Kyoto and Kurosawa

May 13, 2018

By Yu Sakamoto, Daiki Tabuchi, Kyosue Maruyama

 

Many classic Japanese movies were made on location in Kyoto in the 1950s. The movie industry in Japan started from Kyoto. Uzumasa is a district in western Kyoto that was once called the “Hollywood of Japan.” During the height of Japanese filmmaking in the 50s, Kyoto was a bustling film centre. The first time ever a movie was screened in Japan was in Kyoto. This movie industry created a lot of economic vitality and developed into one of Kyoto’s major cultural industries.

One of Japan’s most famous directors and screenwriters, Akira Kurosawa (1910 – 1998), made many movies in Kyoto. In his films he explored human nature with sharp insight and innovative imagery. His films influenced many film directors all over the world.

Filming The Seven Samurai, courtesy of Eiganotomo

The Seven Samurai

One of the most classic films in the history of Japanese Cinema is  The Seven Samurai (1954), which  takes place during the Sengoku (Warring States) period.

This movie, which was made by Akira Kurosawa, is known all over the world. Many international directors have said that this was a great influence on their own directing.  George Lucas, the director of one of the most popular movie franchises today, Star Wars, has said The Seven Samurai was one of his great influences.

In the Sengoku era, ronin or masterless samurai roamed the countryside. One farming village was constantly being attacked by bandits, so they decided to hire samurai to help defend their village. Samurai originally were often like bodyguards. Thus, seven samurai were hired by the villagers, to protect the farmers and their village. They battled the bandits in several sequences. This is the basic story of this movie.

One of the great points of this movie is its realism. Old clothing was really used. Helmets and armor were authentic. The sounds of this era were imagined and incorporated.  In some scenes the house were actually destroyed. Kurosawa took great care in the details so that the world he created seemed real.

Kurosawa directed people with passion. He occasionally said, “I don’t decide which scene was used.” He was a risk taker and did not cut corners.

Rashomon

Rashomon is one of the most famous novels and movies in Japan. It was written by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, one of Japan’s most famous writers and it was made into a movie by Akira Kurosawa in 1950. The title of this movie is Rashomon, but the contents are a little different from the original novel, and in fact, it describes events from two novels: Rashomon and Yabunonaka.

This movie was filmed using mirrors instead of reflectors to take advantage of the natural light. In the first scene Akira Kurosawa used hoses and water mixed with black ink to shoot a powerful image of rain in monochrome. This technique was also used in the battle scene of The Seven Samurai. He used many innovative techniques in his movies. Therefore, his works gradually came to be known around the world.

 

Akira Kurosawa

 

Noh-men

By Sayaka Terasaki, Mai Takezawa, and Kanako Wakamatsu

Introduction

There are a lot of arts in the world, of course, Japan has many art forms too.  One of them is performing arts, for example, Kabuki, Kyogen, and Noh. All of them are traditional arts and Japanese people cherish and are proud of these arts. Today, we would like to introduce you to Noh, especially Noh-men, which is a type of mask used in Noh. We are going to introduce the topic, Noh-men divided in these 4 topics.

1. What is Noh-men?

2. What is Noh?

3. History of Noh (Noh-men)

4. Kinds of Noh-men

Noh

What is Noh-men?

Noh-men is a mask that is used in a kind of play that is called Noh. It is said that the mask, Noh-men, was born in the middle of Muromachi Era (1338~1573). The mask, Noh-men, has many variations, and it is said that there are over 200 kinds of Noh-men today. People wear Noh-men and perform a play, Noh. Most Noh-men are created to be a smaller size than people’s face, so the audience can see Noh players’ chins under the Noh-men. However, this is the intended size. In addition, the eye holes of the Noh-men are very small. Because of this, it is very difficult for Noh-player with the mask to see clearly, so that they sometimes even they lose their bearings on the stage. In general, Noh-men has a fixed expression. It is very difficult to perform and act a play with the expressionless mask. However, Noh players can make expressions with the Noh-men. The way of making expressions with Noh-men is moving their face. If people want to express happy feeling, they raise their face up. The Noh-player shows that they are likely smiling to the audience. It is called teruin Japanese, and it means bright or shining. On the contrary, if people want to express a sad feeling, they hang their face down. They show that they are likely crying to the audience. It is called kumoru in Japanese, and it means cloud or depression.

Noh-men

What is Noh?

​ There are many surviving Japanese traditional performing arts such as kabukinoh-gaku and so on. Noh plays are often performed with comedic kyogen plays.  Together these performances are called Noh-gaku. Noh is a drama with stylized singing and dancing. The main theme of Noh is mostly about occult, but it is said that it is very elegant. One of the characteristic points of Noh is the scale of stage. Compared with Kabuki or a modern play, Noh does not have large sets and properties. Also, there are no curtains between stage and auditorium. The stage of Noh is wide open and simple. There are more than 240 programs which are still performed in Noh stage. Recently, some performers of Noh tried to make new program of Noh.

Noh Theater

History of Noh

​It is said the Noh came from China. Before the Edo Period, (1603 – 1868) it was called Saru-gaku. In the Heian Period (754 – 1185), Saru-gaku was mixture of mimicry and skit. It was often danced by farmers to celebrate a rich harvest. In the Muromachi Period (1333 – 1568), some nobles liked the dance of Noh, then it became sublime culture. In the Meiji Period, one famous theater, the Noh-gakudsha was built in the Shiba park where in Tokyo. At around the same time this was built, people started to call this performing art, “Noh”. That theater was called the symbol of Noh and many famous people, such as the empress, visited this stage to watch Noh. In the end of the 14th century, two prodigy performers Kan-ami and Ze-ami emerged. Kan-ami and Ze-ami were father and son. The father, Kan-ami made the new style of Noh, which was a mixture of traditional Noh and a rhythm like rap music. It was pretty novel at that period. The son, Ze-ami changed the refined the impression of Noh to a more formal style. Before Ze-ami changed the impression of Noh, it was very casual, because the interest of story was main point of Noh. But he changed the main point to music and dance. Noh was one of the means to entertain nobles, but on the other hand, it has an important role for charming and oblationa for gods. Noh-gaku was registrated as a World Intangible Heritage in 2008.

