31 Dec 2015

At The End of Year

There were not always good things in our lives this year, but I am very glad that we are able to embark on a new year together.

Next year, I will mark the 5th anniversary since I moved to the UK. Wow, it's unbelievable! Time flies so fast. Though, still, I show the white feather about my English. Well, I can survive at my current English level I guess, but sometimes I feel it's a seemingly-far away to master it to a level that I am satisfied with. I feel I would struggle with it forever until the end of time. But this year, I tried one of the translation competitions. The result was not really good. I was disappointed, but sure, it was a great challenge and experience for me. More importantly, I am satisfied with what I've done.

I don't know what 2016 will be like yet, but I want to look after our health and to have long walks a lot. And I want to keep exploring my potential. Also I want to cope with ageing and to be strong mentally and physically.

Thank you for visiting my blog and see you soon again!

30 Dec 2015

Today's Sky

Chazutsu

"Chazutsu" is a container specially designed to keep green tea fresh. There are many kinds of chazutsu are sold in my country from wooden to steal one.

These were small and simple bare steel tins, but I transformed and decorated them with lovely papers. Looks so pretty, doesn't it? If you go to the tea shop, souvenir shop or others in Japan, you can find this kind of chazutsu using Japanese traditional washi paper.


28 Dec 2015

My Baggage

I think I keep my things very well.

This baggage was a birthday present from my parents when I was around 10 or 11 years old (not sure)! That means it's more than 30 years old. I think its condition is quite good apart from the inside fabric. Maybe because I didn't use this so often. It has small key locks as well. When I travelled to my grandparents' house during summer, I always packed my stuff into this baggage. Apart from that, I had used this as just a storage case at home.

Recently, this wicker baggage has played an important role at a craft fair. It serves a dual purpose, carriage and display. I still love this baggage.

27 Dec 2015

British Christmas

How did you spend Christmas day? We had a quiet and relaxed Christmas as usual. I cooked roasted potatoes and chicken, and we enjoyed having mince pie and Christmas pudding. I think they were more British-style this year. Though, I've still looked for our own style of 'British-like-perfect-Christmas'. Christmas decorations, meal, etc... there are a lot of things I want to enjoy during this season, because I am Japanese. Western Christmas is a sort of yearning event for Japanese people.

It's completely different from Japanese Christmas. People work on a Christmas day as usual, and after the midnight of 25th, all Christmas decorations in the town change into New Year's one. (Because New Year is more important for Japanese people). People clean the house and workplace (like spring cleaning in the UK), and do shopping to be ready to get the new year started. Between Christmas and New Year, it become such a busy period like before the Christmas in the UK.

I like Japanese New Year, but I am happy to be able to bask in the afterglow of Christmas in the UK.


24 Dec 2015

Come Home Alive

I came back from a battle field (aka supermarket before the Christmas). It was busy but not so bad this year:) Phew... Have a Merry Christmas, everyone.
 

21 Dec 2015

Loser !?

I read an article of The Independent saying 'Angry single men protest against Christmas in Tokyo'. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/angry-single-men-protest-against-christmas-in-tokyo-a6779691.html --- What an idiot!

In fact, Japanese couples tend to spend Christmas day together. Unlike in European countries, we have a wrong idea and a different meaning of Christmas. But it's our own Christmas culture. As I mentioned on my blog before, the climate for Christmas is a little bit harsh for singletons. And commercial strategies fuels general atmosphere, and media amusingly describe singletons as 'loser' or 'parasite'. 

Why are they highly sensitive about Christmas? I think school education is the underlying cause, because Japanese people learn cooperation rather than uniqueness at school. People tend to feel release doing something one has seen someone else do. And if you do something different, it sometimes tends to be attacked. That's why they think themselves 'loser with woman' because Christmas is now major for couples in Japan. I don't like these Japanese claims. It might be a joke, but some people take it seriously.

If I borrow their words, I was a loser. So what? Think about it. You are just manipulated by a imported culture. What's wrong with singleton? And also, if you are the anti-Christmas person, I think you don't need to celebrate it, to be vividly aware of Christmas nor to be self-conscious about it. Just you spend 24th and 25th December openly and squarely as a singleton. Above all, I don't think they are really anti-Christmas people. It's only temporary. Soon after they find a girl friend or wife, or have children, I bet they enjoy celebrating Christmas together. This is my theory.

Today' Sky

Tomorrow is the darkest day of the year; the winter solstice.
 
 

17 Dec 2015

Surname

Japan's supreme court has upheld a 19th century law that married couples must have the same surname. It was the outcome of a trial suing the Japanese government. Was it right? Always an adjudgement against a new matter needs caution. I don't know it was right or not. But at least, in these days of changing form of marriage, such as same-gender marriage, I feel it's an anachronistic attitude.

