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Thanks to a shared connection through writer Lafcadio Hearn, water cities Matsue and New Orleans began a Friendship City Relationship in March, 1994. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, a delegation and ceremony was held here in Matsue last October, followed by Little Mardi Gras in Matsue, which is what it sounds like. This event–with a special focus on including children in the local community–takes place in October, so you can get your Mardi Gras fix in Japan between Carnival seasons.

I am busy right now with a group from Matsue on an exchange program in New Orleans thanks to the Japan Society of New Orleans and a TOMODACHI Exchange grant from the TOMODACHI Initiative. Click here and here to see the play-by-play on that exchange on Facebook, and in the meantime on this blog, enjoy a few photos from last year’s Little Mardi Gras in Matsue!

Haruka Kikuchi has recently moved to New Orleans to pursue a jazz career. We’ll miss her visits to Matsue!

Thanks to a shared connection through writer Lafcadio Hearn, water cities Matsue and New Orleans began a Friendship City Relationship in March, 1994. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, a delegation and ceremony was held here in Matsue last October, followed by Little Mardi Gras in Matsue, which is what it sounds like. This event–with a special focus on including children in the local community–takes place in October, so you can get your Mardi Gras fix in Japan between Carnival seasons.

I am busy right now with a group from Matsue on an exchange program in New Orleans thanks to the Japan Society of New Orleans and a TOMODACHI Exchange grant from the TOMODACHI Initiative. Click here and here to see the play-by-play on that exchange on Facebook, and in the meantime on this blog, enjoy a few photos from last year’s Little Mardi Gras in Matsue!

The Khachaturian Band has been very helpful in setting up Matsue a center for New Orleans culture in Japan, and in addition to setting the tone for the parade, they’ve performed in a number of places around Matsue. The Matsue New Orleans Club also brings in jazz artists from abroad.

Thanks to a shared connection through writer Lafcadio Hearn, water cities Matsue and New Orleans began a Friendship City Relationship in March, 1994. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, a delegation and ceremony was held here in Matsue last October, followed by Little Mardi Gras in Matsue, which is what it sounds like. This event–with a special focus on including children in the local community–takes place in October, so you can get your Mardi Gras fix in Japan between Carnival seasons.

I am busy right now with a group from Matsue on an exchange program in New Orleans thanks to the Japan Society of New Orleans and a TOMODACHI Exchange grant from the TOMODACHI Initiative. Click here and here to see the play-by-play on that exchange on Facebook, and in the meantime on this blog, enjoy a few photos from last year’s Little Mardi Gras in Matsue!

The parade was a good chance for the general public to interact with the official delegates from New Orleans. You can read a report on the delegation’s experience here.

Thanks to a shared connection through writer Lafcadio Hearn, water cities Matsue and New Orleans began a Friendship City Relationship in March, 1994. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, a delegation and ceremony was held here in Matsue last October, followed by Little Mardi Gras in Matsue, which is what it sounds like. This event–with a special focus on including children in the local community–takes place in October, so you can get your Mardi Gras fix in Japan between Carnival seasons.

I am busy right now with a group from Matsue on an exchange program in New Orleans thanks to the Japan Society of New Orleans and a TOMODACHI Exchange grant from the TOMODACHI Initiative. Click here and here to see the play-by-play on that exchange on Facebook, and in the meantime on this blog, enjoy a few photos from last year’s Little Mardi Gras in Matsue!

The parade reached a climax on Ohashi Bridge, one of the most notable of the bridges spanning the Ohashi River which bisects the city. Once assembled in perfect fashion, the bands all performed “When The Saints Go Marching In” in unison.

Thanks to a shared connection through writer Lafcadio Hearn, water cities Matsue and New Orleans began a Friendship City Relationship in March, 1994. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, a delegation and ceremony was held here in Matsue last October, followed by Little Mardi Gras in Matsue, which is what it sounds like. This event–with a special focus on including children in the local community–takes place in October, so you can get your Mardi Gras fix in Japan between Carnival seasons.

I am busy right now with a group from Matsue on an exchange program in New Orleans thanks to the Japan Society of New Orleans and a TOMODACHI Exchange grant from the TOMODACHI Initiative. Click here and here to see the play-by-play on that exchange on Facebook, and in the meantime on this blog, enjoy a few photos from last year’s Little Mardi Gras in Matsue!

