Someiyoshino Cherry Trees in Bloom

Our Yoshino tree is now in full bloom!

One my favorite flowering trees is the Japanese cherry tree because they’re hardy and produce beautiful flowers that look like clusters of snow. Here are some photos I took of Someiyoshino (I call them ‘Yoshino’) variety:

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I named the main character of my manga Ronin Yoshino after our tree!

Speaking of cherry trees, this years Sakura Matsuri: Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival, is on May 5, 2012! It’s held at the Stony Brook Japan Center (Charles Wang Center) in Long Island, NY. I’ll have a booth there displaying and selling my Ronin Yoshino manga books, art prints, posters and trading cards!

Kenny Endo Taiko Drumming Workshop

On Saturday’s we take taiko drumming lessons at Ryu Shu Kan dojo. Today, Kenny Endo (a well known taiko performer) visited the dojo to teach the students better form when playing taiko, control when using bachi and different styles of drumming.

It was informative and very fun! The class was nicely filled with many students, some from Taiko Tides group and others from Ryu Shu Taiko group. I enjoyed playing, but did get lost a couple of times ^^;  Here are some photos I took:

I also asked him for his autograph…

Geisha Dance as Snow Falls

Watch this beautiful video of geisha dancing as snow is falling.

“Maiko (geisha apprentice) dance while snowflakes fall at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto accompanied with Japanese poetry on snow and winter.” Check out more of Ronin Dave’s videos here!

Anime Review – Gensomaden Saiyuki

Gensomaden Saiyuki (幻想魔伝最遊記) is an anime series which is based on the manga written and illustrated by Kazuya Minekura. The story is loosely based on the Chinese novel “Journey to the West” (XīyóuJì).

Saiyuki revolves around the adventures of four anti-heroes: the monk Genjyo Sanzo, the monkey king Son Goku, the half-demon Sha Gojyo and the demon Cho Hakkai. They were sent on a mission by the Sanbutsushin (the Three Aspects of Buddha, who relay the orders of heaven) to travel to India to stop the resurrection of the Ox-Demon-King, Gyumaoh. Along their journey they’re pursued by demon assassins, Gods and plagued by their own troubled pasts.

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My Review:
This has some of the best developed characters I’ve ever seen in an anime/manga series. The storyline is simple, but the characters make up for it. I like characters that you can really feel their emotions. The manga artwork alone is fantastic with highly detailed illustrations. It’s emotional, quirky and exciting with a blend of Chinese mythology with a modern kick.

Japanese Folklore – Ama no Jaku

Ama-no-jaku (天邪鬼 (あまのじゃく) is a wicked yokai (demon) resembling a small oni and lives to be a nuisance towards people and is said to read human thoughts.

Sounds of Thunder – Japanese Taiko Drumming

Ever heard or seen traditional Japanese Taiko drumming? The first time I heard and saw it live, I was awestruck! Never had I heard drums that sounded like a thunderstorm. I’ll never forget that feeling and after experiencing their performance, I wanted to play Taiko!

I’ll share with you one of my video’s of Ryu Shu Taiko group performing at the Sakura Matsuri. This piece is called ‘Seiryu’. Make sure your volume is up!

Never would I have imagined that someday I would be playing taiko – and with the same group in the video! It really is a ‘small world’ that their dojo is located so close to home. Mom (Art-Z Jewelry) and I have been playing taiko for a couple years. I’ve tried many instruments, and this is the best one I’ve ever played!

Taiko (太鼓) means “big drum” in Japanese. The music typically follows a Jo-ha-kyū (序破急) – begining, middle and speeds up quickly in the end of the piece. There are two types of Taiko: “Byou-uchi daiko” (鋲撃ち太鼓, tacked-struck drum) taiko have heads nailed to the body. “Shime-daiko” (締め太鼓, tightened drum), have heads sewn onto iron rings, which are then laced to each other around the drum body. Taiko is played with two heavy strait wooden sticks called Bachi.

Parts of the Taiko:

  • Ko – the body of the drum.
  • Hara – the center of the skin.
  • Fuchi – the edge of the top and bottom of the drum.
  • Kawa – the skin.
  • Mimi – the excess skin that wraps around the side of the taiko.
  • Byō – the tacks that hold the skin on a taiko.
  • Kanagu, or Kan – the ring shaped handles on larger nagadou taiko. (“Kanagu” literally means metal fixtures, or hardware).
  • Nawa – the rope on a shime or okedo daiko.

I’m not confident enough to participate in a performance, but I enjoy playing the drums every week! Some of my favorite songs are Matsuri Daiko, Matsuri Hanagasa, Hachijo, Run and Miyake.

Here’s another video. The song is called ‘Inaka no Kisha’. I have more video’s at my YouTube channel.

Samurai Rest House on the Old Tokaido Road

Video by ‘Walking in Japan‘ – Exploring an old resting house along Japan’s famous Tokaido highway.

Beautiful traditional samurai house with spacious rooms, tatami mats and soft natural lighting through the shoji. Love how they include nature in their design with views of the garden. I can see living in a house like this!

See more of Walking in Japan video’s at his YouTube Channel.

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