Experience Japan in Sydney

Experience Japan in Sydney

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Sydney is home to establishments where you can learn about Japanese cultural traditions and language; a Japanese-style hot spring ryokan (inn); as well as shops which stock an eyeboggling selection of Japanese goods. Experience a taste of Japan 8000km away in your own backyard in Australia.

THE JAPAN FOUNDATION, SYDNEY

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Bringing Japan to You

Nestled within the leafy green Central Park building in the creative neighbourhood of Chippendale, lies a welcoming oasis for Japanese language and culture enthusiasts. Here is the home of the Japan Foundation, Sydney – your little piece of Japan in Australia! 

As you walk through the glass doors on the fourth floor you are welcomed by friendly reception and library staff ready to assist. You are encouraged to explore the shelves of over 17,000 novels, manga, textbooks and multimedia, and can stay to relax or study with floor to ceiling views of Chippendale Green stretched down below. The popular Tadoku Reading Nights held at the library are a fun and engaging way to practice your Japan reading skills while surrounded and supported by like-minded people.

Down the hall, classrooms brim with energetic Japanese language teachers and J-Course students (Japanese language classes for adults) from beginner to advanced levels while the gallery offers a contemplative space for members of the public to soak up the latest exhibition of Japan-related works from traditional through to contemporary pieces. 

Whether you have come for an exhibition opening reception; a panel discussion with leading Japanese fashion icons; or to participate in an anime design workshop, you will get an immediate sense of the enthusiasm and pride of the staff and volunteers at the Japan Foundation, Sydney.

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If there was one Japanese-related event to put in your calendar for the year, it would have to be the Japanese Film Festival (web: http://japanesefilmfestival.net) which showcases an immense variety of cinematic delights from 35mm film classics, to newly released critically acclaimed titles. Over the past 20 years the festival has grown  to be one of the largest celebrations of Japanese film  in the world, immersing audiences across Australia in uniquely Japanese settings while offering fresh perspectives on universal themes.

Perhaps you have always dreamed of visiting Japan one day, or just can’t seem to get there enough. Regardless of your situation, the Japan Foundation with its vast resources, events and language courses is pleased to bring Japan here to you in Sydney.

GOJYUAN

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Cypress baths and an authentic Japanese Ryokan in Sydney

Ryokan Gojyuan is an authentic, purely Japanese-style ryokan nestled amongst the rows of houses and cafes in the heart of Sydney’s Balmain. Known not just for providing accommodation, but also a taste of Japanese culture through workshops such as flower arrangement, Japanese calligraphy and more, Ryokan Gojyuan’s greatest attraction is its cypress bath. Owner, Linda Evans, has paid meticulous attention to every detail of Ryokan Gojyuan, but nowhere more than the use of real Japanese cypress. Join us as we go on a quick journey through the history of Japan’s bathing culture, and find out what makes this cypress bath so special.


ABOUT GOJYUAN

Situated on a small peninsula jutting out from Sydney’s bay area is Balmain. There, on a corner of a housing district lined with townhouses from Sydney’s colonial days, stands an authentic, Japanese-style ryokan – Ryokan Gojyuan, opened three years ago after Australian-born owner, Linda Evans, and her husband undertook a complete transformation of their traditional sandstone home.

One question that challenged the couple in their days before opening was that of marketing. Who would want to stay in a purely Japanesestyle ryokan in Sydney? It’s safe to say that question has now been answered, with 80% of guests coming from inside Australia and 20% from overseas, ranging from Australians who have never set foot in Japan to guests from Asia with a rich history of visiting ryokan in Japan. The Ryokan Gojyuan of today is now much loved by a core group of local regulars.

In addition to their initial goal of providing a high level of hospitality that would match that in Japan, their aim was also to recreate the details of Edo period Japan as much as possible, employing the kaizen technique, often used in Japan’s manufacturing industry, to implement ongoing improvements to their service and facilities.

