We invite you to join us for our first hybrid virtual and in-person event!
Tanabata is a well-known Japanese festival that originates from a Chinese love story between two stars. They are forced to separate from each other and can only meet once a year – on the seventh day of the seventh month – July 7th. Come join us as we celebrate this year’s Star Festival!
Virtual Art Seminar | 07/10/21 (2pm EDT)
On Saturday, July 10th, Carol Morland will host a virtual art seminar and guide us through Tanabata’s rich history and the ways it has been represented in Japanese art – from ancient to modern.
Carol Morland Bio: Carol Morland, PhD, has lived, worked, and traveled extensively in Asia. She has served as a Smithsonian Journeys Expert on tours to Japan and has taught at a variety of institutions, including the University of Hawaii and Temple University-Japan. Most recently, she has been an instructor for Encore Learning in Arlington, VA. At present, she is editing a Japanese-English dictionary of art terms to be published this summer.
We will also have a mini-bazaar of manga/anime books and Japanese related items etc. We will be accepting cash, card, or checks with all proceeds from the mini-bazaar will go towards Study Japanese in Arlington’s free programs.
SAN-J has generously supported us with their bottles of SAN-J Japanese Gluten Free Soy Sauce which will also be offered for a suggested donation of $5 for 2 bottles.
If you have any items you wish to donate, please contact us at email@example.com by Wednesday, June 30th.
We will be distributing this user-friendly booklet at the in-person Tanabata Festival. Feel free to download and print it in advance. It includes more information about Tanabata, a coloring section, a word search, and more.
Hi! I am Minako who is Japanese person but attends a college in America as an international student. In this blog, I would like to introduce Do or DOU, which is unique concept lives in Japanese tradition.
What is DO?
If you are familiar with Japanese culture, you may have heard the word of DO and/or DOU before, but what does it mean and how it would work? Even though I came from Japan, explaining the concept of Do is difficult in fact. Generally, DOU would refer to the practice for pursing one’s own field and it usually takes long time. Sometimes this is misunderstood that everyone who practices Do just need to gain skills and acquire techniques (waza 技) like getting academic degree as a proof of the completion; however, this way of thinking is incorrect. In fact, he people who train DOU ask to respect the way of life and its spirit.
*For the spelling in English, it may be able to use both Do and DOU for the concept of 道
Different Types of DOU
It is generally called as geido (芸道) or Shizuka-naru Do (静なる道) in Japanese, and the word is usually used for Japanese traditional performing/fine arts. Practitioners do not simply train themselves for acquiring the form (kata 型), actions, artistic skills, and the manners, but also practice for pursing the perfect beauty as long as they can. In other words, this is the endless spiritual discipline.
SADO/CHADO (茶道・茶の湯) [English: The Tea Ceremony]
Cha (茶) or tea in English was brought from China to Japan originally as a medicine about a thousand year ago. Tea cultivation spread across Japan, and tea-drinking became to be common in the ruling classes of warriors (samurai 侍) in the Muromachi (室町) period [13th century]. Since having a good communication between host and guest(s) became significant, manners (saho 作法) were formulated as a result. Eventually, tea master named chajin/茶人 in Japanese which includes famous person known as Sen no Rikyu (Japanese: 千利休) created the Tea Ceremony (Sadou/Chadou 茶道) based on the ideas of Harmony, Respect, Purity and Tranquility (wa-kei-sei-zyaku 和敬静寂). However, it is also true that various schools of the rea ceremonies have been founded before, during and after the time of Sen no Rikyu in fact. Another famous and important part of Japanese tea ceremony is the spirit of elegant rusticity (wabi わび) and anyone regardless of their social status should keep in mind on humbleness (koudou 講道).
