Monday, December 12, 2016

Fall in Japan

Hello again.  What's up?  It's turning cold here in Japan.  Chilly really, not super cold.  But, I'm finicky.  We are heading to Kansas City over the Christmas holidays.  It's suppose to be arctic cold while we're visiting.  I hope Kansas City lives up to it's reputation and vacillates back and forth between cold and mild when we arrive.  What have I been doing you ask?  I know you've been wondering.

Well, the days do seem to be flying by.  Can you believe we have lived here almost 16 months? When we return from Christmas we will have about 8 months left of our stay here.  Therefore, I'm trying to take advantage of everything I can.  My youngest daughter came to visit in late October.  We crammed as much as possible into those two weeks.  We did glass blowing, pottery and indigo dyeing.  We visited Kyoto and Tokyo along with sites around Nagoya.  It went fast!

I've done some more pottery since then and think I might make several more trips there before I leave.  I pretty much love everything I make.  Here are the pieces I made from this trip. 

I've been doing a lot of knitting.  I have several friends that knit.  We meet often and hang out at a coffee shop or a friend's home.  I have a shawl that I need to finish asap as it will be nice to have this winter.  I know you can't really tell, but its a beautiful chunky Noro yarn that should be nice and warm.  I've got two scarves in process and just added two different shawls to my queue.  Although I haven't bought yarn yet.  I definitely have enough to keep me busy.  Here are the new possibilities, The Parlour and Find Your Fade.
I was also able to explore some new areas and take Fall pictures.  Fall and Spring are very big in Japan.  They take it seriously.  Japan illuminates the beautiful fall trees and it's a site to behold.  First of all, I'll show you some trees from a Shrine out in the country on a rainy day.  

Last night I went to an Illumination and took some fun pictures.  

Fall is now all over and winter is upon us.  I don't have plans to travel to Sapporo for the Ice Festival. I hear everyone in Japan goes to the Ice Festival.  It's too late to get flights and reservations, etc.  So you may just get more photos of knitting.  Sending you lots of love and wishing you all a 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Japanese Pottery

Pottery is a big deal in Japan.  There are several cities in the surrounding area that are known for their pottery.  Last weekend we visited Setomono Matsuri which is a festival in the town of Seto. Their specific pottery is referred to as Setomono.  We left early on the train in the hopes of beating the crowds and the heat.  We weren't really successful with either.  Evidently they expected over a half a million people to visit Seto during the festival.  

 Dachsunds are one of the most popular dogs in Japan.  
 This is not your usual festival food in America.  It is a rather healthy choice.  They are obviously cucumbers on a stick, but they are being washed with salt water.  Perfectly refreshing choice for the hot and humid day.
This sweet little family was sharing this spiraled potato on a stick. 
Sounds like a good snack to me. Especially if its fried and salted.  

 Some of the pottery is very beautiful.  I love the rustic, handmade pieces the most.

 I wanted one of these big pots, but didn't want to carry it around.
Again, not your normal festival food. 
 This guy wouldn't get away with smoking while serving food in America.
They had a cute section for kids to make crafts.  Or was it a section for cute kids to make crafts? 
This is the pretty mug that I came home with.  It is hand made, hand painted and pricey. That's what happens when you want original pieces.  
Speaking of pottery in Seto, this last Friday I was able to go to a pottery workshop and make pottery again.  This time we were at a different studio with a very helpful sensei. This teacher actually has people come to live at the studio for 30 days to learn.  There were a handful of these students helping us that day.  Here is the link to his program. 
 Kneading the clay is hard work!


 These are my final pieces, a cup, small plate and a large serving bowl.  We were able to pick out the glaze and they will finish them once they are dry.  I'm very happy with how they turned out.

 Kato-sensei and Nanda.  Nanda made two Ramen bowls and a larger one.
 Kato-sensei is demonstrating how he cleans up the bottom once they have dried.
 Can anyone guess what these are?
 He was showing and explaining his kilns.  Fortunately he speaks very good English.
 The paint pots for designs on the pieces.
This is the beautiful table in his reception room.  
The cushions are where you sit so it's all very low to the ground. 

I definitely want to return for more time on the wheel!!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Takayama Weekend

Since it's almost the end of August, maybe I should catch you up a little on July? What do you think? We had the wonderful privilege of being invited to Takayama by our Japanese sensei (teacher) and her husband.  He is an lead architect for his firm and the company recently restored an old style Japanese home.  They use it mainly for business groups.  It was rebuilt very modern inside and the details were stunning.  I may have to do this in two posts because we got to do some fun sightseeing as well.  
 A river runs through it.  ;-)

We got there barely in time to visit the morning market.  
This little lady mixes up the spices to your request.  I admit that I haven't tried mine yet.  
I'm pretty sure that the bright red is chili powder.  
 This sweet family was getting a custom mix.
Busy holiday shoppers.
I couldn't believe how this guy was parked.  Parking is a premium in Japan.  He evidently wanted to park close to home and hopefully had some assistance.  If you look closely you will see that he is straddling a narrow, but deep drainage canal.  

This is the front of the "villa" we stayed in. 
Most shops, restaurants, and some homes have these curtains that hang in the doorways. They are called Noren and are used sort of like screens.  Here's some information on them.
 My favorite part was the back garden.

This was our bedroom.  We had singles, but all the rooms did, so it was fine. 
It is used for company events so it makes sense.
On the other side of our beds was this desk that was the length of the room.  It was down low, but there was space for your legs.  It was a nice workspace.  Great for putting on makeup with that natural light coming in.  ;-)
One of my other favorite spots was the back of the house where you could sit and enjoy the garden view.  The floors were designed to look like faux wood grain. 

 This is the main eating/lounging area.  Fortunately under this table is an area for your feet.  That was a relief to us Westerners.  You can see on the left the cut through to the kitchen.  You make tea in the middle of the table and underneath those boxes are heating units for grilling, I believe.
More gorgeous floor details.  Faux wood surrounding real wood.
Another friend joined us for the weekend and we ate some delicious meals.
 The front entry of the home. These walls were concrete with a gorgeous wood floor.
 The detail on this piece was amazing.  The glass had been "etched" somehow with fabric from an obi.  It was hung with a hand forged piece of iron on a concrete wall.  You can see some other fiber in the glass on the right of the wall.
 Here was another hand forged shelf in a little alcove.  
The flower was a little spent, but the idea was fabulous!
 The walls on the left were new, the ones on the right were original.
Very difficult to photograph all the amazing details of this house.

I actually got a picture of the streets of Takayama when they were empty.  It was later in the evening and everyone was probably eating dinner or had gone home.  It's lined with traditional style houses that are mainly used as shops and restaurants now.



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