"Spirited Away" (2001)

Jess vs. the arts

My husband and I recently enjoyed a trip to Japan, returning after 10 years to the spot we honeymooned (what feels like) so many years ago.

“Howl’s moving castle” (2004)
My husband and I recently enjoyed a trip to Japan, returning after 10 years to the spot we honeymooned (what feels like) so many years ago. I had planned to use my column to divulge quaint tales of our travels: Selecting the perfect pair of chopsticks from a diminutive store that despite its size, somehow manages to carry 3,500 pairs; trudging down Takeshita-dōri, surrounded by Harajuku fashionistas in a nearly suffocating crowd when a Shinto Matsuri procession comes along, pressing everyone even closer together amidst rounds of raucous chanting; and celebrating our anniversary date hand in hand on a walking food tour of Tokyo.

But given that this is our annual arts issue—my favorite of the year—and that there has been no time in our history that the arts have been as maligned and undervalued as they are today, I feel compelled to use my space in part to encourage you to find some artistic or cultural outlet in your own life.

To paraphrase staff members at the National Endowment for the Arts: “The arts matter because they help us to understand how we matter.”

“My Neighbor Totoro” (1988)
I believe the arts are one of the most important facets of any civilization, they endure where other representations of a people do not. They enhance young minds in more ways than we can yet calculate when allowed to thrive in schools. The arts inspire, entertain and delight us all, and in some, they even can build a yearning for greatness.

Our trip was ripe with visits to cultural landmarks, including a second visit to the museum of famed Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli, built by director Hayao Miyazaki. Japanese animation may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of the arts, but the sheer imagination, the quality of the illustrations and creativity of the stories render in me that yearning.

My recommended viewing for the unitiated: Academy Award-winning “Spirited Away” (2001), “My Neighbor Totoro” (1988), “Princess Mononoke” (1997), “Howl’s Moving Castle” (2004), “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” (1984) and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989).

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass