I was first exposed to Japanese culture through different anime that were shown on TV while I was growing up (Toonami!). Both of my older brothers really liked to watch anime and I would sit down on the couch with them and watch shows like Dragon Ball Z, Gundam Wing, and Outlaw Star. They never let me watch Sailor Moon (to this day I have never watched it). I feel like there hasn’t really been a point in my life where I haven’t been watching an anime or reading a manga.
Anime had not only affected the the TV I watched but, my art as well. In 5th grade I started to learn to draw in an anime/manga style. Over the years I had to move on from drawing in an anime style in order to build a better portfolio for myself as an artist but, even today, almost everything I doodle is in anime style. Japanese culture in general though has had an influence on some of the other art that I do outside of my doodles, such as a painting I made of a Geisha.
Anime is what really sucked me into the Japanese culture. I really wanted to learn to speak and understand the Japanese language that I heard in every show I watched or Japanese song I had listened too. As I started learning more about the language I began to want to learn and understand more about the Japanese culture and not limit my knowledge to what I had learned from anime.
I feel so lucky that in 2009 I got to attend Virginia Governor’s School Japanese Language Academy for three weeks. Not only did I get to learn more of the language but I also learned so much about Japanese culture, history, customs, food, traditions, literature, film, and even social problems. It was so intense to have so much information thrown at me in such a short period of time but, I loved every minute of learning it.
I’m pleased to say that my knowledge of the language and culture has grown over the years but I know there is so much more that I need to learn. I still like watching anime, I like reading manga every week, and yes I like going to cons and dressing up in dorky costumes for a weekend but, I really want to be more than that. I want to be an informed and educated person on the Japanese culture and lifestyle and not have a limited view through the narrow lens of anime. I’m really hoping that Japanophilia will help me grow in such a way.
Cosplays I’ve done.
I like to cook Japanese food with my friends too. We made this once. It was super yummy.