Monthly Archives: July 2009

Popularity of Otaku Culture Abroad: Mr. Edmund Hoff’s lecture

      Do you know the World Cosplay Summit will be held this weekend in Nagoya? The event started in 2003 with only four countries, but now it has 15 participating countries and is the largest as an international cosplay event in the world. The official web page is here:      I had an opportunity to take an interesting lecture entitled “Popularity of Otaku Culture Aboard” from the organizer of the event last Sunday. The lecturer was Mr. Edmund Hoff, who has worked with the World Cosplay Summit since it started in 2003. He’s now studying about Japan’s otaku subculture at Nagoya University.

     Although the word of otaku has become a kind of global word recently, you may not know it. Otaku is a kind of negative expression in Japan, and it means nerd or geek. Usually Otaku people are really big fans of Japan’s anime and manga, or comic. (But according to Mr. Hoff, manga and comic are different. He thinks that Japan’s manga and anime are deeper and has more complex stories than comics and cartoons.)

     Firstly, Mr. Hoff gave the participants a manga quize to match titles and pictures. The Sheet had 10 manga (comic) titles, such as, One Piece. NANA, and Naruto. Actually I know just those three manga, but have never seen other seven. According to him, the younger, the more know.

     Secondly, he introduced popular manga in Japan and in the US.


   Thirdly, he explained why Japan’s manga has become popular abroad. He revealed five reasons:
1. Unique – the look is very different, for example, Japan’s manga’s characters have really big eyes which twinkle.

2. Flipping – reading “backward”: According to him, “flopping” was common in 60s and 70s. That is, all manga books were remade abroad for Westerners to flip from right to left those days because Japan’s books are turned from left to right. But since 80s people have accept the Japan’s way. And many think it’s cool.
3. Well drawn characters: In Japan’s manga, even backgrounds are well drawn.
4. Addictive: Most of manga are series. So funs have to wait next episode and it makes them addicted
5. Some like, some do not – Shojo manga is popular but sports manga is not: Not only all people like Japan’s manga, but some really love them. But it may depend on the genre.

     Fourthly, Mr. Hoff introduced popular anime in Japan and in the US.



     Fifthly, he talked about the popularity of Japan’s anime abroad. He gave four reasons:
1. Exciting action and complexity, comedy, suspense and violence: Each story is complex and has many factors.
2. Main characters grow. : According to him, so-called heroes in the US seldom grow, and they just repeat the same old pattern, but Japan’s anime characters live their lives like human-being.
3. Make viewers watch next episode. : He told us that Japan’s anime producers know that technique well.
4. Wide target audience. : In the US, anime is for kids in general.   Next, Mr. Hoff mentioned about games, plastic models, figures, arts and cosplay. Moreover, he introduced many otaku shops in Nagoya area, such as Mandarake, Tora-no-ana, Animate, Tenishi-no-sumika, M’s Melody and Comok.

     Finally, he talked about the coming World Cosplay Summit. There will be a big parade by cosplayers in Osu this Saturday. It starts at 3:30 in the afternoon before Osu-Kannon Temple. And The Cosplay Championship will be held at Oasis 21 in Sakae the next day on Sunday. It’ll start around 7:00 in the evening. You’ll get the information from the offical page.

     I was really impressed with Mr. Hoff’s knowledge on Japanese subcultures and love of them through his lecture. There were many points to understand Japan’s own culture in it. In addition, I was able to exchange opinions with a person who sat next to me. He is from Spain and also studying at Nagoya University. He told me that he’s loved Japanese anime since he was a child in Spain. He said that he liked Captain Tsubasa, Touch, Dragon Ball, and Naruto. It seems that Japanese subcultures, especially manga and anime, have more standardized in the world than I thought…

The 21th Aichi Summer Seminar 2



     I went to Doho-Gakuen again on 20 to join in Aichi Summer Seminar. The day before I took an oriental medicine class and an English class, and that day I took a cooking class and a singing class.

     I cooked Bangladeshi curry at the cooking class at the first period. The class had many students including a lot of high school boys and girls. Amazingly, I met the person who took the same oriental medicine class before the day at the cooking class, and we cooked together. 

