Friday, August 04, 2017

A complex of three tea rooms and a reception room

This building is a landmark at Shirotori Garden.
It consists of three tea rooms and one reception room.
The whole complex is called “Seiu-tei”, which literally means “a pure feather house”.
It's fascinating because the overhead view of the complex depicts a white bird spreading its wings to touch down on water.

The tea room on your right is the head of the bird. The corridor symbolizes its neck and the reception room symbolizes its body. The two tea rooms are its wings.
Another unique point about Seiu-tei is that it was built on the edge of the pond, which is not such a common location for a tea house.
When you attend a tea ceremony and sit in a small tatami room, the pond comes into view through the window.
You may feel as if you are attending a tea gathering on a floating boat as you can feel a nice breeze from the pond.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A view from Yuhintei Arbor

As it is generally true for many Japanese gardens, Shirotori garden also depicts the landscape of the central Japan, which is so crucial in talking about the history of this region.

The big fir tree and the stand of trees in the far distance represents the Kiso mountains in Gifu prefecture, which produces good quality of Japanese cedar lumber.
Pine trees along the river banks in the middle distance portray a fertile riverside district of rice paddies called the Suigo area in Aichi prefecuture.

With the woody hills in the far distance and the pine trees in the middle, the view from Yuhin-tei Arbor becomes much alive and dynamic as it is in real life.

Watching the colorful koi (carp) fish swimming and approaching gracefully is a special treat and is very relaxing.

Visitors are always fascinated by the grand view from here in every season, such as the cherry blossoms on weeping branches in spring, the hydrangea flowers in early summer, the autumn foliage and the pine trees tied with rope in winter.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The main gate to Shirotori Garden

Take a look at the entrance gate to Shirotori garden.
An interesting point to notice is the curve of the roof just above the entrance.
It is traditional Japanese carpentry work called 「唐破風」(karahafu).

Since elegant shapes were very much favored by feudal lords, it added more value to the building when this style was used.

There is another factor why it was often used at the entrance of traditional buildings such as castles, temples, shrines and palaces.

On rainy days, a curved line lets falling rain run to both ends of the curve, which prevents guests from getting wet from water running of the roof edge above the entrance.
So, the designer of the garden used this style for the benefit of visitors on rainy days.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

The way we name this little plant

 These flowers are called "lizard's tail" in English. Isn't it a "lovely" name? 
It was named so since the drooping flower depicts a lizard's tail, they say.

On the other hand, 半化粧 (はんげしょう)is a Japanese name for these white, slender and drooping flowers. The most beautiful part of this plant is that some leaves have white splashes on the surface as if a woman were putting powder on her face to meet her loved one. That is why we call it "han-ge-shou", which literally means " putting makeup on halfway" in Japanese.
So romantic, isn't it? They delighted my eyes this afternoon at Shirotori Japanese Garden.

Monday, July 03, 2017

To my favorite blogger ☆Sapphire

Her handle name is ☆Sapphire and her blog title is "Through the Sapphire Sky".

Dear ☆Sapphire,

If you happen to see this post,  please contact me.
I have been a fan of your blog for years and while I was away from blogging, it seems that you had changed your privacy setting only for bloggers with permission.
If possible I would like to get your permission.

Thank you in advance.


Sunday, July 02, 2017

Kabuki at a temporary theater in the Nagoya Castle grounds

The Heisei Nakamura-za, the most renowned troupe of kabuki performers, came back to the Nagoya Castle grounds for the first time in 8 years!
Tickets were quickly sold out.

That just goes to show how people have been waiting for their next performance at a temporary theater, especially after the troupe had lost their main actor to cancer. His name was Kanzaburo Nakamura XVIII, and he was just 58 years old at his death. He put his all his energy into revitalizing the traditional atmosphere which a temporary theater brings to an audience; just the way kabuki used to be.

Unlike many modern kabuki theaters with advanced technologies, this type of theater is a temporary one, and after a run, it will be taken away. This was common in the olden days when a troupe visited rural towns and villages for a performance.

In general, a temporary theater is small but it has an advantage! You find yourself much closer to the stage. Your eyes meet your favorite actor's eyes when he stops on stage for an exaggerated, dramatic pose. It is very particular in kabuki performance.

Kabuki has a very unique style of stage performance, and has a long history of more than 400 years. Historical stories based on the era of the samurai warriors were performed by men-only troupes (they take the women's roles as well). The actors grow up and are trained in notable families of kabuki performers, as it has always been over the generations.