[English: The Art of Japanese Flower Arrangement]
It was originated in the 6th century when Buddhist Monk offered flowers to the Buddha, but this type of flower arrangement has become to be popular in Japan since the 16th century. Practitioners believe Ikebana gives life and meaning to flowers arranged in the vase. It is important to formulate a triangular by positioning Heaven (Ten 天), Earth (Chi 地) and Human being (Jin 人) to show and express the harmony between humans and nature. Same as the Tea Ceremony, there are so many different schools in Japanese Flower Arrangement today.
SHODO (書道) [English: The Art of Japanese Calligraphy]
Japanese calligraphy (Shodo 書道) is the art of words by using a dipped writing brush (fude 筆) with black ink (sumi 墨) that is made from an inkstone (suzuri 硯). Japanese calligraphy was originally come from China, and a lot of Japanese people are familiar with this type of calligraphy in nowadays. However, people need to practice hard for being an expert and/or a calligrapher (shoka 書家) who gain classical calligraphy techniques that different from modern Japanese writing style and enable to write/perform that reflects to the form of artistic writing named sho (書).
KOH-DO (香道) [English: The Art of Appreciating Incense]
Unlike the tea ceremony, Japanese flower arrangement and calligraphy, Koh-Do (香道) is not known in general for not just the only for foreigners, but also among Japanese people (I honestly have not known this one until recent time). As implied by the art of appreciating incense, this is Japanese traditional art culture which enjoys the incense by burning the fragrant wood (Koh-Boku 香木). It was formulated in the Muromachi (室町) era [13th century] when the tea ceremony and Japanese flower arrangement became to be popular among people. There are categorized in two separate sectors called Mon-Koh (蘭香) which enjoys the aroma of incense for spiritual elevation and incense- identifying game (Kumi-Koh 組香). Since guests are sometimes asked to present the theme based on either Japanese classical poems or literature works, knowledge of literature would be a key element for enjoying the tradition as well.
BUDO (武道) Japanese Traditional Sports
According to the Japanese Budo Association, they defined the term of Budo (武道) [Japanese Traditional Sports] as “a form of Japanese physical culture that has its origins in the ancient tradition of bushido (武士道) – literally, ‘the way of the warrior’” in 2014. The association also describes Budo includes Judo (柔道), Kendo (剣道), Kyudo (弓道), Sumou (相撲), Karatedo (空手道), Aikido (合気道), Shorinji-Kempo (少林寺拳法), Naginata (なぎなた), and Jukendo (銃剣道). I would specifically like to focus on Judo (柔道), Kendo (剣道), Kyudo (弓道), Karatedo (空手道), Aikido (合気道), Naginata (なぎなた) as well as Iai (居合) in the blog.
Like Archery, target is shot by using a pair of the bow (yumi 弓) and arrow (ya 矢) in Kyudo (弓道). Both bows and arrows have been used in Japan since the Paleolithic time, and utilized in Japanese traditional religious culture called Shinto (神道) as well as developed as a weapon by warriors or the samurai (侍). The same as the other types of DO/DOU (道), the practitioners (Kyudoka 弓道家) train their skills and techniques not just the only for striking the target (mato 的), but also to pursue the beauty and try to maintain the bow-drawing posture.
Kendo (剣道) is one of popular Budo (武道) in Japan. It had developed from Japanese fencing game that uses bamboo swords (shinai竹刀), and unified rules were formulated by the end of the Edo (江戸) era [19th century]. Kendo (剣道) practitioner wears a face guard (men 面), gauntlets (kote 小手), breastplate (doh 胴) and flap/throat protector (tare 垂れ) for protecting their face and body. According to the one person who is the expert of Kendo (剣道), winning a game is not only significant portion, instead, respect an opponent is more important than a victory. Crouching which is called sonkyo in Japanese practices the above sprit and philosophy because the players need to do this before and after the competition. Furthermore, shouting with a clear voice (hassei 発声) is necessary at the moment of a strike (datotsu 打突) as well as showing awareness (zanshin 残心) is required right after the strike for getting a valid point (yuko 有効) during the game.
Judo (柔道) would be the world most famous Budo (武道) in these days because it is appeared in the Olympics game and many people enjoy this across the globe. Judo (柔道) was formally created by Kano Jigoro (Japanese: 嘉納 治五郎) in 1882 based on Jujutsu (柔術) which enables to defend a body only by using bare hands. In the competition, a practitioner (judo-ka 柔道家) should respect their opponent anytime during the game. It is known as the philosophy of the sport that “Judo (柔道) begins and ends with courtesy.” Kosei Inoue (Japanese: 井上 康生) who is an expert of Judo (柔道) and an Olympic gold medalist says, “I could not only nurture physical strength – needless to say – but also learn the importance of respecting people and cooperation.”
Karatedo (空手道), which has been recently approved as the competing sport for the Olympic game, was rooted in Okinawa (沖縄) with influenced by kenpo material art from China. Since the numbers of Okinawan practitioners (karate-ka 空手家) began to introduce this sport across Japan from the late 1910s, Karatedo (空手道) becomes to be known as one of Japanese traditional sports today. As some of the other DOU, there are various schools in Japan. Karatedo (空手道) asks trainers to use every part of the body to protect themselves by using the basic techniques (kihon 基本) which include punching (tsuki 突き), kicking (keri 蹴り) and maintain the form (kata 型). The comparative match with an opponent is called kumite (組み手) in Japanese which is applied to use the combination of the above techniques. Although Karatedo (空手道) is somehow seems to be Judo (柔道), there is a demonstration of a series of techniques (Enbu 演武) unlike Judo (柔道) that is often shown before the competition. As implied by this, repeating practices would be a key component of Karatedo (空手道) as well.
Aikido (合気道) was created by Morihei Ueshiba(Japanese: 植芝 盛平) as a modern material art. It is crucial to know that Aikido (合気道) focuses much more on practice itself instead of competing one another. Because of this, many people regardless of their ages, genders, national origins and among others enjoy the sport together. Aikido (合気道) had been introduced to the world since 1950s, and it expanded to more than 100 countries across the globe by 2018.
In Naginata (なぎなた), there are two major ways of the competitions: practical match and showing the demonstration. Like Kendo (剣道), two individuals or a group of people competing with the opponent in the practical match. For the demonstration, it is conducted by two players like the practical match, and referees judge it based on the correctness of the forms and actions.
Iai (居合) [Pronounce: E-I]
In the middle of 16th century, Jinsuke Hayashizaki (Japanese: 林崎 甚助) worked hard to restore nearly lost material art. After this, many schools were born, and numbers of forms (kata 型) were developed in the next century (Edo Era 江戸時代). Because of the origin as shown above, Iai (居合) is Japanese traditional material art based on the sudden/accidental confrontation between the people with having their own sword in the past eras. It had often turned into the fight immediately after swordsmen stay or seat nearby. To avoid potential conflicts, forms (kata 型) were formulated, and these have been incorporated into swordsmanship (kenjutsu 剣術) as well as a combat skill called taijutsu (体術) for protecting the body.
Thank you for reading by the end of the blog! I appreciate your time for reading the entire article while this blog would be a little longer than some other ones. Even if you cannot read the whole blog, I hope some parts of the blog would be helpful or enable to motivate you to learn more for Japan and its culture. In case you are interested in Japanese culture and/or would like to get more information for DO/DOU (道), I highly recommend to view this website since there are a lot of videos that introduce Japanese culture and it is so informative as well as user friendly. Lastly, I would like to thank Study Japanese in Arlington [SJA] for allowing me to be a guest blogger. Although it is the first time for me to write the blog, I could enjoy every part of the writing process and gain more knowledge of DO/DOU (道) throughout blogging. Hopefully, I will be able to interact with the organization again in the future!
Hello everyone! I’m Sophia and I’d like to welcome you to the first edition of What Has Sophia Been Listening To? In this series, I’ll introduce a Japanese artist or band that I enjoy. My taste in music ranges from heavy metal to pop so be ready for many different styles of music!
