BBC: David Bowie’s love affair with Japanese style

A man walks past a 3D wall portrait of British musician David Bowie, created by Australian street artist James Cochran, also known as Jimmy C, in Brixton, South London, on 19 June 2013. The artwork is based on the iconic cover for Bowies 1973 album, Aladdin Sane.
The iconic Ziggy Stardust look has been immortalized in a piece of street art in Brixton

BBC:

David Bowie, who died this week, was a well-known Japanophile, adopting many elements of Japanese culture into his stage performances.

He was someone who knew how to express himself both with music and with fashion,” Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto told the BBC.

Someone like that may not be so rare these days, but he was one of the pioneers to do both.

Make-up artist Pierre La Roche prepares English singer David Bowie for a performance as Aladdin Sane, 1973. Bowie is wearing a costume by Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto.Yamamoto designed for Bowie through both his Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane eras

Mr Yamamoto, the creative force behind some of Bowie’s most iconic stage outfits, first got to know Bowie in the 1970s, when the singer was often visiting Japan, and trying to break into the US market.

I don’t know why he was so attracted to things Japanese, but perhaps it wasn’t so much Japan or Japanese-ness itself. He knew when he looked good in something.

“When you wear something and you look really good… you feel confident and good about yourself. I think my designs and costumes had that effect on him.”

Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto waves to the audience after his fashion event 'super energy !!' in Tokyo on June 12, 2015.
Kansai Yamamoto said his relationship with Bowie “went beyond nationalities, beyond gender”

Helene Thian, a fashion historian and lifelong fan who has written extensively about Bowie, agreed. She said Bowie had often been noted as having had “this beautiful androgynous face and body, which suited Kansai Yamamoto’s unisex style”.

‘Shapeshifting’ androgyny

Bowie’s Japanese style had already been developing through his interest in Japanese theatre.

In the mid-1960s, he studied dance with Lindsay Kemp, a British performance and mime artist who was heavily influenced by the traditional kabuki style, with its exaggerated gestures, elaborate costumes, striking make-up, and “onnagata” actors – men playing female roles.

Lindsay Kemp performs in 1974
Lindsay Kemp, performing here in 1974, had been influenced by the intensely stylized productions of Japanese traditional theatre
20th October 1981: Ennosuke Ichikawa, Japan's most distinguished exponent of the three hundred year old art form, Kabuki. Ichikawa prepares his costume and make up before leading a prestigious cast at Sadler's Wells.The dramatic makeup used by kabuki became part of the Ziggy Stardust look

Bowie was a natural “shapeshifter“, says Ms Thian, and his training with Kemp and onnagata style helped him as he explored ideas of masculinity, exoticism and alienation.

He even learned from famed onnagata Tamasaburo Bando how to apply traditional kabuki make-up – its bold highlighted features on a white background are evident in the lightning bolt across the Ziggy face.

It wasn’t trying to be literal interpretation” of onnagata, said Ms Thian, “but rather inspired by its gender-bending androgyny. That’s what makes it so powerful, it’s more evocative.”

‘Quick change’ master

Mr Yamamoto said he wasn’t sure why he and Bowie had such an affinity, but that “something resonated between us, something that went beyond nationalities, beyond gender“.

Through his style and performances, he said, Bowie “broke one sexual taboo after another“.

What he did in terms of bridging the male-female gap continues to this day,” he said, including in the increasing acceptance of gay relationships in Japan.

Among his most famous outfits for Bowie was Space Samurai, a black, red and blue outfit adapting the hakama, a type of loose trousers which samurais wore and which are still worn by martial arts practitioners.

This picture taken on February 27, 2015 shows a costume created by Japanese fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto and used by David Bowie, during a press preview of an exhibition dedicated to the British singer at the Philarmonie in ParisYamamoto’s outlandish costumes became a central element of Bowie performances
An outfit worn by musician David Bowie is displayed at the 'David Bowie is' exhibition at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) museum in central London on 30 March 2013
The dramatic cape could be whipped away on stage mid-performance

He also sometimes wore a kimono-inspired cape with traditional Japanese characters on it which spell out his name phonetically, but also translate to “fiery vomiting and venting in a menacing manner“.

