Wednesday, April 13, 2011

JETAA Japan Benefit Party

On April 1st, JETAA had a Japan Benefit Party at the Hard Rock Cafe on Dundas & Yonge, and Sunil and I went to help by attending. Plus, he was playing taiko, so we kinda had to be there. It was his first time playing taiko in public since Japan and he was rather excited.

The event had world music acts, which was very cool. Live performances included Arashido Taiko drummers, the world music of Nhapitapi, indie rock from Olaroks and Cousin Rufu, Kenji Body Paint Black-Light Dancers, and more.

I wore a kimono, naturally. I was the only one, too, but that's okay. It was the same outfit I wore to the Hallowe'en Repo: The Genetic Opera showing: black cotton kimono with komon pattern, red tsuke-obi with velveteen motifs, yellow obiage, red obijime, white embroidered collar, black boots, black haori.

kimono,obi detail 

Sunil went to the bathroom or something and I was standing near a column when suddenly was I attacked and nearly molested by a small, somewhat intoxicated (I think) Japanese lady. She straightened my collar, touched something or other on my obi, and finished before she even said anything. Granted, my collar had likely shifted from being in the car, so I didn't mind the fixing - it was the sudden attack aspect of it. When she finished, we chatted a little. She collects and has 20-30 kimono and knows how to wear them, but doesn't because she can't dance in them (she did a few steps, she does ballroom style). Someone did take our picture, and during it, she hugged my arm and rested her head on my upper arm. It was kind of weird, but very cute. I wish I had a copy of the pic.

When she went off with her drink, we wandered the event and looked at the goods up for silent auction. There was a cool selection of items that had been donated, including a signed Peter Mansbridge tie. I decided to bid on salsa lessons (5 lessons for a couple) since Sunny and I had fun learning dancing before our wedding and wanted to do it again. Turns out I won it, yay.  All told, the fundraiser benefit raised $12K for the Red Cross' Japan Tsunami fund. You can read more about it here, on the JETAA website (more pics there, too).

Wearing the kimono was a great conversation starter. I had quite a few people say something, or come up and want to talk a bit with me because of it, which was neat. I even met a few Japanese girls who are interested in kimono and who are here in the GTA on a year long work visa. I've still got to email them about the club, but I did give them the URL. That reminded me I need to get some cards printed up.

The musical groups were quite good; I really appreciated the variety. What was very cool was that during the other other acts, people milled out wherever, but when taiko was up, everyone - EVERYONE - came and sat and stood and watched. I imagine it made the taiko group feel awesome. Everyone likes taiko and it's probably nostalgic for many of them. I tried to get some good pics, but I was too close and people got washed out. Unfortunately, Sunny only played one song (the awesome jumping one, though) and was in the back, and from my angle, I couldn't get any pics of him. :(

I was happy to see people I worked with there, as well as meet an ex-coworker's musically talented husband.
Photos are thumbnails; click to make larger.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kimono Academies, Daily Kimono, and Style

There was an interesting thread started on the ImmortalGeisha forums regarding kimono schools and the effect they have, if anything, on kimono wearing in Japan. (Note: a "kimono school" is one that teaches kitsuke, or the art of kimono wearing; for the sake of this thread, it encompasses licenced instructors who teach for a specific school.)

The idea put forth was that kimono schools, especially the one most kimono enthusiasts know of (Sodo Kimono, Yamanaka Norio's academy - he's the author of The Book of Kimono), are too strict and may actually discourage people from learning to wear kimono. They push the rules and indicate that everything has to be "just so" or you shouldn't go out in public. The impression of schools is that they are rigid and don't provide much flexibility or style development, especially when compared to how kimono was worn as a part of daily life pre-WWII.

The thread has lots of interesting comments and discussion. I knew I wanted to reply, as I'm one of the few members of IG who has attended classes (licenced Sodo instructor, but not at a "school"), but it was difficult. I knew I wanted to say something in the thread, but I didn't want to leave it too long and eventually not post.

You'll find summarized ideas from the other commenters in the thread, as well as my own reply after the "read more".

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finding Local Japanese Culture Events

Someone on the IG forums mentioned the Consul-General's page, and I gathered the links for the forums, so I figured I'd share them here since I did the work. I used the local page when I was in Chicago for events for the newsletter there, and I use the Toronto one here to find things to attend.

Consulate-General of Japan Events Calendar Links




Ottawa: Upcoming Cultural Events
Ottawa: Japanese Culture Events






Chicago (covers Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin)





Los Angeles: Local Cultural Calendar
Los Angeles: Local Event Links


New York


San Francisco


Washington, DC
DC Metro Area Events

(Back to being sick. Ugh.)