Eyeslit-Crypt favorite, Ken Tanaka, has made a new video in which he encounters a seemingly random Japanese woman while out for a stroll in Little Tokyo. The woman that Ken meets turns out to be Los Angeles based artist Mari Araki. The video shows stills of some of her magnificent pieces as they talk about rabbits, art, life and latex. Break out the whips.
When I was a university student, a band that I was in (and am still “in,” even though I’m an ocean away) – Special Dental Team, wrote several songs with Japanese titles and even one with Japanese lyrics. In retrospect, I do recommend this as a study tactic to be stressed in my 50 Study Tips for Improving your Japanese.
That is, if you are prone to create your own art, whether via music, poetry, film, and so on, incorporate some Japanese into your art and develop your art through the frame of a different language. This will give you a more personalized approach to learning the language and will hopefully expand your art in a refreshing way.
Ken Tanaka recently uploaded a video, in which he teaches viewers the kanji for “coffee shop,” through an original song that he wrote. The combination of melody, real-world images and text is helpful and humorous, at least to me. Here is the video:
In this video, Ken Tanaka meets photographer, Keiichi Niita, who worked with Terry Richardson for a number of years. The theme of Niita’s show was, “Japanese people should be more open.” After briefly speaking with Niita, Tanaka also visits another gallery, which is showcasing work by two up and coming artists, Martha Chan and Dominique Fung.
Ken Tanaka has once again pulled out his paint brushes and created
the third installment to his “Jacob the Happy Rabbit” comic book series.
Here at The Eyeslit-Crypt, we appreciate the work of the ever-busy, Ken Tanaka.
In a recent (or relatively recent) video, Tanaka seems to have put the finishing touches on his new self-published comic book, “Jacob the Happy Rabbit 2.” It’s cute and has a very “happy” story, too. Here is a brief summary of the work:
The artwork was done by David Mack (Kabuki) with cover art by Eisner Award winner, James Jean. The images that we see on the video are rife with innocence and budding with a bright “kawaii” color scheme. The story seems to be an introspective post-modern interpretation on love as consumption (neo-cannibalism), with masochistic undertones of fear and isolation. However, a glimmer of hope lies within – the regurgitation of happiness.
The video featuring an explanation on the creative process of “Jacob the Happy Rabbit 2” can be found here:
James Jean and David Mack draw Jacob the Happy Rabbit 2
Also, Ken Tanaka has uploaded reports from his recent trip to Comic-Con in San Diego, California. You can see the Comic-Con series here:
Ken Tanaka goes to Comic-con and meets a Suicide Girl アメリカのコスプレイ
Comic-con pt 2 James Jean at the Eisner Awards & cosplay
Comic-con pt 3 David Mack, Mandy Amano, Triumph the insult dog
And remember: “Ken Tanaka loves you.”
It was a rainy and slightly muggy Tuesday evening as I caught up with Ken Tanaka in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. Amidst the neon blur of Shinjuku, we found ourselves enjoying Japanese “oden” and sharing some wonderful conversation. Thank you Ken for taking the time to meet up and converse.
I hope you will find the time to watch Ken’s videos. And just in case you are wondering, yes, he is a very nice man.
Here are some links to Ken’s recent adventures in Hawaii:
Ken Tanaka goes to Hawaii
Ken Tanaka learns to speak Mo Bettah
Ken Tanaka’s Tour Guide in Hawaii
Ken Tanaka Eats Hawaii and Breaks His Mouth
Ken Tanaka Meets a Taro Farmer
Ken Tanaka Gets LOST in Hawaii
“Three Questions” is a song by the Kentucky based musician Bonnie “Prince” Billy from his “Master and Everyone” album. This haunting and beautiful song has been with me since winter 2004 and today I would like to incorporate the idea of “three questions” into The Eyeslit-Crypt. It is really quite simple. I choose one person and ask them three questions. Since this is my first experiment with this kind of blogging format, I kept the questions very simple and accessible. The honorable person whom I chose for this first endeavor is none other than Ken Tanaka…three questions were asked and this evening a response was received. As the beloved “Hero” Hiro Nakamura may say, “Yattttttta.”
If you are not familiar with Ken Tanaka’s video work, I suggest the following links:
THREE QUESTIONS with Ken Tanaka
Q: What kind of adventures have you been up to these days?
A: I recently have been traveling to a few locations searching for my parents…I just got back from Hawaii today. I am hoping to put up a video soon, but I am having some bad technical difficulties. I will also be returning to Japan sometime in May, hopefully. I hope to do some more videos about life in Japan if I can get my camera fixed.
Q: Any musical or literary recommendations from Ken Tanaka?
A: I have recently been reading some American authors. I like Kurt Vonnegut Jr. He seems like a very nice man. I have also been enjoying traditional American Blues and folk music by Leadbelly, Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie. I recently heard a song at a vintage clothing store in Los Angeles by a New York folk/punk singer called Adam Green. I hope to listen to more of his music soon.
As far as recent manga, I am reading Gantz and 20th Century Boys (20seiki shonen).
Q: What are some of your favorite things about your home country, Japan?
A: Well, here are the things I miss most about home. Onsen and ofuru. It’s very hot in Los Angeles and I often wish I could go to a nice onsen for refreshment. There are Korean style spas in LA but they aren’t quite the same. When I arrive in Japan, I will go straight to a Sento. I also miss the quality of food. In the Japanese countryside, there is lots of tasty food everywhere. I have found that it is quite hard to find good food here, even in the city. There is very good food in Los Angeles, but you must do research in order to find it.
I also miss Game centers. Sometimes I want to play video games but it is hard to find them in Los Angeles. I miss trains and subways, and bento and sakura and anmitsu and matsuri and depa-chika and yakiimo too.
Thank you for reading the first installment of “Three Questions” and I hope you learned something new about Ken Tanaka.