I don't think I've touched on this yet, but I wanted to come to Japan for a few reasons. Firstly, I am very much inspired by the traditional imagery and the culture. I love the patterns that are used on kimono, paper and ceramics.
Many of which are inspired by nature and the 4 seasons.
I love the color combination in her clothing.
Traditional family crests with modern graphic appeal.
An old saddle. with elegant textures and patterns fusing.
Secondly, I've always enjoyed Ukiyo-e (traditional woodblock prints) and I wanted to learn more about the myths they depicted. Some of my favorite Ukiyo-e imagery has fantastic pictures of ghosts, demons, monsters or traditional tales with animals. I wanted to come here and learn more about the characters in these stories so that I can incorporate them into my work.
Foxes hung at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, each is done my an individual who then writes their wish on the back.
Finally, contemporary culture here is equally inspiring. The juxtaposition of the two is what makes Japan so crazy and fascinating. What I love most about Modern Japan is the way the Japanese borrow and incorporate words, food and characters from other cultures into their own. They sort of end up giving the elements they borrow new connotations.
Here's some examples:
Betty Boop eyelashes anyone?
Or perhaps a green tea ice cream setto complete with red bean sauce, rice balls and green tea?
Or would you fancy a game of tug of rope with a pair of Santas? You have to win to get your Christmas presents.
And I bet this little blond girl mask keeps away the crows from this rice field.
I wasn't sure at first how I could incorporate all of these elements into my research project. But, then I got here and it all sort of fell into place. I wanted to continually research traditional folklore and incorporate the characters from those into traditional fairy tales/folk stories from Western culture. An audience from the West would gain a better understanding of Japanese culture and history. At the same time it gives any Japanese viewers a chance to see their culture and history re imagined. So far most of my Japanese teachers and peers seem interested in my project and curious about my impression of their culture and traditions.
Thomas the Tank Engine, but as a bike pillow.
A Halloween inspired floral arrangement
So yeah.... these are all things that inspire me. Having an opportunity to document what I'm seeing in Japan and reflecting about it is so useful and this blog is giving me a chance to collect my thoughts, adventures and inspirations. I'm not convinced anyone is reading this, but if you are then that makes me pretty happy too!