Going the Tourist Route (for a few hours)

Today we merged with a few of the thousands of Chinese tourists who come to Kyoto to view the cherry blossoms. There are droves of Chinese tourists who flock here eager to shop and have fun. Young Chinese women dress up in brightly colored garish kimono, taking advantage of dozens of kimono rental businesses that have sprung up recently. These try-on opportunities are not regarded kindly by many Japanese, because,in their opinion, it cheapens and demeans the refined beauty of the kimono. I’ve noted that the women seem quite pleased with their transformation, snapping selfies and obviously oblivious to their host nation’s opinion of the practice. kimono rental Continue reading “Going the Tourist Route (for a few hours)”

Cleanliness Redefined

If there was a competition for the world’s cleanest country, I have no doubt that the Japanese would win it hands down, or clothes off.

We just visited the venerable Kinosaki Onsen about a two hour train ride from Kyoto on the West Coast. We traveled with two of our grandchildren, uncertain whether or not they would be up for naked bathing in a crowd. One bravely ventured in and the other declined for the obvious reasons.

The self consciousness that American women feel about their bodies is no where evident in a Japanese bath. It’s liberating.

It took me years to get to the point where I too am not self conscious. Maybe it was just a question of letting go of my foolish pride in my younger dancer’s body. Of course it all passes sooner or later, so to expect otherwise is just a delusion. At some point I realized that no one gives a damn what I look like without clothes other than myself. Bodies come in all shapes sizes and conditions and here there is no judgement by other bathers. If there is, I don’t detect it and cannot understand Japanese, so it’s not an issue!
I have come to accept and be grateful for my relatively functional aging body as is at this time in my life.

The canal running through town is bordered by willow trees just leafing out, and festooned with cherry trees, illuminated at night. The iconic scene is punctuated by the high Japanese bridges periodically crossing the river.

bridge

KInosaki is an old onsen town that has 7 public baths. I’m not sure how the Japanese go from bath to bath to bath because I’m happily cooked well done after one round of bathing. Nevertheless, visitors in small groups of families or friends. promenade in their yukata(cotton bathrobe) through town, clip clopping in their geta sandals on the stone sidewalks, visiting one onsen after another. The sounds lend a timeless sound track to the setting.

Visiting Kinosaki Onsen makes for an enjoyable getaway and a dip into another facet of Japanese culture not to be missed nor forgotten.

My ( Granddaughter’s )Obsession with 7-Eleven!

I thought it would be interesting to get a different take on Japan than mine from my 12 year old granddaughter.  When she agreed to blog, I thought she was just being accomodating, but sure enough, she wrote as a guest blogger.

My Obsession With 7-Eleven

By Lulu Marsetti, Age 12

My name is Lulu Marsetti and I have a slight obsession with 7-Eleven. This past week I have been in Kyoto, Japan. The first couple of days I stayed in my grandparents apartment, Right around the corner from a 7-Eleven. It was awesome. And let me just say that Japanese 7-Eleven is not the same as American 7-Eleven. The first day, we went down to check it out. I took one look at it and went: “OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING.” Then I proceeded to run around like a chicken with its head cut off. “Look at this! Look! Wow! OH MY GOD! AAAAAAH!” I ran over to look at the breakfast section and then… I spotted them. Pre-packaged PANCAKES! “Wow!” I thought to myself, “I have never seen anything like this!” I grabbed them along with a small bag of fruit cocktail and a milk tea in a carton. I brought them back to the apartment and ate in silence.

P.S.  Let me add that this was the first of MANY trips to our neighborhood 7-Eleven!

A Blissful Visit with a Good Friend

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~Albert Schweitzer

There are so many kinds of friends we make in a lifetime. Many come and go for many reasons.  A special few remain with us for a lifetime.

We have made a most wonderful friend here in Kyoto.  Matsuzaki Katsuyoshi is a splendid artist; a sculptor who transforms inanimate stone into spiritual omamori, in this case, he carves small deities whose gentleness, and kindness provides protection for its owner. I have come to think his sculptures radiate his own spirit of kindness.   I have several at the entrance to my home who greet me daily as I enter and leave.  Now I have one to watch over our apartment in Kyoto.

I’m not sure I believe things happen for a reason and not by chance alone, although our friendship seems to have been preordained. Continue reading “A Blissful Visit with a Good Friend”

Party Time in Kyoto

What better time or place to throw a party than in the spring at our apartment in Kyoto?  We had friends CA friends visiting Kyoto for a few days, my more-than-able-son-in-law visiting and several Kyoto friends we were eager to see again. At the suggestion of a friend, we easily decided on a party.  We even have a ceramic party dog whose always ready for the next shindig.

 

Japanese ceramic party dog

My husband and I have a pretty good division of labor for this kind of event. Basically, he prepares the food, and I prepare the decor.  We’ve worked this arrangement out over 50 years of marriage and it’s still working, although the days when everything my husband cooked was made from scratch have shifted slightly towards the ready-made as long as the quality meets his high standards! Kyoto makes this sort of entertaining easy and fun.

For several days before we host a party, we both discuss the food plan and arrive at a mutual agreement on where we’re headed.  Finger food?  Drinks? etc.  On the day of, or one day before, we begin to really concentrate and gather our non perishables.  Here in Kyoto, the land of small dishes, we needed small plates.  After a brief search in department stores, we located the perfect ones to serve a crowd at the local 100Y store.  We’d gotten some wonderful serving platters and dishes of Shigaraki ceramics when we initially moved in a few years ago.  We ended using every dish we had. Dollar store plates mingles easily with the plates of a contemporary Japanese ceramicist.

our Shigaraki dishes

Continue reading “Party Time in Kyoto”