Kinds of Noh-men

Next, I’ll explain kinds of Noh-men. It is said that there are approximately 250 kinds of Noh-men in total and its basic shape is approximately 60 kinds. Hon-men were masks made from the Muromachi Era to the Azuchi-momoyamaEra (1573 – 1600).  People began making Noh-men by imitating the form of Hon-men which was the original menor mask.

Okina

Each family danced a Noh dance as a mark that gave a heart of the submission in  Yamato Imperial Court.  At that time, the leader of a family recited poetry. This custom is considered to be the source of the Okina dance. The Okina mask was made for it. It is said that Okina is oldest mask in Noh-men.

Onna-men

Onna-men was based on masks from the mask in Nara(dates) and Heian Era. It can express all the feelings of humans in Nogaku theatre with just one mask. There are 3 types of men.  One is shown as a young, beautiful woman who rose in dignity.  Another is a young girl with the common touch. The third is expressed the middle-aged woman who rose in dignity.

Otoko-men

It expresses the elegant aspect of a young, aristocratic-looking man and children of the Heike.

Jyo-kei

It expresses an old man’s face.

Kishin

It was made in early times and it expresses the supernatural, including an ogre and the long-nosed goblin.

Onryo

It expresses a departed soul. These souls have regretful feelings in the world. Ayakashi, which represents a military commander and looks like a scraggy man and a frog represents the soul of man. Mountain witch and Deigan with the eyes lined with gold paint represents the soul of woman.

Conclusion

Noh has continued to be performed, until modern times, since the middle of the Muromachi Era (1338-1573) Although it has a long history, it has been changed little by little. Japanese people value this tradition and will pass down it to posterity. That’s why still exists in our culture.

We can watch Noh for a reasonable price, about 2000 yen to 4000 yen in Japan. A Noh play lasts about two and a half hours.  Although it is a traditional art, there is no dress code for people attending the play, and even casual wear is not any problem at all. Even a T-shirt and jeans is all right. We hope that you have a chance to watch a Noh play and to see Noh-men once.

Kamishichiken and its shops

by Riho Miyagi, Akane Mukai and Yuuka Yamazaki

 

Kyoto has a lot of popular sightseeing spots, for example, Kinkakuji-temple (金閣寺), Kiyomizu-temple (清水寺), and Fushimiinari-shrine (伏見稲荷大社). Speaking of famous places, do you know any essential and passionate places in Kyoto?

 

What is Kamishichiken?

Kamishichiken” is a district of northwest Kyoto. It is the oldest of the five hanamachi  in Kyoto and located east of the Kitano Tenmangu-shrine. Local people pronounce it as “Kamihichiken”. In Kanji, it means “Seven Upper Houses”. In the Muromachi Period, seven teahouses were built from tools and material leftover from the rebuilding of the Kitano Tenmangu-Shrine. Kamishichiken has many traditional wooden buildings, some of which are teahouses or geisha houses. There are approximately 25 maiko and geiko in Kamishichiken now and they entertain in 10 teahouses in Kamishichiken. It is located in Kyoto’s Nishijin area, which is famous for traditional textiles.

 

The Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theater

The Kamishichiken kaburenjo theater, considered by many to be the main symbol of this small Geiko district, is one of the few remaining wooden theaters. The Kamishichiken kaburenjo is the largest building in Kamishichiken. It is known for the performances of Maiko. Maiko learn and practice their songs and dances here every day. Their performance takes 1.5 hours. There are 20 performers dressed in kimono. This dance performance was first held as Kitano Odori in March 1952, to commemorate the 1050th year anniversary of Sugawara-no-Michizane’s death. He was a highly ranked court noble to whom Kitano Tenmangu shrine is dedicated. It also featured the tea ceremony, where Geisha prepare bowls of Japanese tea and sweets. The performance is considered as both elite and tasteful. The Kitano Odori performance opens on March 25th and ends April 17th. In addition, from July 1st until August 31st, a beer garden is open to the public at Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre and offers unique chance to be served by maiko and geiko.

 

Shops near kamishichiken

The area around Kitano Tenman-gu shrine has lots of wonderful shops and cafés. I recommend you try shaved ice with real fruit syrup in summer time at KONOHANA.  At another shop, YUSURAGO, yuzu-flavored ice is very popular. Yuzu is a fruit. produced by a tree belonging to the Citrus family and is similar to oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruit.. Another area shop is MAEDA, which is famous for baby sponge cake. Baby sponge cake can be eaten in all seasons and can be brought back home. If you want to eat Japanese sweets I recommend TENZINDO. This shop serves rice cakes, one for only 100 yen, so it’s very reasonably priced. And I really want to recommend NERIYA HACHIBE. This shop is famous for bracken-starch cake. This cake comes in two flavors: kinako (soybean flour) and matcha (powdered green tea). Matcha is now popular throughout the world, so you should try it. Kyoto is famous for tofu (soy bean curd) and yuba (bean curd skin). If you want to try one of these I really recommend TOYOUKE CHAYA. This shop is famous for tofu and yuba. you can enjoy traditional Japanese flavors at these shops.

 

Kamishichiken is not as famous as other hanamachi, but there are many interesting and fantastic shops here. Once you go, you can absolutely feel the core of Kyoto culture.

