Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY February 29, 2012   The end of February, too quick.

Outside my is dark, quiet and still cold. But during daytime I was feeling a little progress to spring by milder sunlight.

I am my friends to help me, talk with, laugh with and experience many things with.

In the kitchen...some oranges and bananas on the table.

I am wearing...a reddish sweater and jeans.

I am arranging...a new tour of Kyoto for a private tour published on the Internet site, Tours by locals.

I am take a bath. To soak in the bathtub is  a good way to heal myself.

I am reading ... "Ki ni Manabe" or " Learn from the trees" by Tsunekazu Nishioka. He was a carpenter specializing in traditional wooden Japanese temples.  It is amazing that ancient carpenters built a five-story pagoda without using nails 1300 years ago. They were super clever.

I am hoping that the cold lets up soon. But today Tokyo is affected by snow.

I am looking forward the blooming of ume apricot. They've just started blooming.

I am pondering...that almost one year has passed since the  March Earthquake happened on March 11. There still remain a countless amount of debris on the affected areas. How much has the restoration progressed?

One of my favorite playing jigsaw puzzle on the Internet.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Thursday, visiting the local event featuring Hina dolls. Friday is tennis, Sunday is joining another one day tour. Exciting!

Here is a picture I am sharing... I found this ume blossom this morning.

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fancy Concrete-Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art

Today I found a great architecture in Kobe. I went out to visit another museum, but on the way, I found this modern building and I got knocked down completely. I don't know why, but I sometimes get strongly attracted by the architecture.

This is the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art located on the coast of Kobe. It was opened in 2002.
The major collections are foreign and Japanese sculptures and prints, Western-style and Japanese-style paintings associated with Hyogo Prefecture, etc.

The building of the museum is a modern, concrete construction by a famous architect Tadao Ando.
I just took pictures and enjoyed a cup of coffee at the cafe inside without looking at any exhibits.
Really handsome concrete!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hina Dolls ...Great Japanese tradition

Once a year I put out this set of Hina dolls to celebrate "Hinamatsuri" or "the Hina dolls festival" on March 3. It is a festival for girls and wishes are expressed for their future happiness.
Customarily, hina dolls were sent by a mother's parents as a present when a girl baby was born. And these dolls were sent by my parents when my daughter was born 28 years ago. Considering the space for the dolls, I chose a set of only two dolls rather than that of gorgeous seven tiers.

This custom of displaying dolls began during the Heian period (8th century~12th century). In the past, people believed dolls had the power to contain bad spirits. And this festival dates back to an ancient Japanese custom of doll floating, in which straw hina dolls were set afloat on a boat and sent down a river to the sea, supposedly taking troubles or bad spirits with them.
Later during the Edo period (17th century~19th century), fabric Hina dolls wearing beautiful Heian nobility costumes appeared and they became popular and more gorgeous.

These dolls represent the Emperor and the Empress. The placement of a couple is different between the  western  (Osaka and Kyoto) and the eastern Japan ( Tokyo). The traditional arrangement had the male on the right from the viewer's perspective. But in the enthronement ceremony in 1926, Emperor Showa stood on the left side according to the Western style. Since then, the doll industry in Tokyo changed the arrangement in order to show their respect to Showa Emperor.On the other hand, Osaka and Kyoto preserved the former style.
But I forgot the story when I arranged this afternoon. I displayed the dolls according to the picture in the box. This is Tokyo style display. Never mind.

If my daughter has a girl baby next time, these dolls will be sent to her house for the baby. By that time, I will keep and display them every year. For my grandson Rintaro, we are planning to present a carp streamer for boys festival in May.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Happy yellowish flowers

 These yellowish flowers were the real eye-catchers. And  the shining brown jar was also very attractive. I understand one of the key points is the combination of flowers and a vase.  I love this pair very much.

 I found this flower arrangement in the patio of the cafe. As you see, it looks like an old Japanese folk house.  This kind of the old wooden structure has been quietly on the rise in Japan.

