Sunday, 19 July 2015

A little bit of Japan in Milton Keynes

Yesterday morning I popped over to Milton Keynes to take Emily – creator, editor and photographer of Love Japan magazine – to the peace pagoda. It’s somewhere I’ve been wanting to show her for a while, because I adore the place, having visited it so many times in my life. Plus, it is really quite unusual that such a beautiful and unique, Buddhist and Japanese structure is situated in Milton Keynes – the town that pretty much everyone, even those that live there, judge as a concrete jungle.

Emily herself hadn’t really been to Milton Keynes (aside from the Bowl) but had heard other people’s opinions – see above: concrete jungle. However, she was pleasantly surprised by what bits of Milton Keynes I showed her. I’ve always said that the peace pagoda and the temple, with its surrounding gardens, is one of, if not my most, favourite places in all of the world. Emily could see why…

There were, unfortunately, quite a few cars (and a campervan!) parked outside the temple.
We went inside, removing our shoes of course, and absorbed the peaceful atmosphere.
And also went out to the rear garden – not walking on the stones!
The temple itself is distinctly Japanese-looking but without architectural details like onigawara.

It was lovely to wander around the peace pagoda and temple, but the actual reason for Emily coming to Milton Keynes was to photograph me for one of her photography degree projects, Shinnichi.

‘Shinnichi’ – literally translated as ‘a person who likes Japan’ – focuses on people, and their individual interest in Japanese culture, from fashion and pop culture, to tradition crafts and martial arts.

My portrait is the 7th in Emily’s series of 8 (the 8th has yet to be captured), although she intends for it to be an ongoing project outside of her degree. You can check out the other portraits in the series so far and read a bit more about the project here.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Hyper Japan 2015

On Saturday I attended my first Hyper Japan Festival in London, at the O2 (or the Millennium Dome, for those that remember it before!).

HYPER JAPAN is your one-stop destination for all things Japanese. Whether you want to try authentic Japanese food or street food, learn about traditional or modern arts, or share your love of anime and videogames, HYPER JAPAN has something for everyone!

I didn’t really know what to expect, only that it would be awesome to be around so many other Japanophiles like myself. I had a good day all-in-all, but there was a lot of queuing and generally a lot more people than there were stalls – particularly food stalls – and general things to see and do!

This was where we got to in the queue after about 10 minutes.
So many Japanese KitKats and other sweeties.
One of the first stops was Tofu Cute.
I really want one of these plushie Mt Fuji.
I loved the bonsai, of course.
Matcha bubble tea – far nicer than the last one of these I had.
Watching the martial arts performances was fun.
So the Japanese like cats, eh?
Just Link from LOZ playing video games.
Retro and almost as old as me.
A little bonsai in the ‘garden’.
The most amazing Princess Mononoke (Studio Ghibli) forest spirit cosplay.
So many amazing looking cupcakes.
Of course I bought a matcha one.
And a popping edamame pod keyring.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Gurafiku: the Japanese graphic design archive

Ryan Hageman, a designer/researcher based in Chicago, has an excellent and ever-growing blog that forms ‘a collection of visual research surveying the history of graphic design in Japan’ – Gurafiku.

I was pointed in the direction of Gurafiku by my very own design studio, emc design, tweeting about an It’s Nice That post. (I’m so bad at keeping up to date with Twitter, design blogs and all things Japan related these days so it was lucky that I happened to see the tweet tonight!)

“Looking through all the works archived on Gurafiku, I am always impressed by the sheer diversity of different styles, approaches and methodologies present in Japanese graphic design. It’s these characteristics that’s been able to carry my interest in the project for so many years.” – Ryan Hageman says in the article for It’s Nice That

Japanese Manga: A Meal Makes Her Forget. Jun Abe / Yasuhisa Kawatani. 2014
Japanese Poster: Forest in Tokyo. Chikako Oguma. 2015
Japanese Illustration: Tokyo Xperia. Hasegawa Shinpei. 2014
Japanese Magazine Cover: Graph Press. Shogo Sato. 2012
Japanese Theater Poster: Frog Ascension. Motoki Koitabashi (Akaoni Design). 2015

Those are just some of the most recent images added to Gurafiku. I’ve added some more of my favourites here…