Nimoko’s Nippon Blog – Akihabara

Konnichi-wa minna!

Today I am going to show you the part of Tokyo that makes every Anime-Boy and -Girl’s heart beat faster: Akihabara! You find everything you need, from Anime figures and plushes to dolls, pillows, clear files…

Akihabara is also popular for Anime Second-hand shops, where you can find some very rare treasures 🙂 Let me give you a glance of Tokyo’s Anime paradise!

 

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In Akiba (short version of Akihabara) everything is anime-themed. Even building decorations…
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My first reaction arriving at Akiba was just over-excitement. So much to explore…
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It took us three full days to see most of Akihabara, as there are many shops several floors high…
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Just a small impression of an Anime Shop…
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Taito Stations are the most popular for UFO Catching! Some machines contain figures, others plushes or other anime goods. I can’t say which one is the most easy to handle, as I am very bad at all of this 😀
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I saw that it is indeed possible to figure it out well, but it needs a lot of practice and 100 Yen coins 😀
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These Pikachus are just too kawaii (cute)!!
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Do you remember the Gashapon machines I told you about? In Akiba you’ve got plenty of them so that there are even shops specialized to these little Gashapon balls!
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Second-hand shops in Akiba. For me the most interesting ones. You can find very rare items and even Anime merch in very good condition but less expensive. Really worth visiting!

IMG_5462I hope you enjoyed the small trip to Tokyo’s Anime heaven!

 

Kiwotsukete ne! (Take care of yourself!)

Nimoko’s Nippon Blog – About Japanese Culture

Konnichi wa minna! (Hello guys)

I had the chance to travel through the beautiful country of Japan during the last two weeks and I wanted to give you some impressions I got about this beautiful landscape and culture. At First, I will give you a brief impression of the country and its culture, before I give you a deeper sight to different Cities and places I got to explore ^^.

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Traditional Japanese Houses are kept small, made of Bamboo and wood. They are mostly seen in smaller cities or country sides. I saw a lot of them in Kyoto.

 

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A great part of the Japanese Culture that many of us really appreciate is Anime and Manga! There are so many different Anime types and much merchandise for every taste.
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As Anime and Manga makes a big part of the Japanese Culture, you can see it spread everywhere throughout the cities. For example on buses and trains.
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This is something I have only seen in Japan and it’s really cool 😀 Ufo-Catching! It is all about trying to catch an Anime Good by grabbing it. One try is 100 Yen. But it is quite tricky.
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Gashapon machines are also quite popular in Japan. You see them everywhere, especially in Akihabara. For the cost of 200 to 400 yen you can get a plastic ball containing a sweet little toy. There are many different types to collect.
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One of the biggest passion of many Japanese people: Pachinko Halls. They are countless and spread all over Japan. Many Anime Themed Gaming Machines building long lines give occasion of spending your money in a playful way. It might be similar to our casinos.

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These “Koi no bori”  are decorative and traditional Japanese flags in shape of a carp and exist in many different colors. Captured at the Entrance of Tokyo Tower.
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Your surely have seen these little dudes before, Japanese carps called “Koi” They are very appreciated in Japan and mostly quite expensive.
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If you ever make a trip to Japan, you will see many people wearing these mouthprotection. There are different reasons why they are worn: Because of self-protection against infections, or to prevent others of your own infection. Japanese people are very hygienic and protective. Even if it might look weird for us, I think it is quite effective.
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A small Graveyard shrine.
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You might have seen Japanese Graveyards in Anime. Compared with European ones they seem very crowded as Japan has a much higher population. Usually, if someone dies, they are burnt and their ashes are buried in “Haka“, which mean family Graves.
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On the Gravestone itself is only written the family name. Small pieces of wood with dedications to every family member, the “ihai” are placed in front of the Gravestone.
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85 % of the Japanese people are Buddhists. They make their prayers at Buddhist shrines and temples.
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Many shrines or temples are decorated with “Chõchin“, Japanese Lanterns usually colored in white or red made of Japanese “washi” paper. You can buy lucky charms and protective goods.
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I absolutely love these traditional Japanese clothes. These are Kimonos mostly worn by “Maikos“. Maikos undergo a five-year training of dancing, singing and playing traditional Japanese insruments, just as the “shamisen” to entertain people during a traditional tea ceremony. It is a very hard training.

