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Sunday, January 29, 2012

LEGO: Japanese Feudal Village

Since it's obvious I like LEGO and Japan, I've recently begun combining both passions.

For nearly eight months, I have been building a few dioramas - vignettes, if you will - of my take on what life was like in Japan back in the Edo jidai - between 1603 - 1868.

It's a romantic time of samurai and ninja when few gaijin (foreigners) dared land upon its shores.

Of course, there's that view and then there's reality.

There must have been some civil warfare, death, destruction, natural disasters, murders, rapes and worse going on... but there was also just life. The life of a villager. I blame a recent viewing of the Seven Samurai (1954) movie (it actually takes place in 1587) by Kurosawa Akira (surname first) that of course inspired the western version known as The Magnificent Seven.

With the exception of one man with swords, and a burial mound fit for a samurai - just to remind everyone who has the power - I have kept things simple. 

Below is my depiction of life in a small village. My favorite aspect with in the images below is the yana... the lazy bamboo contraption used to catch fish on a running river just below the small waterfall. Lazy, yes. Brilliant? You better believe it.

But, as evidenced by the lemon tree in the scene... when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

I have no idea if there were lemons in Japan back then. But this is just my view and is not a historical recreation. Pretend they are yellow plums, if you like. Nawww... I just looked it up... there are Japanese kabosu - lemons!

Anyhow, this diorama is 15-1/8 inches wide by 15-1/8 inches long and at its tallest point - the samurai grave hill - it is 6.0 inches high. And... every single brick used to construct the village and the waterfall was purchased through the Toronto west LEGO store's pick-a-brick wall at Sherway Gardens. Thanks people for actually listening to my requests of getting in those hard-to-find  palisades (log) bricks I used to construct the buildings!  

I have also finished another miniature diorama to be shared with you all shortly, and am now working on one other... diorama. While a simple one to create, I need to wait a bit until I can get a few  more parts.

After that? Well... there is another larger diorama that is completed... but I am unsure if it really is. Every one of my other dioramas was finished months ago, and then I deconstructed it to make it a little better. Heck... even this below was done finished three months ago.

I'm scaring myself as now I think I want to try and link them all together some how. That will mean a few more linking scenes.

I am so screwed in the head sometimes. I start a project and have to see it through to completion. It's the complete opposite of my wife, or so I have discovered over the past few years. I've always finished projects previously, but now I think I am driven to do so even more. Hell... while some of the barrels contain blue LEGO to represent water, I used real uncooked rice grains in the rest. I suppose I should have placed covers on the barrels, but I wanted to show off to myself for being clever.

Of course... I actually love to create. It makes me feel happy.

Enjoy a peek into my happy brain... and have a glass of lemonade.


In case you were wondering, I used Google Translate to say:
You are now leaving the village in feudal Japan LEGO.
Visit, thank you.
Come back.

Hopefully it worked better when I translated from English to Japanese than it did to translate from Japanese to English. Still... the understood meaning is.

Andrew Joseph

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