Category Archives: Japan Travelogues

Japan: Tradition. Innovation. @ Canadian Museum of Civilization, May 20th, 2011

Japan: Tradition. Innovation.
May-October 2011. Opens May 20th, 2011.
Canadian Museum of Civilization
100 Laurier Street
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0M8
(Just on the other side of the river from Ottawa)
http://www.civilization.ca/cmc/whats-on/event-detail&EventId=302

So, I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this on the blog, but one of the coolest things I did last year was act as a special consultant on popular culture to The Canadian Museum of Civilization, for their new exhibit on Japan opening this week. Japan: Tradition. Innovation. is a unique look at the Edo-period origins of contemporary Japanese technology and design. Focusing specifically on consumer goods–things that we interact with every day–the show breaks down 400 years of cultural innovation into five themes; travel, automation, social status, consumer culture, and entertainment. Comparing woodblock prints to manga, contemporary Japanese street-fashion with armour and traditional garb, robots to mechanized dolls–it’s all cool stuff.

I specifically helped acquire materials for the manga and anime collections, including first-editions, cels, and some cool ephermera. I’m excited to see how it’s been placed into the context of the larger collection. It was an amazing opportunity to dig through all kinds of cool old manga and anime at Mandarake during my last visit to Japan (Oct/Nov 2010), divorced from my normal concerns of finding cool stuff to bring back to The Beguiling. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a bunch of first-edition Tezuka manga at the store, but I doubt they’d sell with the expediency that we’d need them too to make any sort of profit. Buying for a museum has a very different set of criteria. Oh, and as a special note, I’d like to thank everyone who helped me identify some of those pieces, it was very cool of you and I really appreciate it. Feel free to ask me for a favour in future.

Oh, and speaking of The Beguiling, the awesome comic and graphic novel store which I manage, we also acted as a sponsor of the exhibit! We’ve donated hundreds of manga to the exhibition’s “reading room”, which is essentially a wall of manga you can hang out and read at. It’s also roughly 50/50 French-language and English-language translations of Japanese material, which means we could include a bunch of stuff not yet available in English. I feel really good about the mix of manga included too, because it covers not only popular and contemporary series, but also classics, “art-oriented” works, and works that seek to explain certain Japanese customs, aspects of the culture, and traditions through manga. Oishinbo is as prominently displayed as Naruto, A Drifiting Life and The Rose of Versailles and Doraemon all getting equal face-time. So exciting!

The exhibit has a special opening this Thursday, May 19th at 6pm, for Museum members and the press only. I’m going to be there to see the public’s reaction to it for the first time, and I’m pretty excited! If anyone from the Ottawa/Montreal area will be there and would like to get-together and talk manga, drop me a line! If you can’t make it this week, don’t worry, the show’s on until October and I’m hoping we can put together some exciting programing at the Museum featuring manga and anime experts and professionals over the course of the summer. I’m also going to try to do a report on the exhibit here on the blog, if I can manage to remember my camera. 🙂

For more on the exhibit, check out http://www.civilization.ca/cmc/whats-on/event-detail&EventId=302.

– Christopher

ARTISTS HELP JAPAN: TORONTO RAISES $20,000

Please feel free to republish this announcement. Thanks! – Chris

ARTISTS HELP JAPAN: TORONTO RAISES $20,000
Toronto comic artists and DJs band together for Japanese Quake & Tsunami Relief

Artists Help Japan: Toronto is proud to announce that their 12 hour live art/DJ event on April 17th was an extraordinary success, raising $20,000 towards Tsunami and Quake relief in Japan.

Spearheaded by a consortium of Toronto illustration studios, the Artists Help Japan: Toronto event was the local iteration of a charity movement begun by Dice Tsutsumi at Pixar. The Toronto edition featured live art and DJ music, a silent auction and dozens of artists selling commissioned drawings, which raised about $18,000 over the 12 hour event. Event organizers UDON Entertainment have stepped in with an additional $2000 donation to help bring the final total to $20,000, with all proceeds being donated to the Canadian Red Cross.