Ms Thian says Bowie was also “absolutely the first” Western artist to employ the hayagawari – literally “quick change” – technique from kabuki, says Ms Thian, with unseen stagehands ripping off the dramatic cape on stage to reveal another outfit.

David Bowie performs his final concert in 1973 as Ziggy Stardust at the Hammersmith Odeon, London. The concert later became known as the Retirement Gig
The kimono robe also influenced some of his fashion, such as this Ziggy outfit which is a shortened version with a classic Japanese print on it
A costume designed by Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto for David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust character is display at the Victoria and Albert museums' new major exhibition, 'British Design 1948-2012: Innovation In The Modern Age' on 28 March 2012 in London, England.
The elaborate clash of prints on this knitted bodysuit can also be seen as a reference to yakuza (organized crime syndicates) tattoo patterns, Helene Thian has written

‘A very beautiful man’

It wasn’t just his appearance – references to Japan are scattered through Bowie’s music – his 1977 album Heroes even features the track Moss Garden on which he plays a Japanese koto, a kind of zither.

These days, an artist in Bowie’s position might be accused of cultural appropriation – stealing another culture for his own purposes – but Ms Thian says it was never seen that way in Japan.

David Bowie performing in his 'Angel of Death' costume at a live recording for a Midnight Special TV show made at The Marquee Club in London to a specially invited audience of Bowie fanclub members in 1973
Bowie often wore androgynous or women’s clothing in his Ziggy Stardust phase

Bowie was born to be the ultimate diplomat and artiste,” she says.

He took his creativity and fused it with his impulses to meld East and West and come up with a healing of the world in this post-war period.

This was “a homage to Japanese culture and the Japanese loved it“, she said, as Bowie challenged the tendency of Western fashion at the time to lump all Asian styles together as “Orientalism“.

‘Eternal hero’

Indeed, Japan embraced Bowie back, and he remains an icon there, with his glam rock style influencing generations of bands and musicians.

Photo of Hotei Tomayasu playing with David Bowie onstage at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo in 1996
Hotei shared with the BBC this photo of them playing onstage together at Bowie’s 1996 Tokyo gig

Renowned rock guitarist Hotei Tomayasu, best known outside Japan for composing the theme for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films, told the BBC: “[Bowie] is the one who truly changed my life. My eternal hero and inspiration.

Bowie is also known in Japan for his role as Maj Jack Celliers in the 1983 iconic film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, directed by the renowned Nagisa Oshima.

The film, set during World War Two in a Japanese camp for prisoners, pits Bowie’s character and another soldier against two Japanese officers, one of whom is played by the famous musician Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Tweet by Miu Sakamoto recalling her meeting with Bowie when she was a little girl, 11 January 2015

On Twitter, Sakamoto’s ex-wife Akiko Yano recalled how Bowie carried their young daughter – Miu – on his shoulders when the family visited the Roppongi neighborhood in Tokyo with Bowie in the 1980s.

Miu Sakamoto tweeted this picture of herself as a little girl shaking hands with the singer, saying she vaguely recalled meeting “a very beautiful man“.

(He is) no more. A world in which David is not living still feels totally unreal.

10 Horrifying demons and spirits from Japanese folklore

 Mental Floss:

Oni (demons) and yurei (ghosts) have played a role in Japanese culture for thousands of years, and stories of new spirits continue to be told today. Much of this list is comprised of hannya, which in Noh theater are women whose rage and jealousy turned them into oni while still alive. Here are just a few tales of demons, ghosts, and women you don’t want to mess with.

1. KIYOHIME

Kiyohime was a young woman scorned by her lover, a monk named Anchin, who grew cold and lost interest in her. Realizing he had left her, Kiyohime followed him to a river and transformed into a serpent while swimming after his boat. Terrified by her monstrous form, Anchin sought refuge in a temple, where monks hid him beneath a bell. Not to be evaded, Kiyohime found him by his scent, coiled around the bell, and banged loudly on it with her tail. She then breathed fire onto the bell, melting it and killing Anchin.

2. YUKI-ONNA (SNOW WOMAN)

There are many variations of this popular Japanese tale. Yuki-onna is usually described as having white skin, a white kimono, and long black hair. She appears in snowfall and glides without feet over the snow like a ghost. She feeds on human essence, and her killing method of choice is to blow on her victims to freeze them to death and then suck out their souls through their mouths.

