Oct 25, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful: October 25

Ten Things of Thankful
 

 
I'm thankful for the open air market held near the city hall last weekend. There were dozens of stalls where local specialties were sold. I'm thankful for the thick fried tofu, the fried fish, the rice crackers, the blackberry ice cream and the dried red peppers I got there.
 
 
 
 
At the market, there were also free workshops where visitors could take part in craft activities, and that was the main reason why I went there. I participated in three of them: creating a vase out of bamboo, making a candle using a seashell, and  learning how to copy an inscription on a stone on a sheet of paper. I'm thankful for the volunteer teachers from various parts of the city, who helped us enjoy these activities.
 

This is the vase I made at the first workshop. I've put a flower from our garden in it and placed it in the alcove.

 
 
 
The fact is that the teacher did most of the work for me. All I did was choose the bamboo tube I liked, make a design, and help the teacher cut the bamboo.
 
 
 
the tools used for making the vase
 
 
 
 
It was easy to make a candle using a seashell in the second workshop. First, choose the seashell and the color of the candle. Next, pour some melted wax into the shell, and put the wick in it. Then wait until the wax sets.
 
 
 
In the third workshop, they taught us how to copy inscriptions on stone monuments on sheets of paper. (These copies are called takuhon in Japanese, and the teachers are member of the local Takuhon Club. I hadn't known that there is a club specializing in making copies of the calligraphy inscribed on monuments.)
 
Since they couldn't bring the actual monument to the workshop, they had a copy of part of the original monument standing at the site of a feudal-era castle, and we practiced making copies of the copy.
 
 
 
the inscription on the stone
 
 
 
The inscription can be roughly translated as "The only thing I hope for is trust." The smaller letters on the left indicates the date (February 6, 1597), the name of the author (Naoe Kanetsugu), and his signature.
 
 
This is how we make a takuhon. First, put a sheet of paper on the stone. Second, spray some water on the paper and make the paper stick to the stone using a brush. Third, absorb excess moisture with a towel. Then dab the paper with inked cloth carefully, until the inscriptions appear on the paper. Remove the paper from the stone, and dry it thoroughly. 
 
 
 dabbing the paper with inked cloth
 
 
 

the finished takuhon
 
 
Some people put a takuhon copy in a frame, and hang it on the wall as an ornament.
 
 
I'm really thankful for the wonderful time I had at the open air market on a beautiful day in autumn.
 
 
 
 
 

Oct 23, 2014

Pondering on the Word 'Tire'

I am joining Brenda @ BYG Adventures for Pondering, where we write about English words that have many meanings. We are pondering on the word 'tire' this week.



"I'm too tired like a bicycle."
The moment I saw the word tire, I remembered the pun 'Fred' told us many years ago. -- 'Fred' was a graduate student majoring in psychology and I was an undergraduage studying linguistics. We were members of the International Talking Club, where we spoke only in English during the meetings. -- I didn't get the pun at first. 'Fred' repeated the sentence, emphasizing the phrase 'TOO TIRED.' -- 'Too tired.' 'Two-tired.' -- Finally, I got it.
I hope you are not tired of this tired old, hackneyed pun.

The list below shows Japanese words corresponding to 'a tire' and 'tired.'


 photo image13_zps64a48e1e.png

Oct 21, 2014

A Birthday Card


I still have a birthday card that was given to me when I was five years old. It is a card from my preschool teacher, which doubles as a sort of school report.



   Opening the card, we see pictures of twelve children, representing the twelve months of the year. At the bottom of the right page is my teacher's comment, saying "Happy Birthday. You are always doing your best. You have made a lot of friends recently. I hope you will always remain steadfast and kind." On the left page is my parents' comment, which says "Happy Birthday. Now that you are five years old, you should listen to your mother, and you should get up earlier."




Unfolding the card, we see a note, my hand print, the photo of me my classmates who were born in the same month, and a picture of me that one of my classmates drew for me.


According to the note, some of the food I liked when I was in preschool were carrots, eggs, daikon (Japanese radish), curry and rice, and buckwheat noodles. I was 102 cemtimeters (about 3'4'')  tall, and weighed 17.3 kilograms (about 38 pounds).