 

Kyoto Animation culture

By Keisuke Sakamoto, Tsukasa Sumikawa and Kinjyou Tetsuya

 

              Kyoto Animation Culture

Have you ever seen Japanese animation?  The quality of Japanese animation is very high and often admired by people in other countries. What do you think about animation? Perhaps Tokyo is mosy well known for animation culture. Especially, Akihabara is the most famous for Japanese animation. Not only Tokyo, but also Kyoto. is famous for animation culture. We will introduce attraction of Kyoto animation.

 

1 History of the Kyoto Animation Company

Kyoto Animation Company, Ltd. was founded in 1981. Its office is located in Minatoku-Tokyo. This company opend an animation school. Kyoto animation is not it Anime Studio. A husband and wife team of Mr. and Mrs. Yata founded the Kyoto Anime Studio, but only Mr.Yata manages it at the present time. in the 90’s, Kyoto animation designed a package of games. The most successful and famous character which was made by Kyoto Animation is Noroino-One-Piece. this work is made only by the staff of the Kyoto Animation office. In 2005, Kyoto Animation became a brand. In 2006, animation of Suzumiya Haruhi was broadcast. At the same time this animation became the most popular animation in Japan. In 2009, an animated move made K-ON! famous. Because, of his popularity, the musical instrument which a character used in the animated movie got a sales boost and a book series was published.

 

2Kyoto Animation Production

Kyoto Animation made various animation series

1.Noroino-One-Piece

In 1990 Noroino-One-Piece was introduced. This story is horror and the animation consisted of a short story. This animated story was the first product which was made by Kyoto Animation.

2.AIR

In 2005 made AIR. This animation is a love story and it was a trilogy. AIR was originally a computer game. It was made into an anime by Kyoto Animation. There are 12 episodes in all.

3.Suzumiya Haruhi-No-Yuutsu

In 2006, Kyoto Animation created the popular character, Suzumiya Haruhi. This animation is an SF story and Kyoto Animation is very famous since Kyoto Animation’s careful work is widely recognized. Yuutsu means depression in English. This anime is separated into 2-parts. There are 28 episodes of Suzumiya Haruhi-no-yuutsu in all.

4.Raki☆Suta

In 2007, Kyoto Animation created Raki☆Suta. This animation focuses on daily life. Raki☆Suta helped establish otaku culture. There are 24 episodes.

5.CLANNAD

The next Kyoto Animation series is CLANNAD. This animation is impressive. CLANNNAD was originally a computer game like AIR. This anime is separated into 2-parts. There are a total of 44 episodes.

6.K-ON!

In 2009, Kyoto Animation made K-ON!. This animation story about band club. This animation economic effect is 150 million. K-ON! caused a social phenomenon. This animation most sold in Kyoto Animation Company. K-ON! made young people entering band club in Japan. also, K-ON! became a movie. K-ON! is extremely popular with a lot of people even now. This anime is separated into 2-parts. There are 41 episodes in all.

7.Hyouka

In 2012, Kyoto Animation made Hyouka. This animation is based Japanese literature. Hyouka was originally a novel. This anime is separated into 2-parts. There are 22 episodes in all.

8.Free!

In 2003, Kyoto Animation made Free!. This animation story is about a water polo club. all Free!’s characters are handsome. So, Free!’s characters are very popular with young girls who likes animation. This anime became a movies. Free!’s main character is a man who never before appeared in work of Kyoto Animation. This anime is separated into 2-parts. There are 25 episodes in all.

Theseabove animations are representative of Japanese animation.

9.Koe-No-Katachi

This animation movie is going to screen in 2006, in September. This animation movie story is about a girl who was bullied because of her hearing disorder by a malicious boy. This animation wants to tell people about how it is difficult for people to communicate with a handicapped person. The story’s setting is Gifu Prefecture. Koe-No-Katachi is originally a comic. The original piece won the best comic in 2015. Because of this the movie will very interesting. Also, I recommend for people to see this animation movie. There were 7volumes in the original piece.

 

3 Location

Kyoto Animation Corporation’s head office is located in Kowata, Uji City, Kyoto-Prefecture, Japan. A lot of fans of this anime visit this place. Many of them take a photo in front of here with themselves. They have two studios to produce animation. The first one is in the Fushimi area, Kyoto, Kyoto. The second one is in close to the head office in Uji. And under the second studio, there is Kyo-ani shop. Many anime products are sold here. The branch office is located in Akasaka, Minato Ward, Tokyo. A subsidiary is in Chuo Ward, Osaka and named Animation Do. To go to the head office or shop, a person must get on the Keihan Rail-way Uji line and Get off at Kowata Station.

 

4 Jobs at Kyoto Animation

1.Animator

The designer not only paints a picture but is also an entertainer.

Video designer specializes in making a fair copy finely.

2.Digital Painting

Kyoto Animation uses software named RETAS STUDIO Paintman to color or fix pictures.

3.Scene Maker

It is very important for this worker to use poster colors freely. Recently, scene designers must paint a picture, by scanning materials

 

5 Production System

There is no outsourcing production company. All animation, fine arts, photography and production are done by an in-house system. However, the digital effects are outsourced under the close supervision of the staff.

 

6 Recommendation Anime

We’d like to recommend the best three stories of Kyoto Animation.

Third Place, AIR

The reason that we choose it is that it is a moving story and the town scenery is very beautiful. The opening song’s name is Tori-No-Uta. This song is very majestic. The character who we recommend is Misuzu KAMIO because she is very cute.

Second Place, K-ON!

The reason that we choose it as second runner-up is we think that it has funny comedy and a character who makes an impression. The appearance of the character is very pretty. We want to enter a band club when we watch K-ON!. The character which we recommend is Azusa NAKANO. She plays the guitar and she is very serious.

