Sunday, May 28, 2006

For my project, I want to ask people (Japanese) about their experience and feelings on Black Music. Minatoku is a bad area for this project. I need a younger and more hip crowd. Shibuya or somewhere like it where there are more up to date people might help, or areas where African American music has a big influence. I will do some scouting and asking around for information. I met an interesting guy tonight that was really into hip hop music. I got his take on hip hop music and a better sense of his music tastes after talking with him over coffee, (or mango smoothie in my case).

As for my project ideas, I want to make a survey and maybe hang something like a poster with space to write, or a seperate packet with questions to answer about Black music. I also want to interview random Japanese people and get their take on Black Music. I had an idea to make a music stand with many various samples of Black music to give the subject more of an idea of what to respond to. I may have to man that type of thing. After collecting all my information, I want to explain the feedback, and compare it to how Japanese music has influenced American music and visa versa. The way I will do this is for now probably through film.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Kyoto is Amazing

It is as beautiful as before, if not more. The city was similar to Tokyo, but still had more space due to far less people in my opinion. THe country side is gorgeous. Mountainous and calm. The Temples we got to visit were....magnificant. Steve took us all around some of Kyoto's most beutiful places. The first temple we went to had many wooden sculptures of Buddha. THere the guide took joy in explaining the difference between the angry sculptures and the peaceful ones, when they were made, why they were made, and the story behind them. He explained what some of the hand sings meant. In one particular sculpture that was quite large I saw a Swastika being held by the large spiritual multi-armed Buddha. I asked The guide what that meant. I didn't tink Buddha was secretly a Nazi or anything, I just wanted to know its meaning and why it was backwards. I learned from him that the flipped symbol was its own character with its own meaning. The one I am used to seeing in Asian culture means good fortune. The one the Buddha had in one of his many mands means "Speaking with Power"....interesting. Probably one of the major reasons Hitler chose this symbol for his Tyrannical nation.

This allowed me to see the symbol in even more of a different light. It is funny how things are used and twisted or adjusted to fit a different cause or people. I later checked the swastika's meaning on Wikipedia and found that many cultures use this symblo in fact even outside of Asia, and not for death and destruction, but for symbols of protection, politics, and even noblility. This has enabled me to look beyond the symbols themself, and search for the meaning and history behind everything, rather than my own experience with somthing.

"To understand a man, you must know his memories. The same is true for a nation." - Anthony Quale

...Or anything else in my opinion.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I have learned that in Japan, one should not only do as the Japanese, but one should also think as the Japanese. It makes the transition from your way of life to their way of life so much easier. It shortens the length of time it takes to understand the ins and outs of the culture. Merely doing may get you seriously confused and frustrated. In the west, there is a strong stigma to come as you are. Less emphasis to hide your true self. In fact celebrating your natural self is often emphasized. It's mindset is more geared towards 'everyone is beautiful in their individual way'. In Japan it is more 'everyone is beautiful in their rightful place'. In the readings I learned that the Japanese cultural views on life are the exact opposite of many Western ways of thought. It is not so much a good and bad reflection as much as it is a red and green. Both important colors, both expressed and utilized in completely different ways. Both are used for longevity in nature in very different ways. In the West, what is natural is how something comes in it's original state. The Japanese view of nature is entirely different where as nature is created. If it is not, it does not really exist. Nature being made by man is unheard of in the West. It is not nearly as narcissistic as that might seem from a Western viewpoint. This is not to be misinterpreted, because man are seen as the bridge between the Heavans and 'nature' in Japan. In a way, man and Nature are one when it is made so, as opposed to the Western view of man and nature being one from birth.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Manga intro style:

Flashing signs and bright lights! It's sometimes like an ongoing episode of Poke'mon!
Behind the blinking lights, Japan wears a slightly different face!:

When I first arrived in Tokyo I was a little scared and a little at home. I went to Japan years ago in Highschool for my Japanese class trip. That experience was a lot different than my current one. This I believe is in part to time, place, and situation. I visited various areas before hitting up all of the shrines and special places around Kyoto and Tokyo. We did a short homestay as well. Back then, everyone we met was nice to us. Everyone was open and treated us like family. Upon entering Tokyo, I realized that those things I were used to in the Japan I knew were not all present. Now I feel I am viewed as an outsider. A baka gai-jin. In many ways I feel like I am Japanese, and in many more, I am not. Certain things about the Japanese culture concerning things like politeness and willingness to help others when asked were things I either always had, or adopted from the culture. But I found that even with my little skill in the Japanese language and interest in the culture, in Tokyo I am not as easily accepted as I was before. This is simply because.....They don't know me, and don't have time to.

Back at home in America, almost every person I passed I greeted. I either gave a hello, w-sup, or a smile. Even though some Americans viewed this as strange, they still replied in kind mostly. Now in Tokyo, I am luck to get recognition of my existence. I walk by and instinctively want to greet new people that I don't know. But most of them either glare at me like I'm crazy, or don't look at me at all! Sometimes, and that's a big SOMETIMES, I will receive a nice smile, or a verbal reply. The times I am lucky enough to get THAT, it makes my day. Though I have learned that it is best that when in Japan, do as the Japanese, even though I will never be accepted completely, I can still show respect to the culture and people here and abide by their standards of manners. This will make life for me easier, and allow other Japanese people to respect me more.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006