Thursday, May 30, 2013

The World of the Woodblock Printer

 (Mr David Stones: from his website)

I made a trip with a group of my friends to the city of Okazaki in Aichi Prefecture by train and  then minibus to visit Mr. David Stones, an English woodblock printer, who first came to Japan 40 years ago and now lives in a very nice Japanese farm house with his Japanese wife on the outskirts of Okazaki.
Their house once had been abandoned. It has been renovated but still retains an abundant atmosphere of Japanese traditional style. 

Mr. Stones'swood-print works are very fine and delicate picturing mostly Japanese local views. 
He introduced us to the wonderful Japanese art of wood block prints and his wife invited us to a tranquil  moment with " Cha no Yu",  a Japanese tea ceremony  in her authentic tea house. Oh I loved the fascinating harp sound from the water basin near the entrance.

He pointed out the serious situation that Japanese people are losing craftsmanship to hand down to the next generation. In fact he has a problem in getting the  blocks of wood used for carving.
Wood block printers use thick woodblocks, called "han-gi" 版木 in Japanese,  of several kinds, depending on the purposes and  printing results. 

The Japanese art of wood prints, like ukiyo-e,  is unique in the way that artists carve many woodblocks for applying different pigments until they complete just one piece of art. 

 (image from Google)

Two sides of a woodblock should be framed tightly with supporting wood to prevent it from warping or shrinking over the years.  Otherwise  the artist can't  get  the exact result by way of  overlapping different woodblock onto just one sheet of Japanese paper called "washi".  If just one block should ever warp or shrink, it will mean the resulting artwork is imperfect. The quality of woodblocks is so important for a woodblock printer. 

It is so disappointing to know we are losing this craftsmanship. It seems that this is true of many other traditional art and crafts in Japan.  We should take this reality very seriously and figure out how to encourage young generations to keep our traditions alive.

Being blessed with the murmuring of the streams, birds singing and surrounding green hills, we had definitely a great time which we failed to enjoy in the every day hustle and bustle in the city.

Please go to his website to know more about his work from here

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cupnoodles Museum

Over this weekend while we were visiting Yokohama, 
I went to Cupnoodles Museum and made my only one in the world package. 
It was really fun. 
You design a cup, select your favorite soup and toppings. 
At the end , you put it into an air cushioned bag to make a special souvenir.
Everything was so cool there.

More than anything else,  I learned about ANDO Momofuku(1910-2007), 
who invented Chiken Ramen , the world's first instant ramen 
and later made  Cup Noodles which are now popular in many countries of the world.
His enthusiasm for creativity was really amazing and inspiring to me.
I liked his philosophy for a creative thinking.

I'd like to note his six key ideas about his creative process.
These are true not only to any inventors 
but also true to any one who is anxious to make his/her dream come true.

Six key ideas
1)Discover something completely new
2)Find hints in all sorts of places      
3)Nurturing an idea                       
4)Look at things from every angle    
5)Don't just go with the status quo  
6)Never give up                           

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

What shall I do?

This year, I enjoyed making summer tangerine peels more than I had expected. I wonder how many summer tangerines I used so far to make sugared peels.

Last year, at this time of the season, I spent more time visiting my elderly parents and my in-laws and I spent more time with them. I had hardly any time for myself. Eventually a lot of the fruit in our garden fell on the ground and spoiled. I feel guilty. I didn't want it to happen again this year. So I made a little bit of extra effort to pick the fruit when they were at their best.

I cooked many and decided to package them into little bags in a cute way. Aren't they nice?
Just looking at these home made sugared peels in cute bags made me so happy. How can I possibly spoil this sight? Now it seems to me that the idea of opening one of the bags is insane. 

Alas, I am at a loss. To eat or not to eat: that's another question.