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Inlägg publicerade under kategorin Japan

Av shin-chan - 7 maj 2012 22:13


The Japanese kimono is one of the world's instantly recognizable traditional garments. The word kimono literally means "clothing", and up until the mid 19th century it was the form of dress worn by everyone in Japan. That began to change slowly with the import of suits dresses and other western fashions during the Meiji Era. Thanks to the popularity of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in the West at the beginning of the last century, the kimono-clad maiden became one of the quintessential images of Japan. Dressing up in the kimono and other accoutrements of the geisha or maiko is still one of the more popular activities for visiting tourists.


There are different types of kimono for different occasions and seasons, including those worn by men. Other than those worn daily by some older people or performers of traditional arts, kimono are a much less common sight these days but are still widely worn on special occasions such as weddings (left) and graduation ceremonies. Part of the reason is the cost, as a decent silk kimono will set you back the best part of a million yen. But there is also the question of how to put on the kimono and tie the obi (decorative sash), a complicated procedure that is beyond the ability of many young women. They usually have to ask their mothers to help them or take course at a kimono school.

So how is a kimono put together?

Kimono parts

History of kimonoThe illustration to the left shows how kimono design has changed over the centuries. From around the Nara Period (710-94), a garment called a kosode (small sleeves) was worn, first as underclothes and later as an outer garment, by both women and men. The garment became known as a kimono from the 18th century. Although much less common today than they used to be, even the short-term visitor is likely to see at least one of these elegant garments during their stay.

Women wear kimono when they attend traditional arts, such as a tea ceremony orikebana class. Girls and young single women wear furisode, a colorful style of kimono with long sleeves and tied with a brightly-coloredobi (sash). Kimono made from fabric with simple geometric patterns, called Edo komon, are more plain and casual.

At weddings, the bride and groom will often go through several costume changes. One of them will see the bride in a shiromuku, a heavy, embroidered white kimono and wearing an elaborate hairpiece. The groom wears a black kimono made from habutaesilk and carrying the family crest, hakama (a pleated skirt) and a half-length black coat called a haori. Western suits are more common for male guests.

For funerals, both men and women wear plain black kimono. With black suits being suitable for both, it's often difficult to tell whether a guy is going to a wedding or a funeral except that they wear a white tie for weddings and a black tie for funerals. In January every year, 20-year olds celebrate their coming of age. Most women wear an elaborately-colored komono, often with a tacky fur boa. Other kimono-wearing occasions include New Year, graduation ceremonies and Shichi-go-san for children.

Traditionally, the art of putting on a kimono was passed from mother to daughter but these days special schools can do brisk business imparting the necessary techniques. The first thing put on are the tabi(white cotton socks); next the undergarments, a top and a wraparound skirt; then thenagajuban, an under-kimono which is tied with a datemaki belt; finally the kimono, with the left side over the right (right over left is only used when dressing a corpse for burial) and tied with the obi. About an inch of the haneri(collar) of the nagajuban shows inside the collar of the kimono. The loose design of the collar is to give a glimpse of the neck, considered the most sensual part of the kimono-wearing lady. When outside, zorisandals are usually worn.

Lined (awase) kimono, traditionally made of silk but sometimes wool or synthetic fabrics, are worn during the cooler months. Light, cotton yukata are worn by men and women during the summer months and after bathing at onsen (hot spring resorts) and ryokan (traditional inns). Often they are worn with geta, informal wooden footwear. Originally worn to the bath house by the upper class and made of plain white cotton, yukata became popular among the common people and were often stencil-dyed. Today, brightly-colored yukata are common at summer festivals and fireworks displays, particularly for young women and children.


Av shin-chan - 6 maj 2012 17:05

Every city, town and village in Japan has at least one matsuri (festival) a year. Matsuri fall into two broad categories - smaller matsuri in rural areas, usually held in spring or autumn and based around the rice-growing cycle; and extravagant matsuri held in large towns or cities, often in summer and with a lot of interpersonal activity. In the post-war period this division has become more pronounced with the big matsuri becoming 'events' and attracting TV cameras and tourists from around the country and the world. Matsuri have their origins in ancient Shinto rituals and beliefs. Important elements include purification, offerings to the gods - such as rice, sake or fruit - and contests or games held on the day. The latter can get out of hand, even to the point of violence, but this is considered part of letting one's hair down for the day. Most community matsuri have omikoshi, or portable shrines which are carried from house to house or shop to shop to bestow good fortune on all.


For the foreign visitor, a chance encounter with a small, local matsuri can be a good time to get some nice, intimate photos. But the big festivals are always full of spectacle and sure to provide some exciting photo opportunities. Some of the highlights are:

Sapporo Snow Festival (Yuki Matsuri) - early February. Odori Park in Sapporo is the venue for an incredible array of huge and elaborate snow and ice sculptures. The festival is a major tourist attraction that brings millions of visitors from across Japan and abroad.