 Enjoy visiting Floral Friday Fotos.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Maiko and Geiko

Today's topic is one of my favorite: maiko and geiko. Maybe you know maiko. I have long been attracted by maiko and geiko. (In Kyoto, geisha is called geiko.)
Yesterday I happened to find this book at the library. The title is "The KYOTO Gokagai"or "The Kyoto five kagai" by Hiroshi Mizobuchi. It is a photo book featuring the annual events geiko and maiko are supposed to attend.

Kagai is the term Kyoto people use for the districts where the geiko and maiko practice the high-class arts that have made their beauty and refinement legendary the world over. The most famous kagai is Gion. In the kagai world, people still keep the traditional strict rules, and in a sense, it is a very restricted world. There is a unique rule: Formal restaurants in Gion are available for only the people who are introduced by their guest. I hope to visit such a restaurant in the future where maiko and geiko perform Japanese traditional dance and music. But if you like to see real maiko, Gion Corner is a good choice.
Gion Corner, a unique theater which presents 1-hour shows of seven traditional performing arts of Kyoto, including the heart of Kyogen classical comedy, Kyomai dance by maiko, Gagaku Imperial Court music, koto (Japanese harp) , flower arrangement, and Tea ceremony. And since explanations are given in English, it is popular among foreign tourists.

What is the difference between maiko and geiko?  This picture shows clearly. These beautiful women serve tea at the tea ceremony event. You can see ladies wearing colorful kimono with long sleeves (right). They are maiko, who are apprentice geiko ( around 16 yrs to 20).  And two ladies left who wear more subdued kimono with short sleeves are geiko (21 yrs~).

There are several hairstyles that a maiko wears, that mark the different stages of her apprenticeship.
Maiko uses her real hair for her hairstyle, while geiko wears a wig.

These are maiko's hair ornaments. Every month they wear a different ornament which reflects the season. For example, in February, they wear ume apricot design. (the left end of the second row)

Three maiko and one geiko attend the seasonal festival.

This is a picture of "changing collar ceremony" when maiko graduates to full-fledged geiko, exchanging her embroidered, red collar for a plain white one.
The picture left below shows a professional male dresser fixes up for geiko, because it takes strength to tie a broad sash.
I can say women in the kagai society are some of the most successful businesswomen in Japan.

I want to add one more. Recently tourists, not only Japanese but also from abroad, can experience maiko style for around 10.000 yen.  You can see fake maiko every day in Gion and its surrounding area.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cute & clever ads

  My friend shared them and I think they are sooo lovely and clever, so I'd like to share with you.
Let's enjoy three great ads of the Belgian bus company.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sweet collaboration

How beautiful these flowers and glasses! I happened to meet these displays when I visited Kinrankai Girls' Junior & Senior High School in Osaka.  All these works are collaboration of two clubs, the flower arrangement club and the art club. The art club students created colorful glasses at the studio and then the flower arrangement club girls put flowers into them.

These works made me smile and take pictures. I was so happy today.
I hope you feel a little"spring" from these works.  Which one is your favorite?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Progress of Ume apricot

This post is part of Floral Friday Fotos.

Today snow was falling in the afternoon and the weather forecast says tomorrow will be the last peak of coldness this winter and we'll have snow tomorrow too.
This winter  is unusual.

I went to Osaka Castle Ume apricot garden two days ago to see the progress of blooming. Most trees were still waiting to bloom, but I could see the earliest ume starting to bloom in the rain.

I'm sure the view of the castle through flowers would be wonderful in a week or so. I hope to come back again. We can enjoy this apricot garden through March.

This tree was the most appealing to me with the sweet scent.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day...Chocolate day in Japan

all made by chocolate!!

 Today is St. Valentine's Day and Japanese people celebrate this day in a unique way. Although, it may seem strange that a country with few Christians would adopt Christian customs, this date fits well with Japanese culture. Exchanging gifts is an important way for Japanese to show gratitude and to foster human relations.

at the supermarket

On St. Valentine's Day only women give chocolates to men they love and to male bosses and colleagues in the workplace as a gesture of friendship. The latter is called "giri-choco" or "obligatory chocolate."
In return,  "White Day" on March 14th is the day when men are expected to return the favor by giving gifts to women. These customs started as part of confectionery company's sales promotion gimmicks in the 1950s.
However, this custom is changing. Recently women exchange chocolates among female friends or present to themselves.

chocolate for my husband
I love to find delicious chocolates of pretty wrapping  this time of the year. The peak of chocolate in a year.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rape blossoms...another harbinger of spring

 Rape blossoms  bloom in winter from early-Jan. to mid-March at this lakeside park in Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture. About 12,000 flower plants carpet the area in yellow. And in July-August, there are sunflowers. It is free admission. This park is located at the lakeside of Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan and the important source for the drinking water of Osaka and other cities.