This is the picture of me that Maya drew for me. It looks like me. :-)



This birthday card is one of my treasures.








I'm joining Josie @ Two Shoes in Texas
for Two Shoes Tuesday.
writing prompts:
card or drawing 

Oct 20, 2014

Memory Monday: My First School

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday


 
    I started going to a private preschool in my neighborhood at the age of four. There were three homerooms, and each homeroom had about twenty pupils. My memories of preschool days are mostly a blur now, but there are two things that I remember vividly. One is a drama we performed in front of the other pupils and the parents. We played a very simplified version of Twelve Months, which was originally written by Samuil Marshak. When the teacher asked us who wanted to play the leading role, I raised my hand. There was another girl who raised her hand. It was my best friend, Misako. Our teacher had both of us play the leading role together: the girl(s) who had to find some flowers for the queen in the middle of winter. I was very proud of playing the role of the heroine.

   The other thing I remember well is the snail I gave to the teacher on a rainy day in June. On my way to the preschool, I always passed by a big house with a stone wall, where there were a lot of snails at that time of the year. I was fascinated with them. I asked my mother to give me an empty bottle, in which I put a snail I had caught. I took it to the preschool and gave it to Ms. N*. I must have thought the snail would please her. She accepted my gift, but I don't remember what she did with the snail after that.

   Looking at my preschool yearbook, I realize that we enjoyed a variety of activities in those two years: going on a picnic in spring, playing in the swimming pool, dancing at the summer festival, harvesting sweet potatoes in the farm in the suburbs, sports day, making rice cakes, and making snowmen in the playground. We also grew some flowers and peas in the garden.

  When I was six years old, I entered the public elementary school, which was about a ten-minute walk from my house. Some of my preschool classmates went to the same elementary school as I did, but the others, including my best friend Misako, went to a different one. Our preschool was near the border of  two different public school districts.




 

Oct 18, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful: October 18

Ten Things of Thankful

 
#1
 
I'm thankful for Judy @ retired not tired, who has started a blog hop, Memory Monday, where we share our memories on different topics every week. I enjoy looking back on numerous blessings and writing about them.

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday
 


#2

I'm thankful for sweet potatoes I got at the farmers' market.


#3

I'm thankful for the pressure cooker, which I use almost every day from October to April.


 
#4
 
I'm thankful for the sweet potato cooked in the pressure cooker above. I didn't add any sugar to it, but it was very sweet.
 
 

#5

The toad lilies in our garden are in full bloom now. I'm thankful for the beautiful flowers.

 
#6

I'm thankful that the fruit of the nanten (heavenly bamboo) in our front yard are becoming red. (We don't eat them, but some birds do.)
 
#7

I'm glad that the fruit of the yabukouji (ardisia japonica) are ripening, too. The small tree is planted in a flower pot and placed just outside the front door. The fruit is less than 1 centimeter (2/5 inch) in diameter. The fruit are not edible, but lovely.
 
#8

I'm thankful for the flower buds of  yukitsubaki (camellia rusticana). They are going to survive the coming winter and come out in spring.

 
 

#9
I'm also thankful for the buds of chrysanthemums in our garden. I hope they will bloom in a few weeks.
 



#10

I'm thankful for the beautiful weather we are enjoying most of the week.




Oct 16, 2014

Pondering on the Word 'Slide'

I am joining Brenda @ BYG Adventures for Pondering, where we write about English words with many meanings. This week, we are pondering on the word 'slide.'


 photo image13_zps64a48e1e.png
These are some of the things the word 'slide' makes me think of:

(1)


a playground slide

Playground slide2
via Wikimedia Commons



I loved playing on a slide in my childhood.


(2)

photographic slides

Slide frame 60x60 hg
Slides like these were used decades ago.
Nowadays, they use computers for slide shows instead.


(3)


a microscope slide
Fedolemez

It was exciting to look at small things under a microscope in science classes.





