Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Red Maple Leaves in Kyoto

Today is the end of November but the temperature was around 20 degrees Celsius. I walked and walked around Okazaki Park in Kyoto with my coat in the backpack.

Maple leaves have finally turned red and ginkgo leaves changed into yellow. I love to see a variety of colors in the mountains. Super beautiful!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

To Be a Cool Old Lady

It's a little embarrassing to project "To be a cool old lady."
These days I have been wondering about "age". We grow old day by day. We can't stop aging, I know. But the older people are, the more differently they look. Some people look younger, others look older. What is the difference? The reason why I'm thinking about this is probably I see my mother's slow action every day, which sometimes bothers me.
I wish to become an active, nice old woman with a positive mind when I am 80. What do you think is the key? What do I keep in mind from now?
These are what I am thinking now.
#1 I should lose some weight to move more easily.
#2 I should keep walking and playing tennis for fun.
#3 I will start to learn a new foreign language for brain anti-aging.
#4 ?
 Please give me your suggestion in the comment part below.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ocean-Blue Morning Glory

Recently I often see this flower. They really look like morning glories which are symbolic flowers of summer. But they are still coming out one after another even today. I've been wondering what they are.

Today I realized these flowers are called "Ocean-blue" or "Ryukyu Morning Glory". They are wild morning flowers much stronger than ordinary ones. They spread from Okinawa and the southern islands. They can bloom from morning till evening, and from summer till frost falls in winter. Amazing!

Ocean-Blue is beautiful as well as strong. I'll list it as one of my favorites.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY  Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Outside my window..
Dark. Finally winter is approaching here.

I am thinking...that I should go to bed earlier as I have a slight cold.

I am thankful...that my family are in good condition and I can use my time freely now. 

In the kitchen...all the dishes are clean and there are various ingredients for tomorrow's hotpot.

I am wearing...comfy brown pants and my favorite dotted top.

I am material for the next English lesson. I attend to English study meeting every two weeks to train each other. It gives me a very good motivation.

I am surf the Internet.

I am reading... I've just read "Travel with Charley" by John Steinbeck.  I enjoyed it very much. I love brown poodle Charley.

I am get old in good condition. The other day I met a nice 86-year-old lady who traveled 10-day trip to Japan from Michigan State.  I hope to be like her.

I am looking forward meet my grandson Rintaro on Friday.

One of my favorite things...lovely walk in beautiful autumn.

A few plans for the rest of the week: yoga Thursday afternoon, tennis Friday morning. My daughter's family will come to my house from Friday to Monday. I'm sure I'll be happy and get tired.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...Red maple leaves in the Japanese garden in Kyoto.

To read more Daybooks, please visit The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Toji Temple and Kobo-Ichi Market

Toji Temple is a ten-minute walk from Kyoto Station and its five-story pagoda is the landmark of Kyoto, which is 55 meters tall and the tallest pagoda in Japan.
Toji Temple literally means "East Temple". It dates back to the opening of the ancient capital of Kyoto in the end of 8th century. Originally not only East Temple but also West Temple were founded to protect the capital. Later Kukai(774-835; founder of Shingon Buddhism) made Toji Temple the central seminary of Esoteric Buddhism and added various other buildings to it.

Toji Temple is also famous for its big- scale market called Kobo-Ichi on every 21st day of the month. About 1200 street markets stand in and around the temple, and every month around 200.000 visitors from many places come here to look for something. The stands include antiques, vintage kimonos, socks, handcrafts, dishware, pickles,.. even used bicycles. They open from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 Today was a little cold but I enjoyed browsing these stands very much. I tried to find something unique but I couldn't.  I enjoyed walking, stopping and looking at countless things. Great fun!
I found many foreign people looking at something carefully.
Toji Market is worth visiting.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Camellia Sasanqua

This is the picture of the Camellia sasanqua  I took near my house. In Japan the pink and white sasanqua are often used for hedge of houses and parks. The name of "sasanqua" seems to come from Japanese word "sazanka".

