Facts of the Week
Tattoos in Japan
It is more common to know that you are less likely to be accepted in Japan if you have a tattoo. But is there more to it than just a disgrace or a representation of something obscene? What is the real reason behind this? In this day and age, how does modern Japan view tattoos?
1.Irezumi (入れ墨), horimono (彫り物), shisei (刺青), and tattoo (タトゥー) all mean tattoo. Irezumi is more commonly used. The word irezumi (刺青) can be also read as shisei. This way of reading was spread from the novel “Shisei” that Junichirou Tanizaki published in 1910. Junichirou Tanizaki is a Japanese novelist who is one of the early pioneers of the aestheticism movement. In the novel “Shisei”, a tattoo artist, a man, tattoos a female spider on a woman with the most perfect skin he has ever seen. This novel became so popular that the Chinese characters of shisei (刺青) were read as Irezumi, meaning tattoo.
2.There is a distinction between Western and Japanese tattoos. Japanese tattoos that have Japanese designs are called wabori (和彫り). Western tattoos that have western designs are called youbori (洋彫り). It is not a distinction between tattooing techniques.
It is significantly more painful being used by a bamboo stick filled with needles and it will take twice as long as with a standard tattoo machine. Wabori tattoo designs are influenced from Buddhism and Chinese/Japanese mythology. There is a master artist located in Osaka Japan. The 60-year-old, Sensei Hori Hiro, is one of the few trained masters still practicing today (over 33 years of experience). All his tools are handcrafted. The “bamboo sticks” as we foreigners call them, are carved from persimmon trees into a pencil like shape that is comforting to the hand of the user. Silk needles are then wrapped and firmly tied to the end of the wood. The needless are always replaced before the use of every new body/canvas. How cool is that? To find out more, check out http://www.hashitout.com/irezumi-my-experience-in-getting-a-traditional-japanese-wabori-bamboo-tattoo/
P.S Check out “Wabori: Traditional Japanese Tattoo” by Manami Okazaki ☺
They are basically western tattoo designs. Butterflies, flowers, crosses, skulls, angels, devils, names of loved ones, quotes, you name it. If it’s not something seen on a Yakuza tattoo–i.e., wabori–it’s mostly called youbori. Need I say more?
3. In the Edo period, Buddhist priests tattooed themselves to show their devotion and also to receive spiritual protection from Buddhist deities. In an old tale, Miminashi Houichi (耳なし芳一), is about a priest who encounters an evil spirit, and attempts to fight it away by writing sutras all over his body. However he did not write it on his ears and the spirits took them away. How scary! In addition, Yuujyo, sex workers in the Edo period, used tattoos to show their romantic devotion to their regular customers. These tattoos would often start with the customer’s name, and end with inochi (命). The tattoo would be directly translated to “I devote my life to (customer’s name)”.
4. In modern times, though tattoos are not negatively viewed as compared to the past, tattoos are still stigmatised in the mainstream. For an example, some companies will not hire you no matter how talented you are simply because of that tattoo you have on your back. Also, some public baths in Japan also does not allow anyone with a tattoo to stay in.
Fact of the week
Credits to Research Team: Muhd Haziq
In the heart of Japan, Tokyo city home to nearly 9 million people and one of the most visited city with roughly 2 million more people from tourist visiting Tokyo. With famous sites like Akihabara being the number one place to go within the anime otaku community. All, many would overlook another similar trend that people might not know about this other anime otaku subculture just within Akihabara itself.
Itasha (痛車) which literally translates to “painful car” was originally a term referring to Italian import cars back in the 1980s. However, because people on the internet are making fun of it by playing around with the kanji itasha, Italian cars (イタリア車) became itasha meaning painful car 痛車. As 痛い meaning itai for painful and 車 sha, for vehicle. But today it refers to the hybrid car show of anime and car enthusiast showing off their modified rides and over the top stickers or paint schemes of their favourite anime, manga or video game waifu plastered all over the car. The types of cars that can be seen from the car show range from minivans all the way to luxurious sports cars. You can either find this event to be really cool just out right creepy, depending how to look at it. So long as the décor is done just right it doesn’t actually look half bad as it’s not too over the top. However, that was just my personal opinion and I’ll let you be the judge of that.
As you can see the cars don’t look half bad, but there are some which incorporate actual sculptures into the hood of the car which may be a bit over the top, and there are others with life size figurines and body pillows incorporated into their showcase. Some of the most common anime girls that you can see there would be those from the Love Live, Hatsune Miku, Girls Un Panzer. There are others but these three are the most common ones that can be seen through the event.
To give a brief history. Itasha started in the 1980s when people started putting character plushies and stickers onto their cars. Although back then the stickers were modest and there weren’t a lot of people joining. However, itasha only started gaining traction in the 21th century through the internet it slowly gained awareness and more people started joining in this niche subculture. Today itasha can be found throughout the world at the various anime conventions and other minor events and even motorcycles are not spared from the itasha craze.