 

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Japan is also very popular for its Cherry Blossoms. The Japanese call them “Sakura” and use them as an ingredient for Food and Drinks as in beauty. Cherry Blossom Tea is very tasty.
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A traditional Japanese Sword is called “Katana“. They are very old and popular of the Japanese Swordsmen “Samurai”. There are many differtent types.
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In Japan, many Restaurants show samples of their dishes in windows. These are usually plastic made and look almost like real. Very convenient for tourists, if they can’t read the Japanese writing, they can choose their dishes from the windows.
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Now I am going to introduce some Japanese food to you. In Japan, traditional food is mostly fresh-made and hand-made. Often you can watch the preparation.
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These fish shaped cakes are usually filled with red soy bean paste or other sweets like chocolate or jam. They are called “Taiyaki
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At “Candy Show time” a candy shop in Japan, you can watch people make the traditional “Kintaro-ame” candys which you can purchase in different colors and shapes.
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They are shaped to long tubes and then cut to small roud pieces. Mostly made of colored sugar.
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This was captured in Kyoto in a very traditional bakery. A man making cookies with Japanese black beans. They are quite tasty.
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Food in Japan is usually not expensive but often freshly made, what makes it so special and tasty.
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You surely have seen this dish before. A traditional Noodle Soup called “Ramen“. It is served in a big bowl, containing Japanese noodles, meat, seaweed, eggs and vegetables.
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Another Japanese Food tradition which is very similar to our well known Barbecue. The “Yakiniku“. I have tried it myself. You can choose out of different meats and prepare it over a fire by yourself. Nice experience 🙂
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This is one of my favorite Japanese food. It is called “Tenpura“. Fried shrimps, fish or vegetables that are also often served with Ramen.
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Ever seen Anime characters eating these? Sure, as they are very popular especially for teenagers. Octopus Balls “Takoyaki” usually toppd with soy sauce.
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This is one of the main ingredients for any dishes in Japan next to Soy Beans: Rice. So many dishes and desserts are made with rice, like Sushi or…
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…these famous snacks called “Onigiri“. They are filled with fish or meat.
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Next to Soy Beans and Rice, Japanese people eat very much fish and sea food. They can fleshly be purchased at Japanese Food Markets.
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Another very traditional good of Japan is Rice Wine. It is often served at meals. Different from Chinese Rice Wine, it is less strong in taste and alcohol. They call it “Sake“.

 

Well,  that’s it for now. I hope you got a small impression of Japanese food and Culture. I will show you more of my Japanese Adventure next time.

Ja nee! 🙂

 

Interview with Manga-ka Nao Yazawa

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Nao Yazawa (谷沢 直, Yazawa Nao, born on July 29) is a Japanese manga-ka born in Tokyo, Japan. She discovered her passion for drawing already in her childhood and studied Chinese History before she got to publish her first manga arts.

She worked on several stories until 2000. One of the most famous was the shojo story Wedding Peach, which is about teenage girls becoming love angels and saving the world against demons. The manga was soon published as an animated series which has been very popular and loved by many fans until today.

In 2003, she released the shojo manga Nozomi, a story about a girl who makes a wish upon a falling star that leads her to a demon who teaches her about love. It was the first manga she drew for English readers.

In 2010, she released Mizuki. The story is about a teenage girl who transforms into a devil whenever she gets angry and must fight against evil monsters. In 2011, she released Moon and Blood, which is about a teen vampire boy who lives with a family.

In 2012, she began teaching classes on how to make manga in Tokyo as well as teaching overseas through Japan Foundation Toronto. In 2013, she published her autobiographical four-panel manga Go-Go Nao-P in English. Her most recent work is called “The isolated zone” which talks about a post-apocalyptic world.

 

Geeks Life Luxembourg: It is a great honor for the staff of Geeks Life Luxembourg to do  an interview with you, Yazawa-sensei, and we want to express our deepest thanks.

 

At first, let’s talk about your current work.

  1. What role does Chinese history, which you’ve studied, play in your work? 

Yazawa-Sensei: Nothing specific. I was interested in history, anthropology and sociology and decided to choose history for university. Just pure interested, but I thought studying history would give me some ideas about stories and characters of manga. Choice for chinese history is no specific reason. It was less popular than Western history. (In Japan, history is separated in Japanese history, Eastern history (Chinese history) and Western history.)

2.   You currently teach manga classes. Have you noticed any differences between Japanese students and those overseas?

Yazawa-Sensei: Non-Japanese people have disadvantage compared with Japanese people. I think it’s because the time when they have started to read manga and the contents of their first manga. There are many manga for kids in Japan, simple and easy ones. Then it gets complicated, with sophisticated expression little by little, along with growing up. So many Japanese get basic method of manga without knowing, which non-Japanese people struggle to get sometimes. It’s especially clear the field of composing, storyboard (panel work) part.

