood dreams haven given way to a more sophisticated vision of a Japanese life style, exemplified in the detached cool of Haruki Murakami novels, the defiantly girly pink feminism of kawaii culture, the stripped-down simplicity of Uniqlo, the “unbranded” products of Muji, and the Japanese “life-changing magic” of Marie Kondo. That these Japanese products are so popular, not only in America but in developed nations around the world, may indicate that we’re all groping for meaning in the same post-industrial haze.
On a warm November morning last month, I was in the grandstands for the Japanese Eastern Command’s Parade of the Eastern Army. As the seats around me slowly filled before the performance, I noticed a pair of young men in puffy down jackets on the tarmac below. Peering more closely, I could make out the action figure of a female heroine from an anime series between them. One of the young men took a photograph of the toy and, apparently satisfied with his framing of the mini-skirted cartoon girl against the backdrop of military vehicles, returned the figure to his companion’s satchel and then mounted the stands.
This recipe couldn’t be easier. You just toss the cucumbers in salt, let them sit for 5 or 10 minutes, then gently squeeze out the excess water. Then you mix the cucumber slices in a fragrant blend of sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce.
A fantastic blog on Japanese language, literature, and culture. I revel in this. (And this is what a blog should be — written only so often, and every post is high-quality. Comments are few and long and educated and of very high quality themselves.)
"Asako Narahashi’s series 'half awake and half asleep in the water,' at Yossi Milo Gallery in New York (July 17-August 22, 2008), shows Japan’s coastal areas as seen from the sea. Using a waterproof camera and watching the tide instead of the viewfinder, Narahashi captures a vision of Japan—and of the world—that is at once calming, eerie, enchanting, and unsettling. She is only occasionally swallowed by waves in the process. "
I.e.: "She spends her evenings reading manga and drinking at home alone, and she spends her weekends lazing around in bed. She’s a dried-fish woman." And whatever you do, do not miss the Bottom-Biting Bug.
"Since tradition is fictive, there is no reason to feel genetically allied to a tradition. Everyone can freely choose the fictive tradition they wish to work with. Every artist may work with any of the elements found on the planet. Whether an artist can produce something new and exciting from that depends on not the origin of the artist but the artist’s ability."