When the heat and humidity start rising -and they have- the Japanese eat cool, slimmy 'jelly.' Similar to jell-o but made from seaweed and a sturdier consistency. Anyway, neighbors are all bringing us jelly to cool off. It seems to be working.
Check out these lily pads!! I have never seen a pond so loaded in all my life. The weather is really warming up here now. A huge surprise slithered up on us as we were hanging out at the edge of the water. The little one says, "look at the snake'- I of course say, 'oh, snail?' um, no- snake! but it was only about 15 feet- no worries. We talked to the garden keeper who says the snake has been here as long as she's worked here- 20 yrs. The bottom was still in the water while the head was clear up in the tree wrapped around a branch. It was an excellent show!
The girls were dressed today by real, professional Kimono dressers. It's a bit of an ordeal that takes quite a long time. It was one of those hilarious days that will no doubt turn out to be great fun on video- lot's of goofy things happening. I won't give it away for those buying the dvd. Good fun was had. These Kimono are incredibly expensive so it was a bit of a stress having them wear a $10,000 garment and then be stepping on the long sleeves tripping about on their geta.
June is definitely upon us and the humidity is getting thicker by the day. By the time they took these off they were sweating something fierce and their moods were less than fresh. As for me my body seems to double in size from swell in humidity and I'm at it again. All my shorts are getting tight, my face and hands puffy. I used to think I imagined it or that I was gaining a lot of weight out of heat stress. But we caught it on video once. We were leaving Japan and I looked big and puffy and 12 hours later as we arrived in LA I looked like I had shrunk two sizes.
I feel a little guilty putting these into the 'sewing' category, but I would've sewed them if I was home and had my sewing machine, but since I'm here in Japan and did not pack the machine- I used super glue! I found these bits of vintage kimono fabric at a store in town and thought I'd modern it up a bit. Paired with geta I think it's a good look! If the shoes weren't so uncomfortable I think I'd go for this look myself.
They also have random kimono pieces in their hair.
It may appear strange to the western eye, but these darlings are adorned in bibs because they are the protectors of children and travelers so they are well cared for by the people who make bibs or bonnets for them. cute.
The 'teeth' of the saw here are facing inward rather than outward as in the west. The Japanese feel that their greatest strength is in pulling towards their center. In the west our greatest perceived strength is pushing away using force. interesting to contemplate...
Think of the difference between boxing and martial arts. In martial arts it's known that when your opponent gets too far away from you is when you can get hurt. Once you bring them in towards yourself you have more control. SOMEONE TELL OUR GOVERNMENT THIS!!!!
And yes, I get that the Japanese also used bombs during war- I'm not saying they are saintly- yet the wise ones of their culture knew these things long ago. I'm not sure our culture has yet found wise ones... we are not old enough as a culture yet, as we are still in cultural toddlerhood.
One of my favorite things in Japan is the etiquette button on toilets. It used to be that only public toilets had these but now that toilets in the home have become so fancy they are a pretty standard feature anywhere. It is thought rude and embarrassing to have someone hear you tinkle when having a pee. So, Japanese women used to hold down the flush handle the whole time they were peeing to mask the sound. However, since it was thought of as a big waste of water, toilet manufactures came up with an electronic flushing sound button to push to hide the sound of pee. No matter how stressed out I am when I walk into a restroom and hear the sound of electronic flushing coming from behind the door it brings and huge and genuine smile to my face. Then I imagine a woman sitting on the toilet with her skirt up politely holding down the etiquette button as she tinkles and it makes my entire day.
Japan has the most elaborate toilets out there. The one in our house washes and dries- your choice front or back. In public there is still the choice between squat and western (sit down) in some places. Most restaurants in the city have children's size toilets and almost always a child height sink. In the stall of the bathroom they often have a hanging plastic highchair type thing attached to the wall to put your baby in while you pee. This is ingenious!! How many times have us mothers out there had to pee when we had an infant? This was one of the most shocking realizations for me the first time I was out in public alone with my new infant. Trying to pull down your pants with one hand while hanging on to your baby with the other- it seemed so absurd! If half the population is female and most have babies, how can this be??? For a country with such limited space they seem to make comfort for moms and children a priority. I have not one time had to lift a child to wash their hands since we got here! amen to that.
When people think of a 'zen rock garden' this is the one most think of- Ryoanji. Although the title, 'zen rock garden' is controversial. To be more clued in one would better refer to it as a dry rock garden. Not all Buddhist temples are that of the zen sect. And many of these still have dry rock gardens. These rock scapes are to be entered by consciousness only, not bodies. They are for meditation. This one has 15 rocks, only 14 of which can be viewed by any particular angle. The back wall is a national treasure. What one sees as one contemplates is a sign of level of ones' consciousness. I wish I could say I found enlightenment here but I was thinking of mochi (sweet rice balls) in a sea of raked sugar. I was hungry. I do think the girls found enlightenment though. Maybe it'll rub off on me.
maybe the food vision was spurred on by a cake I once made for a friend. It's carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting on a sea of raked sugar. well, well, well...
I had a Japanese friend write 'happy birthday' in kanji on senbei (rice cracker) for authenticity. OK, so it looks nothing like a rock garden, I'll admit. What really happened was that I did not have an oven so was attempting a carrot cake in a rice cooker. It didn't exactly work. So as the sides were drying out and the middle was raw I had to start taking out chunks at a time. It tasted great so I thought there must be a way to salvage this. I found some brown sugar and senbei and thought, rock garden! Points for creativity, maybe - but little for execution. The second layer went in much thinner and came out ok. It was actually one of those great moments as guests were arriving and getting involved in the salvaging of the cake. It was a fun group effort in arrangement, raking & frosting and is probably my favorite cake 'experience' of all time. And since it was more steamed than baked it was incredibly moist. It rocked! - i could not resist that!
Sakura are stunning. We venture out today and are blown away by the country exploded into puffs of cotton candy. It's so Japanese to have such a wild display of beauty but then done in the subtlest of colors. Though pink is not a typical color of Japan I think it has made a wise decision to give into pastels this one time.