3. SHUTEN DŌJI

Shuten Dōji is described as more than 50 feet tall with a red body, five horns, and 15 eyes. There’s no need to fear this demon, though. In a legend from the medieval period, warriors Raikō and Hōshō infiltrated Shuten Dōji’s lair disguised as yamabushi (mountain priests) to free some kidnapped women.

The oni greeted them with a banquet of human flesh and blood, and the disguised warriors offered Shuten Dōji drugged sake. After the demon passed out, the warriors cut off his head, killed the other oni, and freed the prisoners.

4. YAMAUBA (MOUNTAIN OGRESS)

Also originating in the medieval period, yamauba are generally considered to be old women who were marginalized by society and forced to live in the mountains—who also have a penchant for eating human flesh. Among many tales, there is one of a yamauba who offers shelter to a young woman about to give birth while secretly planning to eat her baby, and another of a yamauba who goes to village homes to eat children while their mothers are away. But they’re not picky; they’ll eat anyone who passes by.

Yamabuas also have mouths under their hair. Delightful!

5. UJI NO HASHIHIME (WOMAN AT UJI BRIDGE)

In another tale of a woman scorned, Uji no hashihime prayed to a deity to turn her into an oni so she could kill her husband, the woman he fell in love with, and all of their relatives. To accomplish this, she bathed in the Uji River for 21 days, divided her hair into five horns, painted her body red with vermilion, and went on a legendary killing spree. Besides her intended victims, anyone who saw her instantly died of fear.

6. TENGU

Tengu are impish mountain goblins that play tricks on people, featured in countless folktales and considered purely evil until about the 14th century. They were originally depicted as birdlike, with wings and beaks, though now the beak is often replaced with a comically large nose. They are known to lead people away from Buddhism, tie priests to tall trees and towers, start fires in temples, and kidnap children.

Many legends say the tengu were hypocritical priests who must now live the rest of their lives as mountain goblins as punishment. Locals made offerings to the tengu to avoid their mischief, and there are still festivals in Japan dedicated to them today.

7. OIWA

A revenge story made popular by the famous kabuki drama Yotsuya kaidan, Oiwa was married to a rōnin (masterless samurai) named Iemon; he wanted to marry a rich local’s daughter who had fallen in love with him, and, in order to end their marriage, Oiwa was sent a poisoned medicine. Though the poison failed to kill her, she became horribly disfigured, causing her hair to fall out and her left eye to droop. Upon learning of her disfigurement and betrayal, she accidentally killed herself on a sword. Her ghostly, deformed face appeared everywhere to haunt Iemon. It even appeared in place of his new bride’s face, which caused Iemon to accidentally behead her.

Oiwa’s spirit followed him relentlessly to the point where he welcomed death.

8. DEMON AT AGI BRIDGE

This story begins as so many horror stories do: With an overly-confident man who boasted to his friends that he didn’t fear to cross Agi Bridge or the demon rumored to reside there. As oni are known for their ability to shape-shift, the demon at Agi Bridge appeared to the man as an abandoned woman. As soon as she caught the young man’s eye, she transformed back into a 9 foot green-skinned monster and chased after him. Unable to catch the man, the demon later changed into the form of the man’s brother and knocked on his door late at night.

The demon was let into the house and, after a struggle, bit off the man’s head, held it up and danced with it before his family, and then vanished.

9. KUCHISAKE-ONNA (SLIT-MOUTHED WOMAN)

In an urban legend from 1979 that swept through Japan, Kuchisake-onna wears a surgical mask and asks children if they think she is beautiful. If they say yes, she takes off the mask to reveal her mouth slit from ear to ear and asks the question again. The only way to escape is to give a noncommittal answer, such as “you look OK.” Barring that, you can distract her with certain Japanese candies. But if the children say yes again, she will cut their mouths to make them look like her.

