Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm home!

I had a wonderful time with my husband in Tokyo. Tokyo is a real hodgepodge of all excitements of different cultures. Now I'm ready to send out my swap package to my partner tomorrow! This is going to be really exciting, too! I'll explain what is all about and what is going on! But first of all, I've got to finish some house chores that had been piled up while I was away.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Two ceremonies

My son and my daughter had each commencement at their universities. It was so lucky their commencement days didn't fall on the same day but for second straight days. I was quite busy driving one day to my son's school and taking a train on the next day for my daughter's commencement.

These two ceremonies were just great. Seeing many happy graduating students at one place together was really something. Especially girls were nice for everyone at the site to look at. Most of the graduating girls wore the Japanese traditional Kimono not to mention my daughter.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Visiting Yanagibashi Fish Market

(47pictures in all : point the pictures, click an icon on the left below and you will see short explanations)

For Japanese, getting fresh fish are so important. Housewives often exchange information about where they can get fresh food. Yanagibashi Fish Market is the only one commercial wholesale market in Nagoya and the surrounding areas that local people and tourists can also shop around besides professional chefs from restaurants and hotels in this area. It is surprising to know that it is located right in the center of the city, near the Nagoya station in between tall buildings.
For these years, it becomes a popular spot for tourists from abroad. Since I belong to one of the volunteer interpreter groups in Nagoya, my group has decided to join the guided tour for visitors. Since they don't conduct a tour in any other language but the Japanese, we believed that taking part in this tour would help us a lot in terms of knowledge and information about a market when we guide visitors from abroad some other time.
Well, we joined the tour out of our pure desire to study for the purpose. But the thing is the market guided tour was much more exciting than we expected that we put our purpose aside and really enjoyed ourselves looking around, shopping and even tasting foods.
Boy, we had a good time!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Being hectic

I'm tied up with several works to do by the end of this month.
I've finished some paper works for registering our volunteers group for the coming fiscal year, and have attended two meetings by now, revised our leaflets and printed out 5o, taken care of e-mails and answered them. Oh,I have some more to finish but that's all for tonight.
I've got to go to bed earlier than usual. Tomorrow, I have to get to one of the city hotels lobby downtown at 8:15 to join the wholesale fish market guide tour. For these years, some big fish markets especially in big cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya are getting popular sightseeing spots for visitors from abroad. The auctions at such a market begin very early in the morning, of course we are not allowed to be there at the site, but we have a chance to see and walk around the wholesale stores and do some shopping. The market is indeed a surprising chaos for the visitors. It must be fun. I'll tell you more about it tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I love Wagashi(wa-ga-shi)

Have yourself some Japanese sweets! Japanese sweets are very healthy. They are made using beans and grains rather than cream and butter. Beans are mainly made into a sweet paste and it's a typical feature of what "wagashi" is to be. Wagashi was gradually developed along with the Japanese tea ceremony which had been completed in 16th century and got into practice since then. Let put its historical story aside for now and just enjoy watching those, since "wagashi" is a work of an art, so to speak. If you go into a wagashi confectionery store, you'll be so anxious to know what all these tiny sweets represent to us. Most of them are molded into items of the four seasons, such as flowers, leaves, and even typical scenery from the four seasons which are often described in ancient poems. Like every work of paintings has its name or title, so does every wagashi.
Five wagashi in the pictures have each name, for example. You will see each name in the picture below. Does it make any sense to you? They are all representatives of spring. I'm pretty sure it is one of the ways for us to enjoy the four seasons in Japan respectively-----appreciate a shape of wagashi and feel the season out of it. It'll be perfect with a bowl of green tea.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sunday afternoon

The course of Nagoya International Women's Marathon
(click for a larger image)
Every early spring, Nagoya International Women's Marathon takes place in our city. It's one of the famous and important marathon competitions for women runners in term of being nominated for some delegate athletes for the next coming Olympic games.
Today it was the very day of it. I watched the marathon on TV and enjoyed the competition. Every time there are lots of people along the streets to give the runners big hands and cheer them up. In fact running is a very simple sports but when it comes to the competition, running will be required a lot of techniques and strategies to win. That seems to be very exciting. But more than that, I like watching it especially on TV. It's really fun to see many spots which are very familiar to me. I took some pictures from TV with my mobile just for fun.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

It should be a surprise

Today I worked on these small baskets of tapes made of recycled papers.
It's a very easy design for a beginner to make. Of course, there are more complicated patterns for advanced learners. But right now I'm quite satisfied with these. To tell you the truth I'm going to make two more and make four in all. I haven't told these anybody but a friend who showed me how to make these baskets. I'll tell you that I'm going to give these to four of my friends as a little gift to show my gratitude. As far as here I talk of this surprise in English, they won't have any chances to know of it. It's just exciting to imagine how they will look when I bring the baskets to them. Here is the previous post about this eco craft, as well.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The sooner the better

What a day! The weather today is so cold ---back into a freezing winter day. We had a slight snow fall on March 3. According to the weather forecast, it was the snow fall on the Doll Festival Day, a symbol of the spring, for the first time in 16years.
Tomorrow if the weather gets fine and the air is not so damp, every mother will be busy putting all the dolls along with some small lacquer belongings back into the boxes to sit them for another year on its reserved space in the closet. The sooner the better. Why? For one thing , it's been traditionally said that if a mother is too lazy to put the dolls away in the closet, her daughter will marry late. Wow, people might whisper it must be my fault if my daughter doesn't get married and after all stay with us too long. Some superstitions are nothing but a matter of innocent laughter. However, I'll try not to be a lazy mother especially the next day after the Doll Festival.
This is the last night for them to sit there. See you all next year.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The beginning of Spring

The arrival of March gives me a sort of excitement in term of a new biginning of my routine life. Well it is not my personal sentiment. For every Japanese spring has a very special meaning respectively. There are dozens of annual and social events which have been handed down for generations as our culture throughout the year. I think many of them comes up in spring time. Spring in Japan refers to the farewell to the previous year and the new beginning of our routines in school, workplace and the like. In March we have the Doll Festival for wishing girls' life-long happiness and health. The dolls in the pictures were specially given to my daughter from her grandmother in time for celebrating her first Doll's Festival. It has been over 20 years since then and we still put them out of the boxes and decorate them for this day as if we are celebrating our reunion once a year. This annual event has originally started as a way of warding off evil spirits on newborn baby- girls and the dolls were considered to act as a charm. That way every parents and families of ancient eras wished their daughters for a healthy and happy married life.
Nowadays it has more pleasure giving elements. The dolls with ancient costumes are surely worth of being displayed. They make us happy and it is such a peaceful time to enjoy some sweets and drinks with family and with friends besides the dolls. I love the tradition.