First Place, Hyouka

The reason that we choose it as No.1 is that it is the most mysterious animation of Kyoto Animation.   Hyoka teach us about old Japanese literature. Another reason is that this animation combines comedy and mystery. Our recommended character is Titanda Eru. She likes reading a book. She has a spirit of inquiry to know about people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Long Journey of Becoming a Maiko

by Mayumi Otsuka, Mai Takezawa, & Kanako Wakamatsu

In Japan, geiko are women who wear beautiful kimono, paint their face white, perform songs or dances, and play a traditional Japanese stringed instrument called the shamisen. Geiko have existed for about 300 years, and are more commonly known as ‘geisha’ outside of Japan.

Originally, geiko were the girls who served tea. Later, the tea was changed to alcohol, and the girls came to not only serve alcohol, but also perform songs or dances. At this time, the girl was called a geiko. To become a geiko requires lots of training. Girls who train to be geiko are called maiko. Now, geiko and maiko are one of the most popular symbols in Kyoto. Not everyone can be a maiko; there are certain qualifications. In this article, we are going to introduce 3 important points related to how to become a Maiko: age, house rules, and strict training. We are going to reveal some surprising facts about Maiko, too.

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Maiko


Age of Maiko

Only girls between the ages of 14 and 17 can start their training, and the age limit is 20. The reason is due to child labor laws. These girls must decide their future after they graduate from junior high school, but they do not need to worry about their school career and other requirements. Maiko must also have Japanese nationality.

House Rules

Maiko must live and train in a training house called an ‘okiya’. In the old days, because being a maiko was thought of as deeply traditional work, generally families who had connections or relationships with an okiya could send their daughters to become maiko. But nowadays present Japan is modern, so there are some websites for finding the right okiya and also for the recruitment of new maiko.

There are 5 main organizations of maiko and geiko. It is called ‘Gokagai’ in Japanese. They are Gionkoubu, Miyagawachou, Pontochou, Kamishitikenn and Gionhigashi. When a girl is introduced to one okiya, she can meet the landlady. However, nowadays maiko is an especially popular job among woman, so if there is no financial support from the okiya, she cannot go to train.

The last trial is an interview with the landlady. The landlady looks to see if the girl can put up with the hard training of being a maiko. She also looks at how much mutual understanding their is between the girl and her parents. If she judges that the girl cannot put up with the hard training or is not suitable for this work, then she rejects the girl.

Life in an okiya is unimaginable for us. Maiko is a traditional thing, so there are many strict and traditional rules. Okiya is a place where people gather, so maiko have to live in a community-style life. Okiya is not a for-profit business; they pay for all of the girls: their life, their food, clothes, makeup tools and more. For this reason, the landlady is always very strict. She always judges the girls, and tests their strong intentions and humanity. It is said that one’s look is not the most important qualification of being a maiko, but you have to improve both your humanity and figure.

Maiko Training

After the final interview, at last the training will start. The training term is called the ‘preparation term’. The girls live in the okiya, and learn Japanese dance, Kyokotoba, behavior, and the manner which is called ‘iroha’ in Japanese. The landlady and other trainers check the girls behavior in daily life. The girls have no free time of their own. Half of applicants fail on this point. It means the training is so hard, and they must do their best every time. Maiko is beautiful work on the outside, but the hidden side is strenuous and challenging. At this point, it is hard for the girls to imagine that luxurious work of a geiko is in their near future.

Once girls finish the preparation term, they can be a maiko. Before then, they are called ‘minaraisan’ which means ‘not enough’. The main work place is called ‘ozashiki’, where the girls can treat customers with their dance or song. After 5 years of being a maiko, it is called ‘nennki’ in Japanese. They cannot receive a wage because they have to give the okiya their money during the training term. Also, they cannot quit their job.

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Maiko in Ozashiki


Being a maiko is a specific job because maiko is not the end goal; it is a training position. When girls become about 20, they are eligable to be a geiko, which is the main goal for a maiko.

How to Become a Maiko

The shape of a girl’s body is certainly an important point toward being a maiko. Girls must wear shoes called ‘oboko’, which are 10cm high, so the girls cannot be too tall. Also, a Maiko must be accomplished in several areas, so they must develop skill in Japanese dance, Japanese songs, and in playing the shamisen. They also must learn kyokotoba, which is the traditional Kyoto dialect. The work of Maiko is hard, so girls must find ways to work hard and overcome their difficulties.

Maiko Puts On Oboko


Surprising Facts About Maiko

There are some prohibitions in the maiko world. The first is that girls cannot take a bath for a week, because their hairstyle is difficult to make again. Second, is that girls must not enter food stores and cafes, because the image of the maiko is important. Maiko must maintain the pure image of traditional culture. Third, maiko are prohibited from using a cellphone in the presence of other people. This is also related to the problem of maintaining a traditional image. Finally, maiko are not supposed to talk while they are walking. It is a kind of maiko manner.

Finally, after finishing this strict training, maiko can become geiko. As we said before, it is very strict. However, it is a traditional thing, so we should not be quick to change the rules, but rather protect the traditions to maintain the image of Kyoto throughout the years.

Conclusion

A maiko is a woman who trains as a Geiko. To become a maiko you have to be 14~17 years old, and have Japanese nationality. To train as a geiko, maiko have to live in okiya and do a lot of strict training related to performance, behavior and so on. Maiko is one of symbols of Kyoto and also one of the old Japanese traditions, so we have to respect this tradition. In addition, one of the maiko’s manners is that they cannot talk while they are walking, so if you see Maiko on the road, you cannot talk to them. This is the reality of the maiko.

