The Wonderful World of Eye Candy

I can easily be distracted by visual displays of color and pattern.  I relate to infants watching a mobile; their eyes are bright with excitement and their chubby little legs  kick with glee.  If I were a bird, I’d be right after the mate with the most colorful and hypnotic plumage.

So I guess I was ready made for Japan.  On my first visit there I was immediately attracted to…..almost everything.  So much eye candy (for lack of a better description).  I was fascinated by it all.  Pity anyone who was with me.  They were required to move VERY s l o w l y, so as to savor and attempt to consume it all as I pointed out each thing that caught my eye, foolishly hoping my companion would get the same jolt I did. I clearly did not  trust their own abilities.

eye can·dy
/ī ˈkandē/

noun

INFORMAL
visual images that are superficially attractive and entertaining but intellectually undemanding.
“the film’s success rested on a promotional campaign showcasing its relentless eye candy”
California super bloom 2019
In our culture, the term eye candy seems mostly used to define a buxom, brainless young woman.  For me, it  means something visual that I can take pleasure from.
Think of the current superbloom of wildflowers in California. Possibly,  a once in a lifetime treat. If this isn’t eye candy, what is??  Add to these floral enticements the staggering beauty and gasp- inducing wonder of a mature Japanese cherry tree in blossom, probably made more magical by its ephemeral nature. Certainly more bittersweet.
Japanese cherry blossom in Kyoto, Maruyama Park, night illumination.  This tree brought me to tears the first time I saw it.

 

Japanese munchkins, vintage photo. irresistible.  They’ve cornered the cuteness market.

 

Hot weather matcha sundae. Irresistible layers of flavors and textures and coolness. ( I eat it all.)

 

contemporary patterns in Japanese umbrellas. Raised to an art form. Rainy season wonders.

 

more sakura

 

Seasonal Japanese postcards. Glorious.

 

matcha latté

 

Sakura in Rokkokuji Temple. A neighborhood wonder.

 

New chocolate shop in my neighborhood. Note seasonal designs. Help yourself.

 

Japanese ceramic vessels. Be still my heart.

The diversity, power and beauty of Japanese ceramics and its long tradition make this art form one to be savored.

spring ikebana arrangement

 

someone loves frogs. Display in coffee shop.

 

Autumn in Sanzen-in garden.

 

seen in arcade. The power in numbers!

 

Child’s drawing in Miyajima.

 

 

 

sake container
Tower of fresh peas
Clouds!!!
In the course of writing this blog, I realize that most of what I consider eye candy in the West, is found  in nature.  In Japan, it can be man-made and intentional as well as natural.  The Japanese seem to have an innate artistic sensibility that  can raise my heartbeat. What is the magic formula that allows this ability?
I have thousands of photos of things that inspire me when I’m in Japan.  I’ve shared just a small slice of them to give you a sense of my encounters!  I imagine on an Eye Candy Sensitivity Chart, I might be off the chart.  Don’t know. What is clear is that these visual delights bring me great pleasure.
Sometimes, I wonder how many more years I’ll be able to make this trek.  Unknowable.  But, for now, I’m gearing up for another round, leaving this world on May 1!

Continue reading “The Wonderful World of Eye Candy”

Things My Mother Taught Me

It’s impossible to overstate the role that ceramics plays in daily life in Japan. It’s equally impossible to deny my obsession with it. Another impossibility is to give a comprehensive overview  of the role ceramics plays in Japanese history and culture. There are books and experts on this subject.  I consider my self an admirer. A slightly obsessed admirer.

It’s all my mother’s doing.  She loved dishes!  She loved good china and antiques.  One of the strongest memories of my childhood is going antiquing with her while we were away at the beach on a rainy day..  She came across an antigue epergne made of cranberry glass in a small antique store. It was instant infatuation but very expensive for an independent grocer’s wife.  No Matter.  She bought it and made me promise never to tell my Dad what she paid for it. It graced every special dinner table at our home for the rest of her days. I doubt that my Dad who had little interest in such things, even noticed it. Her secret was safe.

cranberry glass epergne, Bess Kaplinsky’s pride and joy centerpiece.

 

If only she had been set loose in Japan. the land where dish mix and match has been raised to an art form! Today’s young people might go in for only one set of matching dishes now, but they’re missing out,in my opinion.  Many districts in Japan have their own style of pottery, some adorned and some extremely simple.  It’s a matter of local tradition, clay and taste.  There are pottery traditions within families that go back a dozen or more generations! It’s quite remarkable.

You could spend a lifetime studying Japanese ceramics, but I don’t have that sort of brain. For me, it’s just like my taste in wine, I know it when I taste it, but don’t ask me for its provenance. 

kyo-yaki (made in Kyoto ceramics) teapcups

Tea cup towers:  John Derian eat your heart out!

With all this in mind, I made my way to a pottery sale yesterday, astonished at the low prices and feverish with desire to try to make a ceramic sculpture. Kyo-yaki (pottery made in Kyoto) can be quite decorative, some to my liking, some not. Most of what was on sale was functional. There was a fine selection at the sale and I left feeling very satisfied with myself (yet again). Nothing that seemed of collector’s quality, but ceramics I can use daily with no qualms. Or experiment with (see above).

Prices are often high here for high quality ceramics. A lot of thought goes into choosing ceramics for dinners and tea ceremony  Serious students of ceramics apprentice and study for years and years.

I think a lot on sale was surplus stock, but there were bargains to be had, for 200-300-500 yen. My mother also taught me to like a bargain. That’s approximately $2-$5 per dish for pieces that originally sold for up to $200 each.

At the other end of the local pottery spectrum, I visited an off the beaten path museum, the Kansetsu Hashimoto Garden and Museum. Unexpectedly I found a splendid display by the Kyoto Ceramics Assoc. of Kyo-yaki ceramics in a old building adjacent to the early autumn garden.  Many works were made for the tea ceremony, I’m sure.http://www.e-yakimono.net/guide/html/kyo-yaki.html

kyo-yaki (made in Kyoto ceramics) teacups.  purchased at the sale.

I also found the ephemeral beauty in the garden’s lotus pond mesmerizing.

Nothing tops Nature.