3.   Your current work, The Isolated Zone, is very different from your previous ones. How did you come up with the plot? Do you have similar projects planned for the future?

Yazawa-Sensei: This is not my new work, rather old work – it is non-commercial work, started as Dojinshi. In a way it is my oldest work because when I started to draw the work, I was university student and it’s before my debut (although it is Dec. 2010 when I finished). So in a way, you can say it is my true taste. I made it just as a hobby – what I wanted to draw. (The very beginning, I did it for a doujinshi my friend started. It was focused on Fantasy/SF, so she asked me something Sci-Fi and that was my answer.)

I still have some more story idea about the series, or something similar. If there is no order/limit, I might make something like that. But I also love to draw light touch comedy, slapstick type gag, like I’m doing at Coffee Party project.

Now let’s focus on one of your most famous works that is still very loved by many fans over the world, Wedding Peach.

  1. How did you get inspired to create Wedding Peach and especially the character designs? 

Yazawa-Sensei: It is not my original, as you know, I have Sukehiro Tomita, he created original concept and Kazuko Tadano designed characters. Her design is sort of proto-tpy (very anime), so I gave some changes for Manga (Discussed it with my editor and chief editor). Momoko’s painted hair (black hair), school uniform were done with strong insistence by Chao’s chief editor, for instance. (I wasn’t completed agree with it, though. lol) The visual appearance was based on Kazuko Tadano’s work, and basic concept had done by Sukehiro Tomita. But I interpreted them to move them as my characters. I think during my interpretation, the concept would have been changed.

The concept is flowers, frills, dresses and young girls – so I checked many magazines for young girls and Wedding. Since it was a total unfamiliar field to me. My editor gave me “Bridal” Magazines.

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2.  In your opinion what makes the Wedding Peach girls stand out in the world of shojo heroines?

Yazawa-Sensei: We didn’t try to be any specific. At least I didn’t. The three (4) characters are typical anime-shojo group characters, especially Momoko. No ordinary girl but very typical anime girl. I wanted to put weight on story/character part, that what I cared. If a girl fell in love with someone, there must be a reason. Not because he is good looking, not because he is smart, nor “destiny” person. There must be something special. It might make Wedding Peach different from others. 

Wedding Peach is Magical fighting girls story, so there are enemies, there is fight, save something and so on…but I tried to describe characters personality and the process how it’s going to change, especially building relationship. If this part could have got fans attention, I’m pretty happy.

3.  Many fans wanted to know why the anime story ended after the 4th episode of Wedding Peach DX even if it seemed like an open ending.

Yazawa-Sensei: Just because of commercial reason, budget. It’s not sold well enough to continue. The producer had tried, he said to me and was planning but he couldn’t.

4.  Wedding Peach celebrated its 20th anniversary and many fans are hoping for a remake, continuation or new merchandise. But until now, nothing’s been announced. Do you think there could be a chance for something like that or should the fans enjoy the already existing story?

Yazawa-Sensei: Again, simply commercial reason. Not enough fans voice to make new series, unfortunately. KSS got in charge for the anime making, but the company got bankrupt and there is no more. It might be one reason why it’s hard to make sequence. (I don’t know, though) 

For some reason, the series got popular in Germany and Korea – especially in Korea. Some new merchandise were released there, such as smartphone cases… etc.

5.  Ai Tenshi Densetsu Wedding Peach was transformed into an animated series. Were you happy about the way the anime turned out or would you have changed anything?

Yazawa-Sensei: Wedding Peach was a so-called “media mix project”. Anime was the plan from the first, but it was hard (We had problems to get a toy company sponsor) and we were almost giving up – it was almost the last minutes all problems were cleared. Yes, we were so happy and so busy because of it. 

Because Anime and Manga walked different ways, I enjoyed the anime a lot. I’m not sure but might have got some ideas from the anime.

It has set me free – in a way. Tomita was a chief scenario writer of anime, and it kept him busy, he stopped to write manga story – withdrew manga team and concentrated on the anime. I had been already free, gave a lot changes to story Tomita did, but after the anime had started, both of us had worked individually.

We want to thank you again for your time and patience and hope to see more of your beautiful work in the future.

Yazawa-Sensei: Thank you! 🙂