Shumi Bento Buffet

A buffet of hobbies!

To survive the lockdown starting a new hobby is a perfect way to crush lockdown blues. The Japanese word for ‘hobby’ is ‘Shumi‘. We are starting a new series in our bento that look at Japanese hobbies, to inspire us, who knows, maybe you will find a new hobby! In this edition we also look at great anime from 2016, start a brand new anime challenge and lots more. We are Your source of Japanese Culture and News. Itadakimassu!!!

Hot Anime News from the Past Month

Cyberpunk 2077

A great deal has been revealed earlier this month by Polish developer CD Project Red, about the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 game as well as a surprise announcement that Netflix will premiere an anime based on the game’s world in 2022. The Cyberpunk 2077 game, which features Keanu Reeves in one of the main roles, are from the same developers that brought us ‘The Witcher‘ games.

Cyberpunk 2077 is an open world adventure set in a dystopian future where people modify their bodies with cybernetic implants. Players will play as a character called V, a cutomizable mercenary on the hunt for an implant that might offer immortality. It is based on their table-top role-playing game, and is scheduled to be released, November 19th on Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Google’s Stadia cloud service.

As for the 2022 anime series, the developer partnered with Studio Trigger (Kill la Kill) and the anime will be a 10-episode “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” anime series and is set to be a spin-off of the game.

Disclaimer: The following trailer contains content aimed at a mature audience, such as blood and gore, intense violence, nudity, strong language, strong sexual content and the use of drugs and alcohol. Viewer’s discretion is advised.

D’ART Shtajio

Anime influenced a multitude of animefanatiks to dream, some to become mangaka, some to work at anime studios or a career in the anime field. Two brothers, Arthell Isom and his twin brother, Darnell Isom it led to create their own anime studio in Japan, D’ART Shtajio. The studio is Tokyo-based 2-D animation studio, formed in 2016 with animator Henry Thurlow.

Pre D’ART Shtajio, Arthell worked with animation studio Ogura Kobo as a background animator on highly popular shows like Bleach, Black Butler, and Naruto. His mentor is Hiromasa Ogura, best known as the background animator on Ninja Scroll and Ghost in the Shell, whom he worked with for 12 years. Arthell also studied art history in Italy and attended art schools in Osaka as well as San Francisco, and his art is greatly influenced by his love and passion for anime. In his own words from an interview with Japan Times:

“I watched Ghost in the Shell every day for a year. I didn’t even know why I liked it until a teacher asked me to focus on that question. That’s when I discovered that I liked the backgrounds and the way the animation moved through them.”

On their website they explain the studio’s name:

“The word Shtajio is a play on words in both English and Japanese to reflect our commitment towards building a strong foundation centered on our artists and clients. 下地が大事(Shtaji ga daiji): “The Foundation is Important” is the original phrase that we seek to build on while conveying that we are a スタジオ(Sutajio): The Japanese word for Studio. Alternatively, we spell it Shtajio because of the kanji (下地) Shtaji which is used by the background artists here in Japan to mean – the underpainting, or foundation of art. Shtaji+Sutajio = Shtajio”

Here is a video from their YouTube Channel with more information about D’ART Shtajio.

“At last, the first real Gundams in space”

That is the sentence every Gundam fanatik dreams about and actually in a way it is happening in 2020. Space is in the news a lot these days. Humanity is about to return to the moon thanks to the Artemis Program, a big step towards our dream to set foot on Mars.

The Coronavirus stomped out Japan’s turn to host the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2020, and in conjunction with the Olympic Games Japan planned and is still going to send a satellite, named G-SATELLITE into space with two Gundam models inside! The plan was initially to program the models to send data to greet and inspire athletes during their games.

These 1/200 scale prototype models of RX-78-2 Gundam, and Char’s Zaku II were presented to Japanese JAXA astronauts Nobuo Kanai and Junichi Noguchi by BANDAI HOBBY CENTER on September 4th, last year. They are made of resin material with temperature resistance of -60 °C to 240 °C and coated with special cosmic paint produced by JAXA and Dongda to protect the models from possible damages during its launch and deployment in space.

Poketoons!!

What do you get when you mix one of the biggest franchises in the known world, Pokemon with cartoons? Pure super sugoi magic! Pokemon Kids TV, an official Pokemon account on YouTube, recently debuted a short video titled Chase the Beans. The video features Pokemon Scraggy and Mimikyu adventuring it out like its a 1940s cartoon. It looks hand drawn reminiscent of the old-style classic Tom and Jerry cartoons. It also seem to mimic the classic cartoons content-wise with the two Pokemon going on a wacky adventure.

It may use the Japanese names for the Pokemon but anyone can watch and understand the Poketoon perfectly because it is in the easiest language in the world, ‘cartoonish.’ On Twitter Pokemon fans are already begging for more, the reception of the Poketoon is humorously positive. The video is under 4 minutes, so have a look! Your inner child will love this! It is filled with Kawaiiness!