You might already recognize the New Orleans flag in the background, and in the Matsue flag is in the foreground. The symbol is a mix of a turtle shell (because Matsue Castle was built on what used to be called Mt. Kameda and kame is the word for turtle) and pine needles (because the matsu in Matsue is “pine”).

Thanks to a shared connection through writer Lafcadio Hearn, water cities Matsue and New Orleans began a Friendship City Relationship in March, 1994. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, a delegation and ceremony was held here in Matsue last October, followed by Little Mardi Gras in Matsue, which is what it sounds like. This event–with a special focus on including children in the local community–takes place in October, so you can get your Mardi Gras fix in Japan between Carnival seasons.

I am busy right now with a group from Matsue on an exchange program in New Orleans thanks to the Japan Society of New Orleans and a TOMODACHI Exchange grant from the TOMODACHI Initiative. Click here and here to see the play-by-play on that exchange on Facebook, and in the meantime on this blog, enjoy a few photos from last year’s Little Mardi Gras in Matsue!

Some of the bands lining up in the STIC building, getting ready to go.

Not really the time or place you’d expect to see some New Orleans style Mardi Gras pictures, is it?

Thanks to a shared connection through writer Lafcadio Hearn, water cities Matsue and New Orleans began a Friendship City Relationship in March, 1994. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, a delegation and ceremony was held here in Matsue last October, followed by Little Mardi Gras in Matsue, which is what it sounds like. This event–with a special focus on including children in the local community–takes place in October, so you can get your Mardi Gras fix in Japan between Carnival seasons.

I am busy right now with a group from Matsue on an exchange program in New Orleans thanks to the Japan Society of New Orleans and a TOMODACHI Exchange grant from the TOMODACHI Initiative. Click here and here to see the play-by-play on that exchange on Facebook, and in the meantime on this blog, enjoy a few photos from last year’s Little Mardi Gras in Matsue!

Bonnie at Thirsty for Tea has graciously included me in the Writing Process Blog Tour going around. She is a passionate cook and tea enthusiast with an eye for aesthetics, very creative taste and ideas, and enviable handiwork. She covers everything from types of tea and how to attain and prepare them, sweets and snacks to go with tea, as well as tea-related crafts. I always feel so uplifted after reading her pretty posts. Please check her out, and thank you to everyone who visited from her page!

Here are my answers on my writing process:

1) What am I working on?
While I try to keep a steady mix of stories according to the categories listed on the side bar, the Kojiki manga requires the most work. The story I’m currently working on, “Fatal and Fateful Trials“, is probably going to be the longest of all the stories I intend to post here. Then again, we’ll just have to see how long the Kuniyuzuri myth proves to be since there will be so many San’in spots to introduce with it.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
While there are a lot of Japan blogs that seek to display life in Japan or explain many aspects of Japanese culture or introduce interesting places, there aren’t many San’in region blogs. Such an injustice! That, and, well… manga. I have messy manga mixed in my posts.

3) Why do I write what I do?
In choosing content, I try to post things that I’ve found interesting about life the region. I post it either because others might find it informative, or it’s a way of telling people what I’m up to because in this day and age it’s much easier to say “go read my blog!” instead of writing detailed letters to multiple people on the cool stuff I’m up to and see here. Ideally, I’d like to increase awareness of the region, and I’d like to give readers a sense of the local culture. That often requires explaining many wider aspects of Japanese culture. Instead of just saying “there was a legend about an eight-headed serpent around here and that’s why we have good sake” I find it much more interesting to elaborate. That, and writing in comic form is fun.

4) How does your writing process work?
This differs depending on the content. To break it down by category:

Buri-chan Anecdotes: I have a life. Amusing stuff happens, and I later scribble it down. Depending on how relevant it is, this might be the prelude to some lengthy explanation of some aspect of Japanese culture, from language to etiquette to nerdy historical references.

Famous Persons: If it’s a name that comes up a lot here, they’re probably worth explaining in the blog so I can just refer back to them as necessary. I start with general knowledge I’ve picked up from living and working here, and then I fill in the blanks with some research. Sometimes I include nicer quality comics written for a multilingual newsletter my office releases every few months for international tourists and residents.

Folk Tales: I pick up a few at places like Izumo Kanbe-no-Sato where you can listen to professional story tellers, but I mostly get them from a couple of books with collections of San’in region tales. Quite often there are similar stories from other parts of Japan, but one of the fun parts is seeing the little differences and how people have shaped them to fit the local geography and culture.

