Friday was the conclusion to the Japanese language – part 1 lessons I have been attending at Japan Society.  To learn something, really learn it, I like to throw myself in fully.  Short of moving to Japan, I am actively finding as many ways possible to absorb the content.

So much of a country’s culture is poured into their language.  To truly grasp the context one needs to also see the language in action.  What shaped the dialect, what historical occurrences defined common sayings, what foreign influences were adapted along the way?

My ever patient and encouraging boyfriend was game to partake in what I am calling a J-Weekend.  A 3-day quest to tap into all things Japanese.

Mitsuwa, Minamoto Kitchoan, Japan Society and the Riki

After pulling together a Tokyo-worthy Otome-Kei coordinate, we were off.  Friday began with a shopping spree at Mitsuwa, in New Jersey.  First stop was Sanseido Bookstore.  Picked up the Spring edition of Gothic & Lolita Bible.  The shopgirl was so sweet, with my purchase she gave me an extra copy of the GLB poster they received! Next up was Mars where I picked out a thank you card for Aizawa-sensei.  On to Minamoto Kitchoan to get a gift of seasonal wagashi as a thank you present for Sensei.  And no trip to Mitsuwa is complete without picking up a cart full of yummy Japanese groceries. Grabbed a pre-packaged bento for a quick meal before class.

Made it back home with just enough time to put the groceries away, switch out my dress for jeans (still pulled off an Otome esthetic), grab my school bag, and make it to the train. Class was so lively.  By week ten we all were much more relaxed with each other and so there was quite a bit of giggling going on.  Especially as one classmate, when asked to use our newly learned verbs, was uncovered to have had quite a lot of beer to drink lately.  Which is a great segue into the final stop for the day.

After class, many of us adjourned to Riki, a local izakaya (typical salarymen restaurant/drinking establishment).  What better way to learn more about the language then to enjoy Life’s Sweet Essential  #1 – Food.  We had our own screened room with traditional seating which was great as it allowed us to be a bit rowdy. For some bizarre reason the girls sat at one table and the boys the other.?.?  It was great to finally get to relax and learn more about everyone outside of school.  Something we have promised to do again in May.  Several pitchers of beer and many glasses of sake later we parted ways.

Still from Sakuran, Anna Tsuchiya, and Lolita Coordinate

A much more relaxed pace was planned for Saturday.  We had a lovely sashimi style lunch made from the Mitsuwa trip loot.  I pulled together a NY take on Sweet Lolita  (black + cute) for a night out at the movies.  We saw Sakuran, staring Anna Tsuchiya!  The story is a period piece and not terribly original.  But the director’s adaptation of the manga was an incredible kaleidoscope of colors.  The set was absolutely astonishing.  I will say that it is a long way to go to see a movie from 2006 though when you live in the burbs – but I had a blast getting all dressed up anyway. After the show, the folks at Japan Society were handing out adorable bookmarks with an illustration from the manga.

Homemade lolita skirt and headdress

After gallivanting around for the majority of the weekend, a nice casual day in was planned for Easter Sunday.  Spent most of the morning finishing up a little project to convert 2 hippie-esq, floor length, summer dresses I picked up on discount into a casual Lolita skirt/petticoat.  Lolita is not exactly mainstream culture in Japan I realize – but an area of the culture I am infatuated with just the same.

I chopped both dresses across the bottom where the volume was the fullest.  With some fabric I had in my stash I added a pair of built-in bloomers.  Totally digging this concept as I am not the biggest fan of elastic, so whenever I can reduce some of it from the equation, all the better.  A bit of gathering at the waist and all 3 pieces were ready to be attached to the waistband, which was also a recycled shirred halter top from one of the dresses.  And voila, a super light weight skirt or petticoat for the summer months.

Started work on a hair corsage as well.  Can’t wait to finish it.  Picked up the crown applique in the Fashion District awhile back and have been dying to use it in a project.  Stay tuned to see the finished piece.

And so there you have it – my jam packed J-Weekend.
Now what am I going to do next weekend?

Sweet Dreams, Sheri




Credits: (Friday Collage) The photo of the wagashi is from Minamoto Kitchoan’s website; the photo of Aizawa-sensei came from Japan Society’s website; (Saturday Collage) the photo of Anna in Sakuran is a wallpaper from nautiljon.com.

Sakura, Kabuki & Me

In a little departure from my previous posts to celebrate Hanami, today’s is a portrait.  Was able to get all gussied up earlier, as we went down to the city to a Kabuki performance at Japan Society.  The show was AMAZING!

That would be me hanging out under the beautiful Sakura :)

We were given free admission to the art gallery with our theatre purchase.  And in a little room annexed to the gallery, in a corner they painted a Sakura tree outline.  JS welcomed  guests over the past few weeks to write wishes and prayers on pink paper blossoms.  These blossoms were then attached to the branches of the tree.  What a sweet idea.

Sakura wish tree at Japan Society, NYC

Sweet Dreams, Sheri





Hanami & Flexibility

March served up a valuable reminder about the importance of being flexible.  Even the best of plans need to be agile.  I had high hopes of blogging every week, getting a fresh coat of paint up in the bathroom, reorganizing the bookshelves, and so so many other things.  But between work, school, and apparently trying for the world’s record for longest cold – life had other plans in mind.

And with Spring making an early debut, it was all a very good reminder to live in the moment.  To see the beauty in the fleeting of time and live life to the fullest no matter how mundane the task is.  Truly the secret to a very rich life.

Hanami Sakura Blossoms

The first of this year's cherry blossoms at BBG.

Hanami, the Japanese tradition of flower viewing this time of year, epitomizes being in the moment.  The blossoming of the cherry blossoms usually last one or two weeks at best.  The perfect excuse to slow down, take a deep breath, and simply enjoy Spring’s splendor.

ducks and sakura at the garden

Several year’s had past since my last visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  And so yesterday my better half and I put aside our carefully laid out weekend plans to dash off and see the Sakura.  The Japanese Garden has the first shocks of bright pink.  Cherry Esplanade is patiently waiting to provide the crescendo for the season.

japanese lantern rabbit carving

We are thinking of heading back in a couple of weeks to celebrate the Easter holiday.  But between now and then I am certain to be more aware of my surroundings.  I hope you and your loved ones are also able to gather together and celebrate Spring’s ephemeral beauty.

Sweet Dreams, Sheri




Destination Japan

Lucky Pack Post: If it is not food, clothing, shelter or money… then it must be a surprise.

One of the characteristics I pride myself on is that I am not a fixed point.  Meaning there is so much in this world to explore, so why limit yourself to a narrow, well-defined persona.  I have a very broad range of interests from snowboarding to sewing and many things in between.  But there is one persistent passion that has remained throughout the years – a love for Japanese culture and design. But where did it begin?

While a specific object or moment can’t be pointed to, it is very clear my first encounters began with my grandparents.  They were very well traveled and their home reflected an avid fascination with the Orient.

An immaculate silk folding screen hand painted with Fuji-san in different seasons hung above their dining room table.  For a summer robe to lounge around in I was given a ryokan yukata – I wore it until it was threadbare.  And the piece-de-resistance was a set of porcelain buttons my grandmother gave me.  They were painstakingly handcrafted into miniature Noh masks.

I haven’t yet been to Japan, but as the New Year approaches a long awaited trip moves from my 5-year plan down to the 1-year plan.  2012 is going to be full of planning and research, some of which might spill over here onto LSE.  So for my first “lucky pack” post – we begin the journey to Kyoto 2013.

Sweet Dreams, Sheri

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