The organizers of the event would like to thank all of the talented artists, illustrators, and DJs who donated their time and expertise, and the hundreds of Torontonians that came out in support of this event. The organizers will continue their various fundraising efforts over the weeks and months to come, including a series of special auctions featuring artworks donated by artists at the fundraiser! Look for details on these auctions in the next week.

Some words of thanks from the organizers:

Erik Ko, founder of UDON Entertainment: “I have a lot of friends and colleagues in Japan who were affected by this unfortunate event. I felt a real need to try and lend a helping hand to the people there and I really appreciate so many people supporting us! Thank you so much!”

Bobby Chiu, head of Imaginism studio: “People were incredibly generous with their money that day. It was truly touching to see a city come together to support the people of Japan.”

Alvin Lee, comic artist on Street Fighter and Birds of Prey: “It was awe inspiring to see the outpour of support and compassion from Toronto’s Art and Music scene. To give back to a country that has influenced so many of today’s artists, including myself – I felt like it was the least I could do.”

Krystle Tabujara, Library Services Coordinator for The Beguiling: “Having recently travelled to the Pacific Rim with my partner, I felt an obligation to be a part of such a great cause. It was an honour to be working alongside some of Toronto’s most talented artists.”

Jim Zubkavich, writer/creator of Skullkickers from Image Comics: “All of us involved with this event feel a deep connection to Japan and we’re ecstatic that so many people came out to show their support. To the artists, musicians and donators – Thank you everyone!”

Christopher Butcher, manager of The Beguiling and Director of the Toronto Comics Art Festival: “Japan has been an inspiring, near-mythical presence in my life since I was very young, and their culture and traditions have had a huge influence on my writing and career. Coming together with so many like-minded people to give something back has been similarly inspiring, and I’m humbled by the generosity of our volunteers, artists, DJs, and the hundreds of attendees who came to the event. Thanks everyone and please, if at all possible, don’t stop giving.”

The organizers would also like to thank the many volunteers and supporters who helped make the event a success, including: all of the wonderful artists and publishers who donated art and other items for our silent auction; Jeff at Imaginism; Michael, Akiko, Magda, Marc, Andrew, and Shane who helped out on the day-of; Peter Birkemoe and The Beguiling; Joe Saturnino and the entire staff of Revival.

ABOUT:

Artists Help Japan is a charity movement initiated by Dice Tsutsumi, an art director at Pixar Animation Studios, who was also behind 2008 Totoro Forest Project to help preserve Sayama Forest in Japan and Sketchtravel Project, to gather the force of communities of artists and creative minds around the world. We believe artists have special roles to contribute to the society. http://artistshelpjapan.blogspot.com/

Artists Help Japan: Toronto was spearheaded by Imaginism Studios President and illustrator Bobby Chiu, who was contacted by Dice Tsutsumi to run the Toronto event. Working with Illustrator Alvin Lee, UDON Entertainment CEO Erik Ko, writer/artist Jim Zubkavich, and Christopher Butcher of Toronto comic book store The Beguiling and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, the team brought together Toronto’s diverse and exciting artistic community to engage the public in an unprecedented fundraising endeavour.

Participating artists at Artists Help Japan: Toronto included: Agnes Garbowska, Alex Milne, Alvin Lee, Bobby Chiu, Brian McLachlan, Chip Zdarsky, Dale Keown, Eric Kim, Eric Vedder, Francis Manapul, Jason Bradshaw, Jeff Lemire, Jim Zub, Joe Ng, Julie Faulkner, Kagan Mcleod, Kalman Andrasofszky, Kei Acedera, Ken Lashley, Marcio Takara, Marcus To, Michael Cho, Ramon Perez, Ray Fawkes, Scott Hepburn, Stuart Immonen, Svetlana Chmakova, and a number of other local artists who showed up on the day of the event to offer their support and assistance!

Participating DJs at Artists Help Japan: Toronto included: Riviera [Perfecto,Myth, Kinetika NYC], Felix & Gani [Milk. Audio], Lazy Ray [Nighttrackin’], Gerrence [Nighttrakkin’], Alvaro G [Kings Of Late Night], Roland Gonzales [Studio+], Carlovega [Studio+], Jason Ulrich [Lab.Our Union],Shingo [Hot Sauce], Uncle Matty & Dutty Maus [The Beacs], and Illscience.