Ghost Stories: I haven’t been doing enough of these, but these are typically inspired by the works of Lafcadio Hearn and Mizuki Shigeru, whose works on local and wider ghostly folklore are very apparent in the region. So much so that when I’m guiding people around Matsue for fun, I usually tend to interject the tour with comments about the human sacrifices and monsters spoken of in each place.

Historical Anecdotes: I tend to pick up a lot of historical anecdotes about Matsue through my work, but I am a history nerd so I tend to store a lot of trivial facts in my brain very easily. In order to make them understandable, I usually have to flesh them out with some book research and double-checked facts. Sometimes my print-quality comics wind up in this section, too.

Local Anecdotes: This is rather easy, it just requires being active in the region and noticing interesting stuff. A lot of my entries tend to fall in this category.

Mythology: This is the backbone of my content. I start with research–numerous sources in both Japanese and English, but usually Japanese–and write my own interpretations of the Kojiki (and Izumo Fudoki!) myths based on the consistencies (or more interestingly, inconsistencies) of my collection of sources. Then I make an outline of the manga, and for the art I start with a pencil sketch, then inking, then shading/scanning/fixing/shading/typesetting the panels for each part. This is a process I have gotten lazier and lazier with as I’ve gotten busier and busier with life among the region. After each story, I write a few entries to introduce the spots in the San’in region that correlate with the myths–if there wasn’t so much correlation, I wouldn’t bother telling the stories, after all!

Upcoming Blogs on the Writing Process Blog Tour:

Yurihama Blog is maintained by Sarah, a fellow San’in region Coordinator for International Relations. She is based in this small Tottori town, home to one of my favorite legends in Japan about a heavenly maiden having a stay in Japan. During Sara’s stay in Japan, she’s been writing entries in both English and Japanese about local Yurihama topics, including culture, cuisine, and news about what’s going in the international side of things at the local level. I admire how clear and specific she is in her entries and the perimeters she works within. I enjoy how she has a good eye for vignettes of the city, and as someone working in international relations, it’s helpful to see projects going on in other places. I tend to talk more about Shimane in my blog, so go read her blog and give Tottori some love, too!

The Japans is a blog about daily life in Japan by Belgian national Haruko (pen name). Having been a Japan fanatic for a long time, she felt the need for a blog that showed the simple reality of day-to-day life in Japan, rather than focusing on ‘weird Japan’ or on travel stories, as many other blogs already do. Based on her experiences living in Toyota City for a year, she tries to give her honest and nuanced impressions of life in Japan, with a dash of humor and self-relativation mixed in. I have always appreciated her style and clarity in her descriptions, as well as her treatment of daily Japanese life. Her subject matter is about the things that, in my opinion, Japan wouldn’t feel like Japan without.

Ruth, who keeps the Thai Village blog, grew up in Salokbaht in central Thailand where she learned to value the simple things in life. Later she went to school in Chiangmai before moving to the UK. After graduating she returned to Thailand and taught at Payap University and then the British Council in Bangkok. Recently she started combining photography and writing in the form of Haiga. In her work she seeks to cut through the stereotypical images of Thailand and provide a glimpse of something more real. She has one book of poetry published called ‘The Peacock Room’ which was short-listed for the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2007. She is currently working on a novel ‘The Yoke Thay Artist of Chiangmai’ which explores the life of a female marionette artist in the mid-16th century under the reign of one of the few queens of Lanna.

Still on vacation for now, but here’s a little preview of things to come this year, especially in a few upcoming Kojiki (and otherwise!) manga renditions.
UPDATE: Start reading the Kunibiki, the legend of land-pulling!

(See last year’s Yamata-no-Orochi themed card here.)

The Year of the Snake is on its way out and the Year of the Horse is taking its place. I have plans to visit more parts of Shimane and Tottori prefectures this year, though life in Matsue will keep me just as busy as always, I’m sure.

Speaking of busy, one thing I’ve been terribly delayed on is answering the question for the Liebster Awards from Kawaii Kuni, Cutenippon, and I’ll Make It Myself!. I’m honored, and have nominated a few other other blogs to honor, too! You can see the nominations and such here.

今年もよろしくお願いいたしま~す!

