Things to do in quarantine: Building a miniature Akihabara

Building miniature Akihabara in your home

written by: Erika | source: TimeOut Tokyo

Although things are starting to get better here in Italy, we continue our section on things to do in quarantine, and today we share with you how to build a mini Akihabara.

Akihabara Akihabara

Akihabara is one of the favorite destinations for all otaku and fans of Japan, a historic district dedicated precisely to everything that is manga, anime, and video games. In this delicate moment, we are not yet allowed to travel. However, there is no need to take the plane to get to know new places and visit the ones we have already seen. In fact today we share with you the opportunity to recreate miniature Akihabara directly from your home!

In Akihabara, there are not only many places dedicated to that world that we would call nerd, but there are also many clubs and shops dedicated to various hobbies. One of them is the Mansei Club, a corner offering a variety of fun games, origami instructions, and paper models all for free.

If you're still stuck at home and don't know what to do, you can now recreate the iconic Tokyo neighborhood with these detailed paper models. In fact, the streets of Akihabara are all reported in these detailed scale reproductions. Creating this model is very simple, just follow the instructions listed in these PDFs available for free for download. In fact, these reproductions perfectly show the buildings of Akihabara and also where these buildings must be positioned. Although the instructions are in Japanese, it is actually very simple to follow them also thanks to the various illustrations.

Akihabara Akihabara

However, if building an entire neighborhood seems too complicated for you, don't worry there are many other possibilities. In fact, Niku no Mansei offers more than 50 paper models that you can download for free. With a design that varies from reproductions of famous Samurai up to reproductions of the most famous Japanese foods. In short, here we find the opportunity to satisfy every taste and every type of hobby! You just have to choose your model, download it, and get to work! We are curious to see the results!


Cose da fare in quarantena: Learn Japanese cuisine

Learn Japanese cooking with 5 YouTubers

written by: Erika | source: TokyoWeekender

We continue our column on things to do in quarantine and today we talk to you how to learn Japanese cuisine with the help of 5 YouTubers.

cucina giapponese

In these lockdown days, we are all trying our hand at new recipes and experimenting with new combinations of flavors. Here are 5 YouTubers to follow in order to learn Japanese cuisine and try out some dishes at home!

Tasty Japan

They are our favorites. A lot of simple recipes to follow, with all the ingredients easily recoverable in any part of the world you live in. From desserts to first courses, from quiches to second courses. Authentic and fun, Tasty Japan engages the viewer with educational videos and many guests. Almost all the videos have English subtitles and all the presenters are very funny and full of energy, making even the most complicated dishes easy to do. Videos that fall into the #foodporn category par excellence, make sure you're on a full stomach when you try to cook these delights.

Ochikeron

Mother of two, the protagonist of the channel Ochikeron creates dishes to allow the whole family to cook together. In fact, the simplest dishes on the channel can be cooked together with the little ones too. However, more complicated dishes that require more time and energy are available for all those fearless enough to try all these new recipes. All this makes this channel a unique world for all those kitchen projects to be created together. Furthermore, if you are fed up with the usual dinners, this is the right place to find new ideas.

Japanese Cooking 101

With a huge selection of videos, Japanese Cooking 101 not only offers dishes easy to make, but more complicated processes can also be found. From Karaage to fried rice with chanko nabe, a perfect hot-pot style dish for the winter, this youtube channel is a real catalog of Japanese cuisine. In fact, we can find a lot of recipes to experiment and each video shows a complete list of ingredients together with instructions on how to create the dish. Although other channels have some entertainment, Japanese Cooking 101 has a more didactic and dry approach, but very easy to follow.

Diaries of a Master Sushi Chef

If, however, like many Westerners you love sushi too, Hiroyuki Terada's channel is the one for you! The diaries of this master sushi chef will teach you how to juggle knives, fillets, and much more. In fact, on this channel, you will find methods to create delicious sushi but also dishes such as chicken teriyaki and many other izakaya-style delights. With collaborations of the caliber also of Chef Ramsey, this is the channel for all those who want to seriously try their hand at learning the art of sushi.

Aki’s Japanese Recipes for Vegans

Vegan and vegetarian restaurants are difficult to find in Tokyo, this has led to the creation of various YouTube channels including that of Aki. In fact, on this channel, you can find the best recipes for all those who love unconventional cuisine. A real sensorial experience in HD for an accessible channel and with the instructions written in Japanese and English. In addition, Aki, the protagonist of the channel, always takes the time to better explain his recipes and ensure that the dishes always look good.