Far away beyond the lake you can see the mountains covered with snow, which is the closest ski slope from my house. This year most ski resorts have enough snow to operate, but these days skiing is no more popular in Japan, even snowboards either. I guess young people prefer computers and high-tech devices to playing in the freezing field.

Rape blossom is another harbinger of spring. Spring is approaching definitely.
My husband and I go here and there to find a new companion toy poodle puppy. We are enjoying visiting and holding puppies. Wonderful time!! But we haven't met ours yet.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ume - Japanese apricot

Ume or Japanese apricot is one of the three most popular trees in Japan. Others are pine trees and bamboo. Ume starts to bloom the first in the year, even under the snow. So it represents courage in Japan.  Ume blossom is one of my favorites for its good flower scent.
Ume trees flower in the late winter, usually around this time of the year, but this winter is much colder and the blooming is much later than usual.

Today I went to the Expo Park Ume garden, but as expected even the earliest  kind you can see in the pictures above.  I can hardly wait.

This is part of Floral Friday Fotos. Please come and enjoy other lovely flowers here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Dog plan

This is a big news to me.  My family will soon meet a new dog! We lost our beagle Annie last October. She was  a very peaceful and adorable dog and we all missed her very much. We've planned to have a new dog but still couldn't decide the good time for it. Today I talked with my husband about the big loss and how to live more comfortable life.  I spoke my mind to have a new dog to heal our vacancy. He listened to me carefully and agreed with the idea. Wow, thank you, hubby.
I'm looking forward to seeing a new-comer. I believe Annie forgave my decision.

Annie wearing my scarf in 2010

What kind of dog?   I'm thinking ...small-sized brown or black toy poodle. Because it was hard for me to hold 12kg-beagle who hated visiting the vet in my arms, so I want to choose a lighter one this time. Plus my husband doesn't like to see dog's falling hair. I figure toy poodle seems ideal to my family.
Anyway,  I'm planning to find a new family member with my husband this weekend. I'll report about it later.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Living in a Coal Mine....Sakubei Yamamoto Collection

Now I'm reading "Living in a Coal Mine....Sakubei Yamamoto Collection", I borrowed from the city library.
Coal mining paintings of Sakubei Yamamoto was registered as UNESCO's Memory of the World heritage last year. It is a collection of about 700 annotated paintings and diaries of Japanese artist Sakubei Yamamoto depicting the conditions of coal mines.  This is the first work by a Japanese  chosen for the Memory of the World heritage.

a couple working together
 Sakubei Yamamoto (1892-1984), a Fukuoka Prefecture native, recorded the state of coal mines and the lives of miners, including him, with pictures and words. This collection consists of about 700 works. He worked at a Chikuho coal mine in Fukuoka prefecture for about half a century and took up painting in his 60s with the purpose of handing down the livelihood of coal mines to his posterity. His main work includes a picture-essay book titled "Tanko ni Ikiru" (Living in a Coal Mine), which I am reading now.

they are selling sweets
The Memory of the World program aims to preserve historical archives and other precious items around the world. Among items already inscribed in its roster are the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen issued during the French Revolution in the late 18th century and the diary of Anne Frank from World War II years.

 This picture shows  a woman carrying a big container filled with coals. Women had to work in a coal mine with his husband, leaving  small children at home. After the hard work, they had a lot of housework to finish. Men often gathered to drink and gamble. How tough and miserable people's lives, especially women's lives were! Yet they strongly lived their lives. This book shows the lowest people's lives without exaggeration, so it is very convincing.

children looked happy to find something fun