The flower of the Camellia sasanqua looks a lot like the Japanese Camellia, but the falling way is quite different. The sasanqua's petals fall one by one. ( look at this picture)

On the other hand, the Japanese Camellia will drop as it blooms gracefully. In a week or so, I will upload a shot of the Japanese Camellia in my garden.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lake Biwa and Michigan Goodwill Mission

Lake Biwa is the largest lake in Japan located in Shiga Prefecture and has a very important role as main water source of 14 million people in Kansai area. It's also a good tourist destination of only 30-minute distance from Kyoto.
Shiga Prefecture is a sister state of Michigan State. Both states exchange goodwill mission every year. This year 15 people visited Shiga Prefecture from Michigan State this month and enjoyed a home stay for a few days.

There is one example to show the strong tie between two states. A paddlewheel boat, the Michigan, departs from Otsu Port and offers four different types of  fun cruise of Lake Biwa every day, such as "Michigan morning""Michigan 90""Michigan 60" and "Michigan Night". The 360-degree panoramic view from the deck is the highlight of the cruise.
I've seen this boat several times but never got on the boat. I hope to take a fun cruise to see the sunset on board some day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ryoanji Temple

Ryoanji Temple is a Zen temple located in the north-wetern part of Kyoto and it is world-famous for its rock garden. Since Queen Elizabeth II visited this garden in 1975 and put a high value, it became famous even more.
This rock garden consists of  15 rocks and white gravel, surrounded by low walls. The white gravel is beautifully raked by priests every ten days. When we sit on the veranda to see the garden, we can feel the serene and peaceful atmosphere.
But to be honest, this time of the year, the place is too crowded to sit in meditation. If you want to experience the real essence, I recommend you to go in the early morning.

As well as the rock garden, Ryoanji Temple has another charming garden, which is completely different. It is a stroll landscape garden. In the center, there is a large pond named Oshidori Pond. You can enjoy the changing view by strolling around the pond. Really lovely.

Oshidori is a Mandarin Duck and there used to be a lot of mandarin ducks in this pond.
In Japan, Oshidori couple means an ideal couple, because they say a mandarin duck mates with only one partner during its whole life. But I'm sure this traditional value has been changing in Japan, too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lovely Walk with Mother

Today was a perfect day for walking. I started to walk with my 82-year-old mother who is living with me. She is not a bad condition, but she's been getting slow in action due to gaining weight these days. I hope her to  live a long healthy life. So I decided to encourage her to walk and take her out with me sometimes. But it's important for me to take it easy. Elderly care is a long way.

 After a half- hour walk together, we parted and I began to walk at  my own pace. Walk and stop to take pictures, and walk again. It was a lot of fun. I found lovely dog ornaments on the fence. Two dogs are made of scrub brush. This house owner must be a dog lover.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Attend to a Tunisian

My main job is an English interpreter tour guide. But I do several others when requested, for example working as a receptionist in a medical conference, keyboarding in an office, playing an examiner of English test...
Today's job was to attend to a Tunisian man from Shin-Osaka Station to Kansai International Airport. It was only two-hour job,  but for me talking about the differences and the common things of both countries is very, very interesting and enticing. He is a very nice middle-aged sales manager. I created an image of Tunisia through his words. Its language, climate, food, marriage system, educational system, industry and the 2011 January revolution...
I love this job because I can meet many people from many countries and every time I can feel the real world.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shichi-go-san (Seven-five-three Festival)

Shichi-go-san is a festival to celebrate the growth of children. Around November 15, girls of seven, boys of five and three-year-old children of either sex are taken to local shrines by their parents to give thanks and pray for divine blessing.
This tradition was started in the 9th century by aristocrats and later it passed to the samurai class who added a number of rituals.
Shichi-go-san literally means "seven-five-three" in Japanese.These ages were thought to be important in a child’s life.The age of three marked the first time whereby both boys and girls were allowed to let their hair grow. At the age of five a young boy celebrated wearing his first hakama pants in public, while at the age of seven, a young girl celebrated wearing her fist obi sash.

Today I went to a local shrine to see Shichi-go-san children. Luckily I found two families there. Both parents took pictures merrily to record the special day. They looked very happy. But a cute three-year-old girl looked unwilling to wear a kimono. I remembered my daughter's three-year-old celebration. We had a hard time to take a picture because she hated to wear a tight-fit kimono and wanted to doff it. It was 24 years ago. Now she is a mother.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fushimi Inari Shrine - Fire Festival

Today I visited Fushimi Inari Shrine, which is located in the southern part of Kyoto.
Fushimi Inari Shrine  has a long history of 1300 years. It was originally revered as the deity of agriculture. With industrialization, the deity of Fushimi Inari gradually came to be worshiped as the deity of business, too. There are about 30,000 Inari shrines in Japan and this is their headquarters.

