[identity profile] wongkk.livejournal.com
A few days ago, [livejournal.com profile] bugackt made some beautiful screencaps from the Episode 0 MV.  These reminded me very strongly of some of the imagery in classic Japanese death poems. 

Death poems?  Since about 1200, you couldn't claim literary credibiity as a teacher or poet if you didn't hand down a decent death poem as your days drew to a close. Consequently, some great figures wrote their "death" poem years in advance! 

Other people were pestered by their disciples for a death poem even as they battled with a last illness; a few strong and perverse characters made a point of refusing to write one, entirely to demonstrate that they were still in control, death or no!

The original poems - nearly always short (tanka, haiku) - depend heavily on understanding iconic allusions, which are really only of currency in Japan and in the Buddhist tradition (though they are perfectly explicable).  One of the best collections of Japanese death poetry contains very detailed and revealing explanations (from the translator) of the significance of the images chosen, but, as explanations inevitably obstruct the poetry, I've preferred to make paraphrases of these poems which exhibit the meaning of the poem in reframed, more universal terms.  I hope!

Here's the first one, using a screenshot from Episode 0:

[identity profile] karadin.livejournal.com
Suggested by Col.wongkk Ikebana is a Japanese style of flower arrangement. More than simply putting flowers in a container, ikebana is a disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together, Ikebana emphasizes other areas of the plant rather than blooms, such as stems and leaves, drawing emphasis toward shape, line, form.

Another aspect present in ikebana is its employment of minimalism. The structure of a Japanese flower arrangement is based on a scalene triangle delineated by three main points, usually twigs, considered in some schools to symbolize heaven, earth, and man and in others sun, moon, and earth.

[identity profile] karadin.livejournal.com
First in our series of How-To-Tutorials on traditional Japanese crafting! See if this is something you'd like to try for our Summer Challenge. For more info hit challenge tag.

AMAZING Modern paper cutting.
[identity profile] karadin.livejournal.com

From every branch
flowers drift and mingle down
Saying 'Now'
the spring deepens
until the paths
she takes in leaving
cannot be seen

Izumi Shikubu
[identity profile] mirien.livejournal.com
Squeaking in under the wire a bit with this one! I'm reposting here most of what I posted in my LJ relating to this, so some of the explantion and links may seem a bit obvious, but bear with me!

The shape of the pendant is based on a tsuba, which the free dictionary describes as, "artistically the most noteworthy part of a Japanese battle sword. The tsuba protected the hand and corresponded to the European sword guard. It was usually a round or oval plate with narrow openings in the center. Beginning in the 13th century tsubas were decorated with carved openwork and inlay." In addition, wikipedia has an entry, should you wish to know more, scroll down for the tsuba part, although the whole thing is worth a thorough read.

So, now you know what a tsuba is (if you didn't already!), here's the one I based my design on. Pretty, ne? That particular one is by "Tadamasa", which is where the masterpiece bit comes in. This site lists master tsuba makers and says, " It's generally believed that "Tadamasa", the beginner of Akasaka-Tsuba, was an tsuba craftsman for Kyo-Zukashi in Kyoto. He came to Akasaka in Edo and started making tsuba there. The feature of Akasaka-Tsuba is round shape, round rim openworked.".

So, that's the masterpiece part. The Gackt part comes from this kimono design , scroll down til you see Ketsumyaku and click, from the GacktxNemuri Kimono Project, which is in collaboration with the Nemuri Project and which features yukata and kimono with designs supervised and produced by Gackt. Ketsumyaku is translated as "blood vessel" or even "blood ties" (translation credit given in my LJ post) and meaning in this case, veins.

Gackt is also involved here too as the male part of the design, the tsuba being sometimes seen as the 'female' part of the sword, the guarding, protective part. I wanted to show Gackt as samurai in this design, the warrior poet and fierce defender of Japan, the yang to the yin of the tsuba, aggressively male and yet with the intent to protect, seen in Gackt's portrayal of Uesugi Kenshin and Nemuri Kyoshiro. Yes, I realise that sounds arty and pretentious, but it isn't meant to be, it was truly what inspired me.

So, having said all that, here is my offering based on all of the above. The pendant is silver, with the Ketsumyaku inspired part of the design given a fine layer of 18ct gold to make it more fully the "bright positive masculine principle" of yang against the background of the softer, recessed yin of the tsuba design.

I gave the whole pendant, which is 4cm in diameter, an oxidised patina to give it the appearance of age and allowed some of the marks of making to remain, to make it appear to have been dug up or unearthed from some family's precious store of treasures. I'm a romantic like that.

Oh and finally, the stone is a four ray diopside. I know Gackt gives onyx bracelets to those he cares about but I didn't have an onyx cab of the right size for this design, however, the diopside captures the colour of onyx and it also makes the pendant look a bit like a star among clouds and lightning, a reflection of the strong influence of nature on the outlook and mindset of a lot of Japanese art.


More piccies under here )

Phew, time to go have some tea and keel over!