For the first edition of What Has Sophia Been Listening To? I want to introduce the first Japanese group that I got into, Babymetal. Babymetal as a Japanese kawaii metal band who’s been around since 2010. Originally they were a group of three members; Su-Metal, Moametal, and Yuimetal. They released two albums as this trio, the first being a self-titled album* Babymetal and the second being Metal Resistance. I will be sharing my top two songs from each album (trust me, it’s hard choosing just two from each to share).
*Note- A self-titled album is when the album shares the same name as the band/artist
The first song comes from Babymetal, and is titled ヘドバンギャー！！or Headbangeeeeerrrrr!!!!!!! in English. This is the twelfth song on the self titled album and it is probably my favorite on the album. Compared to some other songs on the album, it showcases the more metal side of the band. It’s a great introduction to the metal side of the band and as the song title implies, it truly is a song you can easily headbang to.
The second song from their self titled album I’d like to introduce is ギミチョコ！！ or Gimmie Chocolate!!in English. This song starts off hardcore, making you think it’ll be more of a metal song, but then the chorus starts and you get a more pop style of song.
Onto the second album we go! The band’s second album is titled Metal Resistance. The first song from this album I’d like to share with everyone is titled GJ! It combines the pop and metal aspects well, as well as having well placed instrumental moments to just rock out to.
The second song from Metal Resistance that I’d like to share is titled Karate. This was actually the first song by Babymetal that I had ever listened to, and I was hooked from the start. Similar to some songs on the first album, it features more of a pop tone for most of the song while the background instrumentals are more metal focused. This mix of genres blend well, and it creates a song that brings energy to the listener.
Sadly, the trio was reduced to a duo in 2019 when Yuimetal left the band. Since then, Su-Metal and Moametal have continued to work together and they released their third album back in October of 2019 titled Metal Galaxy.
Metal Galaxy is an album that really focuses on combining different styles of music, not limited to pop and metal. For instance, the song Pa Pa Ya! ft. F.Hero combines pop and rap into one song. It is one of the few songs in the band’s discography that heavily features a rap component.
The second song from this album I’d like to introduce is titled BxMxC. Technically, this song is not a part of the album since it came out about a year after the album originally came out. Despite its later release, it is still considered to be part of the album in its cover art and on official records. Unlike Pa Pa Ya! it focuses more on a mix of rap and metal, rather than rap and pop.
I have made a Spotify playlist that includes all of these songs, and will eventually hold a compilation of all songs featured on What Has Sophia Been Listening To? I hope everyone enjoys this mini-series and let me know what you think of Babymetal.
I’m Anna, and I’m writing to you today to tell you about my process of learning how to make an 帯(obi)!
One of the things I love most about learning Japanese is how excited people get to share their own experiences and pieces of the culture with me whenever it comes up. It seems like everyone has been touched by Japanese culture in their own way. An event like this happened to me recently, and in a very special way: a distant aunt of mine heard of my interest in Japan and sent me a yukata that she had commissioned for herself many years ago, but never gotten to wear! It even came in the original paper wrapping!
The gorgeous, deep navy blue patterned with stark white Japanese chrysanthemums – truly, it was love at first sight. Unfortunately, there is one big problem: it didn’t come with an obi! For readers that may not know, the obi is the sash that ties the yukata closed, as there are no other fastenings on the garment. “Fear not, I can simply make one!” I thought to myself, as I had a bolt of Japanese textile, also seen above, ready for using.
Without the obi, I wasn’t going to be able to wear my new yukata.
So I started turned to Google.
My initial search of “how to make an obi” brought me to many tutorials, videos, and patterns, but all of them were for an “obi-style” belt that mimics the silhouette an obi gives when worn, but does not tie like one. Some of these were beautiful, as you can see below, but they weren’t going to do for me.