Things to do in Quarantine: the best podcasts about Japan

The best Podcast about Japan

written by: Erika | source: TimeOut Tokyo

Let's continue our feature on things to do in quarantine and today we talk to you about some podcasts dedicated to Japan.

Giappone

The COVID-19 emergency has practically made it impossible to plan trips for at least another year. However, for all fans of Japanese culture, today we share with you an easy and fun way to learn more about this topic. In fact, there are several podcasts that can fill this void by helping you discover Japan's many facets. In fact, through these audios, it will be possible to discover the many hidden aspects and facets of the Rising Sun without having to face crowded flights and trains.

For example, are you aware of why spider lily flowers are located near Japanese cemeteries and rice fields? Do you know who the pioneering women of the Rising Sun were? These podcasts will not only delve into the food, history, and legends of this country but will also answer questions you didn't even know you had. So, in this moment where we cannot go out and travel, let these podcasts take you on a few minutes journey through Japan.

Japan Eats - Learn about Japanese cuisine

Podcast giappone

Japan Eats is a podcast of a historic Brooklyn-based radio focused on food. Presented by Akiko Katayama, Japanese cuisine journalist and director of the New York Japanese Culinary Academy. Here we talk about everything from the various trends of Japanese cuisine, to drinks and much more. In one of the recent episodes, Akiko focused even on how to live a vegetarian life in Japan, the art of the Yakitori and more. The podcast already has more than 180 episodes with a new one every week.

Uncanny Japan - All Japanese legends in one podcast

Podcast giappone

Theresa Matsuura, an American author who has lived half her life in a fishing village in Japan, presents Uncanny Japan. In this podcast, Matsuura talks about those parts of Japanese culture that are often invisible or inaccessible to anyone who does not speak the language. At the same time, it offers an insight into local customs, legends, folklore and superstitions of the rising sun. Ready to immerse yourself in the imaginative and sometimes even spooky Japanese fairy tales?

History of Japan - Learn Japanese history

Podcast

Isaac Meyer, a teacher with a PhD specializing in modern Japan, leaves nothing hidden in this historical podcast. From ancient to modern Japan, passing through poets, political scandals, economic booms, samurai, geishas and much more. Indeed, this podcast is an in-depth look through the history of the rising sun in each episode. Informative but also fascinating to hear, History of Japan has more than 300 episodes that can keep you company in this lockdown period.

Voices in Japan - Life in Japan

Podcast

Ben and Burke, expats in Japan who live in Hokkaido, share their life experience in the land of the Rising Sun. The podcast Voices in Japan talks about their life from work to studying the Japanese language, and also learning the customs of the nation and much more. The weekly episodes include general topics related to living in Japan such as a look at the Japanese health system. In addition, the talk also revolves around the love of technology, Sumo and the potential benefits of the Japanese diet. Whether you live in Japan or just want to hear more about life experiences, this podcast is ready for you.

Sake on Air - All about the world of Sake

Podcast giappone

For all fans of Sake and shochu, Sake on Air is the podcast made for you. The experts of this famous Japanese drink share their knowledge in each episode, inviting us to this virtual dinner. In fact, in each episode, we find a different topic such as new trends in manufacturing, stories from producers but not just this. We can also learn about the various flavors, the difference between the rice used and how to combine the various flavors of Sake with food. So, if you are also curious, arm yourself with a glass of wine or your favorite sake and listen to this podcast!

 


Things to do in Quarantine: create an edible Zen garden

Creating an edible Zen garden

written by: Erika

The world is still in lockdown and in the absence of things to do we can give ourselves crazy joy in the kitchen, that's why today we share a new idea with you, create an edible zen garden!

giardino zen giardino zen

In Japan there are mixes made specifically to share this experience with the whole family, even together with the little ones. Instead, today we offer you a variant to be created directly at your home with ingredients easily available in any supermarket.

In every self-respecting Zen garden we find rocks, sand or gravel, greenery and some stones to be able to cross it without disturbing its tranquility. By following our instructions, you can recreate exactly this atmosphere.

Step 1: The Rocks

As you well know, a fundamental ornament of the Zen garden are these huge stones present inside. In our recipe, we are going to create stones with simple brownies.

