Monday, May 24, 2010

My favorite place to stop by

Today I left home at 8:45 in the morning to attend a computer lesson as an observer. Guess what? I'm supposed to give a class to 20 senior people for basic Microsoft Excel in July. This is what I used to do as my job but due to my mother-in-law's physical condition, I had to leave a regular job. I'm so excited about going back to this field as well as feel so responsible. The world of IT is growing so fast every minute and yet there are lots of elder people who have left behind though they're so much interested in this world. I feel so happy to help them go into this exciting world of web.
Anyway, after sitting a class for two hours even as an observer, I was just tired and didn't feel like moving forward to the next schedule of the day. I thought I needed some time to sit and cool my brain down. When you feel this way, do you have any place like a nice coffee shop or restaurant where you'd feel free to stop by all by yourself? I don't go so often but I have one very nice coffee shop full of fresh flowers where I have a favorite table for one. They serve good coffee along with nuts on a tiny plate and I feel just great to be left alone in comfortable noises of people and surrounding sounds.

(above two images are from

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Come, come!

On Monday I drove to the airport to pick up my husband on his way home wards from Delhi, India.
To go into to the airport building from the parking I walk across the airport station. It was one of the busiest time in the morning.
Now when I got to the arrival lobby, I found the cutest display of ceramic collections all lined up , which I haven't expected to see them at the airport. 

It's "Maneki-neko" which literally means a beckoning cat. 

(Click for a larger image)

It is one of the popular good luck charms in Japan which every one knows. Ceramic cat-figures in various sizes with their right or left paws raised, sometimes both. Japanese people, when they want people to come here or come closer , just turn the palm downward overtimes. So these beckoning cats are also welcoming good fortune to come in. Usually you'll find one or two welcoming cat-figures at ordinary home but you'll find more at the entrance of most local shops and restaurants of which owners wish more profits to be brought about.
There are beckoning cats figures with their right paws raised and some with left raised and some both! One with a right paw is welcoming money, one with a left paw is welcoming people and as you guess one with both paws raised is wishing both to come in. Isn't this adorable? This is originally based on the ancient story that once a cat scrubbing his face with a paw brought about happiness in his owner's house and as always there are some more different legends as well.
Do you have any good charms in your culture to welcome people or good fortune?

Well, while I was busy taking pictures of them, it didn't take long before my husband showed up at the gate! "Welcome home!"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How we wrap a gift

My daughter sent me a small box of assorted "wagashi" Japanese sweets from Kyoto on Mother's Day. When I opened the brown mail box, I found this pretty box of sweets. I could tell instantly from its outer wrapping paper this was from one of the prestigious old confectioneries in Kyoto called "Kame-sue-hiro". Three Chinese characters are used for "Kamesuehiro" and it consists of "turtle" "forever" "widespread" ---- all indicate good fortune.

A box wrapped in a white "Noshi" with a red line
Today a custom of Noshi is modified in a simple style.
In stead of attaching a dried abalone, modified red letters "noshi"on the right corner was designed.

This brown one is added by a confectionery to explain the history of this Japanese sweets.
In this small box, you certainly find an essence of each season.

This small box is arranged with "Chiyogami" paper of printed patterns and what's more it was wrapped with a white sash-like paper called "Noshi". This is a kind of formal manner for us to hand out someone a gift. The origin of this manner of attaching "Noshi" on a gift was dated way back in Japanese early history. At that time, a stretched, dried, thin sliced abalone wrapped in a white paper was attached on a gift because ancient people believed that abalone carried away bad evil. So it was a token of good fortune. This might be one of the reasons why we use so much attention to wrap a gift today.
Today when you buy a present at any department stores, they never fail to ask you if you 'd like to attach a paper of "Noshi" or not. Well, we prefer having them attach it when we certainly want it make very formal or when we just add a bit of Japanese way of etiquette.
I would say that wrapping is not only a matter of covering something or decorating but of adding good wishes from a sender to a receiver.

Here are some more images of gift-wrapping with "noshi".

(above five images are from Google)

information website of "Kamesuehiro"

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The last day of the Golden Week

May 5th is the national holiday called "Children's Day". At this time of the season, huge carp streamers are floating in the sky at private houses with small children or at public parks. It's really fun to look at. Inside a house, we display dolls or ornaments for this day. Every item is displayed with parents' wishes that their children will be blessed with good health and happiness.

When my children were small, it was one of the family annual events. (See also this past post.) Even today since we have a cluster of national holidays called "Golden week" starting from the end of April to May 5, it's a good time for my son and my daughter who both are off from work and school and spend more time with us going out and eating out. That's the recent way of enjoying our "Children's Day", the last day of the "Golden week".
My daily routine will come back tomorrow.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Good bye to Strawberry fields

I have a friend whose father has been running strawberry fields for decades. Now this season is going to be the last crop of his strawberries. He's going to retire from this business. He used to own another two strawberry vinyl houses beside this and now he's going to change this one into rice fields which is easier to take care of.
So here was our big surprise! We were invited to visit his strawberry fields and picked up as many as we could! Oh dear, it was endless and such a fun!