Ainu, the Indigenous People of Japan

The Ainu people have gained their popularity all over the world because of their interesting uniqueness in all the ethnic Japanese people.  Their cultural and racial backgrounds are significantly different where in researches have shown they have influences from both Japanese and Russian origins. They are an indigenous group of people whose cultures, traditions and even language are being protected and preserved today.

On the other hand, there is a very big hurdle with regards to this protection and preservation as intermarriages have somewhat blurred the originality and authenticity of their customs. The population of this indigenous group is actually unclear because of this fact. Some say that original Ainu people are in the number of about 25,000 while those that have been influenced through intermarriages extend up to about 200,000 people. These are merely estimates and the exact number is unknown. Based on studies about their culture and history, one of the theories includes the idea that they are descendants of Mongolian migrants during the Jomon Period. This, on the other hand is still unproven and the origin of this indigenous group still remains unknown.

Early Ainu People

Their name “Ainu” actually translates to the word that means human as they regard all other things as Kamuy or gods. Their daily routines involve rituals and ceremonies as prayers to their nature gods, animal gods and object gods. It is normal for indigenous groups to worship nature and animals as gods however this may be among the rare cases where objects are still worshipped. This includes pots, boats, houses and many more.

Ainu traditional wear

Their way of clothing, traditional attires and even their headdresses are different from the usual patterns observed from ethnic Japanese. Because of this, their group becomes even more fascinating. The problem, on the other hand, is the fact that the native Ainu language is slowly starting to deteriorate as the younger generation prefers using Nihonggo.

A Trip to the 90s: Yu Yu Hakusho

Yu Yu Hakusho, or also known as the Ghost Files, is one of the most favourite anime of audiences and fans in the world. The storyline and the plot fascinated its audiences, both young and old, as it envelopes the characters with mystique, magic and wonder. Among the favorite characters are as follows:

Main Protagonists

 

 

Yusuke Urameshi

He is a young 14 year old student who has constant bad habits that earned him the title as a delinquent. However, his life changes when he is hit by a car and dies while saving a small child who had wandered the road by itself. His delinquent and bad behavior earns him no place in heaven but his life-risking action that caused his life did not entitle him a place in hell either. So, he is permitted to return to his body and continue with his life. However, he was recruited as a Spirit Detective and capture criminals in the Human world that deals with any underworld crime. Yusuke is best known for his Rei Gun where his Spirit energy is concentrated into his right index finger and energy is released from his finger like a gun.

Rei Gun

Kasuma Kuwabara

He is also a Junior High school student who is known as the Second Toughest Punk at his school. He used to hate Yusuke but soon the two became great friends. One of the best supernatural abilities Kuwabara has would be his very advanced sixth sense that greatly help Yusuke in many of hi cases. He also has the ability to wield his own sword called the Rei Ken that later on allowing him to obtain the Dimension Blade at the latter part of the series.

Kurama

He used to be a demon thief who was born as Shuichi Minamino who is a human. He was able to retain his demon powers but at much lower levels. He has the power to control plants, including his signature weapon which is a rose that can be turned into a whip of Thorns.

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Ayumi Hamasaki

Ayumi Hamasaki is a Japanese recording artist who has gained popularity in Japan when she debuted in 1999.  She was dubbed as the Empress of J-Pop because she was among the primary proponents of J-Pop not only in the country but also throughout Asia. Her beautiful singing voice has landed her top status in the Oricon Charts where her debut album remained for four weeks, immediately shooting her to fame.

Ayumi Hamasaki, singer and fashion icon

She knew that she needed to continuously reinvent herself and constantly change her image so that the people would not easily get too full of her. Because of her continuous self-improvement, her popularity soared throughout Asia. She was not only popular with her music, her popularity even rose to greater heights when she began entering the world of fashion and modelling. She often lent her songs to advertisements and commercials that increased her exposure to the masses. Her popularity started spreading through China, Singapore then Southeast Asia. As her popularity soared, people watched out for the newest style and trends that she would be setting. She is a fashion icon, landing her covers and appearances in popular fashion magazines and even gaining her the title of Most Fashionable Female Artist by Oricon.

All of the lyrics to her songs were written by no one else but her. This made her music even more impressive and heartfelt and she gained a different kind of respect from the listeners and fans. Furthermore, most of her music are quite relatable to many of the fans and used her music to reach out and let out what she feels in her heart. Her music draws inspiration from her experiences in life, particularly those that she finds difficult to voice out. This is also another reason why she prefers singing and writing in the native language because she could express herself better than through other foreign languages.

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Tomoe Gozen: A Wife and a Warrior

In the recent years, more and more evidence of the existence of women warriors in Japan has been surfacing. There were female samurai warriors known as the Onna Bugeisha who were known for their bravery, strength and passion to fight war. Among the most notable out of all these women warrior would be Tomoe Gozen who is believed to have fought in the Genpei war from 1180 to 1185.

