Monday, January 30, 2012

Coldest season in the year

This is the pictures of white and yellow irises.I got these flowers for a set of flower arrangement. These are a good display for the living room.

Today I'd like to introduce  you about Japanese old calendar called "24 Seasonal divisions". It is very "Japanese" way of thinking.(strictly saying, it was from China) Until 1873, Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar, we had been counting time on the old lunar calendar. This calendar is based on the waxing and waning of the moon, so it isn't always in sync with the actual seasons. So farmers relied on the system "24 seasonal divisions", which is the system dividing the year into 24 periods of 15 or 16 days each, corresponding to changes in the sun's position in the sky along its ecliptic. The system was originally started in the southern part of China, so there exist some time gaps between Japan and the southern China. But even so, this is very helpful, and even today we often hear the saying, "According to the seasonal division,...." They say between "大寒coldest” and "立春begining of spring" is the coldest time of the year.  Yes, it's really true! Very cold!  TV reporter says this year they have a record amount of snow in the Japan Sea side region.

This is part of Yellow Mellow Monday.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Winter Camellia

I feel like I've almost been through the tunnel. I can see the light. I don't like to exaggerate my condition, but this cold was a tough one.   I think I have lost a few days because I could only sleep in bed. I've rarely experienced such an experience  before. But soon I'll feel fine, I hope, with the help of the French brandy. Yes, last night I tried it for the first time. It worked well. Thank you for your advice.

This is a pink camellia I took a few days ago before I was sick. The bright pink caught my eyes.
Have a happy weekend!
This is part of Pink Saturday.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Feeling better...

Firstly, I am very grateful for all your kind comments and helpful advices. I've been so happy to have my family and friends to support me. I am feeling much better now, but still coughing with sputum.
I tried a various kinds of drinks, such as hot honey and lemon, hot ginger tea, hot milk with honey, ....many cups of  green tea and nutrition-supplement drink.  I stayed in bed all day yesterday. I can't say which one worked the best, probably all I think. Now I feel hungry, it's a good sign. I've lost some weight, which is the only good thing.
Anyway, I learned it takes much longer to recover once I made my cold worse. I should keep  this in my mind from now.
Once again, thanks you to all beautiful bloggers and please take care of yourself to keep in good condition!

This is part of Floral Friday Fotos.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Any suggestion for coughing?

Hello, lovely bloggers.

Today I am posting to ask you something.

Now I'm in bad condition. I can't stop coughing now. I can't sleep due to the consistent coughing.
I saw a doctor the day before yesterday and have taken some medicine. Today I should have stayed calm at home, but I thought I was OK this morning and went out all morning. And now I'm suffering persistent cough. I know I was idiot.
But if you have any suggestion about this situation, please let me know. I'm sure you know many things.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

the simple woman's daybook

FOR TODAY January 24, 2012

Outside my window...dark and cold night (4 degrees Celsius)(39 Fahrenheit).

I am warm UNIQLO fleece and heatteck stuff. They keep me warm in a cold day.

In the kitchen...There are some plates to be waiting to be washed. For dinner we had "Nabe hotpot seasoned with Korean pickles".

I am wearing...a cream white fleece and khaki pants with black socks. Very comfy and warm. My room has only a small heater, so it is a bit cold.We have no central heating system in Japanese houses.

I am in the vase. My 82-year-old mother takes a lesson of flower arrangement every Tuesday. So she brings them back to home, then I put those flowers into a vase in the living room on behalf of her. It's my own style.

I am bed earlier today to recover from a cold. Now I have asthma-like symptoms.

I've finished reading "Endurance"  Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. It's a very inspiring book.

I am hoping that the cold lets up this Friday and Saturday. I'll play tennis with my friends.

I am looking forward to meeting my daughter's family this weekend. To meet my grandson gives me joy.

I am learning about how to take better pictures.

I am pondering...about another earthquake. I pray for no more earthquake hit  Japan.

One of my favorite the time to open the curtains in the morning and feel the energy of the bright sun.

A few plans for the rest of the week...English study session on Wednesday, enjoying tennis on Friday and Saturday, family reunion on Saturday and Sunday.