Usually, a wife takes her husband's surname. It's not peculiar to Japan. I changed surnames for my first marriage and changed back again when I divorced. Every time I changed surname, I had to buy a new seal, apply to renew a passport, bank account etc. etc... It was troublesome.

Now, we use separate surnames. I can do this because of international marriage. In our case, I could decide freely if I use separate surnames or the same surname within 6 months after submitting a notification of marriage to the Japan Embassy. If I want to change my surname from now, I have to get permission of the Japanese family court. Of course I have to pay for it.

Frankly speaking, I didn't change surname only because it's troublesome. Also I couldn't see any merit of it. Now I don't feel any inconvenience at all. If I'm forced to say something about inconvenience, it's hard to be remembered by everyone because of unfamiliar surname. If we have children, the situation would be different.

There are various forms of couples, marriages and families, so why not using separate surnames? As long as Japan doesn't permit using separate surnames, also allowing dual nationality (which is also banned in Japan) must be a long way away.

Today's Sky

14 Dec 2015

Being Loved

My parents-in-law came and gave us some early Christmas presents. They are really nice and kind to me. We don't have much chance to see each other, but we talk on a phone every week. I am happy, I feel fully loved by them. Thank you.
 

13 Dec 2015

How many more nights...?

My sister said that a year usually passes quickly like riding a roller coaster, but this year, it has passed so quickly ever like rolling down from Mt. Everest. I see... as a mother whose children sit for entrance exams, she must be unsettled until they finish. My 2015 has passed quickly as well. I thing because we spent the first few months in my country Japan.

We have a new year's song, which start with intonation 'how many more nights do we have to go to bed until New Year's day? Perhaps you say 'how many more nights do we have to go to bed until Christmas' in Western Countries. To be honest, I've had bitter  experiences on Christmas Eve in the past.

One Christmas Eve, there was heavy snow. We suffered from a power outage, and the road became gridlocked with traffic. My mother was supposed to be back home on time to bring a special treat ice-cream cake, but of course she was delayed. My sister and I were young. We were not allowed to use matches, but my sister lit a candle and stove with a match to survive. We had nothing to do, so we enjoyed drawing with keeping eyes closed by candlelight. Suddenly we could hear and smell something burning. It was my hair fringe. My sister laughed but I was shocked...

Another Christmas in my early 20's, I was supposed to have a date with my boyfriend. He was tall, handsome and younger than me. I had already worked and he was a university student. It should have become a happy Christmas. But without any expectation, I was stood up by him. Unlike in European countries, young couples usually spend a Christmas day together. Couples were here and there in the town, I felt so miserable. I called my friend with a sob, who had a long-distance love, and she came around me to comfort. Later, I knew he had a trouble with his family on that day, but our relationship finished soon...

All now are good and funny memories. I am here after having such experiences. Now Christmas is totally divorced from such miserable events. We are surrounded by cozy and festive atmosphere:)

4 Dec 2015

Make A Wreath

Towns are surrounded by festive mood. I love it. I couldn't decorate the house last Christmas season, so I really wanted to make a new wreath. I got a small ring from a charity shop and just attached a Christmas decoration (from a pound shop) on it. It's a simple but effective, isn't it?

1 Dec 2015

Monkey

Gee, it's already December. When I was walking on a street and gave a way to a lady, she said 'Thank you and Merry Christmas'. Gee, it's already Merry Christmas. I need to start preparing Christmas cards.

In my country, New Year's card with a zodiac sign is common. Well, what's the zodiac sign of next year??? It's easy to forget about it if I am in the UK, because I don't see any commercials for New Year's card on TV. So I checked it online. Monkey. 2016 zodiac sign is monkey! Yes, I remember it's sheep this year. I saw a lot of sheep items in Japan.


Talking of Monkey, Japanese macaques are known for having a hotspring bath. Their performance is like human. :)

source; Wikipedia

29 Nov 2015

In The Town Centre

This is a picture from yesterday. The town was busy because Black friday sales and an event were held. They were so cool:)
 

22 Nov 2015

Tokyo Tower

My parents sent me a photo of Tokyo Tower, they travelled there the other day. It made me giggle.

Tokyo Tower is a communications and observation tower, which was built in 1958. It was the tallest structure (332.9m/1,092ft) in Japan until the Tokyo Skytree (634m/2,080ft) was constructed on 2012.

When my mother visited there first time, she felt scared to get down in the lift. She told me that she used stairs with her friends! What an idiot! It sounded more scary to me though... About 600 steps! Just as you would expect, she made other people wait and the bus delayed...