All proceeds from Artists Help Japan: Toronto will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross, specifically earmarked to aid in Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief. http://www.redcross.ca/

SPONSORS:

Revival Bar has been entertaining guests, visitors and fans as a premium event space since 2002. Revival generously donated the use of their main space for the Artists Help Japan: Toronto event, and donated $1 from the cost of every drink towards fundraising efforts. http://www.revivalbar.com/

The Beguiling Books and Art is Canada’s premiere source for comics, comix, and high-art funnybooks. Visit us online at http://beguiling.com.

ARTISTS HELP JAPAN: TORONTO FUNDRAISER APRIL 17

Hey everyone, this is an event I’m helping to organize here in Toronto on April 17th. I would love it if you could attend, and help us spread the word!

Artists Help Japan: Toronto
Toronto’s Illustration Community Fundraiser for Quake and Tsunami Relief
At REVIVAL, 783 College Street, Toronto
…Sunday April 17th, 12 Noon to 12 Midnight
Free To Attend – All Ages

http://artistshelpjapan.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=208247572520178

FEATURING LIVE ART BY:
Kei Acedera [Alice In Wonderland]  –  Kalman Andrasofszky [X-23]  –  Jason Bradshaw [Boredom Pays]  –  Bobby Chiu [Alice In Wonderland]  –  Svetlana Chmakova [Nightschool, Dramacon]  –  Julie Faulkner [Promises Press]  –  Ray Fawkes [Possessions]  –  Agnes Garbowska [Girl Comics, Marvel Comics]  –  Scott Hepburn [Star Wars]  –  Stuart Immonen [Fear Itself]  –  Dale Keown [Pitt]  –  Eric Kim [Oni Press]  –  Ken Lashley [Black Panther]  –  Alvin Lee [Street Fighter, Marvel Vs. Capcom]  –  Jeff Lemire [Sweet Tooth]  –  Francis Manapul [The Flash]  –  Kagan Mcleod [Infinite Kung-Fu]  –  Alex Milne [Transformers]  –  Joe Ng [Street Fighter]  –  Ramon Perez [Captain America]  –  Marcio Takara [The Incredibles]  –  Marcus To [Red Robin]  –  Eric Vedder [Darkstalkers]  –  Chip Zdarsky [Prison Funnies] – Jim Zub [Skullkickers]  +  More To Be Announced!DJ SETS + MUSIC PROVIDED BY:
RIVIERA [PERFECTO,MYTH, KINETIKA NYC], LAZY RAY [NIGHTTRACKIN’], GERRENCE [NIGHTTRAKKIN’], ALVARO G [KINGS OF LATE NIGHT], ROLAND GONZALES [STUDIO+], CARLOVEGA [STUDIO+], JASON ULRICH [LAB.OUR UNION],SHINGO [HOT SAUCE], UNCLE MATTY & DUTTY MAUS [THE BEACS]

TORONTO—Toronto’s Illustration and Artistic Community comes together on April 17th in a 12 hour art-event at Revival. The unique event will raise money to aid relief efforts in Japan following the devastating recent earthquake and tsunami there. Spearheaded by a consortium of Toronto illustration studios, the Artists Help Japan: Toronto event is the local iteration of a charity movement begun by Pixar Art Director Dice Tsutsumi. The Toronto edition will feature live art shows, a silent auction, and dozens of artists and illustrators selling commissioned drawings, with all proceeds benefiting the Canadian Red Cross.

“As artists we are tremendously inspired by Japan and Japanese culture,” says Bobby Chiu, the illustrator, teacher and founder of Toronto’s Imaginism studios behind the Artists Help Japan: Toronto event. “We were all personally affected by the quake, tsunami, and resulting damage. It is important to give back for all that Japan has given us, and we can think of no better way to do so than with our art.”

Artists Help Japan: Toronto will feature more than 24 artists and illustrators from the Greater Toronto Area creating original drawings for 12 hours! This is an unprecedented opportunity for the general public to commission an original drawing from a professional artist and watch its creation in process; the artist’s fee will be donated entirely to the Canadian Red Cross.