Here is a picture I am sharing... I bought this warm pants today. Love at first sight. What do you think?

This is part of the Simple Woman's Daybook. Please enjoy other daybooks here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mellow Yellow Monday

These shots are just small yellow flowers I found during my walk today. They aren't special, but they are appealing as the harbinger of the arrival of spring to me.

Visit more Mellow Yellow Monday.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kasuga Grand Shrine

 Today I enjoyed the authentic Japanese tradition in Kasuga Grand Shrine in Nara, although it  rained all day. Every 21rd of the month,the "Shunsai Festival" has been held to pray for the peace and security of the  nation for 900 years. It was my first time to participate such a serious Shinto ceremony. (I have no pics about the ceremony because taking pictures was not allowed there.) A solemn atmosphere filled the ground.

The path to the shrine passes through Deer Park (where tame deer roam free). Over a thousand stone lanterns line the way. They are all donations to the shrine. Many stone lanterns are old enough to be covered with moss. In the past, all the lanterns were lit every night for the people who came to pray at night.

Inside the precinct, a lot of bronze lanterns are hung from the eaves. The contrast of the red structure and the hanging lanterns is really gorgeous.

The lanterns below are rather new, real bronze color.

A Shinto wedding ceremony was being held when I visited in the afternoon. The lady with white hood is a bride. They all wear traditional Japanese costume.

Kasuga Grand Shrine and the Kasugayama Primeval Forest near it are registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Sweet

In the midst of the frigid winter, these yellow flowers bloom silently at the back of the ancient-style architecture. With all flowers facing down to the ground, they are transparent yellow.
I love its name "Winter Sweet" , which really fits this flower. We feel so happy to see this cute flower in the colorless world now.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos.
This post is also part of the Mellow Yellow Monday.
Please come to see my website to find some Japanese things.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pit House Cafe

old barn on the way
Today I went out for driving in the mountain with my friend M. We headed for a certain unique cafe, following the indication of the car  navigation system, but we were lost. Sometimes the navigation  system seems crazy to me. We made a detour to the cafe. The cafe is "Madama Village" located in the nothern part of Ibaraki city, Osaka.

the entrance of the cafe
Why did I say a "unique" cafe?  Because it is a round "pit dwelling" cafe made by old trees and reed. It is 12m in diameter and 11m in height with one room. On the earthen floor, there are several homemade tables and chairs. We tasted a good chestnut cake and a cup of coffee in a dusky light.  From time to time, various concerts and lectures are held here.

covered with thick reed
It was so ancient but really cool!  Fantastic time.
You can see more information and pictures here.
diamond-like light

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

17th Anniversary of Great Hanshin Earthquake

At 5:46 in the morning of January 17th, 1995, a strong earthquake struck Kobe area. A magnitude of 7.3, the epicenter of the large-scale earthquake was a mere 16km directly underneath. Known as the Great Hanshin Earthquake, this disaster was responsible for a large loss of life (6,400) and extensive damage of many homes and public buildings (about 240,000), as well as many fires in the aftermath.

 This year more than 5,000 people attended the memorial ceremony held in the park closed to Kobe City Office and prayed for both lives lost in Kobe and in the Great East Japan Earthquake that attacked Japan's northeastern Tohoku Region 10 months ago.

I learned again how precious people's lives are and at the same time, how vulnerable our modern lives are. People were exposed  electricity cut off, gas loss and no tap water for several months. They were forced to live a really tough life for a long time.

I will never forget these two earthquakes, and people who were lost and are still struggling to recover from the disastrous damage.  I strongly  believe that Tohoku region will come back again from the dead as Kobe did.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mellow Yellow Monday

Today's my yellow shot is this architecture. Strictly speaking, it is not yellow, but please allow me to join.
 Do you know the name of this shining architecture? It may be one of the most famous buildings in Japan.

This is Kinkakuji Temple, or the Golden Pavilion, which is the landmark of Kyoto.  Every time I see it, I am overwhelmed with its beauty. You can not enter the building, just walk around. The second and the third walls are covered with thick gold leaves attached on the black lacquer. Looking from far away, the shining reflection in the sunset looks yellow (gold) and really impressive.