So on your next trip to Japan and if you happen to be around Akihabara be sure to look out for these types of cars and motorcycles that can most commonly seen there. Be sure to take a picture of it and remember that you found out about this fact after reading this week’s FTW.
Hi everyone!~ How are you? I would like to wish everyone good luck for their upcoming exams. I sure hope you have started studying. For this week’s FTW, I will be talking about maid cafes otherwise known as “meido kissa”. So what is a maid cafe? A maid cafe is basically a restaurant where waitresses are dressed up in cutesy maid uniforms. They will entertain the customers in several ways namely: making cute comments, playing simple games with them or maybe singing and dancing.
1.Origins of a maid cafe How maid cafes started might shock you. It all started back in 1997 from a Japanes “ero-ge” (erotic game) called “Welcome to Pia Carrot” (Piaキャロットへようこそ!!) The cutesness of the clothing in the game is the key to its popularity. Due to its popularity, it earned a booth at the 1998 Tokyo character show. At the same event, a computer software company, Broccoli, started a booth in the form of a restaurant. What’s special about this restaurant is that the staff cosplayed in cute outfits of what the girls in “Welcome to Pia Carrot” were wearing and sold drinks and snacks. And this was the birth of the concept of a maid cafe
2.The first maid cafe
In December 1999, “Pia Kyaro Restaurant” was opened at GAMERS store in Akihabara for a limited time. This was Japan’s first ever cosplay cafe. After 3 months of unprecedented success, “GAMERS Cafe” (February 2000) and “Cafe de COSPA” (May 2000) opened. The first ever maid cafe opened in Akihabra on 3 March 2001. It was named “Cure Maid Cafe” and all waitresses were dressed in maid uniforms. In fact, the cafe is still existing now and definitely worth a visit after all it is a one of a kind being the first official maid cafe. The poularity of maid cafes sky-rocketted. In the next 10 years, 68 more Maid/cosplay cafes opened. Also, an estimated of 17 cosplay related “reflexology” services – including massage parlours – have also been established.
3.Flow of events at a maid cafe
Here is a standard flow of procedures when visiting a maid cafe:
1) When you step in, you will be greeted with “irasshaimase, goshujin-sama” which means welcome, master.
2) You choose your meal and order it. A highly recomended would of course be the Omu-raisu (Omelette rice) as you can get the maids to draw and soemthing cute on it for you with ketchup. Such as cats ;)
3) Next, the maids will entertain you. Entertainment depends on each individual maid cafe but in general:
Cast magical spells with the maids to make your food more tasty. The most common spell is “oishikuna~re, moe moe kyun” (おいしくな〜れ 萌え萌えキュン), meaning something along the lines of “get more delicious, cutey cutey heart”.
Watch the maids sing and dance.
Play simple games.
4) To commerate it all, you can take a picture with a maid of your choice using a “cheki” instant camera. Other forms of photography are strictly not allowed in maid cafes.
Thank you for reading my FTW. Once again good luck for your semester exams and have a good week ahead! :D
All pictures belong to their repective owners
Kumamoto-Jo, or Kumamoto Castle, located at the Kumamoto Prefecture, is a hilltop castle, which was designed by Kato Kiyomasa in 1607, initially fortified by Ideta Hidenobu in 1467 and further developed by Kanokogi Chikakazu in 1496. It had 49 turrets, 18 turret gates and 29 smaller gates. The castle has a rich history, being home to the Kato Clan from 1588- 1632, and the Hosokawa Clan in 1632-1871. The legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi, also had connections with the
Hosokawa Clan, becoming the retainer of the Hosokowa lords of Kumamoto in 1640.
In 1877, under the Meiji Empire, the Satsuma Rebellion occurred, due to the samurai being outraged by the loss of power due to the new political power system. Saigo Takamori, the leader of the rebellion, and his army fought and tried to siege the castle, which was being defended by the new Japanese Army. The main tower, the castle keep, and several other structures, including the Japanese Army’s food supply building, were hit by artillery and burned to the ground. Despite this, the Japanese Army survived constant attacks by the rebel army, without support from the main Japanese army for 7 weeks. This is partly due to the well-designed castle, preventing the rebel army from being able to breach the gates or the walls. The castle, through Kato Kiyomasa’s design, played a huge role in the victory of the Japanese Army, with its maze of gates and curved stone walls, known as musha-geshi.
In 1960, the main tower was reconstructed using concrete. There were 13 structures that were undamaged during the Satsuma Rebellion, which then were designated as Japan’s Important Cultural Properties.
The restoration of the Kumamoto Castle then began in 1998, including the rebuilding of several structures, including the five-story high Iida Turret and by 2004, most of the construction was completed, finalizing at 2008, where the Honmaru Goten Palace was completed.
However, in 2016, earthquakes of magnitude 6.2 and 7.3 respectively severely damaged many parts of the castle, including 2 of its turrets. Currently, the public cannot enter the castle due to repair works. The main keep is expected to be repaired in 2019 while the other structures of the castle that were affected will be estimated to be fixed by 2036.