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.
Kitchen

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.

Night!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Ajisai Season -In All It's Glory

I took advantage of Hydrangea (Ajisai) Season recently.  It gave me a lot of wonderful opportunities to work on my photography skills.  I've attempted to use the Manual setting on my camera for several months now.  Taking pictures of flowers are fairly easy subjects.  They don't turn around and walk away from you or run by.  The wind is a factor sometimes, but basically, they are gorgeous and stand still.  I'm going to take a portrait photography class this next week.  We will see how I do.  

I had two different opportunities to take pictures of beautiful hydrangea gardens.  This first one was in the Nagoya area, so just a short subway ride away.  

I loved this old, distressed map of the garden.
We met friends there and so I got Ken to join me.
 This next stop was an hour and a half train ride away.  We left in the afternoon because of schedule conflicts, and we also wanted to get the afternoon light which is better than mid day.




My photography friend likes to get down low.  
I tried it and it definitely gave some fun and interesting results.  
 I tried some new angles.  I had fun with these two photos, using my screen while I held the camera down low.  I have yet to perfect my focusing skills doing this.  The effect is fun for something different.  The photo below would've been even better if we would've had blue skies to contrast.


 Another "different" perspective shot.

We stayed until the lights came on and got a few fun photos with them.  We left around 7:30 to go home.  When we got to the subway we eventually discovered that all the trains in the area were cancelled, due to an "accident" on the tracks.  It's a very real problem in Japan.  Many choose suicide by train as the solution to their problems.  It took quite a lot of thinking to get home.  We ended up taking an expensive cab to a station two stops away.  When we arrived there a train was arriving that was two hours late which is unheard of in Japan.  When at another stop, we could tell we were being instructed to move to another more express train.  I ended up taking four different train lines home after the taxi ride, finally arriving at 10:30 pm.  I'm so thankful my friend speaks Japanese! 

Friday, June 24, 2016

This and That and The Other

Hello strangers.  Yes, I am still alive.  Sorry for being in absentia for so long.  A lot has been going on in the last two months.  I have been filling my days with photo opportunities, site seeing trips, crafting, friends and eating out.  Just to name a few.  I'll give you a little taste.

In May we traveled by train with friends to visit Takayama.  The following pictures are of Hida no Sato which is full of restored homes and buildings brought together to demonstrate life in the Edo period, (1603 - 1867).  There were many handcraft demonstrations in the buildings.  You can see more information about it here. 




 This magnolia was magnificent.
Later in May I happened upon the rose garden in full bloom at our local park.  I went to take pictures of the iris, which were not yet ready.  The roses did not disappoint. 


I think the parasols just add to the beauty.  I've recently embraced the tradition of sun protection.
I love to find artists in various locations.  I didn't want to bother this gentleman, but I should've asked to take a closer picture of his artwork.  Sometimes I see a sketcher on the subway drawing people.  You have to be fast to do that.  I had the opportunity to make pottery recently.  I even tried the potter's wheel.  I think my bowl was kind of wonky in the end.  We also painted a bowl that was already fired.  I think I should be receiving it this week and was told it turned out beautifully.  I can't wait to see it.  
 Even the parking lot has pottery everywhere.


 I tried to paint a poppy.  Who knows what it ended up looking like.
This group represents Japan, America, Canada, France, Mexico and Belgium.
I am taking every opportunity to embrace Japan as you can see.
*Edited to add a photo of my finished rice bowl.  I'm happy with the way it turned out.  

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