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Hello Japan! November mini-challenge: Five Questions (a Japan meme)


Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. hosted by ‘In Spring It Is The Dawn’. Each month there will be a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. You can post about the task on your blog. Or if you don’t have a blog, you can leave a comment on the Hello Japan! post for the month. Everyone who completes the task will then be included in the drawing for that month’s prize.   

This month’s challenge is a good one. We get to answer five questions relating to Japan and Japanese culture. Here goes!

1. My favourite Japanese tradition is manga because:

I just love art, and manga is probably the first contact I ever had with Japanese culture. A person can learn so much about a country and it’s people by studying its various art forms and manga is so uniquely Japanese that no other culture can copy it. Cult classics like ‘Akira’ made me a firm fan of cyberpunk literature and made me more aware of the dangers of technology, social isolation, corruption and power. This, and a wonderfully complex storyline between Tetsuo and Kaneda led me to look for similar stories like ‘Ghost in the Shell’.   

2. The best Japanese movie I’ve seen this year is:


‘Zatoichi’ starring Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano. It’s an excellent version of the blind swordsman who comes into a small Japanese town to kick gangster butt. It also stars the awesome Tadanobu Asano. It’s set during the feudal Edo period. It has ronins, geishas and lots of great sword-fighting, so its well worth a look at if you get the chance.

3. What Japanese author(s) or book(s) have you enjoyed that you would highly recommend to others?

Nothing comes close to Haruki Murakami. 2010 has been a good year for reading his books as I’ve got to know him better as a writer. I would recommend ‘South of the Border, West of the Sun’, ‘After Dark’ and ‘Sputnik Sweetheart’ as an introduction to his work. I am currently reading ‘Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World’ and ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles’. So far, they are both turning out to be excellent!  

4. What is something Japanese that you’d like to try but haven’t yet had the chance?

I’d love to try Miso Soup ever since I read the novel ‘In The Miso Soup’ by Ryu Murakami. I would also love to try on the traditional Japanese costume and go through the tea ceremony.  I’m a teaholic, and Japan is THE place to do some serious tea-tasting! Just thinking about it is putting a smile on my face!

5. You’re planning to visit Japan next year. Money is not a concern. What is on the top of your list of things you most want to do?



This is a VERY long list. First off I’d probably stay a few months (considering how long the journey is) so I’d start off with ‘Hanami’ or the cherry blossom viewing in March. It would be a perfect time to go as I’d also celebrate my birthday there. We’d pack our bento lunches and go sit in the park with all the other watchers. Then I’d visit Tokyo’s various districts: Ginza (shopping), Akihabara (electronics), Harajuku etc and some of the old temples that are located in the capital. Something tells me praying there would do me some good. There is also the Ghibli Museum I’d like to see. It’s very hard to get tickets, but because I’m such a fan of Ghibli films it’s an absolute must. I’d also go and visit the Tokyo Tower. I heard that young couples go there and sit under it. If you stay long enough and the lights go out, then its a sign that you’ll stay together forever.

Finally, towards June (I said I was staying a few months), I’d go over to the Okinawa islands as I’ve heard it’s a sub-tropical paradise. A bit of swimming, some fishing; perfect. Nothing like rounding up my Japan pilgrimage by visiting the birth place of my Japanese rock hero Gackto-san!

That’s my questions answered. What about you?