I tried refining my search, using words like “authentic”, “kimono obi”, “yukata obi”, but still no luck aside from costumes and low-quality imitation patterns. I was starting to feel like I was uncovering a secret internet conspiracy when I found a break through: a cosplay forum with some vocabulary I hadn’t seen before. I was reasonably suspicious of the source’s credibility, but the user, Enagracus, claimed to be searching for something as culturally authentic as possible, just like me. Here’s the response they got on the thread:
“It depends on the type of obi. A maru obi, for example, is very formal and is usually a single wide piece of patterned fabric folded over an interior piece of stiff canvas and stitched on one side. A fukuro obi has a patterned visible side and a plain lining side, so it’s stitched on both ends.
The usual obi with yukata are heko (a long soft scarf usually tied in a bow), hanhaba (a half-width, usually 6 inch obi), or a type I don’t know the name for, which is all one color and woven instead of sewn. What sort of outfit are you aiming for?“
– User Mangochutney, cosplay.com
As I did during my search, let’s take a minute to look a bit closer at the types of obi Mangochutney is talking about here:
Maru Obi (丸帯):
A little more than 2 feet wide, these are made from a thick fabric that is lined with sturdy material to hold shape. They are difficult to put on and are very formal, so they are mainly only worn by brides at weddings. Wikipedia describes them as being “the most formal type of women’s obi, though all but obsolete today”.
Fukuro Obi (袋帯):
These obi put emphasis on the patterned fabric used for them, making them still very ornate and formal, while only being half the width (1 foot) of the maru obi. Mangochutney was right that they can be patterned on the visible side and plain on the other, but they can also be entirely patterned or only have patterned fabric only on the parts that are visible when they are tied, depending on your budget!
Heko Obi (兵児帯):
This obi is usually 8-12 inches wide and made of very thin, loose fabric, unusual to the very stiff structure of other obi. Traditionally, heko was only worn by men, and is considered very casual.
Hanhaba Obi (半幅帯):
This is the type of obi most commonly worn with yukata by women, and is relatively casual. It is 6 inches in width, as mentioned in Mangochutney’s response. It comes in many patterns and colors and can be tied in many creative ways thanks to its smaller width.
Sakiori Obi (裂織帯):
I believe this is the type of obi that Mangochutney couldn’t remember the name of. These are a very fascinating example of the variety in obi making, as they are entirely woven from recycled fabric threads! However, they are very casual, not even meant to be worn in public, and are about the same width as the hanhaba obi, 6 inches.
There are many more versions and subversions of obi, but this was a great list to choose from as a turning point for my searches, as Mangochutney had included a good mix of casual and formal styles with varying materials and complexities! From these descriptions, I guessed that the hanhaba obi was what I was familiar with from my time wearing a yukata before. I continued my searches with this in mind, and finally, I began getting results for traditional obi sellers with much more accurate results. However, there was still not a single sewing tutorial to be found!
At this point, dear reader, I was nearly ready to throw in the towel. It didn’t seem like anyone was willing to let me in on how to make the obi I needed.
But then, something miraculous happened!
I truly don’t know how I found it, but I happened to click on this video shown above of a girl making a yukata from scratch. As luck would have it, included in the video is a brief tutorial of her making an obi! By slowing down the video, I was able to write down her steps and create measurement tweaks to accommodate my limited fabric based on the information from the cosplay forum thread. In summary, this is what I came up with:
12 inches wide (add quarter inch seam allowance)
20 inch 1 length, 2 lengths 50 inch (add quarter inch seam allowance)
6 inch wide 120 inch long fusible, semi-lightweight interfacing
Sew 1 of the 50 inch pieces to each width end of 20 inch length
Fold to half width (6 inches)
Iron interfacing on half the width of entire 120” length (wrong side out)
Sew along full length on open side of fold
Sew one width end of tube closed
Turn inside out (so right side faces out)
Fold in raw quarter inch edge of open width and whip stitch closed
I couldn’t believe after all that, it was only 7 fairly simple steps to assemble the obi! But I was relieved to finally know what to do.
