Introducing Hello Japan!, a monthly mini-challenge* for all things Japanese. Each month there will be a topic and/or activity relating to some aspect of Japanese literature or culture. Each task shouldn't take more than a couple of hours, unless you opt to do more, and is meant to be a fun way to let you experience a little taste of Japan no matter where you live. A new topic will be posted at the beginning of each month and you'll have the full month to complete it and post about it on your blog. Once you've done so be sure to come back and submit your link into the Mr. Linky for the appropriate month. At the end of the month I'll compile a post to highlight some of the contributions from participants that month. If you don't have a blog but would still like to play along, you can either write about what you did for this month's task in a comment on this post, or you can email me (inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com) and I'll include it in the wrap-up post at the end of the month.
Oh, and did I mention that each month there will be small prize? Each month a winner will be selected randomly from those that participated in that month's activity. There's no commitment to join in every month but I hope that you'll enjoy it so much you'll want to participate every month, and perhaps even learn something in the process.
Feel free to grab the button if you'd like but please save it to your own server. Here is a smaller version (200 pixels by 175 pixels) for your convenience. If you would like a different size or need help re-sizing, just let me know.
*Thank you to Dewey's Weekly Geeks, the various Read-a-thon mini-challenges, and Bellezza and her Japanese Literature Challenge for inspiring me, and giving me the motivation to go ahead with this idea. Also thank you to Paperback Reader and Kristen M. for suggesting the name. There were some great ideas but I liked the shortness and catchiness of Hello Japan! Plus, the objective of the mini-challenge is, after all, to introduce Japan so it seemed appropriate.
In many countries in the West, autumn brings with it it a crispness to the air, colourful leaves crunching underfoot, pumpkins and other assorted autumn fare, and especially in North America, Halloween. The season also seems to inspire a desire to read spooky, atmospheric stories, as fans of Carl's R.I.P. Challenge know very well.
Autumn is a beautiful season in Japan, but Japan doesn't really do Halloween. Sure, in recent years, you can see Halloween and autumn-themed decorations in some shops, and there may be some adult parties primarily in ex-pat communities, but you're not going to see kids trick-or-treating in your neighbourhood on October 31st. The Japanese do, however, love their horror movies, and scary stories. There are plenty of tales of ghosts and the supernatural going back hundreds of years. Summertime is actually the peak season for horror movies in Japan. Apparently the idea is that watching a frightening, spine-tingling, chilling movie helps cool you down from the oppressive heat and humidity of the Japanese summer. While it may not be summer anymore, we're going to indulge in some Japanese frights anyway.
As this is the first month of the mini-challenge, I thought we'd keep it very flexible. The task this month is to read or watch something scary, spooky, or suspenseful, and Japanese of course! You can read a book (for those that like to multi-task, remember that a Japanese spooky read would also count for both the R.I.P. IV Challenge and the Japanese Literature Challenge 3!), but if you don't have time this month for a whole book you can read a short story, a ghostly folktale (there are some available to read online, see below), or a manga. Or you could watch a movie, or an anime.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm sure there are plenty of stories and movies out there that I'm not even aware of.
Tales of Moonlight and Rain by Akinari Ueda - Ghost stories and tales of the supernatural.
Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn. You can read the stories online.
Out by Natsuo Kirino, or any of her other books.
(The) Ring - the book by Koji Suzuki, the original Japanese movie, or the American remake, or any of the sequels.
Battle Royale - the book by Koushun Takami, the movie starring Takeshi Kitano, or the manga.
Death Note - the manga, the movie, or the anime.
This post of Halloween Manga suggestions might also give you some ideas. Or this list of Thirteen Horror Manga for Halloween. Or this list of J-Horror on wikipedia.
If you're feeling particularly in the mood you could read the book and watch the movie based on the book, or watch the original Japanese movie and the American remake where available, and compare them, or whatever else you feel inspired to do.
You don't even need to buy, rent, or borrow any of the above. Instead, you could read an article online, like this one about Ghosts, Demons and Spirits in Japanese Lore, and tell us what you learned, or how the Japanese beliefs and superstitions compare to the folklore in your country.
Be creative and, most importantly, have fun!
Since we're paying a small homage to Hello Kitty with the name, it seemed only right to have a Hello Kitty prize this month. (Don't worry there will also be plenty of non-Kitty prizes too!) Also, to celebrate the launch of Hello Japan!, and because I couldn't decide, this month we'll have two winners. So, in fitting with the October theme, it's Punk/Gothic Kitty and Halloween Kitty!
One winner will receive this notepad and pen designed by fashion designer h. NAOTO.
And one winner will receive this little bean-bag stuffed Halloween Kitty.
Kawaii desu ne!
Once you've completed the task and posted on your blog, don't forget to come back here to fill out the Mr. Linky below. Please submit the link to the actual post, not just to your top page, and please please please only submit links to posts relating to the Hello Japan! task for this month. All other links will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding!