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.
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.
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.
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?
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.