Designated National Treasure of Japan, Matsumoto Castle
Golden Temple Kinkakuji, Kyoto, Japan. Photography by Elyktra Photoart on 500px
Yes this temple is as stunning in real life as the photo. It glows.
Any avid Japan fan knows that tattoos are more or less taboo.
However, before the turn of the 19th century, an ancient tradition by the name of Hajichi existed, unique to Okinawa. Women in Okinawa would ritually receive these tattoos as a coming of age symbol. When they get engaged to be married, Okinawan women were tattooed using bamboo sticks; the process was done by a ‘hajicha’.
The tattoos represent a symbol of strength and wealth in society. Most common symbols are the arrow-head on the fingertips, meaning not to come back [upon marriage to another family] and circles being wound-up thread.
Today, however, the number of woman remaining with ‘Hajichi’ are dwindling because of the views of and Meiji-era ban of tattoos in modern Japan.
Floating lanterns, Hiroshima, Japan
Stairstep to heaven, Tateyama’s Oyama summit bears a shrine, where the prayers of Shinto priest Norimaro Saeki are spoken, National Geographic, August 1984
Japan’s Emperor Hirohito in Yokohama during his first visit to see living conditions in the country since the end of the war, February 1946. See more photos here.
Lithograph of an Osaka Maiko 1910s (by Blue Ruin1)
“Before World War II, there were a great many Maiko (Apprentice Geisha) in the City of Osaka. Unlike Kyoto Maiko, their Obi (sash) was tied in a version of the Tateya Musubi (Standing Arrow Knot) called the Ya Giccha Musubi (Fortunate House Arrow Knot). They wore their hair in the Mata Kamigata (Forked-branch Hairstyle) rather than the Kyofu (Kyoto-style), with Edo-style sideburns. Their costumes were destroyed by air-raids, together with the majority of their photographs, and they went into decline for financial and other reasons, until Maiko were revived in May 2008 with the debut of two young Geisha.”
(Wikipedia Japan - 舞妓 – Maiko (Non-Kyoto Maiko)) (source)
An Ainu woman, one of the indigenous people of northern Japan, in traditional garments, 1890s
Ainu, indigenous people of Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands who were culturally and physically distinct from their Japanese neighbours until the second part of the 20th century. The Ainu may be descendants of an indigenous population once widely spread over northern Asia; many contemporary Ainu claim some connection to Japan’s prehistoric Jōmon culture. The traditionalAinu language, an isolate with a number of dialects, had been almost completely supplanted byJapanese by the early 21st century; a language-revitalization movement initiated formal instruction in Ainu in the 1980s. [Britannica.com]
“Each July for the Gion Matsuri, senior Maiko wear the Katsyuama hairstyle (also sometimes referred to as marumage despite a noticeable difference between the two styles) with special kanzashi to represent the summer. The origin of the katsuyama is directly linked back to 17th century Edo to a very popular and famous tayuu of the same name. It is also often seen in historical plays, although the actual style is slightly more exaggerated. The Katsuyama was also widely worn through out the Edo era by married women, and only went out of fashion at the beginning of the Showa era with the introduction of a new style called sokuhatsu, a style reminiscent of Charles Dana Gibson’s “Gibson Girls”. Women were encouraged to wear the shokuhatsu due to it being more conventional and hygienic, and of course, more modern.
Aside from the ordinary hana-kanzashi and jade tama-kanzashi, Maiko wear a special pink and silver circular kanzashi called bonten that sits in the middle of the mage showing through on both sides. A thick red ribbon made from ro silk with various patterns in silver/gold is also woven around the base and through the centre of the mage.” (source: ImmortalGeisha)
At my SIL’s house I spotted a plushie doll in the kids’ playroom. Research reveals that it is a Chibi Kuro Sambo doll, which belonged to my BIL when he was a kid.
I was gobsmacked, and my mind raced with thoughts: Um, what? Why is this here? Why pass on this racist cr@p to your kids who are spending the majority of their lives in the U.S.? This doll is ugly as sh!t and your old version is even worse because he’s wearing a grass skirt and other “tribal” accessories…!!!…
I’ve been reading up on Chibi Kuro Sambo and its place in Japanese culture. On one hand the Japanese are so ignorant of race and racism regarding Blacks and Black culture because their society is so homogeneous. They don’t have much experience dealing with Black people and the images and info they’ve received has mostly been imported from the west.
Um, okay, yeah.
So how does one go about educating Japanese people about this issue, the wrongness of this beloved children’s icon? How do I educate my family members and still retain their good graces?
I can’t have it both ways.
As the wife of the youngest son, and being the outsider (the non-ethnic Japanese, the one who doesn’t speak the language), I am suppose to support all the family does. My husband isn’t bothered by this doll. (He doesn’t agree with my worldview anyway). I can’t be radical like Al Sharpton and lecture my in-laws. Peace and harmony are suppose to prevail at all times in Mr. Kitty’s family. (I’ve already endured indirect and direct insults about Chinese people, culture, and politics.)
I don’t want to ignore this because despite it being a minor issue it really is major.
Am disappointed with my husband’s family. Am feeling frustrated, feeling like a wimp because I can’t find the gumption to speak out, can’t figure out a good strategy on how to address this matter. The most difficult times standing up for SJ isn’t when addressing the enemy; it’s when dealing with loved ones.
Prince Hisahito of Akishino at his 4th birthday (he is 5 by now) - he is actually third in line to become Emperor of Japan… and just such a little cutie ♥
Maiko Ayano and oneesan Fumino from the Fukushima Okiya (Gion Kobu).