Dynamic stage settings and colorful, traditional costumes are eye-catching. The style of performance is elaborate and bold with lots of motion and sound. Kabuki actors, with their strong attachment toward Japanese traditional arts, have been entertaining people for centuries.

Now the Heisei Nakamura-za troupe is back again with Kanzaburo's two adult sons following in their father's footsteps. That day, in the temporary theater in the Nagoya castle grounds, the whole audience gave a big round of applause for the passionate kabuki performance.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

An Upcoming Exhibition

You may have noticed that many English language versions of official website in Japan do not give readers much information. You may find that English pages hardly get updated. It's a shame.
So I am going to tell you about an interesting exhibition at a railway museum in Nagoya.

It's coming soon. It's a special exhibition on the history of shinkansen electrics and track inspection trains, aka "Doctor Yellow", at SCMAGLEV and Railway Park in Nagoya. "Doctor Yellow" is the nickname for an inspection train for bulletin train tracks. Since it does not carry passengers and doesn't run on a regular schedule, it always draws the attention of many railway fans, both young and old. The result is the superstition that it is good luck for people who catch a sight of it in operation.

The special exhibition "History of Doctor Yellow" will be from March 15 to September 25. Open 10:00 to 17:30. Closed on Tuesday. For more general information about the museum, check their English site.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Time to start cooking "osechi"

Christmas was over and it's time for many housewives in Japan to prepare to welcome the New Year. I would say not all, but many of them cook a set of traditional dishes for New Year.

We call it "osechi " which is supposed to be prepared in advance before the arrival of the new year. You may find it very interesting that each dish of "osechi" has a good reason behind its name and it somehow symbolizes good health, good fortune and prosperity.
That is the significance for us to have "osechi " during the first three days of the new year. 

And like my mother did, of all "osechi " I start by cooking "kuromame". It is slow simmered black soybeans. 

Why do we eat them on this occasion?

It's like a pun because the word "mame" means bean, but it also means dilligent."
"Mame(beans)" and "mame(diligent)" in Japanese have different written characters, but the same sound.  So people wish to be diligent and healthy throughout the year by eating "kuromame".

Monday, October 17, 2016

Come in from the rain!

Yesterday evening, when I heard the rain, an idea came to me.  I went outside and from just out the windows picked some Japanese anemone flowers, that were at their best.

The weather report said we would have heavy rainfall all night. I easily imagined that the rain would flatten the tall flowers.

So I saved some, arranged them and left them just by the front door last night.

It was so good to be greeted by them standing up straight in the basket when I opened the door this morning.

What a gorgeous start to the day!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Landmark of the park

This Fountain Tower was built in time for the 10th Kansai Area Prefectural Union Joint Exhibition of 1910 at Tsuruma Park in Nagoya.

 It has a combination of Western and Eastern styles.  That is very remarkable when we see the Roman-style marble pillars for the tower and the Japanese-style rock structure in the ponds.

The tower is 10.2m high and the diameter of the top flat circular board is 2.5m.  The paving stones  were recycled from demolished street car railway track beds from downtown Nagoya.   The floor of the upper platform is covered with marble stones. What’s more, a type of famous Japanese ceramics called Bizen ware is used for decorative handrails or banisters.  Most of the stones in the ponds were from Kiso River, a prominent river for people in this region for centuries.

When we look at those eight narrow water spouts sticking out from the top flat circular board,
you will see the water from each spout hits the board below and trickles down into the ponds. That eventually generates splashes and mists of water.  It was, indeed, well designed and delighted the visitors. So it became a symbol of Tsuruma Park.

The designer was Mr. Teiji Suzuki, an engineer and professor, known as the "father of modern architecture in Nagoya."  He designed more than 40 buildings including private residences in and around the city of Nagoya.  Those buildings were pretty much modern with a beautiful balance of western and eastern tastes and drew people's attention.  Unfortunately, only 23 remain today  and the rest of the buildings were demolished or destroyed  mostly by bombing during the second world war.   It was just fortunate that the fountain tower was safe.

Interestingly, in 1973 the fountain tower at Tsuruma Park  was once removed from this spot due to a new subway construction. The new subway line was planned to run just under the fountain.
With 60 years passing by since its construction, the city was afraid that building the subway might cause damage to the old fountain tower.  4 years later it was restored again exactly as it was before.

The fountain tower was designated as a municipal cultural property in 1986 and will continue to be a symbol of the park.

(images are from the web)