And just to add, after a gentle prompting by our general, should you feel the burning desire to own this, it's up for sale, see the end of the post in my LJ here. Similarly, I can design one for you based on your own ideas and wishes, just ask me!
[identity profile] karadin.livejournal.com
Artist Karadin
media collage of japanese chiyogami and textured paper and multi-color print
text in photoshop
copyright 2010 all rights reserved
warnings none
crit welcome
please do not repost (not entered into prize drawing)

This work is based on the art of oishi-e, 2-D images using chiyogami paper and linework approximating woodblock prints.
Samurai folding origami which comes to life, the bird is the red-crested crane native to Japan, symbolizing good fortune and longevity.

(click for large)

postcards and prints without watermarks available
[identity profile] karadin.livejournal.com

I stand as though
only I am existing,
in heaven and earth -
in this solitude,
Kannon, you are smiling?
Coming stealthily,
Who is it hitting the temple bell
It is late at night
and time for even the Buddha
to go into dreaming.

Yaichi Aizu

*Kannon-the bodhisattava of compassion, at times depicted as a woman, Guanshi Yin in Chinese which means 'Observing the Cries of The World'
[identity profile] karadin.livejournal.com

Into the full moon
Thrust a handle, and it will
Form a superb fan.

[identity profile] karadin.livejournal.com

Wait on, never forsake your hope,
For when the plum-tree is in flower
Even the unpromised, the unexpected, will come to you.

(Heian Era Japanese Poem)
[identity profile] karadin.livejournal.com
The image “http://pics.livejournal.com/karadin/pic/0005ygqh” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

What color is
this blowing autumn wind
that it can stain my body
with its touch?

Izumi Shikibu
[identity profile] wongkk.livejournal.com

Before the excitement of Gackt's appearance at the joetsu re-enactment fades, I thought that I would write something about the position of uesugi kenshin as a warlord in 16th C Japan. This article is necessarily a generalized summary of something more complex so please excuse that;  I have summarized on the basis that a little knowledge is better than none.

What is Gackt doing in this picture? 



Find out under here! )


[identity profile] wongkk.livejournal.com

The speculation about You’s appearance in costume at Joetsu beside his lord Gackt-Kenshin reminded me of this picture of Uesugi Kenshin and his page (click for large):


The picture is courtesy of Compendium Publishing and is from a book by Mitsuo Kure in which he reconstructs some 45 samurai costumes, both male and female, with the likely arms, armour and other accoutrements, from the mid-Heian (c. 1000) period to the 19thC shinsengumi.  In this post, I’ve used illustrations from Dr Kure’s book to give an outline of the costume and armour which Gackt wears in his role as the 16thC warlord Uesugi Kenshin.



Click here for more pictures and info )

[identity profile] karadin.livejournal.com

Not speaking of the way,
Not thinking of what comes after,
Not questioning name or fame,
Here, loving love,
You and I look at each other.

Yosano Akiko
[identity profile] karadin.livejournal.com
The image “http://pics.livejournal.com/karadin/pic/0006f0bk” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

I thought to pick
the flower of forgetting
but I found it
already growing in his heart

Ono no Komachi
[identity profile] wongkk.livejournal.com
This is the third of a short series on the samurai sword and things associated with it;  I'm reminded to post it by Gackt's recent TV appearance in his nemuri-style yukata!

     This time I'm covering:
      - sword fittings (with some pictures)
      - the swordsmith parent
      - the written secret

    The image on the left is courtesy of
    Arena 37 magazine December 2009 edition


Click here to read and see more )

[identity profile] wongkk.livejournal.com

The samurai sword 2


  This is the second in a short series on the  
  samurai sword and addresses three specific 
  aspects on which I’ve been asked questions:
  - quality 
  - value
  - use

  The image of Gackt is courtesy of Vicious Dec 2000



Click here to read more )

[identity profile] wongkk.livejournal.com

The samurai sword 1

With the nemuri role about to assume greater prominence and with Gackt no doubt honing his swordsmanship, I thought that I would make a couple of posts for Gackt Army about the samurai sword. 

I am happy to do this because, apart from the RnRII live, the highlight of my trip to Japan last year was a visit to the shinjuku sword museum (despite stiff competition from cherry blossom, castles, temples, gardens and sake!) so I have plenty of reference material. 

The samurai sword is a complex and detailed subject, so please excuse some generalizations and omissions which I have made in the interest of keeping things simple.


Click here for how to make a samurai sword )


[identity profile] wongkk.livejournal.com
Prompted by [livejournal.com profile] karadin’s word and image using an old postcard as a base, I photographed a 1901 Japanese woodblock calendar that I have and thought that, each month, I would choose a poem to match the picture and invite Gackt to join in too! Here is my trial piece, the month of March and with a kimono theme in honour of the current GA winter challenge.

(click on the image for a larger picture)

About ariwara (includes minor nudity) )
[identity profile] karadin.livejournal.com

Truly, this is where
Travelers who go or come
Over parting ways--

Friends or strangers--all must meet:
The gate of "Meeting Hill."

[identity profile] karadin.livejournal.com

If you were a jewel
I would wrap you round my wrist
If you were a robe
I would never take you off
Lord whom I long for so much,
last night I saw you in my dream



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