Brownies - Ingredients

  • Dark chocolate 265 g
  • Eggs (approx. 4) 200 g
  • Whole peeled hazelnuts 175 g
  • Room temperature butter 135 g
  • 00 flour 135 g
  • Sugar 255 g
  • Pinch of salt

Brownies are easy to make and won't take too long, so start chopping the chocolate coarsely and melt it in a water bath. When it is almost melted, add the soft butter cut into small pieces.
Stir thoroughly until everything melts in a water bath and then remove it from the heat. Then let it cool, stirring it occasionally.

While you wait for the chocolate to cool, take the hazelnuts and let them toast in a preheated oven at 180° for about 7/8 minutes. Once out of the oven, let them cool in order not to burn you, then chop them coarsely and keep them aside.

giardino zen brownie

Let's move on to the next step, put the eggs in a bowl and begin to beat them and then add the sugar. It is not necessary to whip the mixture, but continue to beat only until the sugar is well dissolved. At this point, add a pinch of salt and let it dissolve too. Still with the whips in action, slowly add the chocolate and butter mixture that will have cooled down by now.

As soon as everything is mixed, stop whipping. Take a narrow mesh strainer and sift through the flour. Then, mix everything with a spatula until the flour is absorbed uniformly. Then take the chopped hazelnuts and mix everything.

After having greased and lined a baking sheet, pour the dough inside by leveling it with a spatula so that it is evenly distributed. Bake in a static and preheated oven at 180° for 25 minutes, then take out of the oven and leave to cool. At this point, with a knife, you can create the rock-shaped pieces for your zen garden!

Step 2: The gravel

Another fundamental element for a Zen garden is gravel, a symbol of tranquility and purity. But let's see our suggestions to create this element!

Almond crumble - Ingredients

  • flour 0 60g
  • Finely chopped almonds 60 g
  • Brown sugar 60 g 
  • Butter 50 g
  • Half vanilla bean
  • Icing sugar

With the crumble, we are going to create most of our zen garden so we start by preheating the oven to 180°. As the oven heats up, we take the almonds and start peeling them. Then, we take a baking sheet and place it on the baking tin.

Next, we toast the almonds for 7/8 minutes inside the oven, then let them cool and finely chop them with a knife. Afterward, we take the 0 flour and mix the chopped almonds inside with the brown sugar. When we have an amalgamated mixture, we take the butter and cut it into cubes and then add it inside the same mixture together with the vanilla seeds.

crumble

Work the whole mixture with your fingertips until a grainy mixture is obtained. Alternatively, it is also possible to prepare all this with a mixer but the crumbs that we are going to get will be coarser.

At this point, you should have obtained a mixture that is somewhat reminiscent of shortcrust pastry. Leave it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, then spread it on the oven paper and then bake it for about 15 minutes at 180° in a preheated oven. Once the cooking is complete, let it cool and then crumble it inside your dish ready for presentation. Cover everything with icing sugar to recreate the effect of the white gravel typical of Zen gardens.

Step 3: Green

Japan is one of the greenest lands and all major Japanese cities are full of large parks. Of course, even in our edible zen garden you can't miss a green area.

Matcha Chiffon Cake - Ingredients

  • Granulated sugar 300 g
  • 00 flour 280 g
  • Matcha green tea powder 20 g
  • 1 sachet of baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 sachet of cream of tartar
  • Sunflower oil 130 m
  • Hot water 180 ml
  • 1 teaspoon of natural vanilla extract

This is the most difficult part of our recipe, but don't be afraid, if you follow the instructions step by step you will be able to complete this part too. Let's start by preheating the static oven to 150° and preparing an aluminum cake mold. Make sure this mold is tall enough as our chiffon cake will rise a lot.

Separate the yolks from the egg whites and in a clean bowl add the egg whites with the cream of tartar, whipping the mixture until you get firm crests.

giardino zen chiffon cake matcha giardino zen

In another bowl sift the green tea, the flour, the baking powder, salt and sugar and with a metal whisk by hand make sure that everything mixes well. In a separate bowl, combine the water, oil and vanilla extract. Once you have everything well mixed, pour the yolks and the mixture with the water and oil into the bowl with the flour and green tea.