10. AKA MANTO (RED CLOAK)

With a demon for just about everything, why shouldn’t the Japanese have a few for their bathrooms? Aka Manto, one of the more popular demons, hides in women’s bathrooms. In one version of the story, Aka Manto asks women if they would like a red cloak or a blue cloak. If the woman answers “red,” Aka Manto tears the flesh from her back to make it appear she is wearing a red cloak. If she answers “blue,” then he strangles her to death. Unfortunately, if you encounter Aka Manto, there may be no escaping: Some versions of the story say if you don’t answer or if you pick a different color, he will immediately drag you to hell.

Additional Sources: Japanese Ghosts & Demons: Art of the SupernaturalJapanese Demon Lore: Oni, from Ancient Times to the Present; “How the Demon at Agi Bridge in Omi Province Ate Somebody,” from The Demon at Agi Bridge and Other Japanese Tales.

Newly established Japan Ninja Council promises to be your one-stop website for all things ninja

RocketNews 24:

When you think of “cool Japan,” it’s hard to overlook ninjas, those stealthy spies and assassins with more tricks up their sleeve than a magician in a parka. And yet it seems these timeless icons of Japanese culture have largely been overlooked by the national government’s Cool Japan in favor of AKB48 spin-offs and abacuses.

So instead, a band of 11 Japanese governors and mayors have assembled to create the Japan Ninja Council (JNC) with the sole aim of reminding everyone how cool ninjas are. Having officially launched on 9 October they aim to collect every bit of information on ninjas, including their history and culture, and provide it to anyone who wants to learn more about these elusive figures.

All 11 founding fathers of the JNC took part in an opening ceremony last Friday to celebrate its birth. They include the governors of Kanagawa, Shiga, and Saga Prefectures along with the mayors of Odawara, Ueda, Iga, Koga, and Ureshino.

The council will be led by its president, Mie Prefecture Govenor Eikei Suzuki, and vice-president, former Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Hiroshi Mizohata. Rounding out the group is prominent kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo the Eleventh in a supporting role.

▼ Most members decided to look the part for the council’s launch

Unfortunately since they decided to launch on a Friday before a long weekend, nothing much has happened yet. The JNC website “ninja-official.com” is up but only has a brief history of ninjas and a video about a ninja weapons show in Iga. It is a fairly cool video though.

Japan Ninja Council
Official WebsiteTwitter
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Shochiku x UNIQLO UT 2015 Spring/Summer Kabuki Collection

Uniqlo has unveiled an upcoming collaboration with iconic Japanese film and theater company Shochiku Co. Ltd, under the stewardship of creative director NIGO. A line of men’s and women’s clothing will reflect Kabuki traditions and the vibrant colors of Japanese theater culture and costumes, all skewed through the lens of pop culture in NIGO’s inimitable style.

The collection is set to launch in Paris, New York and Tokyo at the end of the month, as highlighted in this enigmatic teaser video released today.

Amped Asia’s Top 20 picks of Marvel’s most magnificent Asian superheroines

Amped Asia:

In the last decade we have seen an unprecedented resurgence of comic books into mainstream culture. The once niche market that many erroneously believed only appealed to the stereotypical image of the nerdy anti-social comic book fan has now become a full fledged pop culture phenomena.

Amped Asia knows a little bit of what it’s like to have what was once considered nerdy suddenly be cool. Most of what we are passionate about within Asian culture has suddenly now become cool like sushi, Asian characters for albeit terrible tattoos, K-pop, and the list goes on. And this might be hard to believe, but before we became the incredibly handsome, muscular, genius, shooting machine guns while riding dinosaurs badasses we are now, we too could be caught reading a comic book alone in our nerd hovels.

You see we were once/still are nerds. So that being said, with the comic book craze at arguably its zenith and Asian culture rapidly becoming more and more popular, we wanted to give a little love to some of the top Asian female super heroes in the Marvel Universe!

20) Lotus Shinchuko (Japanese)

Lotus-shintuko

Lotus_Shinchuko_(Earth-58163)

With a name like Lotus Shinchuko, one kind of expects her to be the star of a weird “exotic far east” stag film than that of a character from the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu series. Wait, scratch that, her name sounds EXACTLY like what you would expect from that exploitative 1970’s comic book. The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu piggy backed off the kung fu movie craze of the times, giving us Lotus Shinchuko; a master of the martial arts who was as deadly as she was beautiful. She might not be the most well known character on our list, but can be seen making cameo appearances in the Marvel Universe, including working as a bodyguard for Luke Cage. Although seeing her maybe a bit of a rare treat, SWEEEET CHRISTMAS are they are treat!