    We cooked Bangladeshi chicken curry that day. The recipe is simple:

(For six people)HI352565-a
Chicken wing sticks               12 pieces
Onions                                    2 (medium size)
Ginger                                   1.5 tbsp
Garlic                                    1.5 tbsp
Oil                                           6 tbsp
Curry mixed powder             1.5 tbsp
Salt                                       1.5 tsp

1. Shred ginger and garlic and chop onions.
2. Sauté the onion with the oil on a pot until the onion turns light brown.
3. Add the ginger and garlic, and add the curry powder to the pan.
4. Add the chicken and sauté them well.
5. Pour in just enough water to cover and boil after adding salt.HI352568-a

     The curry we made was really delicious! The curry powder we used was different from mine. So I asked the organizer to sell one and got it. Yay! At the class we enjoyed chai as well. The class was really nice and interesting!HI352572

     After the cooking class, One of my friends and I went to a classroom for a singing class. I had to get petrified again when I opened the door. The teacher was the same person of that memorizing famous speeches class before the day!

     But that day at least I was not alone at the classroom. There were seven students there. But you know, the teacher was the same. That is, we had to sing with gestures! Ha ha! But it’s OK. The more, the merrier! HI352575-a

     How come I didn’t know about such an interesting event until this year? Most of my friends also didn’t know until I informed them. I’d like to join in Aichi Summer Seminar next year too!

The 21th Aichi Summer Seminar 1


     Do you know a big annual event where anyone can study many things among nearly 1.000 classes has held for more than 20 years in Aichi prefecture? The event is called Aichi Summer Seminar, and it was the 21st this year. Most of the classes are free of charge. Actually I didn’t know until Rosario, a friend of mine, came to my apartment with the information the other day.

     The Aichi Summer Seminar was held at Doho-Gakuen in Nakamura-ku from the 18th to the 20th of this month and I joined it on 19 and 20 with some of my friends. I took an oriental medicine class and an English class on 19, and took a cooking class and a singing class on 20. HI352558-a

     According to the organizer, there were nearly 1.000 classes in the event, and many famous people, such as, Mr. Shinya Yamamoto, a movie director, and Ms, Motoko Obayasi, an ex-volley ball player for Japan’s national team, were invited as lecturers as well. That’s why, so many people came to the place that it was really crowded.

     Each day had three periods, and one had 100 minutes. The class on oriental medicine I took was held at the second period after lunch time. So my friends and I met at the school cafeteria and had lunch there before heading the classroom. The taco-rice was not so good, but…was OK for 400 yen.HI352554-a

     There were already many students in the classroom of the oriental medicine. The teacher came from a big medical professional school named Nagoya-Isen. Dr. Yamada has been in the U.S. for more than 10 years and treated many people there with eastern medicine. He introduced many interesting methods for treatment to the audience that day, for example, using crystals, colors, o-ring test and therapeutic points of the body.

     Dr. Yamada is so friendly and funny that the classroom was filled with laugh. I can learn many things from the class, especially using colors. According him, the color of red will work for your stiff shoulders, and blue will be good for pain. In general, if you have stiff shoulders, you must have bad blood circulation. Red is the symbol of blood and the warmth. So you should send the image of the red color to the stiffened parts of your body. On the other hand, the color of blue is the symbol of coldness. So the image of the blue color may help draw out the infection.HI352556-a

     After the oriental medicine class, I headed for an English class alone. Each of my friends took another class at the third period. I was petrified when I opened the door of the next class. There were no people except for the teacher in the classroom. He appeared to be relieved to see me. Probably he’d thought that no one would appear. I wondered whether he could go home if I left. So, I asked him, “Shall I leave?” But he replied, “OK. Let’s get started.” And then the class started…HI352557-a

     The class was for learning famous speeches, such as, Mr. Lincoln, Rev. King, Mr. J.F. Kennedy, and Mr. Obama, with his special method. The method was to use imagination and gestures to memorize sentences. So, I had to kind of dance with him in the big classroom…That was a sort of a torture for me, but I was able to memorize those famous phrases during the class…But I was so tired…

     After the class, I found out that my friends also were exhausted when I met them. One of them was late to come to the place because the teacher of the class she took had thought each class was 120 minutes. The reason she looked tired because it was not only taking the class longer but also she couldn’t understand the lecture at all! She asked some questions to the teacher during the class, but he just said “Study it with newspaper later by yourself, please.” and didn’t answer to her questions at all…HI352559

     According to another friend, she waited for the teacher with other students in the classroom, but he or she didn’t appear after all. She had been with the others for more than 30 minutes, but she gave up the class and moved to another class. But the next class was horrible. It was a kind of emotionally manipulated sale and she got almost forced to buy something. She hastily left the room and went to another class about allergy. But it was so boring for her…

     I’ve learned that no all are good among those 1,000 classes. Anyway, I had a good time at the eastern medicine class and had a precious opportunity at the memorizing class that day…I’ll write about the next day’s classes later on.