Non-verbal Performance GEAR

by Kanako Murakami and Ayane Yoshikura

NON-VERBAL PERFORMANCE GEAR

GEAR is non-verbal performance group from Kyoto, Japan. 5 performances, ballet, juggling, pantomime, magic and break dance make up this show. In addition it uses projection mapping and laser as direction of light. The show is performed on a realistic stage that moves. It is excellent and enjoyable performance art.

The story we saw is as follows. Four Roboroids working at a disused factory meet a doll that has a human heart. The doll has a miraculous power and gradually, the Roboroids have a human heart too. You will be amazed that someone can represent these feelings so strong and delicately non-verbally.

The show is held at Sanjyo Gokomachikado, Nakagyouku, Kyoto city, Kyoto. The 1928 building has historic value. It was chosen for its cultural properties in 1983. You can see this orange building has a star design at the exterior and peculiar balcony, called “art deco”.

Art Complex 1928

Art Complex 1928

You can choose 3 prices of tickets. To purchase tickets, you can buy the tickets from internet or telephone. GEAR’s website is written in 4 languages, Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean so everyone can buy the tickets. In fact, a lot of foreign tourists visit GEAR.

If the day that you visit GEAR is your birthday month, you can get the ticket cheaper than the usual price. And after the show, you can get the special present from the GEAR.

 

GEAR’S ATTRACTIONS

 

GEAR has many attractions. First of all, it’s non-verbal performance so anyone can enjoy it. Young and old of both sexes can be amused by the excellent performances, music, and projection mapping.

The theater is very small, so the cast is extremely close to you. The performance is not only on the stage but also beside your seat. So you can become a member of the performance and it is very powerful. There are many places where you can go sightseeing in the evening in Kyoto, and GEAR can also be enjoyed in the evening.

a cast list

a cast list

Because the cast changes depending on the day, GEAR is fun no matter how many times you see it. And there are cushions with each seats, baskets to put own baggage under the seats and goggles to protect your eyes from confetti. That attention to detail let the fun happen again and again. GEAR considers that the stage director is the guest. That’s why the guest’s opinions actively have been incorporated in the performance. In addition, all casts and staff of GEAR hold an evaluation meeting each time they have finished the performance.

I think you can schedule to go to GEAR easily because it’s held three or four times a week. Even people working on the weekend can go.

GEAR does many events in a year. In January, “KIMONO DE GEAR” where the guests who wear a kimono are given some privileges. In February, Valentine’s plan is often held. This year, “GEAR NO WA DAISAKUSENN”, Every time a guest bought chocolate sold at the theater, a ticket was presented to children who live in Kyoto.This is to offer a chance of real stage enjoyment to children. In December, a Christmas special performance was held at the underground mall in Kyoto station. This was a free event. The events are full of warmth and love, so there is no doubt that you leave there with a big smile.

 

GEAR’S ACHIEVEMENT

 

GEAR exceeded 60,000 guests in May, 2015. And the number of performances exceeded 1,000 times in 1st of June, 2015. This is extraordinary at such a little theater. In the same year, GEAR was given “Certificate of Excellence” by Trip-Adviser that is one of the world’s largest sites of trip. Certificate of Excellence is an award given to the excellent tourist attraction. And GEAR is on nineteenth at the ranking of popular tourist attraction in 2015 at the same site.

GEAR has been introduced on TV many times. And GEAR often participates in events that are held in other countries, like, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

 

GEAR’S FUTURE

Everyone can enjoy GEAR’s performance regardless of age and sex. GEAR’s goal is holding their show in New York. I think that their dream isn’t so far away. GEAR has various social networking services, for example, Facebook, twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. People all over the world can get their information. Whenever you come GEAR, you can find new pleasures. GEAR will reach 1,000 shows this coming June 19, 2015. GEAR keeps developing now and forever.

KENDO

by Megumi Itakura

What is Kendo?

Kendo is a one-on-one kind of sport, or martial art, that uses a bamboo sword and a special uniform. As Kendo is included in the martial arts its purpose is to build character and develop a strong mind and body. It is a way of learning to understand the rules of Katana use (Japanese sword), and the way of Bushi.

Concept

The All Japan Kendo Federation established the concept of Kendo through this mantra in 1975:

 

To cultivate a vigorous spirit,

 

And through correct and rigid training,

 

To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo.

 

To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor,

 

To associate with others with sincerity,

 

And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.

 

This will make one be able:

 

To love his/her country and society,

 

To contribute to the development of culture,

 

And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.

 

Extracted from The All Japan Kendo Federation web site

https://www.kendo-fik.org/english-page/english-top-page.html

 

History

 The origins of Kendo lie in the Bushi art of fencing. A long time ago, a great scramble for territory brought civil wars to Japan. During battles, Bushi (soldiers) developed some special techniques to protect themselves. In these can be found the basis for Kendo. From the Kamakura era onward, there were many Bushi and they fought mainly with Katana (swords). In the Edo area, the basics of Kendo were laid down, as students swapped their katana for bamboo swords, in order to protect themselves when training. From this, many people could engage in the practice and Kendo culture began to spread. After its loss in World War II, Kendo and all Budoh (martial arts) were prohibited in Japan. However, after entering into the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the equipment used was improved to add more safety, and Kendo changed into a kind of sport like fencing. Now, the Kendo World Congress is gaining a presence in more countries every year, and Kendo has been recognized as a cultural heritage of the world, not just in Japan.

Kendo Uniform

The Kendo uniform consists of a hakama (bottom part), and Keikogi (top part) with protective plates over it. The areas of the body that receive the most strikes in an attack are particularly well protected, and the equipment for these are the “Men” (head), “Tare” (waist/abdomen), Kote (hands/wrists) and “Dou” (chest).

