Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fall Festivals, Kawaii, Amigurumi, Chibi, and Odori Line Dancers

Ka•wai•i -- a Japanese word meaning "lovable", "cute", or "adorable"; for some very nearly a philosophy of life

Ami•gu•ru•mi -- the Japanese art of crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures (from the Japanese ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi meaning stuffed doll)

amigurumi can take the form of plush potted plants

(some with attitude)

...or polychromatic mice

Kawaii is an aspect of Japanese culture that shows up in virtually all segments of Japanese society and to the outsider may seem to contradict a more formal, even "straight-laced" preconception of the Japanese people. Kawaii shows up as Hello Kitty accessories and highly individualized, decorated cell phones in the hands of school girls, young children's binto lunch boxes, and a bewildering range of refrigerator magnets and stickers. But it can also turn up as bunny rabbits on construction barricades and personal chibi (Japanese slang meaning "short person" or "small child") avatars on the business cards of very professional government bureaucrats and businessmen.

My daughter keeps a diary in manga form: translating both her daily experiences and the people and places she experiences into totally kawaii chibis.

Kate's chibi friend, Chun

Hannah (the anthropomorphic chibi of Kate's border collie)

and Galileo (another anthrop buddy)

And among crafters, kawaii can manifest itself as amigurumi -- cute, lovable, adorable crocheted and stuffed animals and anthropomorphs.

 with amigurumi everything is cuddly (be it a baby or a cactus)

Such is the case with our little family-operated amigurumi cottage industry, which we have operated for the past two years. Our children sell their wares at the spring and fall Japanese Festival in Fort Worth. And the kids have met with enough success that the kids have expanded into their own designs, which my wife then translates into yarn -- with profoundly cute results.

in the workshop

And what would fall be without a few seasonal items?
 a family of pumpkins...

 and zombies (him...
...and her)

Of course, the festivals are also a wonderful "excuse" to enjoy other aspects of Japanese culture (from food, to music, to dance) while celebrating the changing of the seasons -- the blooming of spring, and the warm colors of fall foliage -- in the tranquil setting of our beautiful Japanese Gardens.

 and it wouldn't be a fall festival without everyone joining in the harvest odori line dance.

See you again next week!

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow how this brings back memories of when I used to crochet things like this!!!! Great post and thank you for sharing with the rest of us :-)