Mix everything with the metal whisk by hand until a uniform mixture is obtained. Then transfer 1/4 of the whipped egg whites into your dough and mix with a spatula to lighten all the contents. Whipped egg whites should always be mixed with a movement that starts from the bottom so that they do not lose the whipping. Next, incorporate the rest of the egg whites into three other additions.

giardino zen torta té matcha giardino zen

When you have the mixture well amalgamated, pour the mixture into the pan that should not be buttered or floured. Put everything in a preheated oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes and when cooked, remove the pan and turn it immediately upside down.

giardino zen matcha giardino zen

Let it cool slightly and then remove the cake from the pan. Once ready, you can cut thin slices to decorate your Zen garden.

Step 4: The Pathway

In some Zen gardens, we also find flat stones that allow us to cross the garden leaving it undisturbed. Here is how we will create them.

Mini Meringues - Ingredients

  • Egg whites (about 3 medium eggs) at room temperature 100 g
  • Icing sugar 220 g
  • Lemon juice just enough

The trick in preparing the meringues is all in the eggs, in fact, the trick is to have fresh eggs and at room temperature. Then separate the yolks from the whites, pouring them into a large enough bowl. In this case, we won't use the yolks, but do not waste them and keep them aside, you will surely find a way to use them in the kitchen.

Make sure there are no residual yolks inside the bowl otherwise they will not mount. Then take the electric whips and operate them at medium speed. Alternatively, you can also carry out this process inside a planetary mixer, if available. While you are whipping the eggs, gradually pour the sugar into the bowl together with a few drops of lemon juice.

To create perfect meringues, the egg whites will have to be whipped very firmly and to understand if you are doing everything correctly there are two tests. The first is the visual one, in fact, the mixture must always be shiny and frothy. You can do the second test with the whips. In fact, detaching the latter you should notice a tuft of egg white with the tip. Everything must be similar to a sort of frothy and shiny cloud.

giardino zen meringhe

Prepare a baking tray with a baking sheet and then transfer all the mixture into a sac-à-poche with a round hole nozzle. Form small disks from 2 to 4 cm in diameter (this depends on the size of your final zen garden) well spaced apart. Then put them in the static oven preheated to 75° for about 2 hours.

Your meringues will have to dry slowly in the oven and as soon as they are completely dry, take the pan out of the oven and let it cool completely before removing it from the pan.

Step 5: Serving the Zen Garden

Now you can let your imagination run wild and build your edible zen garden according to your preferences! In case you want some ideas, below you will find some reference images. If you decide to try this recipe, send us your photos in the comments below or on our social pages, we are curious to see your creations!

Sources: pandispagna.net, giallozafferano.it, Pinterest, Wikipedia


Things to do during Quarantine: Watching the Kabuki Theater

Kabuki theater classics available for free online

written by: Erika | Source: SoraNews24

The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown continue all over the world, but today we share with you the classics of Kabuki theater available online to spend time in quarantine.

Kabuki

The Origins

For those who do not know what we are talking about, the term kabuki (歌舞伎) indicates a type of theatrical representation that arose in Japan at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
The origins of this theatrical form are traced back to 1603 and refer to dances performed, on the banks of the Kamo river in Kyōto. The word Kabuki is made up of three ideograms: 歌 ka (song), 舞 bu (dance), 伎 ki (ability). The ideograms chosen to form the name are the phonetic equivalent of the word kabuki, derived from the verb kabuku ("to be out of the ordinary"). This indicated the appearance and clothing in vogue at the time of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and characteristic of the so-called kabukimono.

Originally, the Kabuki theater was interpreted only by women, however, following the prohibition on grounds of morals, it was passed to a male only interpretation also for the female parts. The actors specialized in female roles are called onnagata. This theatrical tradition enchanted the emerging bourgeois class of the city and consequently became very popular. The novelty of these works consisted in the representation of facts, usually dramatic, that really happened. In fact, often very little time passed between the event and the performance, constituting a real means of mass communication.

The structure

The structure of Kabuki is very different from the scheme of western theater and the works never deal with general issues, existential questions or philosophical reflections. So there are no Shakespearean monologues or considerations of the protagonists on political issues. With a very fragile story and characters, the works are often written by several hands.

Also for this type of theatrical form, the principle of not assigning preponderance to verbal communication, in opposition to western culture, applies. In fact, for a long time, it was hard for us westerners to be able to read difficult and subtle situations. The events expressed through the emotions of the individual characters always prevail over moral considerations, creating a strong emotional tension.

