The Circle Game

The Circle Game

I made it back from Japan with a day to spare, in time for my granddaughter’s high school graduation.

We were all smiling happily and saying halleluyah once she had her diploma in hand.  She’s wildly creative, perceptive, entrepreneurial and charming. She’s also more than a bit of a rebel, authority adverse, and has never seen the point of many things that most of us never bother to question. Bless her heart. I love her dearly, and I love her questioning. I know she has most essential ingredients to “make it” and lead a very interesting life.

I couldn’t help comparing the differences between our two generations.  Who’d ever heard of a gap year in 1958?

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gap_year

When I mentioned a similar idea to my Mom, suggesting that it might be a good idea for me to take a year off from college to try and figure out what I wanted to do with my life, she acted as if I told her I wanted to run away with the circus. End of discussion.

Continue reading “The Circle Game”

Flea Market Thrills

As a born and bred New Englander, I come easily to the flea market bug.  The thrill of the hunt, the opportunity to learn a little history, and the satisfaction of a good deal, all join forces to raise my adrenalin and put me in high spirits.  There’s also some pleasure of imagining that there just might be a treasure  waiting for me to uncover at the next booth.  It’s what keeps me going usually far longer than common sense would dictate.

I  love a good flea market.  Kyoto scores highly in fulfilling that desire; there are at least two monthly shrine markets that always hit the mark.  Also, since the markets seem a bit exotic to the Western eye, it’s intriguing.  There are food vendors, plants, some temples or shrines to explore, lots of vintage textiles, some ceramics, some collectibles, some shmatas(look it up), some crafts, etc. etc.

Sunday was Tenjin San, always on the 25th of the month. It was oppressively hot, and with my somewhat impatient, but not yet balky, husband joining me, we moved through the aisles pretty quickly.  No spectacular finds, but still lots of goodies  to check out along the way.  There was even a performing monkey, which I found archaic and unpleasant, yet fascinating despite my disapproval.

Some of the hundreds, thousands? of vintage textiles for sale are staggering in their beauty.  Most are quite ordinary, if you can ever call a kimono ordinary, but when you hit a standout because of pattern and color, it’s like running into a sublime Monet or dazzling Kandinsky. Ok, I’m exaggerating just a bit, but you get my drift!  My mind always spins for a few minutes when I hit a patch of vintage kimono, but then I calm myself down and admire them for the moment, knowing  if I brought one home, I wouldn’t know what to do with it and would never have the heart to cut it up.  Rather than a source of pleasure, it could easily become an object triggering guilt that I’d put away on a high shelf.

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kimono pattern

IMG_4945A kid in a candy store.  All at just her height.

Boy lost in thought.

More textiles.

KImono sold by the bag full!
Pokemon’s friend
Autumn leaves and grape vine for autumn kimono

So, if you’re hanging out in Kyoto on the 21st or 25th of the month without much to do, get thee to a flea market for a day of discovery, and just plain fun.

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silk kimono sleeve

Adventurers? Who’s Deciding?

We woke up yesterday to a sunny day, low humidity, and no plans for the day.  I probably have as many books about Japanese/Kyoto travel as any self respecting hotel concierge.  It took little time for my husband and me to settle on a destination that was doable for a day. We chose the ancient Enryakuji temple, at the summit of Mt. Hiei.

Our Japanese friends consider us adventurous, or so they tell us.  I think compared to the average tourist, we head out on our own, without a lot of drama. Last year, when we rented a car for a road trip, they all just thought we were nuts. Continue reading “Adventurers? Who’s Deciding?”

Ceramic Pleasures

If you’ve visited my home, you know I have a “thing” for ceramics.  Particularly Japanese ceramics. If I can add some fresh foliage or flowers to the vessel, my aesthetic needs are completely satisfied. 

This powerful attraction began on my first trip to Japan in the 1980’s.  I was in an art gallery that displayed ceramics.  It was one of those aha! moments.  I saw for the first time the power of the earth’s clay in a master’s hand.  I was hooked, astounded, excited.  This was new territory for me.

I returned home certain that I too was meant to be a ceramacist.  How else to explain my strong reaction? I took it as a sign.  Follow your bliss, if you remember that!  I quickly enrolled in a ceramics class at a neighboring community college.  I just as quickly learned that centering a blob of clay on a wheel in a class taught by a disinterested and overworked teacher was not something I had the patience for, at least under those circumstances.  End of promising but short lived ceramics career fantasy, but not the end of the love affair. Continue reading “Ceramic Pleasures”

Trying to Follow Bourdain’s Footsteps

Anthony Bourdain had a way of making everything he did look cool. Particularly his eating/drinking/lounging at night markets in the Far East. Without fail, it appeared to be a sublime eating experience, one that could be easily duplicated once you got yourself to a Night Market!  Probably not with the same level of self confidence he always displayed, but hey, no one would be filming!

Bourdain eating at night markets

The Hype:

The one thing that is a must on every visitor’s Taipei itinerary is a night market. Constantly buzzing with activities, tempting smells, and delicious flavors, it’s impossible to resist the charm of a quintessential Taiwanese night market.

Must-try street food in Lehua Night Market:

  • Stinky tofu
  • Spicy duck blood
  • Braised meat vermicelli
  • Yolk-filled taro balls

We just returned from Taipei Taiwan, a city overflowing with night markets.  All we had to do was pick one and we too could be easily transported to BlissLand, lingering and savoring dish after tasty dish, while drinking beer after beer. Continue reading “Trying to Follow Bourdain’s Footsteps”