(4)
The following is the kanji character for 'slide'
It also means 'smooth.'
The left part of this kanji is a symbol for water:
It is said that the kanji for 'slide' contains this symbol
because something sliding looks like water flowing smoothly.
(5)
Slip, slither, sled, and sleigh, -- these words beginning with 'sl' have something to do with sliding, though not all words that begin with 'sl' do. The combination of these two consonants may be associated with sliding motion in some cases.
It is interesting that the Japanese language has an onomatopoeic expression that sounds like 'suru-suru,' which means '(sliding, moving, etc ) smoothly, swiftly, without difficulty.' The Japanese sound represented by 'r' here is, in fact, something like a cross between r and l. So, the word 'suru-suru' could be rendered as 'sulu-sulu' in the Roman alphabet instead. Also, the Japanese word for 'slide' (verb) is 'suberu', where we have s and r as well. I wonder if it is a mere coincidence that this Japanese word associated with sliding also has the 's' sound, and the 'l'-like sound.
 
 

Oct 15, 2014

Patience

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It requires patience to acquire patience.
 
 

God, with infinite patience, teaches me patience
through these seemingly endless nights.


 


Oct 14, 2014

A Photograph




  
   It was a beautiful day. The view from the bridge was magnificent. The sky was blue. The river was blue. So were the mountains in the distance. It was comfortable to ride a bicycle in the sun. Autumn is my favorite season.

   Crossing the bridge, I saw some herons fishing in the river. I stopped and watched them for a while. I saw the big white birds clearly. They were beautiful. I took out my camera, and tried taking a picture of them, wishing I had a telephoto lens.

   To my disappointment, what I got was the photograph above. Since I didn't have a good lens, I didn't expect much, but this is far worse than I expected. -- Where are the herons? -- Well, I can 'see' at least two of them in the photo, but does anybody else see them, too?

   When I pressed the shutter, the herons looked so big, because my attention was focused on them, but my camera was not paying any special attention to the creatures at all. It did capture the colors of the sky and the river, but it ignored what seemed to me the most fascinating at that moment.

   I imagine that good photographers are the ones who can make their cameras capture exactly what their eyes see. They use their knowledge, techniques and pieces of equipment so that their cameras may function as if they were their own eyes. The moment they are impressed with something, they take pictures of them just as they see them, and they can share what they have seen with those who see the photographs. They are able to make their works tell the same stories that what are in them have told them. -- In this sense, I am far from a good photographer.




   Looking at the photograph again, I realized that it shows two things that I didn't notice at the moment when I took it. First, I see the white clouds above the mountains, though I had felt as if the sky were cloudless. Second, I see a shadow that the bridge casts on the water. I was looking at the herons, and I wasn't aware of the shadow. My camera has recorded what I didn't see.





   I usually take my humble camera with me whenever I go out. I often take pictures because I would like to share them in my blogs. I sometimes wonder, however, if I am not depending on my camera too much. Instead of looking at something very carefully with my own eyes, I take out the camera, press the shutter, and feel as if I had had a good look at it. When I see the pictures later, I tend to be more interested in what are recorded in the pictures than in what they mean to me and what they make me think. -- I might be able to observe things around me far more attentively and mindfully if I had no camera with me.


   I couldn't take a picture of the herons, which fascinated me. I'm sorry I can't show you how beautiful they looked. At least, I watched them carefully with my own eyes before attempting to take a photo, and they are recorded clearly in my heart.








I'm joining Josie @ Two Shoes in Texas
for the 100th Two Shoes Tuesday.
 
writing prompts:
 
blue, cloud, shadow, water, wish,
aware, big, white, creature, before,
think, show, share, first, view, season
 
 
 
 

Oct 13, 2014

Memory Monday: My First Home

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday


 
    I was born and brought up in a small city in the northwestern part of Japan. We had a lot of snow in winter, and it was hot and humid in summer. Our humble house stood by the large river flowing through the city. I lived there with my parents and my grandfather. My grandfather, a retired cooper, was a man of few words. He spent most of the day listening to the radio in the sunroom. My parents worked for the agricultural cooperation.

