Thursday, May 28, 2009

We love Sumo!

Last Sunday the 2009 May Sumo Tournament of 15 days was over in Tokyo and I'm pretty sure many people throughout the country hardly left from TV in the evening especially for the very final match to decide the tournament champion.
Sumo has a history of about 1500 years. At the very beginning when the sumo was started in an ancient time, it was performed as a part of religious rituals praying good harvests and catches. Then during the warriors area, sumo was performed as a form of military training. Finally during the Edo Period while the peace has arrived on the whole land, sumo added an element of performance as a new business.
Everything you see in the tournament will make you surprised. Two giant wrestlers wearing only loincloths with a traditional hairstyle fight in a sumo ring about 15 feet in diameter. Sumo is not simply a sport of winning / losing. Since it is originally related in religion, Sumo still follows ancient manners and traditions throughout the whole tournament processes. These rituals add a classical beauty and it is really fascinating for us to look at. That is why Sumo has been so popular among the Japanese as well as visitors from abroad. Even in wrestlers including two grand champions there are many from abroad.
The next tournament will take place here in our city in July. How exciting! It's so welcoming to see the young sumo wrestlers( not top ones) in summer cotton kimono walking downtown or at the station with luggage or riding a bike, and it's somehow fun to see them wearing iPod!
Here is the Sumo official website. There are so much to learn even for the people of Japan.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thank you for being friends

My sentiment is so much carried away tonight. I had a couple of things that I feel so grateful to my friends who meet fact to face or even in the Internet. No matter how close or how far we live one another, just a few kind words make me feel happy and feel I'm not deserted.
Thank you for being friends.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lotus root chips

Enjoy lotus roots! A friend of mine gave me some fresh lotus roots and I made lotus root chips. They are very popular vegetable in Japan. You can't miss it at any grocery stores. They are sold fresh in mud or washed. I usually pick up ones in mud since they will stay fresh much longer. When I was a student in South Bend, Indiana, at a grocery store I found cannted lotus roots in slices, but its taste was terrible. They had lost a crunchy taste of its texture. There is nothing better than fresh.

The most popular way of cooking is boiled and sliced lotus roots in sweet vinegar. You see, its appearance is very decorative with many holes. From this shape, it has been said that we can prospect our future through these holes. Lotus roots are considered as one of the auspicious vegetable to eat on a happy occasion. In fact sliced lotus roots in sweet vinegar are must for the New Year dishes.

Other than this, we often boil or fry with other vegetables with soy sauce. They make good deep fried "tempura" as well. Children love this crispy "lotus root chips" so much and so do I.

Did you ever try lotus roots?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Good luck charm

I got this cute little ceramic miniature clogs from the shop at the Suntory Museum of Art in Tokyo this past March. This pair is a product of Arita-yaki, one of the famous porcelain wares in Japan. Since this is such a little miniature, the price is quite reasonable for Arita-yaki. Then I just wondered why they made a miniature of Japanese clogs. There must be some reason for it. I saw a small card behind the clogs. See, it had its own meaning. The card says,"Put this pair on the shoe board at your house entrance then more friends will come to visit you." It's a good luck charm! There were some more explanations about this miniature clogs. It said that originally it has been used as a charm that small children and aging people won't fall down and hurt themselves. I liked the idea so much. I thought it would make a nice souvenir for my husband mother. So this pair is now on the shoe board at our home. Speaking of a good luck charm, we have many other charms in our culture and might be interesting to know each story.
Do you have any good charms in your culture? What is your favorite?

these are more pictures from the online shop.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

By the way will you tell me?

Is there any way to know that I've got the recent comment on any of my posts? It would be nice if I can or anyone can know it instantly in the side menu. That way I won't miss it if it is in my previous posts. I've checked it on "Help" but according to the explanation, I have to change my template to classic one. I don't want to do it though. If someone has a good answer, will you tell me?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Full of azaleas in our garden

Now azaleas are just at their best in our garden.
We live in a very Japanese style house and our garden is full of trees and flowers.
Gee, but when it comes to the reality on the issue of maintenance, it's really a pain in the neck.
Enjoying the scenery and taking care of the house and its garden is completely a different matter. Our house is very old and handed down from the previous two or three generations. Neighbors and friends are likely to give us an advice saying, "Next time you rebuild the house, you'll make a modern, so-called western style house. "
Yes, it is indeed very popular and at a new residence area, it is full of modern and nice houses. I used to throw an envious glance at it whenever I visited any of my friends' houses where they live very comfortable life with good equipments and safe structure against the earthquake. However, as I live here for more than 20 years, I gradually feel this is something very fortunate that our family owns this traditional housing right at the center of the city. Now my husband and I are really considering how to improve our house instead of rebuilding. Maybe we need a good architecture who understands our concept, the combination of old and new. I really love a traditional house with tatami floors and screen slide doors.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Phew, it was OK!

I was going to be in a real troubleeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Tonight I was misclicked one of the file menu and delete the files in Picasa. Wow, did I lose my webalbum,then? Lucky me, I didn't but some of the pictures in my blog were gone and never recovered.

So I used up all my evening time uploading images back to the right places from the original files again. Exhausting!

Be ware of misclicking. I wonder I was half asleep and mistouched the enter key on the wrong menu. Anyway, I hope every thing is ok now. That's all for today. I'll see you all tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More about cranes

Since I 've talked of Little Tiara and Nanette's a thousand cranes project, some of my friends in Japan have folded cute little cranes, taken pictures and sent these to me. I've already forwarded them to Tiara but since these cranes are so adorable, I've decided to post them here and show you all those cranes.