19) Nancy Lu (Chinese)

Push

Nancy Lu first started off as a member of a rival basketball team against Peter Parker’s own daughter, May “Mayday” Parker in Spider-Girl#23. After May Parker discovered that Nancy Lu had been using her mutant powers of telekinesis to win games, Lu would be convinced by Parker to use her powers for good. Soon she would establish herself as a hero, adopting the name Push, and offered an invitation to join a group called the X-People. Fortunately for Lu, it was a future incarnation of the X-Men and not a group of people really into going to raves.

18) Dust (Afghani)

As long as not EVERYTHING is sandy we aren't going to have a problem...am I right fellas?

Sometimes a little less is more, and although most of her is covered up, Dust is still one sultry super hero. A member of the X-Men and possibly the most modestly dressed comic book hero of all time, we respect Dust, AKA Sooraya Qadir’s decision to wear her niqab as a an X-Men, although we might not fully agree with it. You know, not at all because she is quite the looker underneath it all, but because.. freedoms, and Americas.. and women’s rights… yes..

17) Nico Minorou (Japanese)

Nico Minorou

Next up is our favorite gothic character from the Runaways, and no we don’t mean Joan Jett. We are talking about Marvel’s own Nico Minorou. To say this Goth sorceress has some unusual character traits, especially in a comic book universe, would still be an understatement. You see, Nico like many Goths we know loitering outside our local mall’s Hot Topic, has a bit of an emotional, clingy, and anti-social personality. However unlike most Goths we know, she has the ability to ACTUALLY control magic, cast spells, and even has a powerful magic staff appear out of her chest whenever she bleeds! Yup EVERYTIME SHE BLEEDS.

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16) Omega Sentinel (India)

02Omega Sentinel

Unlike a lot of the other X-Women on our list, Omega Sentinel, AKA Karima Shapandar  is one of the few members of the X-Men and later Excalibur, who is more or less human and not mutant at all. And we do mean more or less. You see Omega Sentinel, as her name would imply, actually started off as a human police detective in her native India, until she became a sleeper cell Sentinel agent thanks to Bastion of the Operation: Zero Tolerance program. This program, intended to hunt down all mutants across the United States, used nanite technology to augment her strength, speed, and reflexes to superhuman levels. It also equipped her with a bevy of powers including flight, regenerative abilities against damage, and built in cybernetic weapons which allow her to shoot energy blasts of radiation and electricity. She basically became a living human Sentinel however she chose to use her powers to help the X-Men rather than harm them. With all her doohickeys and power upgrades, it begs the question what other “enhancements” does she have? If she would like to test them, we will be waiting in the bedroom.

15) Honey Lemon (Japanese)

Honey Lemon

It’s fitting to have our #15 and #14 on this list following the release of Big Hero 6. Who better embody the rise of Asian culture with the rise of comic book nerd culture than two of the characters from this great animated collaboration from Disney and Marvel? A lesser known but still very popular Marvel comic book, this is one of the few series in the Marvel Universe with a mainly Asian roster. Little is known about Aiko Miyazaki, the secret agent/genius scientist known as Honey Lemon. But we do know she has a Power Purse, or Nano Purse, that contains miniature artificial inter-universe wormholes that can be used at her discretion. She is like a hot Felix the Cat, although we would be afraid to tell her that.

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14) Gogo Tomago (Japanese)

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Another member of Big Hero 6, Leiko Tanaka, better known as Gogo Tomago, was a tough as nails youth from the streets before she joined up with Big Hero 6. It was with this team that she channeled her aggression into mastering her voice activated battle suit which allows her to absorb and amplify kinetic energy into thermochemical energy. She can even transform her body into a spherical “powerball” during which she has near invulnerability and can hurl herself at enemies, clocking in at speeds of 185 miles per hour. And as long as Gogo doesn’t hurl herself at our balls at that speed or give us blue ones, we will continue our admiration for her.