5 hours of Kabuki theater online

Kabuki

In contrast to the Noh and Bunraku theater, the Kabuki theater has worldwide resonance especially for the traditional and exaggerated facial makeup together with the dramatic costumes. Most of these performances take place in important places, so to attend a Kabuki opera you have to be in the right place, at the right time and an economic possibility at your disposal. In fact, some performances such a niche that they can only run for one time. Furthermore, if we add the closure of the theaters we can understand how the problems arise for this type of art.

After the cancellation of Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees), a performance scheduled for March 3, Japan's National Theater took the opportunity to create something even more special. In fact, the performance with no audience will be published on the theater's Youtube channel. Divided into three videos, the theatrical performance is available for viewing until April 30 at 15:00 JST.

Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura

Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura has five acts and would usually take two days to perform in its entirety. As such, these videos portray the story in separate stages. Performance A covers the parts "Torii Mae", "Tokaiya" and "Daimotsu-Ura" of the work, the performance B includes the portions "Kokingo Uchijinishi", "Shiinoki" and " Sushiya ". Also, performance C manages the "Michiyuki Hatsune Tabi" and "Kawatsura Hogen Yakata" for a total of five hours of entertainment.

Kabuki

Although this is one of the most famous ancient epic operas, Kabuki theater can also be enjoyed with limited or absent Japanese language skills. Indeed, costumes, performances, and atmospheric music help to provide a broad context. In addition, Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura is one of the three most famous Kabuki shows, so the material for finding your way through the story is also available to foreigners.

To watch all the performances, check out Japan's National Theater YouTube channel.


Tokyo 2020, everything you need to know about the Olympics

The new year has finally arrived and there are only a few months to go before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Tokyo 2020 Tokyo 2020

The Olympics are always a time when the whole world comes together. It is the moment when we all become experts in fencing, discus throwing and weight throwing. In the end, the whole world is like a small town, but the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are shaping up to be a breathtaking show.

All the details on Tokyo 2020

Less than a year after opening, the first official news and programs begin to come out. The opening ceremony will be held on July 24, 2020, and the closing ceremony on August 9, while the Paralympics will take place from August 25 to September 6 of the same year. You can find a complete program of all competitions on the official website.

Tokyo 2020 Olimpiadi 2020

Where the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will take place

For this occasion, Tokyo has prepared more than 40 places and buildings around the city. The last summer games hosted in this city date back to 1964, the first Olympics in Asia. However, the capital of the rising sun has twice hosted the winter Olympics, in 1972 and 1998.

The logo

Throughout history, the checkered pattern has become very popular in several countries and for various reasons. In Japan, this formally became known as "ichimatsu moyo" in the Edo period (1603-1867). This checkered design in the traditional Japanese colour of indigo blue expresses a refined elegance and sophistication that exemplifies Japan.

Made of three varieties of rectangular shapes, the design represents different countries, cultures and ways of thinking. It incorporates the message of "unity in diversity". It also expresses that the Olympic and Paralympic Games seek to promote diversity as a platform for connecting the world.

Olimpiadi tokyo Tokyo 2020

Where to find tickets for Tokyo 2020

At the moment, unfortunately, and as expected, the tickets are all sold out. However, a new wave of tickets will be available in the spring.

The new sports

As it often happens with every Olympiad, there are also new competing specialities for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Despite missing the London and Rio edition, Baseball and Softball officially entered the competition thanks to the strong popularity in Japan. Five nations will compete with the hosts for the gold medal on the diamond field.

Tokyo 2020 Tokyo 2020

Together with these, we can also find Karate, climbing, surfing and skateboarding. In the same wave, basketball adds three-on-three tournaments for eight nations. Rugy seven will not be less, a variant involving only 7 players per side. In addition, golf returns after its debut in Rio.

The medals

Not to be overlooked are the medals that athletes will win during these 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. In fact, for this occasion, Tokyo has created a special project to make these Olympics a little greener. This special project, the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project, will have the task of collecting more than 80,000 tons of mobile phones and small electronic devices to be recycled throughout Japan. These will then serve to create the wonderful medals of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Games.

Olimpiadi

Tokyo 2020 medaglie

The project's website said over 6 million mobile phones from a two-year-long national donation were used.