Men (head protector/mask) The head is protected by this kind of helmet with a visor, and also by winding a towel around the head beneath it.

Tare (waist/abdomen) The waist protector part has a nameplate with the training hall name or team name on it. Kendo doesn’t allow strikes to the lower half of the body, and this allows combatants greater ease of movement.

Kote (hands/wrists) These are like very tough cloth gauntlets to protect the hands and lower arms from direct strikes.

Dou (breast plate) This protector for the chest and abdomen is covered with tough cowhide.

Shinai (bamboo sword) Kendo players uses a sword made of bamboo called a Shinai. There are different sizes for men, women, and age groups.

 

  Gender  Junior high school student  High school student Adult
Length Less than 114cm Less than 117cm Less than 120cm
Weight Men Over 440g Over 480g Over 510g
Women Over 400g Over 420g Over 440g
Diameter Men Over 25mm Over 26mm Over 26mm
Women Over 24mm Over 25mm Over 25mm

 

To compete

In competition, players compete to get points. Points are awarded for strikes to the head, hands, and abdomen, under rules judged by the referee. Players have to put in an all round good performance though, and not just attack. The competition takes place on an area of nine or eleven meters square. The duration of one bout for elementary school age students is two minutes, for junior high school students, three minutes, and for adults and high school students, four minutes. Extra time is basically three minutes. Since 2007, the final bout of a public tournament is restricted to ten minutes.

Victory is awarded to the player who gets the most points in a one-game match or a two-out-of-three game match. In extra time, the person who gets the first point is the winner, or it can be decided by the referee. Attacks to the throat and chest are very dangerous, so this is prohibited in student tournaments. Kendo has very strict rules and code of conduct on how players must enter and leave the arena, and these must be followed very carefully.

Kendo goods shop

If you want to see Kendo goods or buy them, you can go to certain specialist Kendo shops. Here is a very good one:

 ・TOZANDO

On the first floor, there are many Kendo goods, as well as some for other martial arts. The third floor is a show room solely for protectors, and there is also an artisan’s atelier.

Address: Shinsuimaru-cho 451-1 Kamikyo-ku, Kyoto

http://jp.tozando.com/shop/nishijin

Access

Take Kyoto City bus No 50 and get off at the Omiyanakadachiuri( 大宮中立売) bus stop. Walk east for about 100m

 

Oiran

by Maria Kakiuchi and Akane Ogawa

Oiran was a kind of ‘woman of pleasure’ of the Edo period (1600~1868) in Japan. Unlike common street prostitutes, oiran were glamorous courtesans, who were cultivated in the traditional Japanese arts, the classics, calligraphy, tea ceremony, waka poetry, the shamisen (Japanese harp), and the game of go. This made them primarily entertainers. They were very popular in the brothels of the Yoshiwara in Edo (now Tokyo), Shinmachi in Osaka, and Shimabara in Kyoto. One can read about oiran in traditional Japanese literature, as well as see images of them in ukio-e, a genre of woodblock prints and paintings. Of course the oiran seen in ukiyoe works is more opulent than real.

The Way of Oiran

Back in the Edo period, sometime prostitutes were put on display behind bars for potential customers to look at. This practice was called harimise. Oiran, however, did not practice harimise. On the contrary, oiran took an active role in the process of selecting a customer. In this way, we might say that the oiran chose the customer, rather than the other way around.

If a man really wanted to be with an oiran, he first had to make contact with a tea house and have lots of money. Next, he had to engage in a three-step process to get together with an orian. In the first step, the oiran just sits and observes the customer. She does not eat, drink, or talk, but rather just gets a feeling for the potential customer. If he passes that stage, the next time he comes, the oiran gets closer to the customer, but doesn’t interact much. This is also a testing period. Finally, if the man makes it to the third stage, he can go into a room with the oiran. He must present her with a set of chopsticks with his name engraved into them, along with an envelope of congratulatory money. From that point, he is forbidden to visit other prostitutes. To do so would be considered cheating, and would be seen as a great insult.

What is Oiran-Dochu?

In edo period, the oiran would dress in their best costumes to go and collect their valued customers and bring them to the teahouse and on a special day. Then they would parade around the area of the pleasure quarter with their most beautiful and ornate clothing on display. This included the wearing of two combs, and six Japanese hairpins in the front and six in the back. This style of Japanese hairpin was particular a sign of nobility.

Differences Between Oiran and Geisha

Some people might certainly ask the question, “What is the difference between a geisha and an oiran? Aren’t they the same thing?” The answer is, “No.” Although they appear to be similar, in that they both dress up in beautiful traditional clothing and entertain guests, the geisha never were involved in prostitution like the oiran were. Instead, the geisha specialized in playing the host at private parties, with dancing, music, and games. In fact, the rise of the geisha corresponded with the fall of the oiran. They were much more accessible to the common visitor, rather than just for rich men who wanted sex.

Dress Up Like Oiran for a Day

Although the oiran have died out, the tradition of dressing like one still remains. In fact, you can experience dressing like oiran yourself right here in Kyoto! The place is called, Oiran Keiken Studio Yumekoubou, which translates into something like ‘Oiran Experience Dream Studio.’ If you want to take some amazing photos of yourself dressed like an Edo period Oiran, there are the steps you need to take:

1. Call to book an appointment. You should try to book one as soon as possible, because sometimes it’s already fully scheduled.

2. Go to the studio on the day and time of your appointment and the staff will give you some information about oiran.

3. Get your face made up by professional make-up artist. Then, if you have an image that you want to be, for example, looks big eyes, be sexy, pretty and so on, just tell your image to them and they will make it happen. It doesn’t matter if you are already wearing make-up or not when you arrive. They will take care of everything. If, however, your skin is weak or has some alleges, you should tell your artist about it before he or she gets started. It’s okay to put contacts on, but it could be a bit uncomfortable, so make sure you bring your contacts case with you in case you have to take them out. Also, if you really want to put on the make-up by yourself, you can. But there is no telling how it will look.