Ryokan Gojyuan offers not just accommodation, but regularly invites Japanese teachers to hold workshops and introduce aspects of Japanese culture, such as: tea ceremony, flower arrangement, Japanese calligraphy, how to fold and tie furoshiki and gifts, origami, Japanese sweets, thread balls, and more.

ABOUT FURO CULTURE

THE FURO OFFERS A WINDOW INTO A TRULY JAPANESE EXPERIENCE THAT OFFERS NOT JUST RELAXATION, BUT A SENSE OF HARMONY AND APPRECIATIONFOR ALL THINGS

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Bathing in furo (traditional baths) is a daily ritual for the Japanese, and an essential tool for washing away the worries of the day. Bathing is also a form of relaxation. The several thousand hot springs across the country and facilities that combine cypress baths, cascading water baths, hot stone baths and more, are wildly popular in Japan. Guests engage in conversation with friends and family as they hop in to take a bath, sometimes having a drink, but always having fun.

As the body is cleansed when it enters the world with its first bath in a tub, so, too, it is after passing on when it is washed before burial. The nobles of the ancient Heian period and onwards would also take baths after moving residence, getting married, after recovering from illness, and to welcome the new year. The significance of bathing, both religious and cultural, is of great importance to the Japanese.

The oldest baths in Japan are the stone baths found dotted around the Seto Inland Sea where natural rock formations created vapour baths. After the arrival of Buddhism in Japan, temples, such as Todai Temple, constructed bathing halls, baths and steam baths, where water was boiled in large iron pots, began to appear. Monks and laypeople alike took baths to cleanse their minds and bodies, sometimes even for medicinal
purposes. Baths later became a commercial trade, and baths where water was poured over heated rocks to create steam grew in popularity. Thebamount of water grew as time passed, and the style changed so that people would enter the lower half of their body into the water while their upper half was exposed to steam, giving way to a type of bath that was enjoyed from the Muromachi period all the way through to the middle of the Edo period by monks, nobles, and warriors alike.

WHY HINOKI?

The house that forms the base of Ryokan Gojyuan is a historical construction with over 150 years of history that was built in 1855. Its construction is a sandstone style common to buildings during the early colonial era. While the sandstone frame and outer walls were left as a legacy of its former past, everything else was transformed into a welcome hall and two guest rooms, with a detached cypress bath and hallway made from mortar and dark timber in a purely Japanese style. A large amount of earth was also moved outside to create a Japanese-style garden complete with a carp pond.

Cypress (hinoki) has the power to refresh and relax. When we go for a walk in the forest and are soothed by our natural surroundings, it is the alpha waves that run through our brains at work. These alpha waves help you to relax, and stabilise the autonomous nerve. The smell of cypress has the ability to dull tempers and
soften strung out nerves. It also promotes good circulation, helps you recover from physical tiredness, warms your body, heals atopy, improves physical abilities, and more.

While traditional Japanese baths themselves are quite expensive to build, Linda understood the importance of cypress to the Japanese and the crucial role it plays in the bathing experience. Yet, while cedar can be found in Australia, cypress cannot, and the most important aspect of cypress is its unique aroma. With a carpenter for a father, Linda knew all too well the importance of using the right timber. High-quality cypress is also
beautiful in appearance and smooth to the touch. Come to Ryokan Gojyuan and try it for yourself.

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TOKYO MART

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For all your Japanese food and sake needs in Sydney

For those who make Japanese food at home, knowing where to buy ingredients is crucial. While stores selling Japanese foodstuffs can be found across Australia, Tokyo Mart in Northbridge Plaza on the north side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a key spot to Japanese expatriates and Australians alike.

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Known for having possibly the greatest range of any Japanese supermarket in Sydney, the sheer variation on offer is a sight for first-time visitors, ranging from high-quality Japanese rice to condiments, sweets, dried goods, fresh food, and a Japanese-operated bakery. With over 20 types of dashi alone, a core ingredient in authentic Japanese cooking, you are sure to find what you need. Their Japanese staff are also on hand to answer questions.

