Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Abake Limb Type

Here's a type that you wouldn't have seen before in the world of Typography. Abake uses human limbs to spell Japanese words.
A very interesting design type. 

U G Sato

Here's a Japanese artist called U G Sato. He does a lot of environmental posters combining animals with nature to portray the meaning. 

"Taku-san no Fushigi" - I think Taku-san is known as somebody and "no" is a belonging word in Japanese but I don't know what the last bit means unfortunately. 

I really like this Poster with the elephant. If you look at it closely in the negative spaces, you can see there are other animals embedded between the gaps that matches with the elephant. Not just the elephant but also the dog and the cat. It's very easy to distinguish the animals in this drawing.

Here's the website:


Since I was 8 years old, I grew an interest in Origami. It was my mums friend that randomly folded a T-shirt out of paper that really fascinated me. I was really impressed as a child and so she decided to teach me. Since then I became more interested in this art form and moved on to learning to fold other objects. 

Origami never fails to impress people. I live in England, so maybe very few people know Origami so they tend to find it amusing. I find that Origami is more of an asian thing and is more well known in Asia than it is here, in Europe. 

Origami's a beautiful thing. It gets people so confused as to how you made something so beautiful and delicate out of one piece of paper.

I wonder if people will still be as impressed as the people here?

Here are my Origami's:

The one above is a Lilly. One of my favourites! 
 Heart with wings. Works better with different coloured sides. 
 Butterfly. Relatively simple, but hard to remember I'd say. 
 Love Heart. You can fold this using a £5 note if you wish. Always makes a great gift! 
 T-shirt. This was the first one I learnt.
 Star shaped box. Quite handy to store stuff in. 
Cranes. Probably one of the most popular and well known one in the world. 

I give a lot of my Origami away to my friends and family as gifts. It is a great way to impress people :D 
Where did I learn these? I had friends who knew some Origami and I also buy Origami books. Some instructions won't be easy to follow. But nowadays you will find a lot of video tutorials on Youtube. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Akira Yoshizawa

As most of you will have noticed the google logo on the 14th March wednesday, they celebrated the grandmaster of origami who would've reached 101 that day.

Yoshizawa turned origami from a children's pastime to a serious art form known across the globe. He was known for his innovative folding techniques. 
A japanese magazine commissioned him to illustrate the 12 signs of the Japanese zodiac using paper folding techniques which put him onto the international stage. Since then, his work has been exhibited around the world and he has published more than a dozen books on his art form. 

I've always been a big fan on origami and learnt to fold quite a few things. What I love about origami is the beauty that comes out from something so plain and simple. Its amazing to see a piece of paper transform into something so beautiful. I didn't know where origami came from until I noticed the google logo that day which caught my interest. 

Monday, 26 March 2012

1000 Cranes

Origami cranes are really popular in Japan. There is a story about these cranes. It is said that whoever folds 1000 of these origami cranes, their wish will be granted. 

There was once a girl who had an incurable disease and wished to get back to good health. Each day she would fold paper cranes in hope that she would reach 1000. Sadly before she could make 1000 paper cranes, she passed away. 

They say that folding 1000 paper cranes pleases the gods so they do you a favour and grant you one wish.
I love hearing stories like these, even though there wasn't much of a story in them. But I find it cute how they believe that doing something like this would grant them their wishes. 

Do I believe that my wish will be granted if I make 1000 origami cranes?

Hmmm... I'd like to believe it would happen. Can't say I'd rather sit here and fold cranes in hoping my dream will come true one day rather than going out there trying to achieve it. I've been folding paper cranes for a long time but who knows how many cranes I've folded. I normally give them away to a friend or family, Its not something I do everyday. 

Maybe I should give it a try as some experiment one day?

I'll let you know if my wishes do come true :) 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Joe Hisaishi

So I thought I'd share with you my favourite music composer. He is the music composer for the famous Studio Ghibli films in Japan which are well known around the world. I absolutely admire his skills in composing and performing, always puts a smile on my face whenever I watch videos of him performing. I hope that one day I am able to go to his concert!

Heres one of his performances performing "Summer"

Absolutely beautiful! I wish I can play the piano as good as him one day.

What is the difference between Anime and Cartoons?

It's easy to distinguish the differences between anime and cartoons just by looking at them.

For example:
 Dexter's Laboratory
Suzumiya Haruhi

Just by looking at them you can straight away see the differences between them. Cartoon drawings tends to be dull with very little detail as you can see Dexter only has 3 fingers and a thumb. The first thing that many people notices when they watch an anime for their first time is the characters eyes. Anime characters tends to have big glossy eyes. Not just the eyes, but the hair is very important too in anime design. Their hair design has mainly 3 different shades whereas the cartoon character only has 1 shade. Anime characters has a very detailed human figure and the details are flawless from head to toe and even the costumes. 

Its not just the looks that are different, but I think anime are more aimed at young teens to adults. Yes, a lot of adults are into anime. Why? I think because of their well art and story. Anime stories tend to have a twist in them and the plots are a lot more complicated than Cartoons. 

Me in Manga drawing

Do you ever wonder what you might look like as an anime character? 

Well here is a drawing of me in anime style. I was wearing a Kimono at the time. In my opinion, I don't think this looks very anime style, but I do still think it looks good. The hair style looks quite similar to my real hair but I'm not sure about the colour. 
I went to another person who was also drawing people in anime style. I wanted to see what the other girl's style of anime looked like. 

I thought the 2nd drawing looked more like an anime character however I still think the eyes should be a bit bigger to fit in the style of anime. My hair colour matched more in this image. 