4. Choose your hairstyle. There are mainly 2 styles.

http://search.creativecommons.org/
Classic style. This is a wig. Ornamental hairpins are the main characteristic. We recommend it for people who have short hair.
Modern stylehttp://search.creativecommons.org/
Modern style. This is done with all of your real hair. No wigs involved.
You can choose the hairstyle you want, and the artists will do it for you.
The classic style is popular with most customers because it gives them the traditional image of being Japanese, just like the oiran really were back then.

5. Choose a kimono. There are about 30 different kinds of kimono in the studio, so you can choose the one you want to try. Kimono are all the same cost, so you can choose the color and design freely.

6. Take pictures. A professional photographer will take your picture. The purpose of taking the picture is you get right into oiran. Then, the photographer will capture your beauty. A space is also provided so that you can take pictures with your own camera. You can’t have an experience like this so often, so this is a perfect opportunity to capture your memories of Japan.

Our photoThe authors of this article dressed as oiran.

7. Choose the photos you want to keep. If you see some really good ones, you can buy them directly from the studio.

Points to note

* Pregnant women cannot dress up like oiran, because of the tight girdle they must wear.

* There is no parking area. Therefore, you should come by bus or taxi. The studio is very close to Gion bus stop.

How to get there from Kyoto station…

  • Use the bus…Catch the bus that number 100 or 206 and get the bus off by Gion bus stop. Then, your back toward to Yasaka shrine and go straight the Shijyo-street. When you can see “Akaneya”(あかねや), turn right.
  • Use the taxi…Tell the driver “Shijyo-kiritoshi”. You go about 50m in Kiritoshi, then the place is left side.
  • Any photos you buy are sent to your house one month later.
  • It takes about 3 hours from start to finish to complete the dressing up like oiran process.
  • There is no age limit, so anyone can dress up like oiran.
  • There are people who can speak English, so don’t worry about language.

You want to make good memories in Japan, why don’t you try it!

Access

花魁体験STUDIO 夢工房
Oiran Keiken Studio Yumekoubou

http://www.kyoto-oiran.com/index.html

京都市東山区八坂新地末吉町86
Kyoto-city, Higashiyama-ku, Yasaka shinchi sueyoshi86

Club Metro

Club Metro – Metro Daigaku

By: Keita Kitagawa, Miho Hosotani, Takuma Osawa

Club Metro was opened in 1990, and celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2010, now making it one of Japan’s oldest clubs on the club circuit. Since its opening, Club Metro has focused on the music media, and the dream and things that artists try to communicate through their art. Of course, it is not always easy to build a club culture, especially in Japan, and without the customer’s empathy, this could not be realized.

Today, in contrast to Japanese society in the past, we can gain a certain understanding and sense of value about “Club Culture” or “Subculture”. Since its 14th anniversary, all Metro staff have been in step with a new experiment to include exposure to art, movies, literature, and even Maiko culture. Through this, Metro hopes to open up a ”space” to transmit a wider vision.

Besides music, the main function of Club Metro is to serve as a meeting place for lecturers and researchers. It is a place where you should not feel bound by the outside world and where you can enjoy a variety of entertainment forms as well as original performances.

In the spirit of philanthropy, they also host many charity and community events, such as:

7th of July 2013,

Drums 4 Drums: 

A Fundraising Event in Aid of People in Rural Kenya

Drum and Dance performances, DJs, Great food and good friends.This was a fundraising event to help women and kids in rural Kenya, who have to make long trips just to get water for their families every day. All proceeds from the day were donated to help purchase Q-Drums, a rollable water drum that can easily transport up to 50 litres of water at a time. Please check out these cool drums on the Kopernik website. http://kopernik.info/

April 28th, 2013

Across the Universe:  An international party

 The purpose of this party was to expand friendship and respect among as many people as possible, as we are all of the same community of human beings. Many Kyoto University of Foreign Studies international students attended along with Japanese students.

 The main music played was 70’s and 80’s disco, R&B classics, soul, black music style…etc.  A DADAKAKA concert and DJ entertainment from DRAGON EARTH by Japa-Jamaican brothers: Dragon (Alex Tatzuma) and Earth (Hieroglyphic I poetry) was the highlight of this gig.  In fact, they are the Club Metro owner’s sons, and Alex is a Kyoto University of Foreign Studies student!  Besides all this, the event offered an international youth fashion show corner, where international students dressed up in their home country’s fashion and walked the runway to hip-hop sounds.

 

It is possible to reserve this place for concerts, parties for old boys’ or girls’ associations, or for the after party of wedding.

Students Party

  • Price Plan:

It costs ¥ 60,000 (5.5hours) More than 5 bands / groups (¥10,000)

¥500 (one drink minimum)

(It is possible to extend the time period if you pay an additional fee, but for every 30 minutes of extra time taken, a fee of ¥5,000 will be charged)

* If you want to select this plan, you will need to produce a current student ID card.

  • Equipment Rental

Guitar amps×2 / Bass amp×1

Microphones×10, DJ set ,/ Mixer and lighting effects.

Drum kit ¥3,000

 

Private Party

  • Price Plan:

It costs ¥80,0005.5hours More than 5 bands / groups (¥10,000)

Free Drink plan 3,0003hours

Buffet plan 1,0004-5dishes

Buffet plan 1,5004-5 dishes + hors d’oeuvre + dessert/fruit

  • Equipment Rental

Guitar amps×2 / Bass amp×1

Microphones×10, DJ set / Mixer and lighting effects.