The most appealing is its thousand red torii gates. They are all donations from all over Japan. You can see the donor's name and the date in the back of each torii gate. Torii gate is supposed to be a barrier against evil spirits.

Today I visited there to participate for the first time in the Fire Festival.
After the ritual at the sanctuary hall, the Fire Festival started from two o'clock. The festival is held to thank for the harvest and to remove uncleanliness by burning wooden strips. During the festival, people chant words of purification in chorus in a serious way.

The wind blew strongly from time to time and we were all in the white smoke. I feel purification is like being smoked. But it's a truly Japanese experience.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Walk Again

Last autumn  I took a walk with Annie every day. She stopped every corner as she loved to sniff as other beagles do. Our walk was very slow, but even so, we walked for nearly an hour every day. After she got sick and couldn't walk out, I also stopped walking.

Today I started to take a walk again . On the way, I remembered the days of walking the same street with Annie.  It was a nice but a little sad walk.

However, to feel the season, to keep healthy ( I wonder if I am healthy) and to find something interesting and beautiful, I try to make walking my daily routine.

This is the flower picture I thought beautiful today.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Japanese New Year's Card Present

Japan Post has issued 3.82 billion New Year's cards with lottery numbers this year.Similar to Christmas cards in Western countries, sending New Year's cards is one of the traditional Japanese customs to celebrate New Year.

To Japanese people, the New Year's Day is the most important national holiday. We exchange New Year's cards to our friends, relatives and business acquaintances to wish them a happy New Year and catch up on recent news.

Soon I'm going to prepare for the cards; buy postcards, decide the design which probably bears the image of the next year zodiac animal, dragon.
If you like to experience the true Japanese New Year's card, I'll send you one. Please let me know your address by e-mail directly.

In Japan, New Year's cards should be delivered on January 1 if you post them by December 25. But I don't know when they will be sent to you in your country.

PS: In case you win the lottery next January, you'll need to find how to get it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Culture Day

November 3 is a national holiday of Culture Day in Japan. Its purpose is to promote awareness of the arts and sciences and also to give thanks to those who have contributed to the advancement of culture. Medals are granted by the government to people selected for their significant cultural contributions.  At the Imperial Palace on Culture Day,five people received the Order of Culture from Emperor Akihito. Some other 4074 people, including the national female soccer players nicknamed "Nadeshiko Japan", received medals.

Today I tried to do something cultural but I couldn't find what to do. So I went out to find something artistic.

This is my finding today. It is a persimmon tree with abundant fruits. But it is very special. Please take a close look. On the top, a scarecrow is standing! Very surprising not only to crows but also to ME!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chrysanthemum Display Show

Around this time every year, the chrysanthemum display shows are held across Japan.
Today I found two displays. One is at the train station of Ikoma, Nara Prefecture and the other is in the Osaka Castle Park.

Tall, short, large, small, yellow, pink, white, red... various types of chrysanthemums are displayed. There are also a few Bonsai Chrysanthemums.

Chrysanthemums are beautiful, but they seem a little lonely, maybe that's because they are often used for decoration at the funeral ceremonies in Japan.

I want to add one more thing about this flower, along with cherry blossoms, the chrysanthemum is another flower which, because of its use in the Imperial Family Crest, is considered to be symbolic of Japan.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Really Beautiful

November. Only two months left this year. Time flies too fast.

November is "Juichi-gatsu" (eleventh month) in Japanese, but another name is  "Shimo-tsuki".
Shimo is "frost" and tsuki is "month". Yes, it's very easy to understand, isn't it? Winter is just around the corner.
Today was a perfect day with the beautiful sky and  the cool breeze. I had a comfortable walk in my favorite place - Expo Park.
Suddenly I remembered the story of "The Fall of Freddie the Leaf". One of my favorite parts is...
Summer passed and fall came. Soon the leaves changed their colors. Some turned red and others turned yellow. Freddie turned purple. They were all very beautiful.
This story has been used for the English textbook of the third year students in the junior high school in Japan and I had a lesson using this book until several years ago. Every time I read this story, I was strongly moved. I always said to my students,"Similar to leaves, everyone has his/her own beauty and mission to live." Good memory.