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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Green" Color

Today I read a very interesting story about color and I'm going to think about it.

"Green" symbolizes leaves, nature, safety and peace in Japan. When I see green color, I feel fresh and peaceful.  Green leaves and green vegetables.

Now green color is available as the color of environmental conservation on a global basis. "Green Peace" is a good example.

But sometimes green color has a different image depending on the country, culture and religion.  In Islamic states, green is regarded as a very sacred color because of Muhammad's  green turban.
On the contrary, in English,  green with envy means very jealous.

I remembered my friend.  At that moment he was in the situation to choose one umbrella. Green one or beige one.  He told me he didn't want to bring a green one because green is a female color.  I was surprised to hear that. Green is not a female color in Japan, probably neutral.

Different point of view.  I need to remember there exists a  big difference everywhere.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shrine of Blotch



Today I found a very interesting, kind of mysterious place for me. It is an approach to Ishikiri Shrine in Higashi-Osaka. 
  
 Ishikiri Shrine is located on the mountainside of Mt. Ikoma and it is famous as a shrine of blotch.
Each side of the steep approach to Ishikiri Shrine is lined with many shops and restaurants.

In  particular, there are countless number of fortune-telling services. I don't know why there are so many fortune-telling places, but it shows so many people come here to know something about their future. There are various kinds of fortune-telling, including astrology, blood-types, palm reading, telling a person's fortune on the basis of his or her name.

I like the nostalgic atmosphere full of energy.

Unluckily, I couldn't see "Ishikirin" which is a very cute mascot of the place. I'm sure it was too hot for Ishikirin to walk around today.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ikeda Nice Town

Today I went to Ikeda to enjoy stands and attractions operated by the local shop owners.

Ikeda is a local town next to Toyonaka where I live. It is a small city that attracts me very much. Why?

It has around 300-meter mountain named Mt. Azalea, Satsuki-Yama in Japanese. Over the mountain there is a wonderful park with a free zoo. Through the year, you can enjoy greenery, especially azalea in May. From the observatory on the mountain, you can see a nice view of Osaka.

There still remain a lot of old shops and houses in Ikdea. For example, you can see a store selling rather old fashioned daily necessaries. I feel like returning to old days of a few decades ago.

Ikeda is also famous for its rice wine named "Goshun" and fire festival "Gangara Fire Festival" held on August 24. In the festival, people carry fire torches accompanied with a  big gong sound. Enchanting event.

In addition, instant ramen noodle was born in Ikeda. It is also a hometown of DAIHATSU.
video

Friday, August 26, 2011

Feeling of Fall

It is still hot and humid in the daytime, but I can feel the small seasonal change of summer to fall.

Two days ago when I walked in the countryside, I found many dragonflies flying.
I don't know their name.  They were 6 to 7cm and looked bluish gray. They were flying over the rice fields and ponds in the sun.

Today when I drove in the mountain area, I saw the white clouds high in the sky.  I felt the feeling of fall.


               

           Surely fall is approaching in a gentle pace.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Goldfish Town Yamato-Koriyama

                                                              
Today I went to goldfish  farms in Yamato-Koriyama, Nara Prefecture.  I have long wanted to visit there  because I was a big fan of goldfish scooping when I was a child.
                                                

Yamato-Koriyama is a peaceful local town famous for its goldfish farming with the history of about 3oo years.
About ten-minute walk from the station, there are a lot of goldfish ponds. In some of the pondls countless baby goldfish are swimming.
My destination was "Goldfish Museum", which is a private museum founded by Mr. Shimada 30 years ago, who made a success in artificial farming of goldfish in Yamato-Koriyama. 

                                             

In the museum, you can see his big collection about goldfish. There are also a dozen of different water tanks of precious  goldfish which are rather big (around 20cm.)
To be honest, I felt a little scared. Too big for me. I like smaller red ones for goldfish scooping.
                

I had a happy time to walk around the loungy country town. Too hot but really satifsfied.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Skinny Annie

Today I'd like to report about my dog Annie. 

I was shocked when I touched her body a few days ago. I know she hasn't eaten as much as before, but I didn't know she had lost her weight so much. She got very, very skinny, as though I touched just her bones directly.
Yet, I believe she is living to her most. About eight months ago she was diagnosed as cancer when she fell down, and seemed to finish her life before long. But she recovered by herself and keeps living.
Now she has a problem  of incomplete evacuation like elderly people. Probably she can't see well. She can't stand straight. I'm very sad to see such miserable reality.

