An Artist's Reflection On Japan

An Artist's Reflection On Japan

A land where new and old coexist.
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During the summer of 2014, I traveled for two weeks with the Columbus State University Art Department to study art in Japan. We stayed in Kiryu the first week, the sister city of Columbus, GA, located in the mountains of Japan. In Kiryu, we learned how to do traditional Sumi ink painting on washi paper, known as Suibokuga. The beauty of this art form is that each brush stroke is expressive and must flow in the painting. We also visited a Washi paper craftsman who lived and worked in the mountains making paper from plant root fiber and bark. Our second week was spent touring both modern and historical museums in Kyoto and Tokyo. We visited the Golden Temple, explored Kyoto via bike, saw Ryoanji Temple’s famous rock garden and crossed Shibuya crossing. Through these experiences, we were making drawings and paintings reflecting on what we saw. For my final project I chose to do an ink rendition on a scroll of two Koi fish, comprised of symbols and images that made up both old and modern Japan. This theme came from an adventure I had while I was still in Kiryu.

With the rising sun, a fellow student and I had decided to go on a hike to Tenamngu Shrine at the base of the tallest mountain in Kiryu. We needed to be back from our hike before breakfast was to be served in the Toseikan Inn, so we got ready quickly, tiptoeing on our tatami mats to avoid waking up our roommates. As we changed from our slippers to our walking shoes, the keeper of the inn who was sweeping the hall gave us a cheerful “Ohayō” which is good morning in Japanese. We set off onto the street, and we were greeted by the shopkeepers who were opening their stores for the day. Their shops were filled with fresh produce, Sumi ink, ceramic wares, boutiques, computer parts and convenience stores with all sorts of snacks like rice balls and melon-pan bread. Residents were up watering and tending to their perfectly manicured gardens. It might be a true statement that every house had if not a garden at least a few potted plants. There is a strong connection to nature felt in Japan. A walk through Kiryu shows the balance between what is old and the new that has grown around it. An example would be the small Shrines sometimes juxtaposed directly with vending machines.

As we got closer to Tenamngu, the architecture began to shift from concrete square businesses to more traditional Japanese homes with tile roofing. As we rounded a bend in the road, we saw the massive stone gate marking the entrance to the shrine. When we passed through this massive structure, a perceptible shift could be felt in the atmosphere. We had left the hustle of the city for the calm tranquility of the shrine. We were not the only ones there. An older man practiced Tai Chi under a thatched roof, and an old woman swept the dirt paths with a twig broom. We cleansed our hands in the well and approached the ancient structure. The building had a presence rising from the stone on which it was built. Intricate wooden carvings decorated the surfaces, which imbued the building with movement and grace. The perfectly balanced architecture was a work of art, but it was something more for the Japanese people. The shrine existed as a place of worship, a cultural center, an escape from the city, as well as a connection to the past. Though we might have been strangers there, we could not help but feel the peace and tranquility the area possessed. Even in modern Japan, this sort of ancient connection could be found because it was not only preserved, but continuing on in its function as shrine for the people who lived there. We set off back to the Toseikan, wishing we had enough time to remain a little longer.

This is similar to the feeling we had when we left Japan, but we left with more than we came. We now have an understanding and appreciation for the land of Japan and the people who call it home. The most important realization was the way the past and the present can coexist so perfectly.


Cover Image Credit: Julianna Wells

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

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Cover Image Credit: Favim

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13 Taylor Swift Lyrics About Love

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Taylor Swift is the only reason I've gotten through every love, and every break-up. Here's a list of 13 lyrics/quotes about love from Taylor Swift's albums.

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"Red" from the album "Red." This song perfectly describes every feeling that radiates through your entire being when you love and then lose someone.

“I wish we could go back, and remember what we were fighting for. I wish you knew that, I miss you too much to be mad anymore. I wish you were right here, right now, it’s all good. I wish you would.”

"I Wish You Would" from 1989. Sometimes I wish it was acceptable to just blast Taylor Swift during an argument because I totally would.

“You learn my secrets and you figure out why I’m guarded. You say we’ll never make my parents mistake.”

"Mine" from Speak Now. Let's surpass everyone's expectations.

“My baby’s fly like a jet stream, high above the whole scene, loves me like I’m brand new.” 

"Call It What You Want To" from the Reputation album. Once in a lifetime, there's someone who looks at your scars and calls you strong and brave, instead of damaged.

“My mother accused me of losing my mind, but I swore I was fine.” 

"Dear John" from Speak now. Love makes you do crazy things.

“One night he wakes, strange look on his face. Pauses then says ‘you’re my best friend’. And you knew what it was. He is in love.” 

"You Are In Love" from the 1989 album. Swift gives me chills with this song. Every time you think you're in love, you realize that the last time wasn't even close. True love, happens once or twice, and not for everyone.

“You pull my chair out, and help me in. And you don’t know how nice that is, but I do. And you throw your head back laughing like a little kid. I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny cause, he never did. I’ve been spending the last eight months, thinking all love ever does is break, and burn, and end. But on a Wednesday, in a cafe, I watched it begin again.”

"Begin Again" from the Red album. One of my top five favorite songs. Real love shows you how you should've been treated all along.

“Why would you wanna make the very first scar? Why would you wanna break a perfectly good heart?”

"A Perfectly Good Heart" from the first Taylor Swift album. Some people are only here to take. Never to give or share.

“The rain came pouring down, when I was drowning that’s when I cold finally breathe. And by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean.”

'Clean' from 1989. It can take years, even lifetimes, to finally feel free from love.

“There I was again tonight, forcing laughter, faking smiles, same old tired lonely place. Walls of insincerity, shifting eyes and vacancy, vanished when I saw your face. All I can say is it was, enchanting to meet you.”

'Enchanted' from Speak Now album. Love at first sight?

“Romeo take me somewhere we can be alone, I’ll be waiting all that’s left to do is run. You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess, it’s a love story, baby just say yes.”

'Love Story' from Fearless album. This song makes me want to take a chance and escape with a stranger.

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"Don't Blame Me" from Reputation. I'm only better when I'm with you.

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"Starlight" from the Red album. Only certain people are worth growing with.

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