She was considered to be a concubine of Minamoto No Yoshinaka, a prominent and wealthy Samurai lord at the time. He was a general of the Heian period and was a member of the Minamoto Samurai clan. The Genpei war was known to have been a rivalry between two superpower samurai clans a constant battle between the Minamoto and the Taira clans.

Depictions of her in the festivals and parades

The name and identity of Tomoe was found in one of the historical accounts known as the Tale of  the Heike that chronicled the life during the life of the Genpei war. She was described to be exceptionally beautiful with tantalizing white skin and especially charming feature. She was described as a good warrior, feisty and brave – a strong archer and a swordsman “ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot”. She was also described to be sent as the first captain of Yoshinaka, performing military commands with great valor.

Minamoto No Yoshinaka

When conflict became an internal struggle within the Minamoto clan, she was defeated by Wada Yoshimori and was taken as his wife. There are also rumors that Tomoe and her husband died in battle. The mystery looming within her death and even existence has been what caused her popularity to spark within the people. No one seems to be sure if she did exist as there were unclear depictions of the end of her life. The Tale of the Heike is the only proof that she existed.

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Order in the World through Dance!

World Order, a Japanese dance group and band, is one of the most interesting and innovative dancers there are. It is not like the typical hip hop, jazz or whatever that people see from typical dance competitions and dance groups. The way that World Order dances is something else beyond compare and beyond description. Genki Sudo used to be a Mixed Martial Artist who formed the band World Order after he retired from his martial arts career. He did not MMA and was able to complete and win multiple tournaments and competitions during his time.

genki sudo world order members

Members of the World Order

Their first and most impressive song “Machine Civilization” made them well-known throughout the world. This song was produced as their response to the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami calamity of Japan. Their forte would be choreographed robotic dances that have beaten our every notion of robotic dance. It shows mind-blowing synchronization, choreography and illusion. Most of their dances, though they seem as if they are parodying other artists are artistic homages to the greatest artists and musicians of our time. Their appeal to audiences may not be as significant as international artists from different corners of the world but they have dominated the Japan and other parts of the world with their innovation and creativity.

The group is composed of seven dancers who are known to push the boundaries beyond entertainment and awe. They even incorporate actual machinery in their dance that make them look as if they are live robots dancing to the tune of the music. What made them catch attention is the fact that they simply go out in public places, dance and leave as if nothing happened. This is their appeal, their uniqueness and quirkiness and the confusion of why they dance that way will certainly pull in audiences and invite them further to watch.

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Running a Marathon, the Legacy of Yuki Kawauchi

Nobody would ever thought that a simple man that works a simple office job would ever make a name for himself internationally without the help of celebrities, scandals and the like. Yuki Kawauchi simply is one of the most incredible men in Japan and has gained his popularity quite anonymously. He is not an athlete and definitely not an Olympian. Kawauichi is a self-coached, 40 hour per week government worker who has ran eleven marathons in a single year. Whatever motivated him to do as such, he must be thankful for he topped a number of these marathons and has beaten quite a number of records by famous athletes as well. His average time in his eleven marathons in 2013 was significantly faster than the Top Eleven US marathon times. Out of these eleven, four were below 2:10 which was already considered as an elite athlete status.

Yuki Kawauchi (right)

It was in 2011 when he became quite popular with the media and the scouts. With his time at 2:08:37, he finished the Tokyo Marathon of 2011 as the first Japanese and third in overall rankings. He was given the nickname “citizen runner” when it came as a surprise that he works 40 hours a week for a full-time job for the government of the Saitama Prefecture. Without any sponsorship, trainers, coaches or teammates, he impressively did all the training by himself. He was given recognition and that despite the lack of professional training, he was given the chance to represent Japan in the World Championships in Athletics and the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. He has competed in a lot of marathons and finished first as well in a number of them.

Sometimes, it is those people we least expect that will impress us. Maybe in the next Olympics we would be able to see him running along other Olympiads and athletes to bring name and fame to Japan.

One of his best times

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Akira Kurosawa: The Great Director

A number of notable directors in Japan have gained international recognition, especially during the Golden Age of Japanese film. One of these great names in film would be Director Akira Kurosawa. What is great about him is that he was among the first few sets of great directors in Post-War Japan. As the country emerges from the darkness brought about by war, he made his way up from working as a scriptwriter, assistant director and finally his own directorial debut.

Rashomon (1950)

His first film was titled Shanshiro Sugata in the 1940s and seeing his promising potential in the field, he was given another chance to show his talents when he filmed Drunken Angel in 1948. Through this 1948 film, Akira became widely recognized in his abilities and influence in the Japanese film industry. He also gained the reputation as one of the most promising filmmakers of his time. Kurosawa’s most famous works include Kagmusha directed and released in 1980 and Rashomon in 1950. His international fame was brough about by his film entitled Seven Samurai which was a period film set in 1578 Japan. It was the story of a village that hired several samurai to hopefully protect their village against bandits. Another film that brought Kurosawa great fame would be Yojimbo which was filmed and released in 1961. This is another Japanese period film that focuses on the life of a samurai that has no master.

