Category Archives: CULTURE

What Can We Strive For?

A Silent Voice movie screencap

If you consider yourself to be an outcast and want people to acknowledge you, what would you choose – would you choose sympathy or would you choose respect?

I saw the movie adaptation of A Silent Voice (spoiler alert: it’s amazing) and a lot of commentary has been made about the quality of the work and its themes given that most slice-of-life anime movies tend to be cheerful. Although I read the manga years ago, it hurt a bit watching all of it because I know how Shoko Nishimiya has felt.

The director of the adaptation, Naoko Yamada, has been interviewed throughout the release of the movie and recently won the 2017 Excellence Award (Animation) at the 20th Japan Media Arts Festival. There was 1 question and answer in an interview on Cartoon Brew where she talks about Shoko’s desire to be treated as normal. Here it is, because it’s something that I hope provides some thinking on how the discarded can conduct themselves.

“Q: It is surprising that the film never treats hearing impairment of Shoko as a special thing. Rather, it’s treated in the same matter-of-fact manner as the suffering of Shoya and other characters. All of the characters suffer equally no matter what kind of problems they have. It’s like saying Shoko is lonely not because she is deaf, but because she is a human. This approach is risky, and there was a big debate about the topic after the release in Japan. However, it seems that the approach was a conscious choice, with the understanding of this risk. Can you discuss the reason for choosing this path to depict the disability?

Naoko Yamada: I did not want to have a biased view. In the case of this work, people discussed the hearing disorder …continue reading


The Art of Ikebana: Origins and Styles

The Japanese are well known for their appreciation and reverence of the beauty of nature which is greatly influenced by Shinto, Japan’s prehistoric native religion. They have sought to capture nature’s beauty into artistic representations incorporated into everyday life. Ikebana is one Japanese artistic expression that has become known all over the world. It appeals greatly to the Japanese psyche because trees, plants and flowers are symbolic of the cycle of age, decay and rebirth giving it a deeper spiritual meaning. We can trace the beginnings of Ikebana around the 6th century when Buddhism reached Japan’s shores. It became part of the offerings (called kuge) to worship Buddha. For the next centuries, priests continued to make offerings but without any no set rules used to make the arrangements.

The Main Ikebana Schools That Developed Throughout History

Ikenobo School

This is the most ancient school of ikebana. It was created by a Buddhist priest in the Rokkakudo Temple founded by Prince Shotoku in Kyoto during the 15th century. The said priest who created these notable floral arrangements lived near a pond (Ike in Japanese) that had a small hut (called “Bo”) thus the name “Ikenobo” was born. In 1462 the name Senkei Ikenobo first appeared in historic records as “master of flower arranging.

Rokkakudo Temple – Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco (Photo Credit:
Ikenobo Style Flower Arrangement (Photo Credit:

This style was based on the Buddhist expression of beauty. It consists of seven branches representing hills, waterfalls, valleys, etc. arranged in a formal manner. The style became more and more complicated until the 17th century, when an expanding merchant class developed a simpler style, called Seika or Shoka. This style is made up of only three main branches, the tallest stem represents heaven, the middle stem represents …continue reading


89-Year Old Kimiko Nishimoto Loves Taking Humorous Self-Portraits

At the age of 72, Kimiko Nishimoto decided to do something she had never done before. She decided to take a beginners course in photography that was taught by her eldest son. Nishimoto immediately fell in love with the medium and began taking humorous, comical and sometimes surreal self-portraits. 10 years later, at the age […]

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