Tencent invests in Anime and Manga

Tencent, one of the largest companies in China believes that investing in Anime and Manga will take its global growth to new heights. Not only is Tencent the largest video game publisher, but also its WeChat social messaging platform is one of the most frequently used apps in China. Late in May Tencent acquired a 20% stake in the prominent Japanese anime studio Marvelous Entertainment for about $65 million, becoming the company’s largest shareholder. Prior to this Tencent also claimed a piece of PlatinumGames, though the terms of that deal has not been made public. That gave Tencent a huge access to intellectual property to use in its games in future. Clever, since anime is getting more popular and bigger globally.

A Guide to Japanese Hobbies Part 1

We look at a few interesting Japanese hobbies. Many of these, if you are interested, can be researched on YouTube and on the internet.

Bonsai

If you were a teenager in the 80s, like Ookami from AnimeFanatika, the magic of Bonzai might have bitten you while watching the movie The Karate Kid (1984) where Mr. Miyagi teachs Daniel-san to ‘Only Think Tree’. Bonzai, simply explained, is the art of growing small trees and plants. The art of bonsai became popular during the Meiji period. The emperor was a bonzai fanatik, so much that government officials that did not share his passion fell out of his favour.

Bonzai shows us Japan’s relationship with nature, where constraining nature leads to bring forth its beauty. Every aspect of these tiny trees; their appearance, size and growth is craftily controlled by its grower, who deftly shapes it into a creation of beauty by his or her deft hands.

Furoshiki

Furoshiki is the elegant art of Fabric wrapping. The word literally translates to ‘bath (furo) spread (shiki)’. This useful hobby originates from the Nara period (710 – 794) as a way to protect valuable items or goods. The Japanese still practice it vigorously and it evolved into a popular way of wrapping around the world. It is an environmental way of carrying bottles, food and everyday necessities, in fact in 2016, Japanese Minister of the Environment Yuriko Koike promoted furoshiki in an effort to increase environmental awareness well as reduce the use of plastic.

The cloth which is a square piece of cloth is also named furoshiki. An the name of the cloth has its origins from the Muromachi period (1136 to 1573). Legend has it that a shogun named Ashikaga Yoshimitsu installed a large bathhouse in his home and invited feudal lords to stay and use the facility. Their kimonos would be wrapped in furoshiki cloth while they bathed, which helped them with not confusion one man’s clothing with another.

Ikebana

Ikebana, just as bonzai, is an artistic expression where nature and humanity intertwine as art. It is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, but taken to the next level as it has spiritual roots in its meaning. It may have started with Shinto priests, offering branches to the spirit or a more popular viewpoint, it started when Buddhism arrived in 6th century Japan, where Buddhist monks evolved Shinto arrangements in to beautiful art. Ikebana is an international practice now. To illustrate some deeper meaning into Ikebana, we share a video where the ex-president of the Ikebana International Singapore Chapter gives us a demo of this beautiful art form and discipline.

Making Matcha (Japanese green tea)

A cup of matcha is different from other teas It is not ade by steeping leaves in hot water, you actually use green leaves that has been grounded into a fine powder, which you then whisk in hot water in a bowl to create a spectacular full-bodied green brew. Matcha has it’s place of honour as this tea is of cardinal importance to Japanese Tea Ceremonies.

Preparing a bowl of matcha is said to be a stress-relieving and calming ritual, starting your day with a mindfulness athmosphere. It is also a great alternative to your cup of joe since a serving of matcha has the same amount of caffeine as a cup of brewed coffee, and it is rich in antioxidants.

The starter kit of this hobby is quite minimal; a suitable ceramic bowl, a bamboo chasen (tea whisk), and matcha powder. Other non-compulsory items you may need are a metal sieve and bamboo scoop. There are a lot of videos online to help you master making matcha, and who know, you can take this hobby to the next level one day and add the Japanese Tea Ceremony in your repertoire.

Origami

Origami is an art that does not need an introduction to many. We have seen origami used on many Western television series. In the epic superhero television series Heroes, the character Hiro Nakamura once folded 1,000 paper cranes and used his ability of space/time manipulation to show a girl named Charlie that everything is possible. In Blade Runner, the character Gaff folds origami throughout the movie. In season 2 of the TV series NUMB3RS, in the episode ‘Judgment Call’, Charlie discusses the different folds in Origami.

The origin of the word Origami comes from the word ‘ori’ which means folding and the word ‘kami’ which means paper. Origami as a practice can be described as the folding of a flat sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques. The use of cuts, glues or markings on the paper are usually discouraged, and besides, using mad ninja skills in the folding of paper without the aid of glue and so forth is more impressive and skillful. If you do use cuts to achieve your goal with the paper it is not referred to as origami but kirigami.

The origin of origami in Japan can be measured by looking at references to it. The earliest reference to origami is in a poem by Ihara Saikaku in 1680, which mentions a traditional butterfly design, which was used during Shinto weddings. It is, of course, much older than that if the design was already in traditional use. It may have been brought over to Japan from China where the art of making paper from pulp existed since about 102AD, in fact, there is a legend that a Buddhist monk brought over the secret of making paper from China to Japan.