As my sewing plan requires seams on the width of the obi, rather than a continuous length of fabric, as my fabric isn’t quite long enough, it unfortunately isn’t perfectly accurate like I hoped. However, I think the end result won’t show these inaccuracies too badly! Furthermore, I think it’s worth mentioning that during my research, I found many independent online ateliers and ready-made suppliers who sold beautiful pieces. Particularly on Etsy, there were a plethora who might have fulfill my obi needs just fine, and saved me a lot of trouble! But, I wanted to take this as an opportunity to learn more, not just about fashion and tailoring, but also Japanese culture.
Because of this, I’ve learned so much about the complex and beautiful variations in traditional Japanese obi, and I can’t wait to show you all my sewing process in my next article!
Mark your calendars; SJA’s Japan Day 2021 is on its way! This year’s Japan Day will be completely virtual, and everyone is welcome to join. All activities are free; we just ask that you sign up in advance.
はじめまして！ I’m Anna, and I very much look forward to being able to share my passion for Japanese culture and for SJA through this youth blog! I am the secretary of the SJA Board, and I work closely with the Outreach and the Arts subcommittees. I am a junior in high school and have been studying Japanese for 3 years now. My motivation to learn Japanese comes from my dream to study fashion in Japan, so look forward to news on Japanese fashion in some of my blog posts!
こんにちは！My name is Maya, and I am a board member and on the Youth Committee for SJA! I am a senior at Washington-Liberty High School. I am in my third year of studying Japanese and am applying to colleges in Japan. My interest in Japan comes from being part Japanese on my mom’s side. I watch a lot of anime with my family; we really enjoy discovering new anime together. I’ve been to Japan and would like to go back as soon as we are able to travel!
Hey y’all! I’m Sophia and I’m part of the SJA Board, as well as a Youth Committee member and Event Committee member. I’m a senior at Arlington Tech, and will hopefully be heading off to college next year! My interest in Japan comes from my mom showing me classic Japanese animes at a young age. I’m also interested in all styles of martial arts, with 10+ years of training, which definitely plays a big role in my interest. Sadly, I’ve been unable too travel to Japan yet, but I do plan on going sometime in the next few years. I can’t wait to write some blog posts for y’all!
SJA is excited to offer our popular free and fun programs via zoom. Please look out for an updated information on registration and activity contents through our newsletter and Facebook page.
Free Japanese classes for youth and adult – 2021 Winter Session TBD
Origami workshop – starting in January
Setagaya-Arlington exchange program
Japan Day – March 27 & 28
We look forward to studying Japanese and the Japanese culture together. Interested in sharing your love of Japan and the language? We always are looking for new volunteers. Please contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Would you like to get connected to a community of Japanese and Japan-enthusiasts? Enjoy learning about the culture of Japan, or enjoy sharing your love of Japan with others? Interested in brushing up your Japanese while helping others learn English (or vice versa)? SJA is always looking for volunteers to help with our programs and events. Please contact us for current and future volunteer opportunities.
Perfect opportunity for college student or recent graduate seeking real world work experience! SJA, grassroots Japanese language and cultural advocacy non-profit based in Arlington, VA is currently seeking a part-time webmaster intern to assist with managing its WordPress website and adding new content. Primary duties are:
create web posts and design pages on SJA activities, as guided by the Board
manage co-editor content from volunteer contributors
The experience on WordPress or website management is highly desired. Interest in Japanese language and culture is most welcome.
Estimated time commitment of about 10 hours per month. Happy to coordinate with your school for academic credit if desired.
Our promotional video will air on Saturday, August 15 between 1 and 2 pm at the Arlington County Fair’s Facebook Live page. Importantly, we are going to host Setagaya Live on Saturday and Teen-only Online Game Bash in partnership with Game Gym on Sunday. Both events are free! Learn more about these exciting events, visit our website.
Thou hast seen yet
Starring our own Sophia Field, Youth Representative, a member of SJA board AND, a creator of this video.