Moving Forward

The Holiday season brings mixed emotions each year.  I imagine the longer one lives, the more mixed it becomes, as losses accumulate. Such is life.

Many years ago my mother passed just before Thanksgiving. Many more years ago my infant son died of crib death at three months of age, just before Christmas. The season can be redolent for me with memories of being very outside the circle of celebration that the world surrounds us with at this time of year. The memories become less weighty as time goes on as does the realization that the season can be viewed as a construct or a launching pad. It too will pass, so I try to enjoy and celebrate what feels real and ditch the rest that becomes cloying.

The annual acknowledgement and assessment of Time passing is sobering as well, but this year, looking back at memories has brought me a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.  The relationships I’ve managed to sustain have brought distinct pleasure and meaning to life.

With that in mind, I want to share with you one of the most joyful moments of my last year.  Of course, it has to do with dance.  For our last and past season of DANCEworks,Doug Varone revived “Lux,”an astonishing work that touched me deeply,created during an earlier DANCEworks residency.

It left me spellbound when I first saw it and continues to work its magic. I felt privileged to be able to commission it and am so happy to continue to share it, even if on a small screen.  I think it’s a tribute to our shared humanity.

LUXURIANT. LUX IS ALL ABOUT FREEDOM. IT IS WHAT DANCING REALLY FEELS LIKE, THE KIND OF DANCING I MIGHT DREAM ABOUT: LOOSE AND SWEEPING IN A SPIRIT OF EXULTATION. VARONE PUTS THE BEATING HEART AT THE CENTER OF HIS WORK. BEGINNING WITH VARONE’S MEDITATIVE, RESILIENT EXPLORATION OF THE SPACE AROUND HIM, LUX SEEMS TO PROGRESS TOWARD OPTIMISM, AS A PROJECTED MOON SLOWLY RISES ON THE BACKDROP, AND THE PERFORMERS TAKE PLEASURE IN THEIR RICHLY CONVIVIAL CELEBRATION. LUX SATES YOU WITH DANCING, BUT YOU’RE STILL RELUCTANT TO LEAVE THE FEAST. -THE WASHINGTON POST

I look forward to living in a kinder, gentler world again soon where we can treasure the earth that’s been given us and give it and its inhabitants the respect and love so deserved!

https://vimeo.com/50294427

One Journey Ends, Another Begins

I awakened from my sleeping pill slumber as we were an hour out of LA.  Relief that the long flight was nearly over flooded my consciousness. Awareness dawned that I hadn’t eaten dinner or breakfast, falling asleep early in the flight and blessedly remaining asleep for most of it. Gratitude.  I’d eaten more than enough while in Japan to tide me over. I was returning to the land of my birth, the seemingly now crazy, angry and often chaotic place that I hardly recognize is my real home.  I am returning home to take the next steps in my new role as retiree.  I like it!

IMG_1865

After stumbling in and out of bed for two days, waking to help celebrate my granddaughter’ s 7th birthday, and then losing myself in slumber again, today I seem to have my wits about me. Small blessing!  Life can resume.

The Basquiat Show at the Mori Art Museum

Kyoto has truly become a second home to me.  Familiarity has bred comfort in this case.  I no longer walk around like other tourists I see, looking as if I’d landed on the moon unprepared. In fact, I generally now know where I’m going, secure in the fact that I’m not going to fall off the edge of the earth. Secure in the fact that people are kind in Kyoto and if a problem occurs, they’re only too happy to help me.  musing:  I wonder if Kyotoites identify me as simply “other” or as “other” with a quality of belonging somehow to their culture rather than just a passing tourist.

The Fun Loving Cats of Japan

Not as much seems surprising anymore. When I first came to Japan I couldn’t take more than three steps without stopping to gape at something that I’d never see at home. No longer.  I’ve upped the ante I guess and become more discriminating. The cutsey stuff has become cliché.  The bakeries and food quality remain at the top rung of the ladder. As do the temples and nature. The fear of being rejected when making a dinner reservation  has dimmed.  Of course the fact that my husband does this, is quite helpful.  Nothing much from fear of the unknown deters me anymore, except large crowds.

The Splendid Gardens of Kyoto

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We have a marital division of labor that works pretty well.  I run the washing machine and my husband does the scheduling, which I’ve not done well at (to put it mildly).  I find the intriguing places and events to track down, he finds the way to get us there. Generally good-naturedly.

The Spiritual Edge

So now I’m back, newly retired.  I’m loving the new found freedom to make it up as I go along.  I’m also loving that it’s a sure thing I’ll be back in Japan come Spring!

Japanese Landscape Dreams

IMG_1441 (2)

IMG_1296 (1)
a sure sign of fall, berries demanding attention.
IMG_1297
After he rains, water is flowing in the run off ditches alongside the temple walls.

IMG_1238IMG_1237IMG_1218IMG_1210 (1)

osmanthus
osmanthus, should be scratch n sniff!

IMG_1217 (1)IMG_1226 (1)IMG_1218 (1)IMG_1197 (1)IMG_1210 (1)IMG_1216 (1)IMG_1176IMG_0993IMG_1110

IMG_0831
fungi on downed tree

In review, I’m posting a few of my favorite things from this trip.  Thanks for coming along for the ride with me.

 

 

 

 

Dipping a To(e) into Tokyo

Tokyo is huge.  It’s exciting  and exhausting! The motherland of sushi?  The boldest of buildings?  The best of art collections?  A shopper’s paradise?  A non -shopper’s idea of hell?  A business man’s playground?  Definitely a city with an underbelly, often visible, of pimps and prostitutes and the mob. A pamperedpoodle’s place to live an overly indulgent life? For sure all of the above.

I spent a few days there investigating small areas of the city and having a fine time before meeting one of my daughters and heading back to Kyoto.

Must Be Seen to be Believed

I’d read about a book store complex that when visited, astounded me. Definitely in the category of Must Be Seen to be Believed. The Japanese seem to have the amazing ability of bringing big dream projects to life. I don’t know the history of this project, but I think  Tatsuya Books, in Daikanyama (Tokyo neighborhood) must have been some powerful and influential person’s dream.

Not to be missed is the Tsutaya Books bookstore itself, a literary enclave that features elaborate interior design. The modern complex includes a lounge, café, upscale convenience store and one of the busiest Starbucks joints. Comprised of three interconnected buildings, the bookstore has a seemingly endless offering of books, periodicals, English-language titles, DVDs, stationery, and movies. I can spend hours perusing their vintage magazines from the 60’s and 70’s on their 60-yard long “Magazine Street.” savvyTokyo.com, Nanno Betts

 

Don’t expect to spend less than half a day in this book complex. There is sooo much to investigate. Here are more examples of what caught my restless eyes!

Art works intertwine with books and books and books!

IMG_1638

 

My daughter Joined me as we joined the long lines visiting the new Basquiat exhibition at the Mori Art Museum.  Short on context, but deep on his vivid, quixotic paintings.  It’s an intense show and a lot to take in.  I did my best.  So fortunate to see it here.

Finally to round to round out the day, it was time for a cocktail.

Still Possible to be Insulted!

It goes without saying that our Western bodies are larger than most Japanese bodies.  By Western standards, THEY are VERY slender.  In fact their size is generally so uniform, that when shopping for clothes, there’s often only one size available in women’s wear. I frequently see an item of clothing I’d like to try, only to discover it’s in one size only, and that one size is decidedly too small for this woman. I probably could have fit into it at age 16 or 17.  Such is life.

As a relatively familiar shopper in Japanese department stores, I’m quite sure the salespeople are instructed to go out of their way to try and be helpful to their foreign guests.  They always make sure to speak the Japanese word for welcome when I walk past them or within hearing distance  This is a nice touch, but I also see them trying to decide whether to approach me or not, if I linger or show interest in something.