Now she is gazing at me. And I am thinking what she wants now.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pomegranate

 
Pomegranate is a peculiar plant life. It is Zakuro in Japanese.
In Japan pomegranate's bright red flowers bloom in  early summer. Soon we can see its edible fruit which is 5-12 cm in diameter with a rounded hexagonal shape. Each fruit has around 600 seeds with surrouding water-laden pulps.
From the abundant seeds, pomegranates have been a symbol of a good harvest, fertility and prosperity.
The shape of the calyx left in the fruit looks like a crown, so it was used as the symbol of the power in ancient Europe.
The fruit is said to work as medicine for tonsillitis.

Strangely its new leaves are red. So it is easy to find in spring.
Unluckily I have never tasted pomegranate in my life.
But today I happened to find a good information.  In Turkey (probably in other countries too), you can get 100% fresh pomegranate juice on the street. They squeeze lots of fresh pomeranate fruits in front of you.
I wonder what it tastes like.  I add this to my plan to do in the future. 
But there may be some people  to pick up natural fruits for juice at home.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Daruma Doll

Daruma Dolls are hollow, round Japanese dolls modeled after Bodhidharma and they are seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck in Japan.

Bodhidharma is said to be a monk who lived  in the 6th century and founded Zen Buddhism.  According to the book, he was born as the third son to a king in South India. Following the instructions of his old master, he left his kingdom to live in China to study Buddhism.  He soon gained a reputation for his practice of wall-gazing.  He sat facing a wall in meditation for as long as nine years without moving, which caused his legs to fall off. 
Another popular legend is that after falling asleep during his nine-year meditation, he got angry with himself and cut off his eyelids to avoid ever falling asleep again.  And his discarded eyelids are said to have sprouted the first tea plant. From these stories he is regarded as man of strong will and perseverance.

Daruma dolls are usually made of papier-marche and have a red, round shape weighted at the bottom in order to return to an upright position when tilted over.  These tumbler dolls symbolize the ability to overcome adversity and have success.

The eyes of Daruma dolls are blank when sold.  The oversized round, blank, white eyes are depicted as a means to stay focused on one's goal . People fill in one eye upon setting a goal, and when the goal is achieved, they fulfill another eye.  Politicians during election time are a good example of this. When they get elected, politicians fulfill the blank eye of their Daruma dolls with India ink.

My Daruma doll has still both blank eyes. I have to set my goal first.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wonderful Dinner with Hot Spring

 I went to Arima with my mother and sister. Arima is regarded as one of Japan's oldest hot spring resorts with a history of over one thousand years. It is located on the foot of Mt. Rokko, not far  from Kobe and Osaka.
There are two types of hot spring waters which spring up at various sources around town:  the Kinsen ("gold water") is colored brown with iron deposits and is said to be good for skin ailments and muscle pain, while the clear Ginsen ("silver water") contains radium and carbonate and is said to cure various muscle and joint ailments.
 
Arima is also famous for its bamboo work and writing brush.I dropped by a small bamboo work shop. There are various kinds of works, such as kitchen utensils, ornaments and toys.  I bought a cute owl made of bamboo sheath. While Arima brush is a hand made writing brush which has a cute, one-centimeter doll on the end. When you aim the brush down, the small doll comes out.

The aim of this trip is to enjoy wonderful dinner at a small Japanese hotel named "Oku-no-Hosomichi" literally means "the narrow road to the deep north".  Its owner is Ota Tadamichi. He is a chef of creative cuisine basically Japanese dish, who used to appear on the popular TV cooking program "Iron Chef" and he is now one of the famous chefs in Kansai area.
As well as the delicious taste of all the meals, I was greatly impressed with the way the meal is served.

I love the bowls and plates which suit the meal. The ice cream was served in the nice morning glory-shaped cup(?).  The most surprising thing was the appetizers placed on the goldfish bowl. Real five red goldfish are swimming there.
It was one good example of the embodiment of the season.

Amazing experience.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Japan Blue


"Japan Blue" is the color of indigo dyeing, ai-iro in Japanese. In the late 17th century, indigo dyeing was at the peak in Japan and a lot of Japanese people wore indigo dyeing kimono.

Indigo dyeing is not unique to Japan. It is probably the most widely used dyestuff of all time. Denim jeans are one of the good examples.


What is the charm of indigo dyeing?

1. It looks beautiful and enduring.

2. It works as antibacterial agent as well as deodorant. They say in the past, new-born babies were wrapped in indigo clothes for this reason. Also samurai warriors wore indigo underwear when dressed in armor.

3. Indigo dyeing protects from insects and snakes. So it was good for working outside.

4. The more the texture is washed, the more the blue color deepens. So it keeps really beautiful after long years.


I hope to buy a nice indigo dyeing dress in the future. I only have a handkerchief.




Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yokai

Yokai are a class of supernatural creatures in Japanese folklore. They are things in nature transforming themselves into something supernatural.

Some of those creatures were friendly, mischievous, others rather dangerous. Some possess animal features such as Kappa which is similar to a turtle. Other times they can appear as human.

There are also yokai based on household items. In the past the Japanese believed that every inanimate object had its own spirit and would cause bad things to happen to anyone who didn't take good care of it.Stories about yokai sometimes served as a warning to people to be more respectful to the things they use.

Japanese people have always had a certain fear of nature, but they have also felt an affinity with it. Scary but at the same time oddly likable, yokai perhaps embody the Japanese way of seeing the world.
Even today yokai are living in our lives. "GeGeGe no Kitaro" is a famous manga series created by Mizuki Shigeru. It is about the yokai world. My favorite character is "Nezumi-Otoko".

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trendy Silver Parasol

Up until a few years ago mainly older ladies used parasols in Japan. But recently thanks to a lot of information about the harmful influence of sunlight, a parasol came to be a must-have item for Japanese women both young and old to protect their skins.
And a various kinds of parasols are sold in the stores. One of this year's trendy parasol is a silver one that is said to reflect sunlight and we feel cooler with silver parasol than with other kinds.




This summer I got a silver parasol that has a flower print on the reverse side. It is a light, compact folding umbrella protecting against both sunlight and rain. It is very handy and convenient.
I suppose this is a product of Japanese strong area.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bon Festival



Obon is a Buddhist event to hold memorial services for ancestors usually from August 13 through 16. During this time the spirits of the dead are believed to return to their former homes and families.

People light lanterns to guide the spirits and perform bon dances to entertain their spirits. On the night of 15th or 16th, people light farewell bonfire or float lanterns on the water to see off the spirits.

The week of obon is considered bon vacation, and many people return to their hometowns or take trips. The heavy traffic congestion is also the seasonal thing.

Even though the times are changing, I hope the heart of this tradition should be observed.

First Eating Ceremony







Today is my grandson Rintaro's Okuizome, the ceremonial first meal around the hundredth day after birth. It is held to pray for the baby's healthy growth.

We prepared some auspicious dishes such as a grilled sea bream and rice with red beans.
We just put the food up to his mouth and pretended he was eating them.

Of course three-month-old baby doesn't eat them.

He was crying hard during all that time.He only wants mother's milk!

Well done, Rintaro.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Jazz Picnic


Jazz Picnic in Ina River is an outdoor jazz concert held at the field along the Ina River in Ikeda city, Osaka. This concert is held annually around this time of the year and every year I enjoy it with my friends.

This year I joined with my close friend and my husband.
First we went to the supermarket to get something to drink and eat.

The concert started at five p.m. and lasted for four hours. At the beginning, it was still sunny and hot, so I opened the parasol to get a shade. But luckily there was a good wind through river.



Little by little it got dark. I like to see the changing colors of the sky and the setting sun.



In addition, we can eat, drink, talk and lie down ( sleep) during the concert. So everyone can enjoy the concert in his/her favorite way.



Not to mention all live jazz performances. I had a jolly good time today.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Nara TO-KAE candle show

This evening I went to Nara Park, or Deer Park to see Nara TO-KAE. It is a candlelight show held only 10 days in summer which started twelve years ago.

Tens of thousands of candles were lit up in Nara which used to thrive as a capital 1300 years ago.
TO-KA is a lump of flower shape on the top of a candlewick after lighting a candle. They say it is a good fortune when the flower shape is made.

People just sat down along the pond in peace to spend a relaxed time by the mystic candle light. Beautiful, peaceful rather new tradition.


video

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For today: Augutst 11, 2011



Outside my window...It is still hot and humid. Around 9:00 p.m. 86 degrees F (30 degrees C). 86%. No wind is blowing.


I am thinking...five months have passed since the Great Earthquake hit Easten Japan. Even today there are countless amount of debris still remain. Many people are still suffering.


I am thankful...to my friends and my family, espeically my husband who is the number one supporter of mine.


In the kitchen...there are some more things for me to do. Preparion for tomorrow.


I am wearing...a brown Tshirt and a gingham half pants.

I am creating...a blog that started one month ago.

I am going...to play tennis tomorrow under the scorching sun. I have to prevent heat stroke.

I am wondering...how to go with this summer heat.

I am reading...a Japanese historical novel of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who united Japan in the late 16th century.

I am hoping...that my three-month-old grandson will grow up healthy and my eleven-year-old beagle will live long.

