Posted on November 27th, 2011 by Mike Roberts
Cedar Sake Barrel
This is part one of a series of discussions on Sake. Hopefully these discussions will help you better understand, and ultimately, appreciate Sake more. Many people who have tried Sake outside of Japan often say they did not like it. It is important to remember that the quality of the rice and the purity and quality of the water have a tremendous effect on the eventual quality of the Sake. So if you have tried Sake produced from outside of Japan, it will be much different (and usually not as good due to the difference in the water) as Sake made in Japan. To truly understand Sake, you first need to understand the brewing process. Read the full post »
Posted on November 18th, 2011 by Mike Roberts
In most cultures, the traditional ways often collide with the modern. For those of you who have been to Japan, you know that in Japan the traditional is often blended and fused together with the modern. The Yoshida Brothers’ music is another example of this.
Ryoichiro Yoshida and Kenichi Yoshida were born in the Hokkaido onsen town of Noboribetsu in 1977 and 1979 respectively. Both began learning to play the shamisen at the young age of 5. The Shamisen can best be described as a three-stringed banjo, that is played with a plectrum called a bachi in Japanese. The Shamisen has been traditionally used as an accompanying instrument for kabuki and bunraku, and traditional singers and dancers. The origins of the Shamisen date back 400 years, and it is thought the first Shamisen came from Sakai near Osaka. Read the full post »
Posted on November 13th, 2011 by Mike Roberts
Japanese Gardens 101 – Part 2: Japanese Garden Types
We continue our garden discussion with a brief description of some of the common Japanese garden types. It should be noted that few gardens will be just one these types. Most gardens could be classified into two or more of these types.
The idea of pond gardens were first introduced from China as early as the 6th century and soon became popular with the Imperial Court during the Asuka and Nara periods. Aristocrats of the Heian period built even larger ponds, which complemented the Shinden-style of architecture, the most prominent architectural style of the era. Shinden style features a low-slung main building flanked by outlying pavilions. Pond gardens continued to grow in popularity after the Heian period. Read the full post »
Posted on November 4th, 2011 by Mike Roberts
Director, Akira Kurosawa
Anyone who knows me can tell you that I love movies. Of course, it is only natural that I love Japanese movies. When thinking about Japanese movies, the name of Akira Kurosawa will always be mentioned. In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Kurosawa directed 30 films. He is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in film history. His work has been admired by other film directors including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Spike Lee, John Woo and Quentin Tarantino.
Akira Kurosawa was born on March 23rd, 1910 in Tokyo. His father was a retired army officer turned teacher, who came from a samurai family, and his mother’s family were merchants in Osaka. He had a good, solid, classical education which was where he was first introduced to Russian literature which would eventually play such an important role in his films. After studying art at the Dushuka Academy, he was unable to make a living as a painter and illustrator despite the fact that some of his work was shown at annual exhibitions in Nikka with some of the most renowned independent artists in Japan. Read the full post »