Visit other cute Mellow Yellow Monday posts.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pink Saturday - Nadeshiko

This is a picture of "pink" flowers. We call them "Nadeshiko" in Japanese, meaning "stroking children gently". The name represents the adorable impression of this flower. Nadeshiko is very popular in Japan, especially last year.

"Nadeshiko Japan" is the nickname of the national female soccer team of Japan, which won the championship for the first time in the  FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 held in Germany. They caused a big boom last year after the destructive natural disaster and encouraged people all over Japan. Nadeshiko is the symbolic flower to express not only beauty but also persistence.

Visit other lovely Pink Saturday posts.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Precious Cup of Coffee

today's cup of coffe at my favorite cafe

Hello, lovely friends

Do you like coffee? I'm a coffee lover and I used to drink two, three, sometimes more cups of coffee every day until several weeks ago.

About two months ago, I came to feel very nauseous when I got up in the morning. I happened to have a once-a-year medical checkup and received barium exam for stomach. Luckily no problem was found. My doctor gave me some medicine to get better, but my sickness remained.

So I thought and thought what I should do to solve my problem.  Then I decided to change my eating habit for my health. It is very simple.
That is:  Eat food by eight o'clock at night and stop eating later except tea or water.
              Have only ONE cup of coffee a day.
Surprisingly my condition improved and now I'm in good shape. Now I can enjoy a cup of coffee more than before. Strange feeling.

My conclusion: I guess I ate and drank too much.  I ate and drank much more than my body needed. Plus my body is aging, including internal organs.
Anyway, I love coffee!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January...Live-in-Harmony Month

 Rice cake made at home on the New Year's Eve

In old Japanese language, January was called "睦月 mutsuki". The letter  睦 means "get along with each other" or "live in harmony". 月 means "month". In Japan, family members get together to celebrate the new year, that's why January is called 睦月.

This is a picture of the special rice cakes for celebration we made at home by using rice cake making machine on the New Year's Eve. Today January 11th is the day for cutting it into pieces to be eaten. But I was too busy to complete the mission. Tomorrow is the day for that.

By the way, have you ever eaten rice cake?  We often grill it and dip into sweet sauce of soy sauce and sugar. It's very, very yummy. I want all of you to taste it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 10th Business Success Festival

Today, January 10th is '10th Ebisu Festival' which means 'January 10th Business Success Festival'.

Ebisu is believed to be the patron deity of business and fisheries. Many people come to the Ebisu shrine to pray for happiness and business success. There are a number of Ebisu shrines in Japan, and especially in Osaka, they are very popular  because Osaka used to thrive as a commercial center of Japan in Edo period (1603~1867).

At the festival, people buy a good luck bamboo branch which is a highly popular charm for business prosperity. It is decorated with lots of lucky items such as oval gold coins, sea bream and rice bales. Many merchants return the old bamboo branch of the last year to the shrine and get the new one for this year.

This festival is held at many shrines, especially in Kansai. Imamiya Ebisu Shrine in Osaka city is the most famous one, but I don't want to go to too crowded place, so I visited a local Ebisu shrine in Ibaraki city. I  feel the people's strong hope for business success in the long-lasting economic slowdown in Japan.

beautiful shinto maiden praying for happiness and prosperity

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mellow Yellow Monday

yellow orchid

Coming of Age Day

Today, the second Monday of January, is Coming of Age Day. It is a Japanese holiday to celebrate and encourage all those who have reached the age of majority (twenty years old), and to help them realize they have become adults. Local governments hold the coming-of-age ceremonies in public halls, and after the official ceremonies, the young adults often celebrate in groups by going to parties or going out drinking.

Many women celebrate this day  by wearing furisode ( a style of kimono with long sleeves that drape down) and zori sandals. They grow  hair long enough to suit for furisode kimono. It is impossible to put on a furisode and tie a thick fabric obi sash into a gorgeous shape by themselves, so many visit a beauty salon to dress and to set their hair.