Sisay at Airport-Walk



     An Ecuadorian band named Sisay came to Airport-Walk, which used to be an international airport of Nagoya district but it’s now a big shopping complex, that day. I’ve been a fan of Sisay since I first met them at EXPO in 2005. So I knew they would appear on the stage of the former airport by their mail magazine.  HI352544

     They had three stages that day: the first one started at 1:00 p.m., the second one at 3:00, and the last one at 5:00. I saw the first and the second stages. There were already many fans of Sisay in front of the stage when I arrived there around noon. I found a space where I could see their performance upstairs because all the seats had already been occupied. 

     The stage was beside the food court. So, not only Sisay fans but also many people who didn’t know about the band were gathering the place to see their performance. There were five musicians that day. Actually I’m not sure how many members are in Sisay! According to the announcement, they’ll have a big concert played by their 15 members next January. Wow! It’ll be exciting!HI352548

     Sisay’s music started. All people were clapping. Many of them were dancing. One concert was only 30 minutes, but their performance drew the people enough. The last music was Moliendo Café. The song is well-known in Japan as well, though the lyrics are totally different from the original one.

     All the audience near the stage were clapping and dancing together. Of course, I did! That day, Sisay must have made many new fans through their performance.  HI352550

     By the way, Airport-Walk is located at the former international airport as I said above. It’s very easy to access there from Nagoya Station. The bus takes you just 20 minutes or so to the shopping mall before Midland Square at Nagoya Station.

     The former airport is now a big shopping complex, which has a movie theater, a big grocery store, and about 135 shops and restaurants. The domestic airport is still next to the building. So you can see many planes there. There are many remainders of its old time airport in the place, such as its information counter. Anyway, I had a great time there to see and listen to Sisay’s wonderful music performance that day.

Tokitsukaze-beya Stable


     Have you ever eaten chanko with a sumo wrestler? I have! I had a precious opportunity to visit a sumo stable and have chanko with some wrestlers in Inuyama last Wednesday. HI352506

     I don’t know when they began training, but sumo wrestlers of Tokitsukaze-beya Stable were about to finish that day’s practice when I arrived at their camp around 9 o’clock in the morning. They stay at a temple in Inuyama during Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament in July every year. HI352507-a

     A young sumoist, who has just joined in the sumo world this spring after graduating from a high school, was sparring with a wrestler of high rank when I saw their training space. The tension was so thick. There were many sumo fans around the ring, but no one spoke. The atmosphere, however, changed completely after training. A lot of fans asked wrestlers to take photos together and many people talked and laughed cheerfully. But no one never entered the ring, in which is very holy. Especially, woman are never allowed to enter it.HI352508

     After the practice, young sumo wrestlers start cooking chanko, which is a sumo wrestlers’ meal without changing clothes. They usually begin eating chanko in descending order of wrestlers of higher rank. But if they have guests, they regard guests are more important. HI352514-a

   I visited the camp with some of my friends that day, and we were treated as special guests by them. So we start to eat first that day. Amazingly, they gave us beer in the morning! In addition, they served beer to rice bowls!

HI352515-a     Sumo wrestlers take the bath in descending order of higher rank as well, and after bathing they have hair set by an exclusive hair dresser called tokoyama in the sumo world. A famous wrestler called Toyono-Shima came to our table. He’s a 26 year-old star of the stable. He’s a nice and friendly person and never arrogant in spite of his position, in which he’s always adored by others. HI352519

     He told me many interesting things. For example, he used to use detergents when he washes hair because of the hair oil. Moreover, the brands of shampoo he likes are Mod’s Hair and Vidal Sassoon. Furthermore, most of the wrestlers need one bottle of shampoo once they wash their hair… HI352520-a

     In addition, he explained the origin of the name of chanko to me when I asked. By the way, do you know chanko? It’s a kind of stew and is eaten by almost all sumo wrestlers in Japan every day. According to Toyono-shima, chanko means a father and children. Chan is a father and ko is child(ren). In a sumo stable, the stable master is a father and the wrestlers in the stable are his children. Chanko is a symbol food of the tight-knit sumo stable. HI352513-a

     This is the stable master, Tokitsukaze. Actually I have thought he was a just youngster of lower rank until I was introduced… You know, he looks so young! Yes, he is young. But he has responsibility to unify his team and have his “children” strong as their “father”.