In addition:
– Dozens more cartoonists will donate original art, books, and other rare items to be featured in a silent-auction on-site at Revival Bar.
– Live art demonstrations from Toronto Illustrators on stage, with the final pieces to be auctioned off live at the event
– $1 from the sale of every drink at Revival Bar will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross.

Admission to the ARTISTS HELP JAPAN: TORONTO event is free, and all ages are welcome. The event will run from 12 Noon to 12 Midnight.

ABOUT:

Artists Help Japan is a charity movement initiated by Dice Tsutsumi, an art director at Pixar Animation Studios, who was also behind 2008 Totoro Forest Project to help preserve Sayama Forest in Japan and Sketchtravel Project, to gather the force of communities of artists and creative minds around the world. We believe artists have special roles to contribute to the society. http://artistshelpjapan.blogspot.com/

Artists Help Japan: Toronto is spearheaded by Imaginism Studios President and illustrator Bobby Chiu, who was contacted by Dice Tsutsumi to run the Toronto event. Working with Illustrator Alvin Lee, Udon Entertainment CEO Erik Ko, writer/artist Jim Zubkavich, and Christopher Butcher of Toronto comic book store The Beguiling and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, the team hopes to bring together Toronto’s diverse and exciting artistic community to engage the public in an unprecedented fundraising endeavour.

All proceeds from Artists Help Japan: Toronto will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross, specifically earmarked to aid in Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief.http://www.redcross.ca/

SPONSORS:

Revival Bar has been entertaining guests, visitors and fans as a premium event space since 2002. Revival has generously donated the use of their main space for the Artists Help Japan: Toronto event, and will be donating $1 from the cost of every drink to the fundraising efforts.http://www.revivalbar.com/


Help Japan

I’m having a tough time with what’s going on in Japan right now. I never visited Sendai but we did travel through/nearby in 2009, on our way from Nikko to Aomori. It’s further south than I had thought, about half way between the northern tip of Japan’s main island and Tokyo. Travelling by train I saw a lot of the countryside; the news reports from the area matched my memories of travelling which has made the disaster more personal. I still can’t imagine what it’s like for the people who are there though, and my sympathies and condolences go out to everyone affected.

I’ve donated a few dollars and watched the news constantly, and at this point there’s not much else to do. I did want to put up a brief post saying that I hope things get better, and if you’ve ever enjoyed my travelogues or photos of Japan I hope you’ll consider donating a few dollars to the various organizations trying to aid folks in distress.

I recommend: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/, who are the first organization to send people and aid into the hardest-hit areas.

Also the Red Cross is setting up a relief fund. If you text REDCROSS to number 30333 in Canada, or 90999 in the U.S., you can donate $5 or $10 really easily and every little bit helps.

Thanks for anything you can do,

– Chris

Japan 2010: A Night Walk in Shinjuku

In October 2010, we touched down in Japan, settled into our hotel, and then decided to head out into the night to see what the city had on offer. We were in Shinjuku, a bright, big, wonderful area of the city that tends to party hard until dawn, pretty much every night of the week. Granted, your favourite retailer, restaurant, or game center will still close at 9, 11, or 1am, but the bars, karaoke, and other engagements are open all night.

The majority of photos in this entry were taken with the Olympus E-PEN Digital Camera, which turned out some great pictures despite my inexperience–these are basically the first photos I took in Japan! 🙂

We’re at the south exit of Shinjuku JR station, heading North, and just east of the station here. The street behind Green Peas, if you’re familiar with the area. It’s a densely packed strip, some phenomenally expensive real estate ensures skinny little properties, and buildings 7 or 8 floors tall. Shown just at the entrance to this area is the awesome LAMMTARRA, famous/infamous porn store. Whether you’d like your sinfully delightful images on DVD, in games, or even “book” format, LAMMTARRA has you covered.

Restaurants abound in this area, and even the pickiest eater with the least command of Japanese can usually just pull the restauranteur out onto the street and point at what they think they want to eat. This is a fairly touristy area though, finding a restaurant owner that speaks enough English to get by probably wouldn’t be too hard. This shop offers a bunch of different noodle and rice dishes.