I remember the morning rush of my daughter's preparation seven years ago. I got up very early to drive her to a beauty salon at 6:00 in the morning, bringing a set of furisode and obi sash and many other small things needed for kimono.  After a few hours, she appeared in a beautiful kimono with elegant hair -up. Then I took her to the photo studio to  have commemorative pictures taken. And I took her to the public hall in time.
After the ceremony, however, she flew home to change the kimono into a dress, saying that kimono was beautiful but too tight to enjoy the party, and then went out for the school reunion party with her friends.  It was a good memory now.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Diary of 5

I am seeing... the blue sky with white puffy clouds.

I am hearing...the sound of the electric heater just next to me.

I am smelling...the aroma of Japanese green tea. I love green tea and have many cups every day.

I tasted...rice porridge with seven herbs last night. Yesterday was the day for eating it in Japan. It was really yummy!

I am feeling...relaxed and a little tired after walking around. But I'm feeling I have to prepare something for dinner soon.

pink finger puppet born in Nepal
beautiful sunset from my window
To visit others and join "Diary of 5", please click here.
Hope you all have a nice, new week.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rice Porridge with Seven Spring Herbs

Seven Spring Herbs

Japan is proud of various customs based on seasonal changes, but today some of these customs are disappearing. So this year, I want to try to experience these traditional customs as much as possible in my daily lives.

at the supermarket
Today, January 7th is the festival of eating rice porridge with seven edible spring herbs.(As the Japanese calendar was changed from the ancient lunar-based calendar into the Gregorio calendar in 1873, there exists a gap of the days. Old January 7th is today's end of February. Ancient people could find spring herbs. But today, thanks to modern technology, we can get spring herbs at the supermarket.)

 This long-standing Japanese custom is believed to remove evil from the body and bring longevity and health. Since there is little green at this time of the year, the young green herbs bring color to the table and eating them suits the spirit of the New Year. And it is also a stomach-friendly meal after overeating New Year's festivities.

Seven Spring Herbs are water dropwort (seri), shepherd's purse (nazuna), cudweed( gogyo), chickweed(hakobera), nipplewort(hotokenoza), turnip (suzuna) and radish (suzushiro).

Generally this rice porridge is eaten for today's breakfast , but I forgot to get this set yesterday, so I'll make it for supper.  It'll make a  good diet for the stomach.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Today's Shots

These two shots are New Year's beautiful decoration I found today. It's the largest flower arrangement I've ever seen outside the house. 

 You can see the straw ornament on the gate wich is called "Shime-kazari". It is a decoration of twisted straw rope with fern leaves, an orange, and other items of good fortune.  It is placed over the entrance of a house during the New Year holidays.

another Shime-kazari

I found a blue heron and several ducks in the nearby river. They were trying to find something to eat.

Today was very cold as yesterday and there still remained some snow on the place out of the sun.

It's amazing to find these white flowers standing a frigid winter. They give me courage.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nabe- Japanese-style Hot Pot Dish

Today is January 4th.  Most Japanese companies start business from today, but schools start on 10th.
It was very cold and we had a little snow here today. Generally we have one or two snowy days in a year in Osaka. On such a cold day, we have "Nabe" dish for dinner. We had "yosenabe" for dinner which is one of my favorite hot pots.

Nabe is the most popular and social Japanese food to eat during the winter. It's a hot pot full of all sorts of fish, meat and vegetables. It's served with a heater underneath it so that it bubbles and cooks at the table while you keep serving yourself and adding to the pot.

I'm sure Nabe is an ideal dish. Why??
The reasons are
 #1 Easy and simple: Preparation is very simple. Get various vegetables, tofu, meat, seafood as much as you like. Cut them and just boil them in a pot. You can eat them dipped in your favorite sauce, such as soy sauce with citrus juice or sesame sauce. Tasty!
#2 Delicious and Nutritious: After eating boiled ingredients, you can put boiled rice and eggs to make special porridge. Or you can put noodles. Both are really tasty and nutritious.
#3 Sense of Closeness: The last point is the most important. We strengthen our sense of unity through eating from the same pot.
Tasty, easy cooking and make unification. It's a perfect Japanese cuisine!