     In Tokitsukaze-beya Stable, there was a very sad incident last summer. At the Inuyama camp, a young sumo wrestler has died through the training. Allegedly, it seems he was killed by other wrestlers and the former master in lynch called practice. Some sumo wrestlers and the previous master were arrested and accused last year. HI352521

     It appeared for me that the young people who were left behind after the scandal in the stable never forget about the affair but are trying to lift up their spirit. So, they train hard and eat chanko together confirming their unity every day.

     I enjoyed watching sumo practice, talking with sumo wrestlers over delicious chanko that day. I hope they will make a very strong showing at Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

The 10th Anniversary of being an NPO for Yang Ming Shi Style Tai Chi at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium


       Do you know tai chi has some styles? I’ve practiced tai chi called Yang Ming Shi style for nearly four years. HI352487

     This year marks the 10th anniversary of becoming an NPO for the style and a big ceremonial event for was held at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on July 2. I participated in it with my teacher and some of my classmates.  

    HI352491 I don’t know how many people do the same style tai chi or belong to the association, but nearly 6,000 people got together to the ceremony. They were divided into some blocks by regions and about 2,000 people performed together each.  

     It’s easier to move closely together if the number of performers is around 200. But it’s difficult to keep pace together for more than 1000 people. The participants had to wear a karate-gi, the formal costume, or an official T-shirt and black pants at the event. So when the performers synchronized their movement, it looked so beautiful.HI352492
                                                                                                                                                            Look at this!

     They are over 80 years old. The oldest man is 96! They looked very energetic and stronger than youngsters on the street. I’ve heard it’ll have been for 50 years next year since Yang Ming Shi started his style of tai chi here in Japan. HI352498

     So, I thought that I’d keep on doing tai chi until the 100th anniversary and wanted to perform with others aged over 80 at the ceremony 50 years later while seeing those senior performers’ dynamic movement.

Chat Tea Cafe 2: Have a drink, have a chat!


HI352462      A friend of mine Yuko and I went to Chat Tea Café after enjoying shopping and making accessories at Handicraft Fair in Fukiage Hall on Saturday of the 27, June. Chat Tea Café is located near Mizuho Athletic Stadium along the Sakura-Dori Line of the Nagoya Municipal Subway. She and I decided to come to the cafe because Fukiage Hall is also along the same subway line.

     Yuko and I have visited the café once when a tea tasting seminar was held there last March. (!1D0F2197A6F55843!3400.entry) We haven’t come to the café since then because it is a little far from our places: Yuko lives in Owari-Asahi and I live in Meito-ku. But we were at Fukiage near the café that day. HI352464-a


     Rie, the wife of the café’s owner Robin, noticed us and opened the door when we were peeping inside through the glass of the door at the café. She is beautiful and accomplished lady. She is talented to make sweets as well. Robin was smiling behind Rie and invited us into the café.  HI352463-a

     There were two women inside. One was a member of the café and another one was a visitor. Yuko and I ordered cold drinks to Rie because it was really hot that day, and joined them. All of us tried speaking English. You know, Chat Tea Café is not an ordinary café, is a place for practicing English conversation.

     Most of us were new people each other, but enjoyed chatting in English very much. We didn’t just banter. We learned many things from Robin. He is very good at teaching through relaxing conversation. Here is the information about Chat Tea Café:

        Chat Tea Café

     This is a new style café where you enjoy chatting in English with the master from UK at the relaxing atmosphere whenever you like. You can also enjoy delicious M&P’s Tea’s tea, coffee, soft drinks and Rie’s special sweets there…

     Monthly membership: 8,800 yen a month (You can come anytime during the period.)
Book of coupons: 11,000 yen for five tickets (valid for six months)

     Open: 2:00 p.m. Close: 11:00 p.m.
     Shop Holiday: Mondays

     Address: Takasu Biru 1F, 6-24 Mizuho-dori, Mizuho-ku, Nagoya    
     Phone: 052-851-5161