I love Tokyo.

Here’s a look back down the street, towards Takeshimaya Times Square, which you might remember from previous posts. Don’t worry, we’ll visit there again later this post.

To keep reading the rest of this post, click:

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Japan 2010: A Short Walk Through Shinjuku

Not every outing in Japan was life-changing, or amazing, or revelatory. In fact, some of them were just nice little walks to explore the neighbourhood we were staying in… in the daylight, for a change.

Above you can see the view from our hotel window–SHINJUKU, the “capital’ of Tokyo, location of the municipal government buildings, and the big dirty red light district, and shopping and… well, what people think of when they think of “Tokyo” can usually be found within a 15 minute walk of Shinjuku station. We were staying a 2 minute walk from that station, a little bit south west, and since none of my plans or itineraries had be going any further south than I was at that moment, I decided to go for a walk one warm May morning before the day really got going.

The first stop, as always, is the local convenience store, or “conbini”. Lawson isn’t my conbini of choice, I’m a 7-11 guy at heart, but I was starving and wasn’t willing to wait. Also with me on this trip is Jim, who is tired, cuz its early and jetlag is never kind to him.

We arrived in Japan during the hysteria for the theatrical release of Evangelion 2.0, and the ‘ultimate’ edition DVD release of Evangelion 1.11, so Eva product was everywhere. Lawson had entered into a special agreement with the Evapeople (Gainax, I assume? I can’t tell who runs that merchandising anymore) and so they had tons of unique and ‘rare’ items. Shown above are cans of coffee, boxed with an action figure on a very full display. You might be giggling to yourself, but that same coffee and action figure was SOLD OUT all over Tokyo by the end of our trip.

Also shown: Evangelion-themed cup noodles.

There were also Evangelion give-aways if you bought specific kinds of snack breads, in specific amounts. Or maybe Evangelion-themed snack breads. It was difficult to tell. Jim helpfully points them out.

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Japan 2010: 30 Photos of Tsukiji Fish Market

Yes, it’s Tsukiji Fish Market! That mythical destination in Tokyo that is full of giant tuna, terrifying squid, and every other sort of edible sea creature–and on that note there are plenty of restaurants on site where you can taste today’s catch.

Seeing as this has absolutely nothing to do with comics, I decided to limit this entry to just 30 quick images. There’s a full gallery of pictures from this trip to the gallery over at my Flickr. I’ll include a direct link at the end of this message… if you’re still interested after seeing some of the delights on offer.

My thanks to my friends Derek Halliday and Jim Zubkavitch, who graciously shared some of their photos on this trip, and to Andrew Wheeler, whose photos I did not get around to sorting and filing but I was graciously offered his photos nonetheless.

Click to keep reading:

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Japan 2009: Airport Tsutaya

If you scroll back through my Japan Travelogues, I think you might remember me saying my favourite store to buy manga, and mostly new/in-print manga in Japan, is the Tsutaya across from the Hachiko crossing in Shibuya. Unfortunately that changed with my trip there in 2010. They’d moved their manga floor from a very spacious basement to a smaller top-floor. It’s still a solid setup, but it’s less big, less hand-curated… Just lesser, unfortunately. Things change, even in the manga industry, even in Japan.

That said, I do still really dig what Tsutaya did with their manga selection, and upon leaving the country during my 2009 trip, I was shocked to come across the best-stocked airport bookstore Of All Time. Seriously, it was amazing, with a great selection of books and magazines, but also a surprisingly big and diverse selection of manga tankoubon, manga periodical magazines, and even a few artbooks too.

This selection of light novels and volumes of the REBORN! manga (waaaaay more popular in Japan than it is here) was just the tip of the iceberg, and it was heartening to know that even if I had (somehow) completely missed manga on my entire trip to Japan, all I needed to do was hit the airport an hour early and I could do a pretty decent shopping trip at the Narita Airport Tsutaya….!

As I mentioned, their wall of manga was nothing to sneeze at, and while it catered heavily to the very popular series it did evidence some of the curation of other Tsutaya manga sections I’d been in. And of course it still had people reading at the racks, looking to kill some time.