I am looking forward to...get a job offer as an English tour guide. After the March Earthquake and its following Fukushima nuclear power plant issue, tourism industry has been greatly affected though I live in Osaka, 1000 km away from the area.

I am hearing...the buzzing sound of electric fan. I also hear the sound of cars heading for their homes.

One of my favorite things...walking with my dog Annie in the morning. Although she is sick and old, she likes going out with me. She walks soooo slowly and stops soooo many times.

A few plans for the rest of the week:playing tennis on Friday, going to outdoor jazz concert on Saturday. I will be busy this week.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...My first grandson Rintaro. He is so cute and lovely.

I've never imagined how happy I am with a grandkid.






Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out some other Daybook entries here!

Summer Koshien

Baseball is the most popular sport in Japan along with soccer. A great number of Japanese boys start to play baseball from childhood and there are many teams for boys throughout Japan.
As well as professional baseball, high school baseball is very popular. And there are two annual tournaments played by some 4000 high schools in spring and summer.


Now is the midst of the summer high school tournament held in Koshien stadium in Hyogo Prefecture. It is called "Summer Koshien." It started on August 6th which will last for two weeks.

A large number of fanatic supporters travel from hometowns to cheer for their local team.


It is a national tradition that symbolizes Japanese summer.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hozuki-Chinese lantern

Hozuki is a perennial plant with a bright orange papery covering over its fruit, which resembles Chinese lanterns. 

Hozuki is physalis alkekengi in English. It has also other names such as Bladder cherry, Chinese lantern and Winter cherry.

At this time of the year, hozuki is used as part of the Bon Festival as offerings to guide the souls of the deceased. (Bon Festival is Buddhist event when the deceased spirits are believed to return to their home.)



In Japan, a hozuki fruit was used as a fun, especially for girls. Just yesterday my friend showed me how to do it. She made a funny sound by hollowing an empty fruit in her mouth.



But it took a lot of perseverance to take out seeds. It’s not my kind.

Fire Flowers

Today I really enjoyed live fireworks displays which was held in Ibaraki city, Osaka.My friend lives on the fifth floor at the best place to witness fireworks display.
Every year we had a party on that day before and after the fireworks show.
Around 7:30 the fireworks displays started with the big sound.I am really satisfied with one-hour-fireworks. My heart skipped a beat by the big sounds. I lost my words with my mouth open.
In Japanese firework is hanabi, literally means "flower fire." Truly fire flowers in the sky!


video

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fireworks Display



Fireworks displays are held during this time of the year. Tonight one of the most splendid fireworks events in Osaka was held at Yodo River. A great number of people flocked to the riverbank to see the show.



Every year I see many young women going there in colorful yukata summer cotton kimono and a trendy hairstyle. But tonight I also saw many young men wearing yukata.



I didn't go to the riverbank, but I was able to hear the constant bangs of fireworks at home. I used my imagination at first, but soon I wanted to see the real image.



Thanks to the modern technology, I could see the live fireworks displays on the Internet.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Best Peach in my life



Peach is a very delicious and juicy fruit. But it's quite difficult to meet a good peach on a reasonable price.



In Japanese folktale,a peach is regarded as a symbol to ward off evil spirits because it has strong psychic powers.



As for figure, it looks like a Buddhist sacred gem. Also a pretty hip.



Yesterday I was lucky enough to get a share of some good peaches. It was the best peach that I had ever eaten. Sweet and juicy. A rare treat!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Guerrilla Rain

Guerrilla Rain is a strange name. It is sudden downpours into relatively narrow zones,mainly in urban cities.It is a Japanese English. We've often heard this word recently. Some experts believe that guerrilla rain has a strong connection between the urban heat island phenomenon and global warming.


Today I saw a surprising video image of guerrilla rain on TV. In the video, only in some-hundred-meters square area, torrential rain was pouring heavily for a short period.


One taxi driver said in the interview, "When I was driving in the sun, all of a sudden, a heavy rain attacked my car, then after three minutes I got through. I felt surprised and scared."

It is an unpredicted pinpoint attack like guerrilla. Not gorilla.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Princess Gou

I am a big fan of this year's period drama- "Princess Gou." The story focuses on the life of princess Gou who was one of Japan's high celebrities in the 17th century.



She was a wife of the second Tokugawa shogun Hidetada and had a powerful influence at that time. She lived her fascinating and eventful life.


Today I went to see Odani Castle site where princess Gou was born. Odani Castle was a mountain castle located in the northeastern side of Lake Biwa (the largest lake in Japan). From the site, I was able to see a panoramic view of Lake Biwa and surrounding area.

In addition, I visited other three places to know about her life and the TV drama.

I like her positive way of thinking.