Posts Tagged ‘Princess Mononoke’

On San’in Monogatari: Some great historical background on tatara (iron bellows) and why it was such a big deal that they were run by women in Mononoke-hime:

San'in Monogatari

Have you ever heard of Tatara?

If you’re like me, the first thing that pops into your head is one of the 28 Chinese mansion constellations (婁), but if you’re more interested in iron working, steel working, and Japanese swords, perhaps you already know this as foot-operated bellows used in the firey production of these materials (踏鞴, though usually written phonetically as たたら).

It’s such a crucial part of this region’s history, however, that I’ve learned a thing or two–though lacking any craftsmanship sense, my knowledge is still limited. Here’s a basic introduce so as to introduce one of the local deities.

Tatara was likely imported into Japan from Korea by way of Shimane Prefecture, and seeing as the San’in region is rich with titanium magnetite, a necessary ingrediant for iron production, it took hold here very early on in Japanese history. Way back in ancient Japan–specifically 713ad, two…

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Between my trip to the Kyoto International Manga Museum in September and the Studio Ghibli Museum in December, I’ve had a lot of time to think about Miyazaki Hayao and my current lifestyle.

Late autumn/early winter: Camellias near my home


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When I was 15, I was just getting into Japanese animation. Of course, as it was the early 2000s and the internet was still kind of, well, pre-Youtube, my options were basically dubs of Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z. And, as bad as it was/is, I loved Sailor Moon, and it held my interest for a long time because I realized something about the dub was…off. So I started reading this website that had summaries of all the episodes, and found out things like some of the characters were gender-swapped in the English dub so they wouldn’t be gay. As in, gay male characters were given female voices and were attempted to be passed off as biological women. Yeah. Way to go, America.

But I digress.

Because of my budding interest in Japan and anime, my parents, who have been supportive of my academic pursuits (if not a little baffled by them at times), actually introduced me to the research subject with which I spent the most time: Miyazaki Hayao, and, by extension, Studio Ghibli. The English-language dub of Mononoke-hime, or Princess Mononoke had a small (mostly art) theater release in 1999, and my dad had seen a review of it in the local paper and thought I might want to see it. So he very graciously drove me downtown to see it the day after Thanksgiving.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this movie changed my life.


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