Kamakura Festival - February 15-16th. In Yokote City, Akita Prefecture, children buildkamakura - small igloos with an altar to the Shinto water gods.

Hakata Dontaku Festival - May 3-4. Citizens dressed as the Seven Deities of Good Fortune parade the streets of the hakata district of Fukuoka.

Kanda Festival - mid-May (every odd-numbered year). Alternates with the Sanno Festival. About 200 omikoshi are paraded to honour the deities of the Kanda Shrine in Tokyo.

Sanja Festival - third weekend of May. About 100 omikoshi are paraded through the streets around Asakusa Shrine in Tokyo. There are also many geisha and other costumed participants.

Sanno Festival - June 10-16th (every even-numbered year). Alternates with the Kanda Festival. Honours the deities of the Hie Shrine in Tokyo. The main festival day is June 15.

Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival - July 1-15th. A major festival that welcomes the arrival of summer in the southern city of Fukuoka sees colorful kazari-yamakasa floats paraded through the streets. Huge excitement is generated when the kaki-yamakasa are raced in the Oiyama on the final day. The festival dates back to the 13th century when a priest was carried through the city spraying holy water along the way to rid the city of an epidemic.

Tanabata Festival on July or August 7th was originally a celebration based on a Chinese legend. The stars representing the Weaver Princess (Vega) and the Cowherd (Altair) were lovers who could only meet on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. Its proximity to Obon meant that it became neglected in some areas but adopted by others. Sendai, for example, has a famous Tanabata Festival on August 7th.

Gion Festival - July 17th. The most significant festival in Japan. The most famous Gion Matsuri is the one sponsored by the Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto. Actually this is a one-month festival which reaches a climax on the 17th when there is a parade of giant wheeled floats called hoko or spears. These represent 66 tall spears erected in 869 in Kyoto as part of a ritual to protect the city from an epidemic. Each hoko carries a band of musicians who play a kind of music called gion-bayashi. Smalleryama or mountain floats carry life-size figures of famous people.

Tenjin Festival - July 24-25th. Together with Kyoto's Gion Matsuri and Tokyo's Kanda Matsuri, this festival in Osaka is considered one of the "big three" in Japan. It is thought to date back to the mid 10th century. The main events take place in the evening on the Okawa River, involving about 100 boats and with a fireworks display providing a spectacular backdrop.

Aomori Nebuta Festival - August 1-7th. Giant floats are paraded through the city of Aomori in the evening with musical accompaniment. On top of the floats are colorful, illuminated papier-mache nebuta, figures of warriors, kabuki actors or other famous people. On the last night, the nebuta are cast out to sea. This reflects the festival's origins whereby people threw paper images into the river to cast out fatigue, illness or bad luck - anything that might interfere with a successful harvest.

Awa Dance (Awa Odori) - August 12-15th. In the city of Tokushima, groups of dancers follow a route along the main streets doing a variation on the Bon Odori. There is also a smaller version of the dance in Nakano, Tokyo.

Nagasaki Suwa - October 7-9. Also known as O-kunchi, this festival features dragon dances and umbrella-topped floats.




Av shin-chan - 3 maj 2012 20:07



Gomennasai - Simple Japanese Phrases















Junbi dekita.


Atete mite.




 Ara ara!


Av shin-chan - 1 maj 2012 19:39

These are the result of zoning time and direction into twelve blocks, each block being given a name of an animal based on the ancient Chinese concept that all time shifts based on these twelve units. In Japan, zoning of the twelve-year cycle, with a different animal in each zone is fairly common.

Those individuals born during a particular year were said to inherit some of the personalities of that year's animal.


Rat (nezumi)

Born 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, 1924, 1912. People born in the year of the Rat are charming, honest, ambitious, and have a tremendous capacity for pursing a course to its end. They will work hard for their goals. They are easily angered but maintain an outward show of control.

Ox (ushi)

Born 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937, 1925, 1913. People born in the year of the Ox are patient, mentally alert and when required to speak are skillful. They have a gift for inspiring confidence in others. This allows them to achieve a great deal of success.

Tiger (tora)

Born 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, 1926, 1914. People born in the year of the Tiger are sensitive, stubborn, short-tempered, courageous, selfish and slightly mean ... yet they are deep thinkers and are capable of great sympathy for those they are close to and love.

Rabbit (usagi)

Born 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927, 1915. People born in the year of the Rabbit are the most fortunate. They are smooth talkers, talented, ambitious, virtuous and reserved. They have exceedingly fine taste and regarded with admiration and trust.

Dragon (tatsu)

Born 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928, 1916. People born in the year of the Dragonare healthy, energetic, excitable, short-tempered and stubborn. However, they are honest, sensitive, brave and can inspire trust in most anyone. They are the most peculiar of the 12 signs of the Zodiac cycle.