Drum kit ¥3,000

Gallery Space 

It is also possible to rent the space as a gallery for exhibiting photos ,paintings, art work ,posters and so on, and …. Its FREE!!!

 

Access to Club Metro

  • By Kyoto City Bus and Kyoto Subway:

From Kyoto Station subway station take the Karasuma line train to Marutamachi Station.  Next, take a 204 City bus eastbound to the Marutamachi /Kawabata stop , and take a short walk to Club Metro.

  • By trains:

From JR Kyoto Station, take the Nara line train to Tofukuji Station and change to the Keihan line.  Next, take the Keihan line train northbound and get off at Jinguu Marutamachi Station . Club Metro can be found at exit #2.

References:

http://www.metro.ne.jp/ Club Metro Web Site (last visit on 10th January, 2014)  

Interview with Alex Tazsuma, Club Metro owner’s son and Kyoto University of Foreign Studies student (On 2nd January, 2014)

α-Station

 The Most Popular Radio Station in Kyoto 

By Kenichi Hosokawa & Keisuke Togashi

89.4. Do you know what this number represents? It is the frequency for α-Station,  the only radio station in Kyoto that services this city and the Kansai area. Founded in 1990, it didn’t begin broadcasting until July, 1991.

When they first set up a new broadcasting station, it was placed in office building in northern Kyoto near Kitayama Street. However, in 2006, they moved their offices to the COCON KARASUMA building, which is located just south of the Shijo-Karasuma intersection in downtown Kyoto.

What “α” means?  

The α in the logo stands for  an “Alpha Wave”, a brain wave measured on an electroencephalogram. It has the indicates a state of relaxation and comfort. So the  “α in α-Station means to be relaxed. 

Broadcasting

There are many workers in the radio station’s offices, but only three or four people are in the studio at one time. For one program there is a DJ, director, and assistants who check the sound and the timing. In regards to the choice of the songs that are played, the staff members who are in charge will make a decision for that day’s music. Mainly, the programs are divided into half Japanese music and half Western music, which is very rare in Japan. But when there is a sudden change of the weather and there is some tragic news, there is a prepared list of songs and music to change the atmosphere.

Concept

α-Station ‘s concept is “More Talking, More Music”

The station does not only want to create a schedule arranged to the minute, but also present serialized programing. They want listeners to forget the time and relax while listening to talk and music.

 

Five Broadcasting Points

Target Audience

The Target audience is people who have a modern and fashionable sensibility, are playful, mostly aged 19~30s. But they are not the only target audience.

Main type of music

Adult Contemporary Music.

Their collections of music includes more than 40,000 CDs!

 

Programing Style 1—News & Music 

The station does not only broadcast music, but gives timely news

 

Programing Style 2 —Listener-Oriented

Broadcasts are not a one-way information transmission. Always try to have communication with listeners

Station Colors: Blue & White 

Image Color = Blue (alpha blue) pure white will make it stand out. Blue is the color of the sky, and white is the color of a cloud. It will give you relaxation.

Based on these 5 concepts, the target audience is mostly people in their 30s, a little older than the audiences of other stations. Daytime programming is aimed at housewives and women workers; the target audience for night-time programming changes to high school students.

Programs on α-Station

Sunnyside Balcony… (DJ changes every day). A program aimed at women who have interests such as cooking, travel information about Kyoto and listening to relaxing music.

J-AC Top 40… DJ: Taniguchi Kiyoko

To get young listeners, the station started to broadcast the J-Pop chart ranking. Since this program started, ratings for listeners under age 20 have increased. This is the most popular program on α– Station.

Stardust Parade… DJ: Hayashi Tomomi

This program is for young people and features mainly new music. Ms. Hayashi will listen to the young listener’s worries and then give them advice.

 

 Sato Hideki

Sato Hideki, who is a teacher at Kyoto university of Foreign Languages, is also a DJ at α-Station. When he was a child, his dream was to become a DJ, but he had forgotten this dream for many years. When he graduated from university, he started teaching in a preparatory school. 1991, α– Station needed a newscaster who could read and speak English, so he applied for this job and became a newscaster at the station. 1993, he became the DJ he really wanted to be from his childhood. After he became DJ, he found it harder than he thought and so he worked to communicate with his listeners so they would understand his talk without any misunderstandings. He learned how hard the job of a DJ really is.

 

Alpha Station Activities

α-Station conducts many other activities besides broadcasting.

 Alpha Academy

This school invites people from various fields to teach what they know. It’s the new style of education. By doing this, students have a chance to learn new things, and it will help to enrich and develop Kyoto culture.

ANA School

Speaking training includes vocal exercises, reading out loud, and abdominal respiration breathing. All of these will help improve your speaking skills.

Radio DJ School

If you want to be the DJ in the future, you should join this class. They will conduct an oral examination, and teach you how to be an eloquent speaker. Your motivation will improve.

Gospel School

Classes where you can learn and improve your skills of both singing and dancing. You don’t need to know how to read music to attend this class. 

Workout Tennis Plus

Collaboration with the Higashiyama Tennis Club. You can learn how to play tennis—for beginner to advance players.

α Mo’cool Festa

This festival is held every year on last day of the Gion Festival. A specially invited guest artist attends; and this year’s guest is Shimizu Shota (famous Japanese R&B singer)

Kyoto Sanga F.C

α– Station supports and cheers on Kyoto Purple Sanga, Kyoto’s professional soccer team!!

Programs inform listeners about recent news of the Sanga Football Club.  Comments and messages from the players will be on the program. For the listeners, tickets for Sanga games are given away as a present.

Many Kyoto people love 89.4  α-Station!