Sport and technology together for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

The 2020 Summer Olympics are already shaping up to be spectacular, but the surprises don't end here. Japan is famous for being at the forefront of research and development in various technological fields. In fact, during the opening ceremony, Sky Canvas, with the help of the research company ALE, will illuminate the night sky. The two companies will launch "the ingredients for a shooting star" into the atmosphere using a small satellite device.
In addition, we know that fireworks are very important in Japan and for this occasion, the city plans to create its own controlled meteor shower.

Tokyo 2020 torch

But curiosities continue. Inside the Olympic village, humanoid robots will be available to provide information on nearby accommodation and attractions. However, Japan is not satisfied yet and wants to do things big. In fact, a technology that will allow holographic updates of events inside the stadium is also being developed.

Tokyo 2020 transportation

In terms of transport, Tokyo is known to be one of the most advanced and connected cities in the world. For these 2020 Olympics there will be special measures in place. In fact, to go to your hotel, you can use only one magnetic card for trains, hotel room and taxi without a driver. That's right, a driverless taxi whose road tests are already underway in Tokyo.

But the news regarding transportation in Tokyo 2020 does not end here. In fact, the city will once again introduce the fastest train in the world. Although it will not operate until 2027, Maglev will make its debut at the Tokyo Olympics. This train has broken all ground speed records and is capable of reaching speeds of around 600 km/h.
These futuristic trains operate thanks to the principle of magnetic levitation, allowing the trains to remain suspended on the tracks. It is the absence of friction that allows trains to reach these speeds, while continuing to comply with strict Japanese safety standards. In short, a taste of that science fiction future that until now we have only seen in movies.

Shinkansen N700s Supreme

During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics the new Shinkansen N700S series, also called Shinkansen Supreme, will debut.
Completely redesigned in a more intelligent and silent mode, this train will operate on the Tokaido Shinkansen line. Being 11 tons lighter than the previous generation, it will consume less energy and will run between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka stations.

Shinkansen N700s supreme Tokyo 2020

The new station of the Yamanote line

In honor of this event, the Yamanote line will also inaugurate a new station: Takanawa Gateway Station. Located between Shinagawa and Tamachi stations, the new one will offer access to Haneda Airport Monorail and the JR Keihin-Tohoku line. Designed in the eki naka style, the Takagawa Gateway station will rise on 4 floors with a public area that will host a great shield for watching the 2020 Olympic Games.

Tokyo 2020 Takagawa Gateway

We are very much looking forward to these Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and you?

Sources: olympic.org, mainichi.jpkyodonews.nettimelapsetokyo.com, japan-forward.com


2020, the year of the Rat

We are in 2020 and the time of the year of the rat has officially struck. Have you ever wondered why in Japan, at the stroke of each new year, the name of an animal is announced? For example "the year of the ram" or "the year of the ox" and so on?

Topo Topo

photo credits: amazon.com , https://tokyo5.files.wordpress.com

This custom originates from the Chinese zodiac, which unlike our tradition, is not based on the month of birth, but on the year! Therefore, each year corresponds to one of the 12 animals of the horoscope: rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse, ram, monkey, bird, dog and boar.

Topo

photo credits: pinterest.it

Astrology has always fascinated everyone, even the most scepticals. 2020 is the year of the Rat, the first of the 12 signs, characterized by positivity and energy. In fact, if its influence will be that promised, this new year should see the evolution or start of new projects, promising juicy fruits for those who work hard.
In addition, famous astrologers such as Jessica Adams and Cathryn Moe say that 366 days await us in which "the union will be a strength". In this new year, nobody should face big challenges alone but join together to achieve a goal. Consequently, "sharing of power" will be one of the keywords.

anno del topo

photo credits: pinterest.it

We could witness an evolutionary process on a global scale, in which people could come to understand each other and collaborate for the collective good. This would have great positive social consequences.

The rat represents that part of the darker psyche where the true "I" expresses itself. The masks that have surrounded us so far will fall. This would lead to greater compassion and understanding even towards our own Planet (just think of the fight for climate change).

New energy within us will release all its power. And you? Are you ready to face this revolution given by the year of the rat?


