japan tsunami relief fundraiser

the saskatoon japanese association would like to announce that we will be fundraising for japan tsunami relief at the saskatoon farmer’s market on saturday march 26th and saturday april 9th.

100% of all donations will go to the japanese red cross. everyone making a donation will be given a small Japanese gift as a sign of our appreciation.

our fundraising booth will be open from 8am to 2pm, march 26th and april 9th, at the farmer’s market, 414 Avenue B south, in saskatoon.  we’ll be giving away japanese gifts such as paper crane, calligraphy and book marks etc.  i’ll be there most of the day.

i designed this poster for this cause in hopes that people will rebuild their lives and dreams with help from society and rise again.  i’d like to thank proprint for kindly printing the posters and the flyers for no charge.

hope to see you tomorrow.

hisaishi joe :: kaze no toori michi

from ‘my neighbour totoro’. elijah’s favorite characters are mei-chan and makkuro-kurosuke.

he goes ::
“makkuro-kurosuke, deteoide! denaito medama wo hojikuruzo~!”
(come out, makkuro-kurosuke. or we’ll spoon out your eye balls~!”)

you’d be able to hear him from another planet.

hisaishi joe

summer diary, age 7 :: bad medicine

summer diary book, 1981 front cover

my mom sent me a box full of my old diaries, essays, letters and poems.  this is one of the picture diaries that i had to keep as an assignment during summer vacation when i was in grade one.  it looks like i drew it with crayon.  the summer vacation began on july 20 and ended on august 31.  i wrote a diary entry under the drawing.

summer diary, july 21, 1981


“i was forced to take medicine by mother yesterday.  so i threw up.  after i threw up, my throat hurt.”

what a touching story!  can you feel the maternal love?

medicine in japan is very bitter.  Kong Qiu said “good medicine tastes bitter in the mouth…”.  for that, japanese pharmaceuticals are doing an excellent job.

even the kid’s medicine i had to take was also bitter.  they came in liquid and powder form.  my mom used to wrap powder medicine in “オブラート (oblaat)”, which is a tasteless water-soluble gel made of starch.  that way, i wouldn’t taste the bitterness of the medicine.  liquid medicine, on the other hand, had no way to distract from its bad taste — a sickening mixture of cola, cinnamon, dirt and toothpaste in a purple-brown color.  as i got older and more mischievous, i would pour the liquid medicine down the sink and tell my mom that i took it.  i was successfully “taking” the medicine happily in this way until one day when i poured so much down the drain that my mom noticed and figured out what was going on.

i learned that i should never EVER tell a lie to my mom and to stay healthy so that i wouldn’t have to take medicine.

canadian kids don’t have to go through such a rough childhood.

children’s tylenol in canada is flavored cherry, bubblegum, or banana — you name it.  elijah likes the super-sweet medicine so much that he asks for a second helping — saying “more, more” — a red carpet to happy drug addiction.

i can’t wait to introduce him the king of bitter medicine, the original “SEIRO-GAN“!

happy 2009, kanpai!

happy 2009 kanpai

happy new year to all of you!  i hope your first 18 days were glorious and that the glory continues for the next 347 days.

elijah wants to say to you all, ‘KANPA~I!’  i should write it in all capital letters for accuracy.  elijah has been really into saying ‘kanpai (cheers)’ whenever he gets the chance.  he says ‘kanpai’ to clink glasses (he’s drinking barley tea or milk in a cup), but also says it when he’s eating food from a plate.  he wants us to grab our plates and clink them against his, many times every meal (whenever he wants attention).  i’ve tried to correct him, but his adorable face always wins.  there are so many things to say kanpai to in elijah’s world.

happy 2009, kanpai

elijah turned 19 months old last week.  i thought he was pretty adorable his first year, but his 19-month-old cuteness just keeps accelerating.  his communication skills have been improving like a storm.  he can make two- and three-word sentences now.  he can say ‘kore nani (what’s this)?’, ‘mama suru no (mama do it)’, ‘milk hoshii (I want milk)’, etc…  he can also say prepositions like ‘mama mo (mama, too)’ or ‘elijah no (elijah’s)’.  he seems to understand that i speak japanese and paul speaks english to him.  so when he speaks to paul, he says ‘papa, too’ or ‘papa’s’.  

he can say names other than papa and mama.  he says his playmates’ names, grandma and gido to paul’s parents and ba-ba and ji-ji to mine.  today he said to me, ‘ba-ba, nihon (grandma, japan)’.  

my family is still living in japan so we communicate on videochat.  when elijah and i videochat with my parents, elijah does his best to show them how much he’s learned.  he holds up shapes in front of the camera and says ‘sankaku! (triangle)’ or ‘shikaku’ (square) and sings the ‘ABC’ song or ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’.  my parents applaud and cheer every time.  

so close and so far away.  it makes me feel a little homesick.

kanpai, nihon!

happy 2009, kanpai

today’s elijah :: children’s day!

the fifth of may is a japanese holiday called ‘kodomo no hi‘ (children’s day). the holiday used to be called ‘boy’s day’, but the government decided to rename it children’s day to celebrate the happiness of all children. we still celebrate boys on this day since there is a girl’s day on the third of march.

for boy’s day, we raise a carp flag (koi nobori) and display dolls in samurai armor. one of the dolls represent ‘kintaro‘. kintaro was raised in the mountains by his mother. kintaro rides a bear instead of a horse. the animals of the forest became his friends due to his gentle nature. eventually kintaro joins up with a Samurai clan and helps to defeat a gang of demons. kintaro is a symbol of a healthy and strong boy.