EXPERIENCE THE TASTES OF JAPAN

In addition to its sale of goods, Tokyo Mart periodically holds events where you can try Japanese food and sake. The chance to experience and take home a taste of Japan is a true highlight of Tokyo Mart. Check out the Tokyo Mart Facebook page where information on events isNadvertised approximately one month in advance.

Tokyo Mart also holds monthly 20% discount sales on items of a given category, offering new bargains no matter how many times you visit. Fresh vegetables used in Japanese cooking are also stocked in-store.

Come to Tokyo Mart in Sydney for a Japanese food adventure today!

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Kimono

The charms of kimono, still admired today

Kimono were worn by people as everyday clothing. The refined design of the garment is still popular with many Japanese people, as well as people from all over the world to this day. Let’s unravel its history and take a look at how the style of the kimono has changed and discover why it is loved by so many people in today’s Japan.

Compiled by Kaori Kinoshita

HISTORY OF THE KIMONO

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The archetype of today’s kimono has its roots in kosode, a type of kimono that had its sleeves sewn up to just below the wrist. Nobles used to wear this garment underneath a twelve-layered robe, commonly known as, ” juni hitoe”, while commoners, from time to time, wore the narrow-sleeved kimono alone for going out. However, as the samurai class emerged during the Muromachi period (1336-1573) and a greater emphasis was placed on movement in clothing, the fashion style of the upper class blended with that of the lower classes and kosode became a common garment worn when going out.

Since then, through the Edo period (1603-1868) to the Meiji period (1868-1912), the design has evolved to today’s style of kimono.

Most garments we see today were woven after the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1600). A lot of the garments made before that era have not kept their shape and only parts of the fabric remain. Some garments worn between the Azuchi-Momoyama and Edo periods still exist today, however they are mostly ones that once belonged to wealthier citizens, such as people from the aristocratic or samurai classes, or rich merchants. This is because commoners in the era would repurpose their old, damaged clothes that were no longer wearable to make everyday household items such as bedclothes or smaller kimono for their children. When these also got worn out, they would use the fabric as a rag or nappy until it fell apart.

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Also, yukata are universally loved due to their ease of wear and low price. Originally, the word referred to a plain linen garment worn when going to take a bath and to absorb sweat afterwards. During the Edo period, cotton replaced linen as the fabric of choice due to its superior absorbency, smooth feel and lower price.

Yukata were originally worn at night, or as protection against rain and dust, and as casual summer outfits. However, since the mid-Meiji period, it has been quite common for people to wear them when going out, much like they do now

KIMONO FASHION BY ERA

THE AZUCHI-MOMOYAMA
(1573-1603) TO THE EARLY EDO PERIOD (STARTING 1603)

After the end of the warring state period, an extravagant culture that reflected the taste of the samurai classes emerged, where gold and silver was used in abundance. Even though single-colour weaving patterns had been mainstream until then, the colours and patterns used diversified. As a result, the more dynamic styles of momoyama kosode and keicho kosode appeared.

THE EARLY EDO PERIOD
(STARTING 1603)

As the shogunate system of the Edo period stabilised and the economy developed, the common classes became the new bearers of culture in place of the samurai class. The fashion of actors and prostitutes led to the birth of kanbun kosode, which had an unconventional dyed pattern from shoulder to hem. The kosode became more sophisticated, which led to the emergence of genroku kosode.

MID-TO-LATE EDO PERIOD
(EDO PERIOD: 1603-1868) TO THE MEIJI PERIOD (1868-1912)

Due to a ban on luxury initiated by the Edo shogunate, plain fashion, such as striped patterns, became the trend during this period. Regardless of their age or gender, people often wore kosode with a dark coloured outer layer, usually brown, navy blue or grey. In addition to that, komon, small patterns drawn on the whole garment, and susomoyo, patterning on the skirt, became popular. In the Meiji period, most people mainly wore traditional Japanese clothing, in keeping with the plain colour trend from the Edo period. The susomoyo also remained prominent in the first half of this era. In the second half of the era, kimono dyed vivid colours with chemical dye started to appear.

