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Japan Info Flash
January 18, 2013
Published by Consulate General of Japan in New York / Japan Information Center

New York Times Travel Show: Samurai Armor Try-On!
Back by Popular Demand at the Javits Center

The Consulate General of Japan in New York is delighted to announce its participation in the 10th Annual New York Times Travel Show which will be held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from today, January 18th to 20th, 2013.

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) will be at the Japan Booth, #655, in the Asia section of this international show, providing information about Japan. There will be attractive activities near our Booth, such as Taiko Drum Performances on Saturday, January 19th from 1:15pm and on Sunday, January 20th from 12:45pm, in addition to the first-ever Japanese cooking demonstration by the famous James Beard Award-winning Chef, David Bouley, starting at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday.

We at the Consulate, in collaboration with JNTO, will be holding a "Samurai Armor Try-On!" activity to experience, and to enjoy, an important aspect of Japanese cultural history. This costuming activity will take place from 2:00pm to 6:00pm on Friday, from 11:00am to 3:00pm, on both Saturday and Sunday. Please stop by our booth!

We had many of these same, popular kinds of activities for people of all ages at the New York Comic Con in 2012. Here is what Kendra McDuffie, who enthusiastically volunteered at Comic Con for us, had to say about the event. Her words fully convey the fun atmosphere that was present at the event.

On Sunday, October 14th, 2012 I found myself in the presence of Samurai. That is, I was given the opportunity to volunteer at the Japanese Consulate's booth at New York Comic Con. They held a special event; the chance to wear samurai armor (a striking black metal and purple cotton woven affair) and to have a photo taken next to our model in his shiny Kabuto (samurai helmet). Some children seemed genuinely afraid of him behind his mustached face plate, fear that would likely have been better appreciated by a Shogun on the battle field in the Sengoku period, but which was adorable on Sunday at the Javits center. Needless to say the event had a broad appeal.

In the spirit of Japanese culture and Comic Con I decided to wear kimono. Perhaps even more iconic than the Samurai, kimono is the traditional costume of Japan. Most Americans can identify a kimono when they see one. Many people complimented the furisode (a long sleeved kimono; literally meaning "swinging sleeve") and andou hakama (pleated skirt) but few are familiar with the specific pieces of clothing that make up kimono which actually means, "things to wear." I have found in the last few years that even many Japanese people do not know how to wear a kimono.

Those who know me, and as those who do not are about to find out, I am borderline-obsessed with kimono. I own 50 kimono, over 200 kimono accessories and half a library on kitsuke (the proper way to wear kimono) and kimono history. Most of my acquaintances think I am insane, but I believe I am keeping a traditional art form alive in some small way.

In fact, many people at the convention expressed a desire to wear kimono. I found myself encouraging those who believed them too hard to wear or to find. Up until that Sunday at Comic Con, I felt that I was a lone, crazy kimono enthusiast. Instead, I found that there are many people who would study Japanese culture through the vehicle of kimono, if only there were someone to introduce them to it. Sometimes, beginning something is as simple as whether or not we are introduced properly to a subject. Introductions are that important. Volunteering on Sunday not only gave me a chance to wear kimono, but also to share my knowledge with people visiting the Consulate's booth and to introduce them to something new. - McDuffie.





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