Japan, Animated

Japan is a hot commodity this winter. Or rather, Japanese-themed products, the ones that commoditize the culture and sell it to Americans hungry for sake bath washes and kimono-style blouses, are hot this winter. Marketing execs at Sony Pictures Entertainment are penning Memoirs of a Geisha tie-in licensing agreements faster than you can say, "Ooh, is that an Asian tassel necklace?" In Barnes & Noble, I spotted a tin of Japanese Sencha green tea with cherries and rose petals. Cosmetic company Fresh is carrying a blush and lip gloss applied by fingertip (like a geisha, get it?). While I'm happy to see cherry-blossom candles at Barneys New York, I tend to think there's more to Japan than Geisha Chic, like the Japan-America Society's Mochitsuki New Year's Celebration Sunday. It's the biggest holiday of the year for the Japanese, and about 600 people are expected to descend to watch taiko drumming by Dallas Kiyari Daiko, classical dance from the Fort Worth Japanese Society and, most important, the making of the mochi, little balls of pounded rice that are topped with red bean paste, roasted soy bean powder or seaweed and soy sauce. Last year, 1,600 of these traditional snacks were served, and a crew of five volunteers with electric mochi-makers will be on hand to keep up with demand. While sipping green tea, people can try their hand at kakizome, Japanese New Year's calligraphy on rice paper, and watch volunteers demonstrate the complicated art of dressing in a kimono (with a fashion show to follow). It's a perfect opportunity to wear your new Banana Republic obi-style dress and learn about the real thing too. The Mochitsuki New Year's Celebration takes place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Fujitsu Network Communications, 2801 Telecom Parkway in Richardson.
Sun., Jan. 15, 2-5 p.m.


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