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Gaman, I Can Take It

“Have we all become too soft?”  I wonder about that. There is a Japanese word “Gaman” which is often translated as “enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity”. The term is generally translated as “perseverance”, “patience”, or “tolerance”. If you grew up with the language, those translations sound so serious. In reality, I think …

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The Cultural Perception of Tattoos or Irezumi in Japan

My very limited knowledge of tattoos comes from my experience of growing up in Tokyo.  In Japanese, the word for tattoo is irezumi, 入れ墨。The first two characters together, ire(ru) means, to put in, to place or to insert.  The second, sumi, is ink.  So, it’s the insertion of ink. During the Meiji era, tattoos in …

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Shichigosan: The Japanese Festival for 7, 5, and 3 Year Olds

The Japaneses Shichigosan festival celebrates children who are 7,5, and 3.  The word, Shichigosan is literally a combination of three numbers in Japanese; shichi is seven, go is five and san is three. This makes it pretty easy to remember what this festival is about! The Shichigosan festival, thought to be over 400 years old, is …

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Japanese Design – Art, Aesthetics & Culture by Patricia J Graham – Book Review

As I love and appreciate Japanese Design, this a book review. Japanese Design – Art, Aesthetics & Culture by Patricia J. Graham Japanese design and sensibility is complex and difficult for many to grasp. Yet, the book Japanese Design  — Art, Aesthetics & Culture by Patricia J. Graham has managed to capture the essence of …

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Japanese New Years Traditions

Now that Christmas has come and gone, in a Japanese household, we have to start thinking of the biggest holiday of the year, New Years or Oshogatsu.  January 1st, is called Gan jitsu.  In the olden days, it was thought that the new year’s god, Toshigami-sama,  brought happiness and good harvest.  So, to welcome this …

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The Season for Gift Wrapping – Asian Accents with Origami

Gift wrapping in Japan is an art.  However, many of us don’t have the talent or fine motor skills to create such beautifully wrapped creations–including me…    To understand how this is a “skill” you have to watch this Japanese video.    She shows us how the Japanese department stores wrap their boxes.  As you will see, it’s …

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Three Asian 80/20 Rules for Health

Many in the West may know the 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle.  It states that “80 percent of the results are achieved by 20 percent of  the group or 20 percent of your effort will generate 80 percent of your results.”  According to the Wikipedia ” Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, observed in 1906 that 80% …

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flower, plant, nature

Sogetsu Ikebana Exhibition

Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, has many different schools of thought.  On Asian Lifestyle Design, we have shown arrangements from Ikenobo and Ryuseiha Schools.  Today, I’d like to introduce another school called Sogetsu.  Compared to Ikenobo, the original school of ikebana with a 550 year history, the Ryuseiha School is 120 years old, …

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Ikenobo Ikebana Grand Master Demonstration

Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangement has a history of over 500 years.  Last week my girlfriend invited me to a demonstration by the 45th Headmaster of the Ikenobo Ikebana School, Sen’ei Ikenobo.   He was in Seattle to help celebrate the local Ikenobo Lake Washington’s 10th anniversary.  This was a wonderful experience and …

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The Japanese Aesthetic of Wabi Sabi

In the design world, I have heard many Westerners talk about the Japanese wabi-sabi (侘 寂) aesthetic. It’s difficult to describe many traditional Asian terms in English because not only is there no direct equivalent word, the Asian definition itself is very vague.  Many times, Westerners are confused as to why Asians can’t explain something …

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