It’s Almost Like Being in Love

When I’m in Japan, people seem nicer, the landscape more beautiful, the mundane more interesting. The giggling groups of young women enjoying each other’s company help me to appreciate how fleeting youth is.  The laughs I share with new friends are more frequent. The reds are redder, the golds more golden. Respect for and tolerance…

In Search of Beauty

I awakened in Japan this morning to learn of the terrorist outrage in lower Manhattan.  It’s not the news any of us want to see wherever we are.  We live in times that can easily be called disheartening.  I have felt the encroaching darkness  for several months for reasons that don’t require illumination. Anyone with…

Back in Business

There is something about coming back to Japan that resets my clock. Backwards. In a good way. Each time I arrive here I have the same feeling I’d get as a child when I’d go to NYC. On high alert,  senses stimulated, fatigue banished. I quickly transform from a place of “been there, done that”…

The Foodie’s Heaven

Almost from the moment we set foot in Kyoto, my foodie husband is scouting for new restaurants in our neighborhood that have opened in our absence.  As hyped as I am to be sure to see the most intriguing gardens, sublime temples, cool museums and Japanese design shops, he’s on the edge of his seat…

Another Thanksgiving

My grandchildren have  taken the seats at our Thanksgiving table, now vacated by our elders.  I no longer awaken on Thanksgiving morning to the sounds of my mother in the kitchen, up very early to prepare the feast for us, because she had worked too late the day before in the Elmwood Market grocery store…

Kiku: Understanding the Significance of the Chrysanthemum

White chrysanthemum before that perfect flower scissors hesitate.  Buson 1716-1784 A few days ago, I found my way to another celebration and exhibit of chrysanthemums (kiku) at a shrine in Tokyo.  Taken at a superficial level it was proof to me that when the Japanese decide to explore the limits of anything, it usually goes way…

Heart Warming and Belly Filling

The hilly village of Ohara, in the northern precincts of Kyoto, is idyllic.  It’s one of the places that I must return to each time I come to Kyoto.  Its simple country farmhouses make a ring around a central area of fertile farmland growing rice and vegetables. At one time, this rural farm area grew most…

Hail the Chrysanthemum

Had I visited Daikokuji before? Though I’ve visited dozens of the thousands of temples that remain in Kyoto, I’m often guilty of forgetting their names.  Once I’ve visited, I remember it on sight, but often before I go, I’m not at all certain. I’d read a listing in the helpful Kyoto Visitor’s Guide that captured my…

The Days of Our Lives

Where do you place yourself  on those oft over-used metaphors relating the span of our lives to the time of day or the season of the year?  Spring, summer, fall, winter? The lyrics to September Song sounded so poignant and far away when I sang them in my 20’s and could easily disengage from their implications. Yesterday,…

Seasons Turn, Turn

The seasonal changes in California are subtle but obvious, if you know where to look.