THE TAISHO PERIOD (1912-1926)

In the Taisho period, the economy was booming and this gave rise to
a wealthier, less restrictive culture. The colours used in kimono became significantly brighter, using motifs with a western influence, such as oil paintings, art nouveau and art deco.

THE EARLY SHOWA PERIOD (1926-1945)

In the early Showa period, the western style that gained popularity in the Taisho period and the traditional style combined, producing a bold colour variation with a modern design. This style became prolific during that era.

THE MID SHOWA PERIOD – THE HEISEI PERIOD
(1989-CURRENT DAY)

After World War II, in the lead up to the bubble economy of the late 1980s, Japan experienced accelerated economic growth. In this era, western clothing steadily became more commonplace and more luxurious kimono were being produced. However, many new trends came and went during this period. One example of such a trend is the use of lamé fabrics.
By the Heisei period, the trend had moved towards a more conservative and elegant style. Later on, driven by a rise in popularity of antique kimono and colourful yukata, particularly with young people known to be rule-breakers, the style began to trend towards a more free and unique way of combining pieces.

BY THE HEISEI PERIOD, THE NEW KIMONO STYLE BEGAN
TO TREND TOWARDS A MORE FREE AND UNIQUE WAY OF COMBINING PIECES.

CONTEMPORARY KIMONO AND YUKATA FASHION

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KIMONO styling HANA
Photo: Yoshiko Honda
Styling: Rie Yoshitake

Yoshiko Honda, a professional photographer, saw Japanese beauty as epitomised by an actress wearing kimono. “KIMONOstylingHANA” is a project she has been working on, showing Japanese beauty through the garments. She hopes that this project will encourage more people to wear kimono in a smart and stylish way, and that they can come to enjoy it in their everyday lives.

YOSHIKO HONDA

Profile: Yoshiko graduated from Aoyama Gakuin Women’s Junior College before working for an airline. Later, after having children, she focused all her effort to become a professional photographer, working in the bridal market for almost 10 years. Now, she has a photographic studio in Tetsugakudo in Tokyo’s Shinjuku, where she has been doing portraits as well as pregnancy photo-shoots in her own unique style. She has also been working as a photographer for the websites of various companies, magazines and celebrity collections.
Web: yoshikohonda.com


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KIMONO DE ROCKON Project

Producer: Kureha Takaishi
Styling: Koji Fukumoto
Hair & Make-up: Ai Shimizu
Photo: Ayato Ozawa

The “KIMONO DE ROCKON Project” presents a hybrid way of wearing kimono,
pairing contemporary clothes and kitsuke (the traditional way to wear kimono) which has been passed down through generations. By contrasting the classic and contemporary styles, they aim to present the idea of an image and shade in a mirror, which is the original concept of the theme, ‘Re-flection’, while hoping that Japanese culture can be revitalised through kimono and yukata.

KIMONO DE ROCKON PROJECT

Profile: In this project, a group of people, dressed in traditional kimono in a stylish and cute way, walk proudly around the city of Tokyo. The photos can be found on Facebook and Instagram. Their eye-opening kimono style should not be missed.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/kimonoderockon
Instagram: @kimonoderockon


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AKIRA TIMES Photobook
‘KIMONO times’

Images: AKIRA TIMES

AKIRA TIMES is an artist from Yamagata, in the north-east of Japan, who has been creating new and surprising images of kimono. He has gone viral online, posting images since 2008. By teaching himself a range of skills, including photography, computer graphics, design, kitsuke, styling and make-up, he has shaped his own unique view of the world. He has dedicated almost 10 years to creating these works, eschewing the strict, traditional rules of the kimono. His complete works are available in the photo collection,
“KIMONO times”.

