Thank you, dear readers, for provoking this simple blog to surpass 40,000 hits. What started out as a personal reflection on some favorite topics and a way to stay in touch with old friends has exploded into an online sensation focused on Japanese male vanity, delinquency, fashion, slang, and always big men’s hair.
Through this blog, I have met fujoshi from throughout the English-reading world, young queens from Down Under and elsewhere, and the greatest Japanese blogger about otaku words, while simultaneously sharing inappropriate topics with my mother and in-laws. 失礼しました！
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Please let me know what you think of the blog, any suggestions, and any topics you’d like to know more about. Thank you very much for your kind attention to my often bizarre interests.
Here’s an overview of the bizen pottery I made in Numazu with the in-law senseis. You can see the rectangular plates, small round plates, and various flower vases and lattices.
This was my own design, inspired by fruit pie lattices. It’s meant to be a special occasion flower vase.
See some more photos
Wednesday I was biking to my gym yoga class and admiring the sakura in full bloom along the Kanda River between Nakano Sakaue and Higashi Nakano. After class, I noticed that the warm weather and wind was starting a “snowfall” of petals along the path and in the river. How quickly sakura ends.
The photo above is from Zenpujiki River, near the in-laws’ ceramic studio. Rivers are perfect settings for sakura. Hanami at the narrow park along this river in Suginami is more neighborly and less crazed than more celebrated parks. Below is a night image from central Nakano, where many old cherry trees line Nakano Dori. The lighting is supplied by local institution, Don Ki (the nickname for low-priced emporium Don Quijote). And you can see the moon in the upper right corner.
After a few more days, cherry blossom season will be over.
Last week, the in-laws fired two more plates I designed. They asked if it was OK to use the reduction firing (versus the oxidation firing). Of course, I agreed. It’s interesting how the same clay and glaze turned out so differently.
The reducation firing, above, at first looked burnt or dirty to me. It was interesting that my in-law teachers and most of the students preferred that look, deeming it “antique” looking and better for serving food. The look is growing on me, too.
Now I am working on some mugs for coffee drinking at home.
Now that I have a one year visa for cultural activities (thank you, in-laws), the Japanese government has issued me an Alien Registration Card and enrolled me in the national health insurance program. Yipeee! For about $100 per year, I now have access to health care in Japan. My very first national health insurance. Thank you, Nihon!
It’s been a week of getting organized. I also got my bike re-assembled and registered, bought a bike helmet, and added a kick-stand. I am ready to roll.
The husband and I spent most of February in San Francisco. It was great to see friends and to spend time in my garden. I love how this fern in the winter has new leaves that are red. Seeing my San Francisco garden has given me inspiration for re-making the in-laws small shady garden in Tokyo.
With the in-laws and the hubb, I visited this shrine on New Year’s day. Amidst an ordinary Suginami neighborhood, this small shrine looks like something out of history, or at least an advertisement. Hey, is that Hachiko, the famous dog?
New Year is a quiet and charming time in Tokyo. Everyone who came from the interior has left, most businesses are shut down, and there’s a lot of over-eating with the family. In between delicious lunch and dinner at the in-laws, we visited the shrine, to say a quick prayer and to draw our fortune.
After experiencing the mind-numbingly long prayers of my family’s religion, Japanese prayer is so charming. Throw some coins in the shrine, ring the bell, bow twice, clap your hands twice, press them together, think a happy thought, and let the next people have their turn. It takes about 20 seconds, and involves no audible words.
Happy new year to everyone! Hope your year started well.
Sunday we spent the day at the in-laws performing a year-end mochi-making party. After soaking the rice grains overnite, they are drained, and then taken into the back yard.
Using a huge wooden mallet, someone pounds the grains in a bowl made from a single piece of tree trunk. One person pounds, while the other brave person turns the dough. Eventually, it becomes sticky.
Mochi is fairly tasteless. At the party it was served many ways– with anko (sweet beans), with grated daikon, with sesame paste, with walnut paste, and kinako (dry soy powder). My favorite is grilled (see above), soaked in soy sauce, and placed between some nori seaweed.
You have to see the movie to really understand how domestic and primitive mochi-making is.