i don’t have carp flags or the dolls yet, so i made an origami kabuto and jinbei kimono for elijah. i happened to have a kintaro bib. i tried to put a paper origami kabuto on his head, but he ate it. here he is on his rocking moose.

i hope he had fun on his first boy’s day. or maybe he’s sick of being a model…

today’s elijah :: rainbow world shirt

paul and i found this shirt at nishimatsu-ya, a baby clothes shop in japan. my mom and my sister-in-law, mayumi-chan, kept telling us to go check out this shop — lots of cute baby clothes, with reasonable prices.

so one day we dropped in to do some shopping. we were happy to find that most of the clothes they carry have awesome engrish on them. we had such a great time we ended up going back there again and again.

elijah seems a little skeptical, but that’s his usual face so we don’t worry about it.

rainbow world very wonderful
nice the sky happily
we are all well so special
smile big sky

on the back of the shirt, it says ‘highest’.

(photos:: seven month old elijah)

today’s elijah :: making a brief stop at kyoto station

on our way to see our friends in kyoto, we made a brief stop at kyoto station. paul and i used to go there to take pictures of the new kyoto station.

in the station, there was a small gallery promoting a new drama situated in kyoto. they didn’t forget to make this photo board. i love these thing — so stupid and so good. of course, elijah was the first victim.

we think elijah would make a pretty mr. geisha-san.

sorry, elijah. your papa and mama love these stupid things…

we love you, elijah! don’t forget.

today’s elijah :: chased by high school girl paparazzi

elijah is big in japan.  i mean it literally.  when we went back to japan over the holidays, we stayed in wakayama, kyoto and tokyo. everywhere we went, people said to us, ‘he’s so big! Soooo big!’.

elijah’s also big in canada. he’s now almost 8 months old and weighs almost 10kg.  he’s on the 90th percentile growth curve.  i can feel it in my arms — more and more muscle.

it’s been a crazy couple of weeks since we got back from japan. finally i have some time to organize photos from our trip.

here are some photos from a subway ride in kyoto.  a bunch of high school girls came up to us saying ‘kawaii, kawaii!’ to elijah. they surrounded us in the subway train and took a lot of photos of elijah with their cell phones.

one of the girls gave him a chiroru choco (a popular bite-size chocolate).  her friends teased her saying it’s too soon for a baby to eat chocolate.  she was very sweet.  she put the chocolate back in her pocket, but then she snuck it under elijah’s leg as we were getting ready to get off the train.

of course, paul and i ate the chocolate. it was the sweetest chocolate.

print show at cafe pause in tokyo

i’m doing a show at cafe pause in ikebukuro, tokyo. i’m showing some prints of my favorite drawings. initially, i was planning to show original drawings, but i realized it would be much easier to bring prints with me, especially since i’m travelling with my baby. we all came to japan at the end of december to spend new year’s with my family in wakayama. then paul, elijah and i went to tokyo to set up this show.

this is my first show in japan, actually. i started my art career in canada, years after i left japan in 2000. my work is pretty well known online, with my website and flickr and many links from different sites around the world. i write my blog in english, so my contacts have been mostly non-japanese. i’ve shown work in many different places, but never before in japan.

jean snow and elijah

the person who contacted me to do this show is jean snow. he’s a canadian living in tokyo who writes a blog about design and pop culture in tokyo. he found me after my drawings were linked from drawn!, even though the link was broken (he searched my name on google). jean asked me if i was interested in doing a show at cafe pause, where he sets up events. we arranged the time so we could also spend new year’s with my family on the same trip.

cafe pause is about a 10 minute walk from ikebukuro station. it stands on a corner lot and the two walls facing the streets have big wall-to-wall windows that create an open-air feeling. there are display areas on the pillars and on the walls (but not much wall space because of all the windows). i put up small prints on the bookshelves on the pillars and along one wall, and some big prints on the open wall space. i filled up the space with images tightly, using 44 prints in total (many of them used twice in different places). i made two prints (‘inside of me’ and ‘after all’) so large (18 x 24″) that their heads are bigger than lifesize. someday, i’d like to make huge prints that would swallow our minds and bodies –ultraman size would be nice.

it’s been awhile since i did a show in a cafe gallery – my favorite place to show my drawings. i like my work to be seen as part of daily life. people come to a cafe for a cup of coffee or to meet someone, not specifically to look at art. when they go home that evening to have a bath, if they suddenly remember my drawings and the images come out of the mist of the bath, that would be wonderful.

the show will be on until january 13th. the prints are all for sale, and there are free postcards, too.

cafe pause
2-14-12-1F Minami-Ikebukuro
Toshima-ku, Tokyo

Phone: 03-5950-6117
Fax: 03-5950-6180

monkey life

i’ve gotten monkeyed up this week…

here are a couple of monkey videos from japan.

pan-kun is a chimpanzee who has many human adventures with the bulldog, james. in this episode, pan-kun and james experience firefighter training and an earthquake simulation.

pan-kun… please stop eating grapes or i can’t stop laughing at you…

pan-kun and james go to an elementary school and do sit-ups. the average 10-year-old japanese boys can do 19 sit-ups and average japanese female adult can do 18 sit-ups in 30 seconds. how many sit-ups can pan-kun and james do?!

okay, i shouldn’t call pan-kun a monkey, he’s a chimpanzee — a kind of ape. i call him a monkey because i have monkey-chimpanzee confusion. in my japanese mind, they are all “saru” to me…