What distinguishes an anime/manga style drawing?

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


Calligraphy is something I wanted to try for a while. I love how each brushstroke follows a particular direction and where the flicks end up. I think this adds a traditional and historical element to it. 

The right hand side is what a Japanese lady had done for me to imitate and the left hand side is what I did. You can tell a big difference between someone who has never tried calligraphy before and someone who is trained in calligraphy. 

Writing a few letters using a calligraphy brush was harder than expected because you have to make sure you point the brush at the right direction, stop at the right time, know when to flick, etc.  

This piece of work spells my name 'Helen' in Japanese. I would love to try more on calligraphy. 

Monday, 19 March 2012

Japanese store

At the Spirit of the Japan festival they had a store that sells japanese stuff there! Such as drinks, sweets, mini anime models, books, manga's etc. all originated from Japan. Most of the sweets and drinks I have never seen before. I decided to buy this Peach flavoured drink seeing as I quite like the sound of Peach flavour but it didn't appeal to me. I thought the flavour was too bland, well it didn't really have much flavour in.

The white bottled drinks are called Calpis which I have tried before at work. I still can't decide whether I like it or not. It kind of tastes a bit milky with a tint of yogurt taste but a bit fizzy with a tiny bit of sourness to the beverage. Not something I'd choose to drink but I'd drink it if there was no other preferences. I do prefer this Calpis drink to the Peach one I tried recently. 

Japanese sweets 

Tea Ceremony

Their tea ceremony looked very interesting and I wish I had the chance experience what a tea ceremony was like. However, just looking at how the table is set up makes it look very traditional and very cultural. I find their pots very elegantly designed and also the use of colour signifies nature. 

I love how the colours gives it an imperfection but at the same time it makes it look beautiful. 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Cherry Blossoms

Blossom trees are very common in Japan. I think they are so beautiful I wish there was more of these in England. There are a few scattered around and I happened to bump into one on the way to the Japanese festival. The colour is so pure and natural. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Kimono/Yukata experience

Kimono and Yukata are very similar to each other. A Yukata is a more casual type of Kimono made out of cotton and are possible to put on yourself without help. Whereas the Kimono is more formal and almost impossible to put on yourself.

I managed to experience wearing a Yukata for the first time and I really enjoyed my time wearing it! Although the Yukata was a bit too long for my height so the people helping me had to twist the material in a bit which worked well. I love the big wide sleeves, it makes it feel very flowy and traditional. Although it also feels a bit like my work uniform from the Japanese restaurant but this Yukata feels a lot thicker. I found it quite difficult to walk at first but I got used to it after a while and resorted to taking little steps at a time whilst walking. The waist belt is designed with a very nice pattern and the colour contrasts with the Yellow.

Happy White day!

In Japan, a month after Valentine's day is what they call their "White day" which are similar to Valentine's Day. However, Valentine's day in Japan are usually the female presenting gifts to a male as an expression of love. Handmade chocolate is preferred which symbolises "only one".

So for White day, the male who received gifts from a female on Valentine's day are expected to return the favour by giving gifts such as cookies, jewellery, white chocolate, white lingerie and marshmallows.

Sanbai Gaeshi (三倍返し) = "Triple the return" which means the gift should be two or three times the cost of the Valentine's gift. 

I think I'd quite like the idea of a White Day. In my opinion Valentine's Day in England is a bit commercialised and are mainly both the male and the female buy gifts for each other and the male would take the female out. Rather than buying gifts, I think handmade objects means a lot more. I'd like to wait for a month to see what I get in return. 

Monday, 12 March 2012

Spirit of the Japan Festival

It has been 1 year since the devastating Tsunami hit Japan. So the Japanese Society of Leeds University helped to donate money to them by holding this event Spirit of the Japan Festival.

Was a lot of fun being able to say some basic Japanese phrases and meeting Japanese people. I had a lot of fun looking around and joining in on their activities, such as picking beans using chopsticks against a Japanese person. Was quite a challenge, it took me 4 goes to beat him!

As you can see, the beans was very slippery and hard. To win I had to have more beans in my bowl. 
I won him by 1 point in the end.

There are a lot more activities going on in this event such as: 
  • Taiko Drummers
  • Traditional Shimasen and Koto Player
  • Tea Ceremony
  • Japanese store
  • Calligraphy
  • Opportunity to wear a Kimono
  • Manga Cafe
  • Origami
  • Raffles

Monday, 5 March 2012

Authentic Japanese Uniform

So I work at a Japanese restaurant and noticed the style of the uniform are different to the uniforms in English, Italian, American restaurants etc. You don't see many places with uniforms in this style. To me, I think this style reminds me of a Kimono which Japanese people wear for festivals. The long wide sleeves gives it a similar look and you can say this makes it look more of a Japanese traditional clothing. 

The silky material that crosses over the body gives it a flowing effect and also I think the colour plays a big part in this uniform. The colour brown reminds me of the wooden boards that you get in Japanese homes, similar to the one in the background. 

Here's a full length picture of the uniform. The outfit is being held together by some sort of silky waist belt similar pattern to the material wrapping over the body. The sleeve has some Kanji written on there.

I think compared to the English style uniforms, the Japanese style really does make it look a lot more unique.
 Maybe because of my personal taste? Or maybe because I'm in England? 

Whatever the reason, I love how you wrap it round your body holding it with a silky waist belt and having the wide long sleeves. I think the sleeves plays a big part in this Traditional Japanese style. 
I would love to wear a Kimono one day but I guess maybe this waitress uniform is kind of similar to a Kimono?