Today’s drawing was inspired by one of the most popular dramas currently running on Japanese TV, “Gochisōsan,” which means something like “thank you for the meal” and is said after eating. It follows the life of Meiko Uno, a girl born in the early 1900s who is brash, big-hearted and a huge fan of food. The word used in Japanese is 食いしん坊, kuishinbō; English approximations might be “foodie” or “glutton” but the first is too serious and the second too severe. “Kuishinbō” is more like a lightly teasing word for someone who’s really into eating. Meiko reminds me very much of Anne of Green Gables, as she’s always getting into scrapes, but even though she can be careless and selfish, she has a warm, loving personality and always wants to make things better for the people she loves. Her love of food and her desire to share that love is the major theme of the show. Her family runs a French restaurant called Kaimeiken that becomes a pioneer of Japanese-Western fusion cuisine, all the chapter titles are food-related puns and many of Meiko’s problems and their solutions happen to be related to food. For those of us interested in Japanese food and its history, it’s full of fun details. For example, Meiko, a Tokyo native, later moves to another city called Osaka, where she unknowingly causes discomfort by making rice balls with the wrong shape: she is used to making them in a triangle shape, but at that point in time in Osaka, triangle-shaped rice balls are only used for funeral offerings. (It’s not a distinction anyone makes anymore, so please don’t get creeped out when you see triangle-shaped rice balls in your favorite anime.) The show follows her life from her childhood to her time as a high school student, then to her time as a young bride and, later, a mother of three. It is what’s known as a morning drama, and it runs every weekday morning for 15 minutes.
This drawing is of a kimono and hakama set worn with boots, which is what Meiko and her friends wear as young women when they’re attending the same high school. Hakama, which are the reddish-purple pants tied at the waist, were traditionally a garment only worn by men, but in the Meiji era, which was a time of quick modernization for Japan, women involved in education and similar activities done outside the home started to wear them as well. This served to lend their outfits a masculine, serious air. This combination of kimono and hakama became so identified with female students that today, it’s worn as formal wear at graduations. The modern day version tends to be more flashy and richly patterned, but this drawing is based on what Meiko wore as her daily uniform, with hakama that are all one color and a plain arrow pattern woven into the kimono fabric. This arrow pattern, too, is so heavily associated with Meiji and Taisho-era female students as to be a cliché, and one of the kimono Meiko wears has a pattern that’s almost identical.
In the first few episodes of the show, which show Meiko as a young girl, she and her friends steal an offering of strawberries from the neighborhood Buddhist temple. At the time strawberries weren’t widely grown in Japan, so to them, the bright red berries were a new and exotic sight. Meiko, with her deep appreciation of flavor, falls in love with the sweet and tangy taste and becomes preoccupied with finding some to give to her sick grandmother. That’s why, for this drawing, I put a little strawberry pattern on the collar.
There’s a group (of one person) subtitling these; you can download the subtitles at their website. They also have written up some very useful commentary notes for some of the weeks they’ve subtitled. I don’t watch the show with English subtitles, so I can’t do tech support – you’ll be better off by looking for information at the Drama Addicts forum or finding a site where they’ve been uploaded. Drama.net looks fine but I don’t know anything about it. I watch it in Japanese with Japanese subtitles using an iPad app, J-Drama Master, and I understand maybe 80% of it, but that last 20% is all the most important stuff, so when there’s a very technical or emotionally intense scene I often wind up thinking “Hey, wait, what?”
There’s a contest going on! In the poll I did over Twitter, ancient Greek fashions won handily, with 8 votes, over a fairy dress (3 votes) or a 1930s dress (0 votes). So I have been reading all about ancient Greek fashions and setting up a Pinterest board, and I’ve sketched a Greek outfit for the winner of the next poll to tell me how to color. If you use Twitter, follow me, then vote by replying to @lianapaperdolls with your favorite Greek god or goddess. (Having the contests on Facebook and Twitter was an experiment, and I ended up not liking the feeling that I was excluding people. So all further contests are going to be on this blog.)
Next week, there’ll be a new doll! That’s right, Mia is going to get a friend, and I intend for her to be the first of many. I’ll be opening voting up on her name as well, so watch my various social media spaces if you want to join in! You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for update notifications, previews of upcoming dresses, paper doll musings and pictures of sparkly clothes. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.