AKIRA TIMES

Profile: Akira was born in 1980 in Yamagata prefecture, Japan. After graduating from junior high school, he worked on his family’s fruit farm before suddenly developing a panic disorder, which drastically changed his life. He found himself drawn to photography and computer graphics, and has been producing his works ever since. He still lives in Yamagata and continues with his work, showcasing the beauty of kimono for the whole world to enjoy.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/akira.times Web: akiratimes.exblog.jp

AKIRA TIMES PHOTOBOOK
‘KIMONO TIMES’

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5,500 yen + tax │ 297×210 │ 144 pages Softcover
Author: Akira Times
Contributor: Sheila Cliffe
Web: www.libroarte.jp/akiratimes.html

REDEFINING THE WORLD STANDARD OF PRECISION

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– SEIKO WATCH COLLECTION –

REDEFINING THE WORLD STANDARD OF PRECISION

For centuries, the goal of every watchmaker has been to offer ever higher standards of precision and convenience, but only rarely does a real advance in these areas take place. With Astron GPS Solar, new standards of global precision, ease of use and convenience have been set. Astron GPS Solar is the most significant advance in watchmaking in a generation and, at last, brings international travellers the watch that they have long desired.

IN 2012, THE ASTRON REVOLUTION CONTINUED, WITH GPS SOLAR

Down the centuries, watchmakers have met nearly every timekeeping challenge, but, until 2012, one problem remained intractable. Could a watch be made that remained accurate, without adjustment, as its wearer changed time zones? Thanks to Seiko’s mastery of GPS technology and its unrivalled skill in energy management, Astron GPS Solar met this last great watchmaking challenge. Using just the power of light, Astron connects to four or more GPS satellites, identifies the time zone and adjusts the hands on the dial to the local time, with a precision of one second per 100,000 years. Today, the Astron GPS collection is broader than ever.
The Astron revolution continues.

SLIM, REFINED AND A DELIGHT TO WEAR

Every Astron GPS Solar is a technological marvel, but is also a joy to wear. Despite its high functionality, Astron is, above all else, a slim, refined and perfectly crafted timepiece that is built to the highest possible standards to be a companion for life. Whether in steel or titanium, the watch profile is gently curved so that it sits comfortably on the wrist and several surfaces are polished, by hand, to a perfect mirror finish, using Seiko’s Zaratsu technique to ensure distortion-free results. The crystals are all made of sapphire and are treated with Seiko’s special coatings that ensure perfect visibility from any angle and in any light conditions, by eliminating 99% of all reflections. Astron GPS Solar combines high performance and watchmaking refinement as never before.

FORM AND FUNCTION IN PERFECT UNISON

Astron GPS Solar combines high performance with a graceful elegance that is rare indeed in watches of such advanced technology. The first secret is energy management. To connect to satellites in orbit 20,000km above the surface of the earth requires a significant amount of energy. To do so using just the power of light requires skills in energy management that only Seiko possesses. To make Astron GPS Solar, Seiko developed a unique GPS module that achieves this, using only about 20% of the energy required by other GPS devices. Another secret is the development of a reception antenna in the shape of a ring that lies just beneath the dial ring. This unique ring antenna, combined with the ceramic used for the bezel itself, optimises signal reception and gives every Astron the clean,elegant lines that are its signature.

INTELLIGENCE, CONVENIENCE AND PRECISION

To make Astron GPS Solar as easy to wear as possible, Seiko invented an automatic time adjustment function that allows the watch toadjust automatically to the GPS time signal once a day. An invisible sensor analyses the level of light, and when it senses five seconds of bright sunshine, connects to a GPS satellite and receives a time update. If the watch does not detect such conditions, it remembers when it was last successful in receiving a time signal and automatically attempts to connect at that time. This intelligent sensor system operates regardless of whether the watch is concealed by clothing or whether the sun is hidden behind clouds. Astron’s time remains accurate to one second every 100,000 years and the wearer never has to worry.