Monthly Archives: April 2010

Lake Towada, Japan

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Azaelas at the Imperial Garden

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Meiji Shrine, Tokyo, Japan

Meiji Shrine (明治神宮, Meiji Jingū), located in Shibuya, Tokyo, is the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. When Emperor Meiji died in 1912 and Empress Shōken in 1914, the Japanese people wished to pay their respects to the two influential Japanese figures. It was for this reason that Meiji Shrine was constructed and their souls enshrined on November 1, 1920.

The original building was destroyed during the Tokyo air raids of World War II. The present iteration of the shrine was funded through a public fund-raising effort and completed in October, 1958.[5]

Meiji Shrine was brought into the flow of current events with the 2009 visit of United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After arriving in Tokyo on her first foreign trip representing the newly elected President Barack Obama, she made her way to this shrine in advance of meetings with Japan’s leaders to show her “respect toward history and the culture of Japan.” 

This shrine is one of the most peaceful places I have ever visited. Although it is located in the heart of Tokyo, you feel as if you are miles away from the noise of the crowded city.

When Tony and I visited there in 2009, we were lucky enough to attend a tea ceremony at this traditional tea house.

Traditional wedding ceremonies are also performed at the shrine. Spring seems to be a very popular time for wedding ceremonies. The bride and groom are shielded by a red umbrella as they walk across the courtyard to the area where the ceremony is performed.

There are barrels of wine and sake donated to the shrine from around the world. According to travelblog “Emperor Meiji is known in part for his interest in western culture, and this interest is partially responsible for Japan’s modernism period during his reign. In particular, Emperor Meiji was known to enjoy pairing certain western foods with fine red wine. In his honor, several wineries around France donated barrels of the Emperor’s favorite wine, and these barrels are displayed on the side of the path to the shrine.”

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Wedding at Meiji Shrine

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Fountain at Hirosaki Castle

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Hirosaki Castle

 

Tony and I recently visited Hirosaki Castle in hopes of spotting the first cherry blossoms of the season. Hirosaki Castle is one of the most famous blossom sighting spots in Japan, having over 2600 trees planted among the castle  grounds. Noted historian and author Shiba Ryōtarō praised Hirosaki as one of the “Seven Famous Castles of Japan”

Constructed in 1611, Hirosaki Castle is beautiful during every season of the year. Although we were too early to see the cherry blossoms, we were enchanted by the layout of the grounds surrounding the castle. Each area is designed to highlight a different feature such as water, rock, or bamboo.

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Hirosaki Castle

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Japanese Vending Machines

I love Japanese vending machines! You can find just about anything in a vending machine from French fries to fresh egg. On a recent road trip, I couldn’t resist stopping by these roadside vending machines.

I bought the royal milk tea, served hot from the vending machine, oichii!

In case your wondering, these cans are recycled, eventually.

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Make a Washi Paper Doll

I recently took a japanese washi paper doll class. After completing the project the two ladies that were teaching the class asked that I come back the next week as they had a gift for me. When I arrived the next week bringing strawberry shortcake to show my appreciation, this was the surprise they had for me. They taught me how to make a japanese paper geisha. Although the doll is traditionally made with japanese washi paper, this is a perfect craft for using up those little scrapbook remnants you can’t bear to part with.

You will need:

About four inches in paper for the kimono.

About an inch x quarter inch of matching paper to create the collar of the kimono.

About an inch x quarter inch of contrasting paper to create a scarf to go under the color.(mine was pink)

About an inch x half an inch of contrasting paper for the obi belt. (mine was pink and also green, I made two!)

About an 2 inches square of paper for the hair. (mine was black)

Any tiny bit of paper will do for the bow.

A white cardstock circle, about half an inch circumference and a small long, skinny piece for the body.

Glue (Elmers or Tacky)

Step One

Cut your kimono paper into a long rectangle, twice the length of your kimono. Fold your kimono paper in half and cut out the shape as seen above. The top tab will be folded under to create a tuck (see step three for a better view). The edges of the sleeves should be slightly rounded to give the illusion of a sleeve. Cut a tiny triangle at the top of the fold to create the neck of the kimono.

 Step Two

 Glue to Cardboard circle to the cardboard body with elmers or tacky glue. Fold in half and wrap the scarf piece around the neck.

Step Three

Fold under the bottom two tabs and glue. This is the bottom of the kimono. Fold under the top piece to create a tab as shown. Do not glue this part as you will need to insert the body of the doll into the kimono.

Step Four

Insert the body into the kimono. Adjust the scarf so that it is visible. Glue the body and glue the edges of the sleeves together. Fold and wrap a small piece of paper matching the kimono around the neck to form a collar.Wrap the obi belt around the doll and over the collar piece then secure it in the back with a dab of glue (see step five for a visual).

Step Five

Cut three small strips of paper for the hair, taking care to cut two of the same size to wrap on the left and right side of the head, as seen in the picture. The hair can be as long or short as you want it to be. The longer piece, as seen in the picture, will be glued on top and will be wrapped around the head, gathered and secured on the back of the head with a dab of glue. See below for the placement of the pieces.

Now, just add a little twisted piece of paper for a bow and you are done!

Write me and let me know how your doll turns out!

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Punk/Goth style in Japan

This is definately a departure from the usual styles I’ve seen on the streets and in the stores of Japan. But I have to admit, it’s kinda cute! In a punk, goth, leather and chains kinda way!

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