Start reading about the legends associated with this piece!
Kunibiki: The Land Pulling Legend
Onamuji’s many trials
The Lovestruck (and stuck) Crocasharkagator

See the other Nengajo!
2013
2015
2016

See the Kojiki a.t.b.b. masterlist!
The Kojiki Myths in Manga Form

First of all, a huge thank-you to the three bloggers who nominated me, and an apology for being so delayed on my answers! I really appreciate it and wanted to make sure to pay the favor forward. For those who are not familiar, this is the idea:

The Liebster award is intended to give some exposure to small blogs with less than 200 followers. The rules are as follows:

1] Link back to the blogger who nominated you
2] Answer the 11 questions given to you by the blogger who nominated you
3] Nominate 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers
4] Go to the blogs you nominated and notify them of your nomination
5] Give your nominees 11 questions to answer.

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MY 33 ANSWERS

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Questions from 可愛い国, a trilingual blog about food and other cultural topics with a special focus on the Netherlands and Japan.

1. What would you recommend to people visiting your area?
A 45-minute tour around Matsue on the Horikawa Sightseeing Boat, followed by matcha and wagashi at any of the establishments nearby.

2. Why do you blog?
Because more people should know about this part of Japan!

3. What do you like to read about most on other people’s blogs?
I love reading experts’ blogs on things I find interesting but am not an expert on.

4. What’s your favourite blog?
This is going to sound terribly narcissistic, but my own! Someday this will be my digital scrapbook of memories.

5. Which book, movie and music would you want to recommend to everyone?
Book: “Bushido: The Soul of Japan” by Inazo Nitobe, 1900.
Movie: “Okuribito” (“Departures”)
Music: Kalafina is my favorite band lately!

6. What’s your favourite recipe?
I don’t follow recipes very well… ^^; That might be why I don’t like having people eat what I cook. But as for things to throw together, lately I love soups full of vegetables! Matcha truffles have also been a lot of fun to make in the past, but they make a big mess (at least when I attempt them).

7. What are you most proud of?
Deciding to write manga instead of just fantasize about writing manga. I’ve always been afraid of being judged for my love of manga, but that doesn’t change how much I enjoy it. Furthermore, actually doing it is showing me that I don’t actually want a life of this after all, instead of leaving me to wonder what could have been if I actually went for it.

8. What’s your dream in life?
To be useful while still indulging in my hobbies.

9. How would you save the world?
I would become a benevolent dictator and take away everyone’s free will so that they don’t make stupid decisions. If you mean this realistically, I’m still working that out myself. There are a lot of methods to choose from there’s the lingering pressure to try to do them all myself.

10. If money, time and other obligations wouldn’t be an issue, what would you most like to do at this moment?
Gather up all my friends from back home and around the world and go to karaoke. Some of them would hate it, though.

11. What do you like most about the country you’re living in now?
I get to practice the culture instead of just admiring it from afar.

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Questions from Cutenippon, a collection of tidbits and explanations about Japanese cultural practices, presented in clear fashion.

1) What is your favorite holiday?
For some reason, I really love China’s Autumn Moon Festival and all the customs that go with it, so I make sure to celebrate it at least in little ways even if I’m by myself! At least in Japan there’s some moon viewing activities, too.

2) If you could choose a wardrobe from any given decade and century what would it be?
Hard choice! Really, really hard choice! Lately I’d lean toward Taisho era Japan since I’d have a mix of girlish hakama, progressive kimono, and snazzy Western clothes.

3) If you could travel anywhere in the world what would your top 3 places be?
Karni Mata Temple in India, the Palace of Versailles in France, and… home?

4) Tea or coffee?
TEA!!

5) What is your zodiac sign?
I’m a Dragon at heart and a Capricorn in the head.

6) If you had a past life what country and time period would you be from?
Everyone says I must have been Asian in a past life, but something tells me I would have been Italian. Maybe sometime in the 12th-14th centuries…?

7) Which is your favorite cats, dogs or fish?
Cats and dogs are both nice, fish are boring.

8) What was the last book you read?
“The Giver” by Lois Lowry.

9) Name the first 5 items you see right now if you open your fridge.
Peanut butter, yogurt, kaya jam, strawberry jam, eggs.

10) What is your favorite flower?
Hard question again! Um… um… I’m partial to camellia lately, but I love irises and peonies and cyclamen and osmanthus and plum blossoms, too.

11) What does blogging mean to you?
As stated in the previous set of questions, this is both my scrapbook and my way of telling the world how cool this part of Japan is.

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Questions from I’ll Make It Myself!, essays about food’s gendered interaction with culture and handy guides for cooking in Japan.

