Japanese pop culture celebrated

Published October 4, 2015
Posing as characters from the Edo era, a group of performers at the Japanese consulate on Saturday.—Photo by writer
Posing as characters from the Edo era, a group of performers at the Japanese consulate on Saturday.—Photo by writer

KARACHI: A girl disguised as a samurai warrior here and a young man appearing to be a guardian spirit there — all this and much more was happening at ‘Edo Japan’ — the first event of Shonen Infinity — held at the Japanese consulate on Saturday morning.

Shonen Infinity is the brainchild of Hyderabad-based J-pop enthusiast Balach Rasool that encourages fans of Japanese pop culture to come together.

The inaugural programme honoured the Edo period (1603-1868), the era of feudal military government, when art and culture flourished and were at a pinnacle.

Divided into segments of live Japanese music performances, cosplay and Edo artwork display, the programme started with introduction to Shonen and the concept of costume play, popularly known as cosplay, that started initially in Japan.

A treat for auditory senses, two Shonen members Shahzeen and Osama sang three Japanese songs, as Osama played his electric guitar to add zest to the numbers. The upbeat songs were focused on the theme of friendship as well as struggle in life to achieve a goal.

The music session was followed by the Edo cosplay walk where participants had donned appearances of different characters from the era. It was interesting to notice that there were no gender limitations as many girls chose to be Samurai warriors as well. Some of the characters included folk character Kaguya Hime, Edo police squad representative Shinsengumi and Tengu, and the guardian forest spirit that uses fan to cast away evil forces. Some girls also looked petite as geisha while one looked resilient as human Katana.

The members of Shonen had also worked hard to make a Sakura tree that is otherwise known as cherry blossom. Symbolic of Japanese roots, the tree represents the arrival of spring and is used metaphorically for the transient nature of life and swift death.

Balach Rasool who is the founder of Shonen, explained the idea behind the initiative that it was about time that all J-pop aficionados got together: “The main idea behind Shonen Infinity is to promote Japnese pop culture that is not very popular over here but our job is to make sure that those who do love this art, which are a considerable lot over social media, are given a voice and face. This will also help in boosting talent. Shonen is a Japanese word that means youth and it implies that youth never dies and want to transfer this art to our generations. I want to thank the consulate as they were very flexible with their dates.”

Shehzad Zaman, consultant for Shonen Infinity, told Dawn that the group was formed in June when the members got active. “We collect the artists and musicians and help them channel their artistry and creative energy through Japanese pop culture,” he said.

Shahzeen, who is an aspiring dentist, highlighted the need to create awareness of the culture so that other people could also get inspired. “There are some barriers, too, because there is lack of awareness and many people deem these activities as a waste of time that young people should solely focus on studies. What they don’t understand is that we live in times when most people are stressed and these things help us in performing better by getting rid of stress. The reason why I am inclined towards this and make sure to take out time as well is that Edo era is so diverse and rich that once you get into it you get lost and want to explore it further,” she added.

The Edo artwork display featured graphic and traditional artists from places like Quetta, Lahore and Abbottabad as the artists drew Samurais, geishas as well as architecture from the glorious period.

Published in Dawn October 4th, 2015

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