Opposite angle.

Bleach, One Piece, Takehiko Inoue, Naoki Urasawa, and more. Plus the then just-release oversized final volume of PLUTO.

Shown dead centre here are some of the English-instruction and English-language manga, including bilingual editions of Nodame Cantabile, Tale of Genji, Division Chief Kosaku Shima, and English volumes of Bleach, Death Note, Naruto, and The Davinci Code (novel of course, not a comic). Incidentally, if you’re in Japan and looking for a great gift to bring back, the bilingual manga editions including Doraemon (bottom left) are great souvenirs, as that manga isn’t available in English!

A close-up on the Doraemon bilingual editions and a few other titles.

Feature display for the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga.

And a great selection of manga magazines (top) and kids books, mooks, and activity books (bottom).

So yeah, if you can spare it, the shopping area at Narita airport is surprisingly amazing, and a great place to pick up last minute gifts for others… and just a few more manga for yourself too. Build the extra time into your trip back, if you can…!

Now this, finally, is my last blog post from my Fall 2009 trip to the great nation of Japan.

I’m gonna be honest, there’s a whole lot of photos from this trip that I couldn’t quite work into a blogpost, but one of the things I wanted to do was get all those photos up online in some form. I think I’ve decided on Twitter, after all, so look forward to that on my Flickr page imminently–maybe even as soon as this blog post goes up! 🙂 Thanks for reading, and sorry it took a year and a half (and I jumped ahead and did some 2010 travelogues in the interim).

Best,

– Chris

Japan 2010: A Tokyu Hands Christmas

Just as a little follow-up to yesterday’s post, here’s a look at the Christmas Joy to be found inside the doors at the Takeshimaya Times Square TOKYU HANDS store. I actually got told by a kindly old security guard that I had to stop taking photos (in English!) no less, so this post is a little short. Gomen Nasai.

Takeshimaya Times Square is just behind the FrancFranc store, and being in the Christmas/shopping spirit, we thought we’d go check it out.

It’s a massive department store complex… Massive. Hard to explain without seeing it.

Have a Giftful Christmas, courtesy of Tokyu Hands! Possibly the most out-and-out consumerist, capitalist sentiment I have ever heard expressed about the holiday.

I did love the designs of these banners though, red and blue. Gorgeous.

Scenes of snow and ice, christmas around the world, affixed to the walls.

Edit: Whoops! I forgot I had one photo left, of little Santas! Here it is:

Unfortunately that’s all the Giftful Christmas I have for you this year, but hopefully it got you a little Merry.

Travelogues resume in the new year!

– Chris

Japan 2010: A Very FrancFranc Christmas

It’s no secret that I go shopping in Japan, almost all of my travelogues have been retail oriented. But one of my favourite stores is a little boutique home goods/decor place called FrancFranc, located just outside the Shinjuku JR New South Entrance, the same pedestrian walkway and shopping promenade that housed Tokyo’s first, busiest Krispy Kreme Donuts. Its upscale, a mix of Euro and Japanese sensibilities, a chain of great shops found across Japan and throughout Asia, and I would basically decorate my entire home with this stuff if I lived in Japan.

…and they love Christmas. Seriously, we walked by this place on (I think) the first of November, and it was already splashed out with every manner of Christmas goods. For a Christmasophile like myself, it was like heaven. I wanted to buy everything, but sadly my luggage was reserved almost entirely for otaku-related-goods.

So I took pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. With that lovely Olympus PEN EL-1 Digital Camera. Incidentally I tried to get this up online before Christmas, but computer troubles tripped me up. Enjoy this late breaking Christmas spirit. 🙂

Can you believe that these are CHRISTMAS CARDS? They come flat in the envelope, and then you pop them out and decorate them and they’re amazing. I did pick up a couple of these actually, since they packed flat. If anyone knows if/where to get these in Toronto, I’m all over them.

Nicest. Disposable. Silverware. Ever.

Mini Abstract Christmas Trees, Mini Decorations, and everything sparkles.

Click the “Keep Reading” for all the rest of the sparkle….

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