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13) Silk (Korean)

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Basically the female Korean version of Peter Parker, this web slinging heroine shares much of the same origin story as her male counterpart, even the radioactive spider that gave them their powers. However unlike Peter Parker, she creates organic web from her finger tips and in our humble opinion has a much more appealing costume. Hey maybe we are biased, but we at Amped Asia would much rather be caught in her web. Sorry Pete.

Silk Spiderman

12) Surge (Japanese)

surge

This electrifying member of the New Mutants is quite the survivor. Hailing from the Land of the Rising Sun, she fled to America in her teens, living on the streets until the X-Men found her and brought her back to the X-Mansion. A former drug addict, she beat her addiction to become a promising member of the New Mutants, former leader of the New X-Men, and one of only 27 mutants that retained their powers after the events of House of M story arc.

11) Karma (Vietnamese)

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Vietnamese mutant X’ian Coy Manh, better known as Karma, has the ability to take possession of the minds of other people and even animals. With this power she has the ability to change a victims’ perception of memories, command them, and basically take over their whole body to do her bidding. And as a member of the New Mutants and agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., I am sure there are many fanboys out there who wouldn’t mind seeing her using those powers on say Maria Hill or one of the other hotties on our list. You know for national security and such.

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10) Kabuki (Japanese)

Kabuki

Whenever we attempt to compile a list of pop culture icons, we understand a certain amount of our readers, will shall we say, “Voice their discerning opinions” on our entries. And by that I mean whine and bitch that we included/didn’t include their favorite character because of XYZ reason. Add in the fact that comics are especially rife with cannon/non-cannon and publication semantics our next entry may stir up some hullabaloo. The tragic yet beautiful tale of the young woman named Kabuki is a good example of this. Although she is not associated with the Marvel Universe per se, and was once an Image Comics property, she is now currently being published under Icon Comics, an imprint of Marvel. So now that that is cleared up we just wanted to include the masked mysterious heroine on our list because it is a pretty great read. So quit your bitching.

9) Black Widow (Chinese)

Hate to say we told you so Nick, but should have had her sign that prenup. Also when did you become 50 Cent??

The original Black Widow is a classic, no question about that. So to be the follow up act to the widely popular Natasha Romanoff was no easy task, especially since her character has been so fully fleshed out so to speak, with the recent live action portrayal by Scarlet Johansson. But we here at Amped Asia think that the Monica Chang version of the Black Widow has done pretty well for herself. First off, she is the ex-wife of Nick Fury and that alone deserves entry onto this list. Think about what the “irreconcilable differences” must have been for that divorce. What is the alimony like? Who gets the Helicarrier nights, weekends, and every other Thursday? Anyway she even helped capture both the Punisher AND Captain America at one point. And she was the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D before Norman Osborn burned her face off. We haven’t seen an Asian do such a bang up replacement job since the Arnel Pineda era of Journey. Well done Chang, well done.

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8) Colleen Wing (Japanese)

colleen

Although Colleen Wing possesses no super powers of her own, except incredible athleticism and detective skills, she still holds her own among Marvels’ top heroes. Armed with a 1,000 year old katana and her wits, Colleen has appeared mainly in the Iron Fist series as well as aiding the X-Men in battle. This Hero for Hire makes reading Iron Fist a little more tolerable, and looks just as sharp as her sword in her skin tight white cat suit. How she keeps it clean when so many of her readers want to see her get dirty is beyond us.

colleen wing

7) Yukio (Japanese)

yukio

This being a list of Asian female comic book characters, you knew we would eventually have a ninja on our list. And boy what a ninja do we have for you! Yukio is equal parts badass as sexy. Her character is associated mostly with the X-Men series, specifically her encounters with Wolverine. Once tasked by Shingen Yoshida to assassinate Wolverine, Yukio instead developed a crush on the Canadian Casanova. Although her appearances were sporadic her influence never was. Her short hair, sense of style, and “madness” and lust for life even inspired Storm to rock her Mohawk punk look for awhile. She was even chosen by Wolverine to raise his adoptive child, Amiko Kobayashi. So to recap, badass sexy ninja, who even Weapon X himself thinks can raise his family. That is some BAMF status.

6) Jolt (Japanese)

Helen_Takahama_(Earth-616)_from_Marvel_War_of_Heroes_001

Before becoming the living embodiment of electricity known as Jolt, Hallie Takahama was just your ordinary girl who happened to be a super hero buff. Not only was she a huge fan of the superhuman heroes she aspired to be, but also memorized the details of the superhuman battles that took place. Although once only a spectator, Hallie would become no stranger to the often tragic origins of becoming a hero. After her parents were killed by Sentinels, Hallie would go into hiding until she would be captured by the villainous mercenary group the Rat Pack. Their leader, the not Frank Sinatra Arnim Zola, would experiment on her along with their other victims, leaving most of them either mutated or dead. That is except for Hallie, who due to the experiments, would gain superhuman abilities, such as hyperkinetic agility, transform any type of energy into physical strength and speed, and turn her body into living electricity, allowing her to fly and shoot electrical force blasts. With all these amazing powers, you would think that she could have stopped her costume from looking like she ripped off the design from a can of Jolt Cola. But hey nobody’s perfect.

jolt vs jolt

5) Mantis (Vietnamese)

Mantis_(Earth-900651)_0001

Mantis grew up in Vietnam at the Kree alien temple of the Priests of Pama, the latter which believe she would one day become the Celestial Madonna and mate with the eldest Cotati on earth, becoming the Celestial Mother. In other words, one day become the most important being in the universe. While prepping for this role she even found time to master martial arts, become a member of the Avengers, and even act as a counselor for the Guardians of the Galaxy. With all this life experience, her next role in the Marvel Universe may not be the Celestial Mother, but Marvels’ toughest Asian tiger mom.

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4) Armor (Japanese)

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Look, we hate stereotypes just as much as the next person, and well aware that a good amount of our list is comprised of characters that are either ninjas, wield katanas, or are throwbacks to Chopsocky Kung Fu exploitation flicks of the 1970’s. So naturally adding a Japanese female character whose mutant powers allow her to create a psionic mecha exoskeleton kind of puts us in an awkward position.

However the fact that this character was created by Joss Whedon, who as we all know would never use Asian culture for his own gain *coughFIREFLYcough*definitely makes up for it. Indicative of Whedon’s work, her character is as well written as it is interesting. We got to admit, her psionic mecha exoskeleton is pretty badass, and even though old man Logan gives her guff for her choice of codename, that Armor is one tough costumer. While surrounded by her exoskeleton she is nearly impervious, and has veteran X-Men such as Wolverine and Cyclops taking her under their wings. So all joking aside, ya did good again Mr. Whedon. P.S. Don’t mind that Firefly crack; we actually really enjoy that show here at Amped Asia.

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3) Jubilee (Chinese-American)

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With her giant yellow trench coat, oversized neon pink sunglasses, and mall brat attitude there seems to be no better representative on our list of the 1990’s era comic book industry than Jubilee. Hell she was even a member of GENERATION X, all she was missing was some superfluous Jim Lee inspired pouches, a can of Surge, and a copy of Nirvana’s Nevermind and she might as well be a Smithsonian time capsule of the 1990’s. But despite all that, and possessing mutant powers that fellow X-Men Dazzler would even find lame, Jubilee was one fiiiiiiine member of the X-Men. No on looked better in a pair of roller blades and walkman better than her back in the day.

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2) Ms. Marvel (Pakistani)

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Kamala Khan is not only the first Asian Ms. Marvel, but also the first Muslim character to star in her own series in the Marvel Universe. Debuting in Captain Marvel #14 in 2013, the new Ms. Marvel has helped shatter stereotypes of what Asian American heroes can be as well as Muslim characters. No small feat considering the post 9/11 political climate she debuted in, as well as high expectations set by the previous Ms. Marvels when she took over the mantle. Nothing has held this character’s raising popularity back. Kamala Khan has overcome ethnic and religious stereotypes and bigotry, and most impressive of all, proved that even someone from Jersey City, New Jersey could do great things. Seriously, NEW JERSEY. And that is a super power within itself my friend.

