Japanese culture – why so difficult? Japan’s culture has always maintained a veil of mystery for many reasons. First of all, Japanese culture is complex, intricate. Everything is an “art”. Serving tea is an art. Wearing traditional dress is an art. Drinking sake is an art. I am not exaggerating. Google “how to drink sake” or “how to eat sushi” and you will come across a plethora of step-by-step guides, untangling the knot of traditions and codes of behaviour. Secondly, Japan is still very much a “closed” country. Japan went through a period of self-imposed isolation, sakoku, that last hundreds of years. From 1633 till 1853 no foreigner could enter and no Japanese could leave on penalty of death. That isolation left lasting effects on the Japanese culture and psyche. Free from external conflicts and intervention, the uniquely Japanese culture was allowed to be develop and flourish. Traditional arts prevailed as European technological advances remained inaccessible. National psyche, too, was moulded to fear foreigners and cultivate the sense of separateness and uniqueness. The isolation ended a mere 160 years ago, and, in many ways, the modern society is still hard to penetrate for anyone from the outside. The last building block of Japanese mystique is language. Learning to read is a drawn-out process that demands extreme dedication. It is very hard to find authentic information about Japan in English. There are a handful of books written by hard-core Japanophiles, there are blog posts from foreign residents and visitors…But the good stuff is all in Japanese. All is not lost, however. Enter the lavishly published Kateigaho, a bi-annual magazine on Japanese arts, crafts, design and cuisine. Each beautifully oversized edition is crammed with stunning photography and precious insider information. The chef from Kyoto’s iconic Kitcho describes his method of preparing dashi. An 81 year old electronic music composer muses on his creative process. The son of a celebrated kimono maker brings together a celebrated actress and a photographer using 19-century camera to create ethereally beautiful photographs of his father’s masterpieces. A sacred sword maker opens up his workshop to cameras. Architecture, design, travel, all brought together in a visual tour de force – in English! You can subscribe to Kateigaho and have it delivered to your door, twice a year, or travel to Kinokunya store in Sydney to purchase it. I highly recommend subscription, as receiving this gorgeous magazine inside an envelope of thick silky paper is a real treat. Want to win a copy of Kateigaho? Head over to my Facebook page to win a copy of Kateigaho. This is the first ever competition I am running, good...Read More
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