   Six weeks after I was born, my mother resumed her full-time work, leaving me in the care of Aunt Hana. Aunt Hana was not my biological aunt. She was an acquaintance of my grandaunt's. Hana didn't come to our house to babysit me. Instead, my mother took me to Hana's house every weekday before going to the office. I spent the day at her house until 18:00, when my mother came to take me home. My father, commuting to a branch in another city by train, came home at around 18:30. We had supper together. Then I took a bath. Soon after that, it was time for me to go to bed. They made me go to bed at 20:00.

   During the first six years of my life, I spent far more waking hours with Aunt Hana than with my parents. I loved Hana. She was in her forties in those days. She was hard-working and good at cooking. Her husband worked at the sawmill near their house. They had a daughter and a son. Both of them were much older than me. They also had two canaries and some goldfish. I loved Hana, her family, and their pets.

  My parents would often take me to the park on the hill on weekends. We sometimes visited my mother's oldest sister living near the park. I played house with my cousin, who was one year older than me, while the grown-ups were chatting with one another.

   The house where my family lived was built in 1946, and it was really small and old. It was a Japanese-style house made of wood.  We had three rooms, a dining room, a kitchen and a bathroom on the first floor, and two rooms on the second floor. My room was the smaller one on the second floor, facing east.

   When I entered elementary school at the age of six, my mother quit her job and became a stay-at-home mom. Having been diagnosed with a serious heart condition a short while before, she wanted to spend more time with me, rather than making money. Later in that year, my grandfather moved to a nursing home. We lived in that old house, until my father had it rebuilt about ten years later.



 


Oct 11, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful: October 11

Ten Things of Thankful

 

 
#1

I'm thankful that I'm taking part in a writing challenge, 31 Days, this month in my other blog on Japanese culture and language. I learned about this challenge on October 1, Japan Standard Time (UTC + 9 hours), just in time to sign up for it. I'm thankful for the organizer.
 
 
 
 
#2

During the challenge mentioned above, I'm writing about 31 Days of October in Japan. Each post start with a photograph I've taken, and I write a paragraph or two about the photo. This is a great way to be mindful of the things around me, and to practice writing in English. I'm thankful for the time I spend on this blogging challenge.


#3

I'm thankful for Peggy @ The Simple Woman's Blog, who is hosting Four- Seasons 30 Days: Autumn Challenge. It is Peggy that has inspired me to write about October in Japan for 31 Days. I'm participating in Autumn Challenge as well.



 
 photo morningbasket_zps3607061d.jpg

 
#4
 
I'm thankful that I've found the original version of Memoirs of a Geisha at the International Affairs Department. I've borrowed it for two weeks. I've find it far better and more interesting than the translation in Japanese, which I read several weeks ago. I enjoy the rhythm of the original sentences in English and the numerous splendid similes found in the book. No wonder it has become a bestseller.
#5

I'm thankful for the delicious fig ice cream I had at the cafe next to the art museum on a sunny day. You may not see the fig in the photo below, but it contained small fig tips, and tasted very good.

 
 
 
 
#6
 
I'm thankful that I've completed the Bible memory challenge, in which I've learned all the verses in John 15 in three months. It is not that I can recite the whole chapter fluently now, but meditating on the verses frequently in my effort to learn them by heart seems to have made a great difference in my life.

Memorizing John 15
 
 
 
#7

I'm thankful for satsuma oranges. I love them.

 
#8
 
I'm thankful that I watched the historical pageant that was held in the main street of our city last Saturday. It was fun to see the performers' costumes. They were dressed like people in the feudal era.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
#9

I'm thankful that I was able to observe the total lunar eclipse on Wednesday, October 8. There was almost no cloud in the sky, and I saw the moon clearly. I kept standing by the open window for more than one hour, watching the shadow of the earth on the moon getting larger. It was fascinating to see the moon being eclipsed.

 
 
#10
 
I'm thankful for the beautiful days. We are enjoying sunny, comfortable days and the clear, blue sky most of the week.
 
 
the riverbank and the sky on Thursday, October 9