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1) Psylocke (Japanese-British)

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As with most popular comic book characters, Psylocke’s origins and story have been retconned and rebooted so many times it’s hard to keep up with what is cannon and what is not. What we do know is at some point the British born Elizabeth “Betsy” Braddock became the Japanese Psylocke, becoming one of the most popular female X-Men as well as fan favorite of cosplayers world wide. And I think we can all agree that an Asian looking girl with a British accent parading around in a leotard is something we can all enjoy.

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Kabuki returns to Lincoln Center Festival

 

Heisei Nakamura-za, Kabuki, theater, Lincoln Center, Lincoln Center Festival, NYC, Japanese traditional arts

Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki

Monday, July 7 through Saturday, July 12

Rose Theater – 14 W. 60th Street at Broadway

Tickets: $45 – $150

 

The Heisei Nakamura-za company, which made its North American debut in a critically acclaimed and sold-out run during Lincoln Center Festival 2004, was founded by the illustrious Kanzaburo XVIII, the late patriarch of the Nakamura family – a veritable Kabuki dynasty in Japan with an unbroken line of actors and innovators reaching back to the 17th century. Kanzaburo’s legacy of encapsulating Kabuki’s centuries-old heritage with humor and contemporary references continues to live today in a company bursting with energy and joyously led by his two sons who are both accomplished and versatile young stage, film, and television actors: Nakamura Kankuro VI and Nakamura Shichinosuke II.

For its Lincoln Center Festival engagement, the company has revived a rarely performed 19th century ghost story, Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki (The Ghost Tale of the Wet Nurse Tree), about the murder of an artist by a handsome samurai who desires the artist’s wife. Nakamura Shido II, who joins the company to perform at the Festival for the first time, plays the villainous samurai; the beautiful wife is played by Shichinosuke II. In a veritable acting tour de force, Kankuro VI plays three devilishly difficult roles – including the artist, one of the key central figures – with lightning-fast transformations, changing from one to another, sometimes within the same scene. Running the emotional gamut from drama to uproarious slapstick comedy and culminating in a thrilling fight-to-the-death beneath a waterfall, this is Kabuki theater at its most engaging.

The performance is in Japanese with English synopsis via headset.

For performance times and to purchase tickets, please visit Lincoln Center Festival’s website or call CenterCharge at 212.721.6500.

 

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Kabuki returns to Lincoln Center Festival

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French pastry maker celebrates Japanese culture with line of special éclairs

 

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RocketNews 24:

Although it hasn’t been that long since its first U.S. retail outlet opened, French gourmet food supplier Fauchon has had a presence in Japan since the early 1970s. The company is best known here for its line of high quality teas, but they also offer pastries to well-heeled shoppers with a sweet tooth in the dessert section of a number of upscale department stores.

After so many years of success in Japan, Fauchon has decided to tip its hat to the country by releasing a line of éclairs with decorations and ingredients inspired by Japanese culture.

A total of six different types of éclairs will be available, each for a limited time. Kicking off the series is Éclair Primrose, in honor of the Hinamatsuri, or Doll Festival, held in Japan each March, with a pink and green color pattern that evokes the holiday’s feminine decorations and a peach cream filling.

March 5 sees the rollout of the sakura éclair, modeled after Japan’s iconic cherry blossoms, which will be here roughly as long as their real life counterparts, with April 8 your last chance to buy one.

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March 29 sees the kabuki éclair take center stage, featuring a design that calls to mind the traditional striped curtain used at theaters for Japan’s representative performing art. The kabuki éclair’s sophisticated filling is a mixture of green tea and citrus yuzu creams, and the confectionary will be on sale until May 13.

Two varieties of koinobori éclairs, patterned after the carp streamers flown to celebrate Children’s Day, can be purchased between April 9 and May 6. Starting May 7, Fauchon will be selling its matcha green tea éclair, and for the finale, on July 2, the French company will release an éclair decorated in the manner of famed woodblock artist Katsushika Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa.

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The limited-time pastries, collectively called the Homage to Japan, range in price from 468 yen (US $4.50) to 540 yen ($5.32). In the Tokyo area, Fauchon operates retail outlets in the Takashimaya department stores branches in Nihonbashi, Shinjuku, and Yokohama.

Sources: EntabeNicheee!

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French pastry maker celebrates Japanese culture with line of special éclairs