Along with the word of welcome, I prefer just a nod or smile of recognition acknowledging that I’m in their territory and they’ve noted it.  I wish I could tell them, “I’ll know where to find you if I need you. ” I HATE a hoverer.  It can drive me to descend to rudeness very quickly.  I realize the language gap puts them at a disadvantage.  Ball in my court, please. Usually all goes quite well and we end up with a smiling transaction.  win/win, so to speak.

So it was that as I was on my way to lunch at a dep’t. store restaurant,  I got a bit distracted, as is my tendency, by a For Sale sign. I was just casually checking it out.

The saleswoman, who must have been nearby, sniffed a target and began to hover and smile too intensely,.  Initially, she tried  to show me that some of the items I was looking at had half of an expandable elasticized waist which, if her luck held, might just fit me. I could see that without her pointing it out to me. I tried to move away from her.  But she was not to be tossed aside. Undaunted, she showed me a second item.  Not an item that I’d picked up, but one she decided might be suitable for me.  Arigatou gozaimasu (thank you) I quickly said to her, hoping she could tell from my attitude that I was just being polite and was not interested in her help. Undeterred, she pulled out the big gun.  It was a pair of pants whose waist was completely elasticized.  To my horror, with two hands, she pulled apart the waist band to its maximum expansion to assure me it was large enough to fit a baby elephant! (my interpretation) And therefore…

I immediately fled her department, telling her in English to leave me alone.  I’m not sure if I added anything else, but I hope not.  I was amused at some level but felt shame and anger on another.  I really wanted t hit her.  I know she was just trying to help, but she didn’t pick up my signals and went off the rails.

I quickly doused my pain adding a piece of chocolate cake to my lunch order.

 

Let’s Go Strollin’

After several days of intermittent rain that I used as an excuse to stay put, I was more than ready to hit the garden/temple trail again once things dried out.  There are so many amazing places here that I haven.t yet seen.  All it takes is a short bit of research to pick a new place to explore.  Each place somehow manages to be unique.

This will be a simple blog.  I took lots of photos , so I’m going to let them do the work of conveying the beauty of these ancient retreats. Come on along.

I stayed in a relatively small area of the small sub temples that are a part of the mother temple, Nanzen-ji. There are few crowds here.  We’re taking our sweet time. Inhale deeply.

Nature is enjoying its last fling before it succumbs to winter dormancy and the need to rest.  There are signs that the party is coming to a slow end, but now, as it prepares for its final awe- inspiring, forget-me-not display, it is still lush, vibrant and energetic.

I still have difficulty imagining a culture giving such importance to its gardens.  Many of these gardens began life making the aristocrats happy  and I suppose proud in their beautiful villas.  Now we all have access. It is easy to see the importance of nature in the culture.  These sites are now protected and cherished. I tend to forget they’re a part of Kyoto when I’m in the crowded center of the city that accommodates businesses and residences and not that much open space.  But when you want a quick time trip, just head for the periphery of town, close to the rising mountains.

Much of the rock symbolism is lost on me, but it’s ok because I don’t relate to the ancient stories and myths behind the symbols.  If you want or need to go deeper, there’s plenty of written material to explain it.

Alice’s hole?
Let’s walk on water.
autumn berries. No, I don’t know their name.
natural stone basin as water feature
pond refections.
water lilys enjoying the day. Flowers all done. too bad, one of my faves.
Tenjuan Temple dry garden
Imposing Nanzenji gate house.
Ceramic cup I desired but didn’t buy because no credit cards allowed and I didn’t have the cash. And, I didn’t really need it.  It was a gorgeous reminder of sakura.  I would have treasured it.
Kyoto made ceramics at temple exhibit. Unexpected and beautiful .
kyoto ceramics.

I was surprised by a Kyoto ceramics association show on the temple grounds. highly decorative items.  No amateurs in this group!
The ever alluring and show-catching koi
what a running-a-bit-wild garden!

 

a sure sign of fall, berries demanding attention.

IMG_1378 (1)

 

Water is flowing steadily from all the recent rain in the run -off ditches alongside the temple walls.It’s part of the soundtrack here. Last mage,  Exhale.