Akira Kurosawa (1910 – 1998)

Without the impressive influence of Akira Kurosawa, perhaps the industry of Japanese film and cinema would not be what it is today. He is known to be one of the most celebrated filmmakers in history due to about 30 different works in his almost 60 year career filled with success and honor. His works continue to be quoted and watched even years after his death. He is a true legacy in the industry of Japanese film and many directors of today are inspired by him and his works.

The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan

Their imperial highnesses Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, are the next in line to the throne of the Japanese Empire. Their love story and adoration for each other is something that cannot be missed and must have served as an inspiration for many of the Japanese.

Crown Princess Masako, then Masako Owada was a woman of great power and influence even before she married into the throne. She spent her young years in Moscow, her High school years in New York and Massachusetts and her university years in the Ivy League. A Harvard graduate, she knew that she didn’t need the throne and the royal position to be able to pursue her dreams in becoming a diplomat.

Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako

It was in 1986 when the Prince first locked eyes with Masako. As they both attended the reception for Spain’s Princess Elena, a lot of reports have claimed that it was love at first sight for the Prince. Probably fearing the guarded life of a royal, Masako did not show any interest to the Prince. She had a secure future and dreams to run after. However, the Prince continued to change her mind and explained to her that accepting the royal position is still a form of service and diplomacy. Their wedding was held in a traditional Japanese ceremony in 1993.

A lot of people were impressed and inspired at the same time for not only is another commoner marrying into the royal family, she was an accomplished businesswoman who has created change in the world before she even got the title. The people were hopeful and highly expectant. However, these expectations soon became a hurdle for the royal couple and added more pressure to the already difficult and strict royal life.

Their Highnesses Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako with their child Princess Aiko

Through all the ordeals that the royal couple are facing, with the biggest regret of not being able to produce a male heir, the dedication and love of the Crown Prince towards the Crown Princess knows no end.

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The Girls of K-On!

The story of K-On! revolves around four Japanese girls who joined the music club of Sakuragaoka Girl’s High School so that they would not be disbanded. The problem is that they are the only members of the said music club. The four of them spend their days at school practicing and performing. Their band name is Ho-Kago Tea Time. As the storyline progresses and the four girls start to improve on their music playing, they graduate from high school and enroll in a university. In university, they also join a music club where they meet new musicians.

Yui Hirasawa

Though the four girls are the main members of the band, Yui is the mai protagonist of the series. She is depicted in the series as a girl who does not get good grade and is easily distracted by a lot of things. She is quite clumsy, forgetful and most of the time ignorant and oblivious of a lot of thing that happen around her. She is the band’s main vocalist and also lead guitarist.

Mio Akiyama

She is a shy girl who becomes the bassist of the band formed as Hoka-go Tea Time. She is depicted in the series as quite the opposite of Yui as she gets good grades, mature and very strict. She gets embarrassed easily and hates being in the spot light and is believed to have chosen the Bass because she wants to be “invisible” within the band even if she has the most technical expertise when it comes to the music.

Ritsu Tainaka

She is the self-proclaimed president of the music club and is known to be the drummer of the band. She is the best friend of Mio but her personality closely resembles that of Yui. She is very cheerful and loves making jokes. She is also the best one in thinking up of ways to make money for the club.

Tsumugi Kotobuki

She is the Keyboardist of the band and is known to be gentle and very sweet. She is also the wealthiest out of the four. She is considered as a piano prodigy since she was four and has won various awards and recognition.

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Yasuhiro Nakasone: The Man behind Military Comfort

A lot of experts have already analysed excerpts from his memoir and how it seems that he personally made the decision of setting up brothels known as Comfort stations during the Second World War. There are a few indications in his memoir that seem to support allegations against him. However, since he released his memoir, he kept himself shut and refused to talk about the issue saying that it was all a misunderstanding and that he had no commands regarding the trivial matter.

Yasuhiro Nakasone

The problem with this is that a lot of victimized Korean comfort women as well as families of victims are still in hopes of finally receiving justice after 70 years of yearning for it. The number of comfort women that were victimized during the war was unknown until today but there are groups and families that still seek justice. In 1993, there was an apology from the Japanese government and the former Prime Minister even supported the idea of an apology. Since there are no direct evidences that link the former Prime Minister, other than his memoir that might have been interpreted negatively, the former Prime Minister did not confirm any allegations and have strongly denied the claims that he was the mind behind the idea of comfort stations. This memoir was published around 1978 and he told the story of how he had problems regarding commanding 3,000 men during when he was in the navy because of problems regarding gambling, brawl and even “attacks on women”. Up until today, a lot of members from the Japanese government still continuously claim that there is nothing to apologize for as there are no evidence that women were FORCED into this kind of service.

Comfort Women

He served as prime minister from 1892 to 1987. Though his ruling was short, he was able to make good diplomatic relations with then US President Reagan.

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