1. If you could pick any decade to dine in in your region of choice, where would you go?
As long as money is no object, then modern day New York City would be fine because I would never be limited in my options. That, and a lot of cuisine of the past is quite unappealing, even for the upperclass!

2. Favorite food-related TV show/film/book/comic?
I do have a soft spot for Food Network’s “Chopped.” It’s interesting enough to keep me curious, and short enough that I don’t get bored following a season of drama.

3. What prompted you to start your blog? What keeps you writing now?
As stated in a previous set of questions, many people are not even aware of the existence of this relatively unpopulated region of Japan, however much people may be on the lookout for less commercial faces of Japan. I found it, and it keeps me writing!

4. What food did you hate as a child but love now?
Almost everything I eat now. I was so picky! Then again, I still am, but now I love tomatoes and tea and tofu and the like.

5. Favorite underrated song?
“Someone in a Tree” from Sondheim’s “Pacific Overtures,” an underrated musical.

6. Tell me about your favorite coffee mug or tea cup.
I don’t actually have many of my own at this point in time–they’re mostly ones I got in a hurry from the 100yen shop when I first moved in. I’m hoping to collect a cup or mug from each of the three famous pottery styles in Matsue (Rakuzan, Sodeshi, and Fujina) while I live here.

7. Are you in any fandoms? If so, what was your first, and what are you into now?
I am in too many fandoms across multiple media to start listing or prioritizing, but suffice to say Digimon is the reason I am in Japan today! Never doubt where your child’s love of cartoons will take them.

8. Tell me about a film, piece of literature, song, etc. that changed your life.
Does the above count? ^_^; There have been many pieces of literature or songs or plays that have stuck with me in different ways, but rather than changing my life I think they help me make sense of it.

9. The spice you would take with you when moving abroad. (Example: chipotle powder to Japan)
Fresh salsas and a selection of cheeses and thick pesto sauce don’t count, do they?

10. Do you collect anything? (Figurines, wine corks, stamps, retro kitsch)
Lapel pins (not buttons) are my little weakness.

11. The cookbook or site you use most often if you cook, or the restaurant/yatai/cafe you eat at the most if you don’t?

Kitchen Okada is the local panya (bread shop) near my workplace, and I typically go there at least once a week to eat a light dinner on my way to naginata practice. The bread (and otherwise!) is tasty and they have artsy books to flip through at the counter. I’ve memorized the songs they play at that hour of the day, though.

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MY 11 NOMINATIONS
Let’s push them past 200 watchers!

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幽窓茶道: Translations of tea ceremony related passages, including tools, terms, and philosophy. One of my favorite blogs!

Primates: Anthropology explained in understandable and insightful ways.

OTAKU LOUNGE: Breakdowns and reviews of anime written by a blogger with a PhD in this topic, and a place to discuss anime culture.

茶有の者 – A Man with Tea: Musings on the world and Japanese culture, both in detail and at large, with a special eye for the arts.

天地間に: Writings on history and cultural practices (including Shinto) with a special focus on Japan–and Hawaii!

Japan Kaleidoskop: A multifaceted look at works of Japanese art and literature and introductions to famous or lesser-known works. My favorite feature is Art on Tuesday.

Legends and Fairytales: Analysis of legends and fairytales based on detailed readings and cultural context, as well as explanations of their importance to children.

Soijasiili: I originally followed this blog for the posts about making wagashi (Japanese confections), but it touches on unique art in a wide variety of forms.

Folliculostella: Stunning photography of travels in and perspectives of life in Japan. I really enjoy her writing style, too. Make sure to see her Tottori entries (1, 2, 3)!

Takeshita Demons: A blog about the writing process and culture surrounding a series of books about Japanese mythology aimed at 8 to 12-year-olds.

Where Are All The Filipino Restaurants?: A good food blog in all respects, dedicated to Filipino cuisine.

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MY 11 QUESTIONS

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1. What inspires you to blog?
2. What do you hope readers take away from your blog?
3. In a world without the internet, how would you try to accomplish the above?
4. Would you rather live in the mountains or by the beach?
5. What food are you proud you tried, but would never eat again?
6. Do you have any interesting stories behind any scars?
7. How would you pitch your favorite travel destination to someone who has never heard of it?
8. Your camera breaks while you’re on an exciting vacation. What do you do?
9. However big or small, what’s something you have always wanted to try doing?
10. A favorite childhood memory?
11. What person, in any place or time period, would you trade places with for a day?

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