Akira Isogawa: Japanese Australian legend

Japan is famous and attractive not only to Italy’s eyes but also worldwide and Akira Isogawa’s work is an example. With the opening of Japan to the world, Japanese people have travelled and moved to different countries. Akira Isogawa is now Australia’s most famous Japanese resident.

Akira Isogawa Akira Isogawa

Who is Akira Isogawa

Born in Kyoto, Japan in 1964, he emigrated to Australia in 1986 and he is now one of the most famous Fashion Designer in the land down under. He studied fashion at the East Sydney Technical College drawing inspiration from contemporary Japanese design. By the late 1990s, he was known internationally together with his womenswear label Akira. His clothes appear under his own label and are sold in Australia and New Zealand, and 10 other countries. As of now, he is one of the few Australian designers to exhibit and sell his clothing in Paris.

Akira Isogawa

The Australian Legend

In 2005, caught by surprise, he became an “Australian Legend” and he was invited to appear on a commemorative postage stamp. This honor is just one of the many awards received by Isogawa for his achievements in over 25 years of career

He told The Japan times “To be honest, I had no idea that Australia Post was so progressive and innovative in their marketing,” he says, laughing. “I thought you had to be dead to appear on a postage stamp, let alone working actively in your field. I still have so much yet to do!”

Akira Isogawa Akira Isogawa

Life in Australia

Australia and its fashion scene have embraced Akira Isogawa as one of their own. He feels very closed to his adoptive home, also thanks to a maternal cousin living in the New South Wales town of Mittagong.
The government launched a Working Holiday visa program that gave Isogawa the chance to realize his ambitions of studying and working in fashion.

Arrived in Australia in the mid-80s and having some difficulties in the first weeks of his stay, things got better after the city’s groundbreaking RAT (Recreational Arts Team) dance parties were born. Here Isogawa could connect with like-minded people and let his talent flourish.
After enrolling in a fashion course at the East Sydney Technical College, he opened his first shop using all his savings.

“Sydney is my base,” Isogawa says. “Growing up in Kyoto, I always felt as if I belonged elsewhere. I don’t think I can behave ‘typically’ Japanese and follow societal rules. I understand how such rules are necessary and help Japan to function as efficiently as it does. But I’m a rule breaker, and that’s permitted here in Australia. It’s a real relief.”

However, everyone always misses the homeland. Akira Isogawa too admits a nostalgic longing for the tranquil Kyoto of his childhood. He refers to the Japanese art of “reading the air,” where things are understood, but not necessarily said.

 Akira

The 1990s

However, it’s in the 90s that Isogawa’s work and his label Akira exploded and was known all over the world. After his debut show during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia in 1996, this now became a regular outlet for his work, but not only. In fact, these runways were just the beginning and he landed a spot in Paris fashion shows. Here he caught Joan Burstein’s eye, the international fashion buyer who helped launch names such as Alexander McQueen and John Galliano in the U.K.

Another pivotal moment was Naomi Campbell wearing Akira’s kimono-inspired dress on the cover of Vogue Australia in 1997.

“That cover was a turning point in my career; it can’t be understated. It was amazing,” reminisces Isogawa. “I’m also very grateful to the media, everyone who supported me. But at the same time, it was so stressful. I couldn’t handle everything and ended up with a receptionist, among 25 other full-time staff.”

Akira Isogawa

After the Fashion Madness

In 2004, he met with CEO of Australian Wool Innovation and Isogawa became the ambassador for Australian Wool. The institute was looking for a designer who could update wool’s image so in 2005, Akira Isogawa created a new kind of fabric. A featherweight, fine wool gauze inspired by silk georgette.

“I wanted (the textile) to be light. I wanted wool to be reinterpreted as transeasonal,” he says. “The wool gauze is quite fragile, beautifully soft and 100 percent Australian merino. I still have it in stock.”

Akira Isogawa Today

Now that life is a little bit calmer, Isogawa is free to explore new visions and different outlets for his work. In fact, we can see him collaborating on artistic projects, such as costume design for the Sydney Dance Company.

The Akira womenswear brand is famous for mixing elements of East and West in both terms of textiles, techniques and design. The freedom afforded to Akira’s work and life as an Australian immigrant helped him develop his own personal style.
As a firm believer in slow and sustainable fashion, Akira Isogawa’s garments transcend time, oblivious to trends, and they are to be worn again and again.

Source: japantimes.co.jp
Photos: japantimes.co.jp