Spread the Word & Word of the Month - Hobby

Our word of the month is shumi, which means ‘hobby’. Here are some useful sentences relating to hobbies.

Watashi no shumi wa… – My hobby is…

Anata wa nani o surunoga ichiban sukidesu ka? – What do you like doing best?

Watashi wa […] no fan desu. – I’m a fan of…

Anata no shumi wa nan desu ka? – What are your hobbies?

Anata wa hima na toki, nani o shimasu ka? – What do you do in your free time?

Watashi wa utau koto ga suki desu. – I like singing.

Watashi wa ryōri o suru no ga suki desu. – I like cooking.

Watashi wa ongaku o kiku no ga suki desu. – I like listening to music.

Watashi wa dokusho ga suki desu. – I like reading.

Watashi wa netto ni noru no ga suki desu. – I like surfing the net.

Watashi wa rirakkusu suru koto ga suki desu. – I like to relax.

Japanese food of the month: Edible Onigiri Art.

Looking for an edible hobby to practice during the lockdown and impress your friends and family with when everything eventually turn normal? The answer may lie in a Japanese dish called Onigiri. Onigiri loosely translate to some as ‘riceballs’, but actually onigiri can be in any shapeand the word onigiri in fact originally comes from the word nigiru which means ‘to shape’.

A Japanese YouTube channel named Onigiri Gekijo (Onigiri Theater) shapes onigiri into artful shapes that are inspiring. Think onigiri cats, seals, camels or even aliens. Shaping onigiri has endless potential. Here are two videos to inspire you, if you so choose to try this at home as a new hobby. Itadakimasu!!

Onigiri cat

Onigiri seal

Best anime of 2016 recommendations (Back to Back great anime)

2016 was a great year for anime, back to back seasons with too many great anime to choose from. Our list to compile was very difficult and we had to brainstorm hard to pick anime. Anime that did not make the top five include Aggressive Retsuko, Berserk, Drifters, Erased and Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash. All great anime series worth a watch.

Boku No Hero Academia

Snow White with the Red Hair

Mob Psycho 100

Orange

Yuri on ICE!!

July Anime Challenge: Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayukihime)

Our July anime challenge is Snow White with the Red Hair (Japanese title Akagami no Shirayuki-hime). The anime is a heartwarming show about a red-haired herbalist called Shirayuki (which translates to ‘White Snow’ or ‘Snow White’). The prince in the kingdom where she lived becomes so obsessed with her and her red hair (which is very rare in that world, it seems) that she is forced to flee her country. While fleeing, she makes a friend with a man who helps her who happens to be a prince. He aids her and she decides to become a royal herbalist at his court.

The anime was produced by Warner Bros., Hakusensha, Showgate, The Klockworx Co. Ltd., Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Docomo Anime Store, BS Fuji and Bones, which handled the animation. The anime was directed by Masahiro Andō and the script was written by Deko Akao. The opening theme song is “Yasashii Kibou” (やさしい希望, lit. “Gentle Hope”) by Saori Hayami and the ending theme song is “Kizuna ni Nosete” (絆にのせて) by Eyelis. The first 12-episode-season ran from July to September 2015 and was followed by a second season in 2016.

Anime Birthday of July: Hanta Sero (My Hero Academia)

Our birthday character for this month is Hanta Sero from My Hero Academia whose birthday falls on July 28th. He known as the Taping Hero: Cellophane and is a student in Class 1-A at U.A. High School. He is training to become a Pro Hero. We first meet Hanta in Chapter 6 of the manga and Episode 5 of the anime.

He is a very friendly person, but can be loud and showy sometimes and loves to impress people with his quirk. Hanta is quite competant as a combatant and handles his Quirk, Tape, very well. He uses Tape to bind targets from afar, restraining them by knotting tape around their bodies. He cleverly prefers to remain at a safe distance while firing large amounts of tape at his opponents with great accuracy. He can even shoot multiple strands of tape at once and produce double-sided tape! He also has Enhanced Strength, he definitely is no pushover.

Hanta’s surname contains the kanji for “rapids” (se?) and “spine” (ro?), and his first name contains “example” (han?) and “thick” (ta?). His name is a play on the Japanese pronunciation of “cellophane tape” (セロハンテプ serohantepu?). In Volume 3 of the manga it is said:’Hanta’s favorite foods include oranges, soy products and anything else he might find healthy.’

Hanta shares his birth month with Nami from One Piece, whose birthday is on the 3rd and Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach, whose birthday is on the 7th. Be sure to look at our other anime birthday on our Events page.

AMV of the month: Mob Psycho 100

This month we share a Mob Psycho 100 tyribute AMV featuring scenes from seasons one and two. The song is a cover of 99 from the Mob Pshycho soundtrack by the artist NateWantsToBattle.

Anime Meetup

Unfortunately, due to the lockup… lockdown, our Anime Meetup for July is cancelled until further notice but keep checking every week for our weekly anime challenge to keep you entertained during the lock-down period.