One need only take a look around Brisbane to see how much Australia (and the rest of world) has embraced Japanese culture. Our knowledge of their culture, once limited to karate and karaoke, has expanded in recent years with the Japanese pop culture explosion: manga, anime, kokeshi dolls , and Hello Kitty. Traditional customs have not been forgotten though, with bonsai, ikebana, and origami gaining popularity. And let's not forget Japanese cuisine: sushi, teppanyaki, traditional, ramen (noodles), gyoza (dumplings), and more.
Japan Week 2012
Learn more about this fascinating culture during Japan Week; taking place from August 18 to August 26 in Brisbane.
Join the celebrations at Japanese Cultural Day in the Japanese Garden at Brisbane's Botanic Gardens, Mt. Coot-tha. This free event takes place on Sunday, August 19 from 11am until 3pm. Experience a traditional tea ceremony and witness demonstrations in ikebana (flower arranging), origami (paper folding), and mochisuki (rice cake making). Performances include traditional Japanese music including the shakuhachi (bamboo flute), taiko (drums), and shamisen (three-stringed Japanese banjo).
The Bleeding Heart Gallery hosts TOHOKU: Through the Eyes of Japanese Photographers, a travelling exhibition portraying the past, the present, and the future of the people from the Tohoku region in northern Japan; one of the regions affected by the 2011 earthquake. This free exhibit can be viewed from Monday, August 20 until Friday, August 24; from 7:30am until 5:00pm daily.
Head to the Queen Street Mall stage (opposite Myer) on Tuesday, August 21. Visitors will be treated to a taste of traditional Japanese culture: dance, music, martial arts, and more. The approximate demonstration and performance times are as follows:
11:00am – Traditional Japanese Dance 12:30pm – Koto (Japanese Harp) Performance 1:30pm – Sumo Demonstration
Join Ms Misae Natsume from the Ohara School of Ikebana as she demonstrates ikebana, the traditional form of Japanese flower arranging. Presented by QUT Art Museum and the Consulate-General of Japan, this event takes place on Wednesday, August 22 at 11am. Reservations are essential. Phone 3138 5370 to reserve your spot.
Tanabata (Japanese Star Festival) takes place from Friday, August 24 until Sunday, August 26 at Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. Join Tricia Smout, Artist in Residence, to make paper cranes to hang in the gardens (or take home) and write wishes on paper stars to celebrate Tanabata. This free event happens in the Japanese Garden from 10am until 3pm.
One of the most popular events during Japan Week is the Manga Workshop. Join manga artist David Lovegrove at the Bleeding Heart Gallery on Saturday, August 25; from 10am until 12pm. David will teach participants how to draw manga characters and scenes. Bookings are essential for this event. Contact the Consulate-General of Japan (Brisbane) on 3221 5188 by Friday, August 17.
Japanese cuisine offers a variety of dishes, from sushi and sashimi to teriyaki and tempura. Whether you are looking for a traditional tatami room, sushi train, or teppanyaki bar, Brisbane has it all. Some of Brisbane's best Japanese restaurants have been reviewed by Weekend Notes writers: Sono (Portside Wharf), Saké (Eagle Street Pier), and Little Toyko (Spring Hill). Other Japanese restaurants that have been recently reviewed by our writers include Bishamon (Spring Hill), Wagaya (Fortitude Valley), and Osaka (Ashgrove).
It should be noted that a Japanese diet consisting of rice, fresh vegetables, seasonal seafood, and meat, has been linked to the longevity of the Japanese. Itadakimasu (thanks for the food).
You can never introduce a child to another culture too early. Just ask my nine year old daughter. She has become engrossed with Japanese culture since watching My Neighbour Totoro (1988), a Japanese animated fantasy film; often credited for bringing Japanese anime to worldwide attention. As well as anime, manga comics are popular among Australia's tweens and teens; both reading and drawing them.
Younger children and their parents/carers can learn the language and culture at Niji Japanese. Held on Wednesday and Thursday mornings at the East Brisbane Community Centre, children aged from six months to school age are taught some simple vocabulary and phrases through stories, songs, and crafts. First lesson is free. For more information, contact 0422 503 058. Bookings are essential.
While not exactly Japanese, an activity older children will enjoy is making lolly sushi. All you need is the following: crispy rice cereal, marshmallows, margarine, lollies, and fruit roll-ups. There are numerous recipes online as well as tutorials on YouTube. This is one that we found simple, straightforward, and scrumptious.