A "thousand cranes " has a very important meaning to the Japanese. First, a crane is a symbol of good fortune, good health, and long life to us. So a crane is always one of the popular origami figures for us to make. Since it is a symbol of good fortune and good health, sometimes in life, we face the situation to fold a thousand cranes for some ones who are very sick or in despair. One of the famous stories is "Sadako and the thousand cranes", which is a very sad but encouraging story. We learn the importance of world peace from her story. Here is the wikipedia on this topic. And thank you, Lenorenevermore, for reminding me of writing about Sadako in your comment.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New arrival !

A good friend of mine, whose handle name is Blueberry, sent me these origami cranes for supporting the project of Little Tiara and Nanette. I just wanted everyone here to have a look.

I'm not sure how much I can help Tiara and Nanette's project but I'm glad to do this.
Tiara and Nanette, I'll mail these pictures to you soon.

Happy Mather's Day to every mother in the world !

Friday, May 08, 2009

The ‘ONE HOPE: 1000 Paper cranes’ project

(my first crane for the project)
Little Tiara, a blogger friend of mine in Indonesia is calling for participants to the project to hold paper cranes. It is Nanette that has first started up the project. They want to do something for WWF to save the rain forests and the endangered animals in Indonesia and in order to help them carry it out, Nanette came up to the idea of "Japanese 1000 paper cranes".

It has been traditionally said for long in Japan that if you hold the thousand paper cranes, your wish and dream will come true. Since a crane is considered as a sacred bird in our country, people do love this bird and is considered as a symbol of happiness and prosperity. In fact, a group of friends often hold the thousand paper cranes for their sick friend with a prayer that she/he will get well soon. Or in other case, friends make cranes so that their friend will make a good achievement on his/her career or some specific goal.
So as one of the Japanese, I'd rather join the project and help them out to complete 1000 paper cranes together.
Most of the Japanese are able to hold a paper crane since they learn from their mothers or family or even at a kindergarten and knows what "the thousand paper cranes" is for.

Now for those who have never held papers into a crane, here is an animation page for instructions from the official origami (holding paper in Japanese) club. You can download many colorful and pattern holdingpapers from here too. You may find it very interesting.

We are supposed to take a picture of a paper crane you make and email to the address mentioned in Little Tiara's blog. Here is her site.

I really hope they can achieve their goal.
I have already asked some of my Japanese friends to make some paper cranes and send the pictures. Good luck Little Tiara and Nanette!

(my second crane)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

After the cherry blossoms

(click for a larger image)

The season of spring flowers are coming to the last step. The cherry blossoms are all gone now and our azalea flowers in the garden are going to fall on the ground being showered by the rain starting yesterday.

Here we have a special way to enjoy the last step of spring-----
sakura(cherry blossoms) tea!

It's not a leaf tea as you see it in a picture. We only enjoy a flavor of pickled cherry blossoms pouring hot water onto it in a tea bowl. I picked up some of blossoms from our garden and salted them for a few days, then drain and clean. After sitting them in a bit of special plum vinegar about a week, I make them dried. Well, some people may say it's just a cup of salted hot water but it is a matter of delicacy. Many people really love its cherry blossoms flavor and enjoy the last step of the season. It's certainly served in many Japanese style restaurants and inns when you sit at a table at this time of the season.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Why the carps streamers are flying in Japan?

(sorry, the sound is terrible)

Well, this style of flying carp streamers is not an ordinal way in a private house.
Usually we set a tall pole in a family garden and fly carp streamers like a windsock.
This is the way they put a large number of streamers for display at the museum garden downtown in Nagoya for the Children's Day on May 5.
The museum sets these streamers weeks in advance and many family visitors enjoy them every year.

Why do we put the carp streamers?
In Japan a carp represents one of auspicious items in Japan.
It has originally come from a Chinese traditional legend that a carp upstreams a river to become a dragon. That is why a carp is considered as a symbol of strength and success.

I love watching colorful carp streamers flying in the wind as if they are summing in the river.

(this image from a website for children)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

We are in the midst of Golden Week

You may think what is "Golden week" all about? In Japan , starting from April 29 to May 5, we have a cluster of national holidays. April 29 was the past Emperor's birthday and even now is designated as a national holiday for his memory. Then May 3 is a Japanese Constitution Memorial day which was set for the memory of the first Constitution after WWII being effected on this day. May 5 is the Children's Day which has been celebrated for centuries for children's healthy and happy life. And May 4 has been designated as a national holiday recently for the very practical reason that 4th falls on in between the two national holidays and adding to that, this year May 3 falls on Sunday that makes it possible for us to have a substitute holiday on May 6. So it may be worth of being named "golden " since we enjoy a long holiday at one of the nicest season throughout a year. And the picture was the one I took my children on the Children's Day just twenty years ago. Traditionally on this day families celebrate their children's good health and happiness in various way :setting special decorations of samurai dolls inside and flying huge carp-shaped streamers like we fly a flag outside the house not to mention some traditional dishes for this day.
This week, every school is off and my daughter is back home now and was so curious why I was trying to pick up this picture from the old photo album and she now knows the reason and didn't refuse that her portray is going to be uploaded in my blog. Well, there is no reason for her to refuse anymore. Her face on this picture is not recognized today by anyone. Indeed, she has grown up!