Snake (hebi)

Born 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, 1929, 1917. People born in the year of the Snakeare deep thinkers, speak very little and possess tremendous wisdom. They are fortunate in money matters and will always be able to obtain it. They are determined in what they do and hate to fail.

Horse (uma)

Born 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942, 1930, 1918, 1906. People born in the year of the Horse are skillful in paying compliments and talk too much. They are skillful with money and handle finances well. They are quick thinkers, wise and talented. Horse people anger easily and are very impatient.

Sheep (hitsuji)

Born 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943, 1931, 1919, 1907. People born in the year of the Sheep are elegant, highly accomplished in the arts, passionate about nature. At first glance, they seem to be better off than the people born in other years. They are deeply religious and passionate in whatever they do and believe in.

Monkey (saru)

Born 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944, 1932, 1920, 1908. People born in the year of the Monkey are the erratic geniuses of the Zodiac cycle. They are clever and skillful in grand-scale operations and are smart when making financial deals. They are inventive, original and are able to solve the most difficult problems with ease.

Rooster (tori)

Born 2005, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945, 1933, 1921, 1909. People born in the year of the Roosterare deep thinkers and are always busy and devoted to their work. They always want to do more than they are able, and if they undertake a task beyond their abilities, they are disappointed. Rooster people have a habit of speaking out directly whenever they have something on their minds.

Dog (inu)

Born 2006, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946, 1934, 1922, 1910. People born in the year of the Doghave all the fine qualities of human nature. They have a sense of duty and loyalty, they are extremely honest and always do their best in their relationship with other people. Dog people inspire confidence in others and know how to keep secrets.

Boar (inoshishi)

Born 2007, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947, 1935, 1923, 1911. People born in the year of the Boarare brave. They have tremendous inner strength which no one can overcome. They display great honesty. They are short-tempered, yet hate to quarrel or have arguments. They are affectionate and kind to their loved ones.


Av shin-chan - 28 april 2012 19:18


People often ask what a Japanese name means. This is not an easy question to answer, as they are not as simple as English names. Japanese names are usually written in kanji. Each kanji character has its own meaning. When parents name a baby, they chose kanji characters for it. Since there are thousands of kanji to choose from, even the same name can be written with many different kanji combinations. Depending on which characters are used, the meaning of the name differs. Therefore it is hard to know what characters are used for a name and what the meaning of a name is just by its pronunciation.

For example, "Keiko" is quite a common name for a female baby, but there are more than 70 kanji variations. Click here to see some of the common kanji combinations used for "Keiko."

Another example is the popular baby girl's name, "Ai." The most common choice for the kanji character for "Ai" would be the character for "love." The variety of characters available for "Ai" is not as diverse as those used for "Keiko", but there are still several different ways to write "Ai", such as using the character for "indigo blue." Click here to see some of the examples.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Japanese names and their meaning:                                                          Asa — "Healer, morning" Boy

Chika — "Near" Girl

Dai — "Great" Unisex

Etsu — "Delight" Unisex

Haru — "Born in the spring" Unisex

Izumi — "Fountain" Girl

Jiro — "SecondMale" Boy

Kaida — "Little Dragon" Girl

Leiko — "Arrogant" Unisex

Miyoko — "Beautiful generations child" Unisex

Nami — "Wave" Unisex

Ohara — "Thoughtful" Girl

Raidon — "Thunder god" Boy

Seiko — "Truth" Boy

Tani — "Valley" Girl

Ume — "Plum" Girl

Wakiki — "Tree" Boy

Yukio — "Gets what he wants" Boy



Av shin-chan - 27 april 2012 16:41


Although not so long ago you could count the number of world-famous Japanese people on one Yakuza's hand, these days the country is producing more and more figures, human and otherwise, that have grabbed the attention of a global audience. The mantle of the country's most famous film director has passed from the lateKurosawa Akira to Kitano Takeshi - better known in Japan as an irreverent slapstick comedian. J-pop, as Japanese pop music is called, has long been popular across Asia. But now a generation of young, bilingual artists may help to globalize the phenomenon. And then there's cute. The names Pokemon and Hello Kitty might send your kids into spasms of commercial greed but imagine if they had the same effect on the entire population! Well, in Japan they do. Cartoon characters, comic books and all-round cuteness are pervasive - some might even say downright invasive. But 'Japanimation' has a more serious side to it. Movies like Spirited Awayand Ghost in the Shell made even Hollywood sit up and take notice.

Japanese companies may not dominate the Global 500 listings quite like they used to but they aren't out for the count, either. Japan's top electronics brands, such as Sony and Panasonic, continue to dominate the world. And Toyota leads the world in car manufacturing efficiency. The almost insatiable demand for new gadgets in Japan means that new products come out on almost a weekly basis and some of them never make it to foreign markets. A Big Bang in the financial industry has caused major upheaval and some ground-breaking changes in the way Japan does business.


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