Most Japanese provincial junior high school students visit there on their school trip, but I've never been to the observatory of Tokyo Tower. When I was on a school trip, we arrived at Tokyo Tower by bus, but time was delayed due to traffic jam or something and theschedule of going to the observatory was cut. The tour conductor said 'look up the Tokyo tower, and imprint it on your memory'. Then we headed over to the next destination.

Why did I giggle? Because this is almost the same angle from what I looked up from the bus when I was a student...


Am I...?

Am I a bad-weather-bringer???

Recently, when I go for shopping, every time it starts to rain and I get soaked on my way back home. And then it stops raining after I get home. Mmmmm... Something is wrong. I think I used to be a fine-weather-bringer. Are the symptoms of the bad weather bringer spread easily from person-to-person? The big mouse is definitely the latter...

Well, whatever...

A Kettle With Water

When I made a cup of coffee, I noticed the kettle was full of water. I know the big mouse boiled water for lunch. This always reminds me of the words of my ex-executive managing director. She used to say 'the company president (her husband) fills up a kettle with water, even though he makes a cup of tea for himself. Water for one cup is enough and quick though...' It must be a man's way.

20 Nov 2015

Today's Sky

At this time last year, we were in Japan. Gee, time flies so fast! 

18 Nov 2015

In Winter

Human life is fragile... I sometimes think so when someone die in an accident or incident, or when I read and know about an ancient people's lives. 

The other day, one of my old neighbours died and departed this world. He was the only person who talked to me, when I was a stranger here. He didn't care even if I couldn't understand what he said. Everybody says they weren't surprised about his death because he didn't have a healthy life. But I've had a strange feeling, maybe because I talked with him on the day he had a heart attack and died. He looked normal at that time. He didn't have relatives. So his death was so quiet for people who weren't present at the final moment. It is as if suddenly he disappeared from this town.

All human beings are mortal. Though we all know this would have to happen someday, a heart moves differently if it really happens around you. Even so, we, people left behind must move on without them, and harshly and unrelentingly the world goes on and the time would be passed. The sudden death of a local man who was often be seen around here has left me strange feelings. In addition, the winter's dark  atmosphere gives me indescribable sentiment.


15 Nov 2015

A Stormy Night

It has been a warm November but overcast weather. It's a stormy night and I can't sleep... I am thinking back to my childhood and feeling a little bit sentimental.
 

6 Nov 2015

Goemonburo

There was a semi-legendary Japanese man who was named Ishikawa Goemon (1588-1594). It is said that he stole gold and valuable items to give them the poor. Sounds a bit like Jean Valjean of Les Miserables??? But the difference was that he was a Japanese outlaw. He had committed these unlawful acts since he was a child. At the end, he was caught and boiled to death in a hot cauldron along with his son in public. It's horrible, isn't it? His execution took place in summer. The picture below is about how he was holding his son above to save from the heat. Goemon became a hero and has been played by kabuki drama.
(Compare with Robin Hood). 

Source; Wikipedia
For that reason, an iron bathtub is now called a goemonburo, meaning Goemon-bath. The photo below is an old wooden bathtub. This is not a Goemonburo, but this kind of old bathtub always evoke me about Goemon. I saw this in an old folk house in a museum. And also it reminds me of my grandparents' old bathtub. It was bigger than this but made of wood like this.

Parental Tenderness

The parcel from my parents arrived today. We live in a world of convenience, get and buy anything you want. So I don't want to put them under a strain because overseas delivery charges are expensive. But it seems they have been determined to send me something twice a year, summer (my birthday) and winter (Christmas). And it seems to be their joy. So I let them to do so. Of course, I am happy to receive it:) It is always packed full of Japanese food, surprising and love. I am very appreciative.

4 Nov 2015

Today's Sky

It was a gloomy weather today, but it became slightly brighter for a passing moment.
 

2 Nov 2015

Kotatsu

I love 'central heating' in the UK during winter. It keeps warm everywhere inside the house and it's very practical.

On the other hand, the heating system in Japan is not as good, even when winter is so cold. The windows are not double-glazed. If you come back home from work, a cold room is waiting for you. It takes time to get a room warm and quick to get cold if you turn the heating off. Because Japanese houses are basically made of wood. Nowadays, it's much better than before, but when I was a child, it was really hard to get up in the morning while winter. Someone needs to turn the heating on. I struggled to change clothes from pajama in a morning. In front of the oilstove was a premium spot.

However, there is a great heating system we boast of. That is a 'Kotatsu'. It's a wooden table frame covered by a heavy blanket, and a table panel is on it. There is an electric heat source underneath. The weak point of this is that once you sit there, you would feel less and less like getting out and become lazy. If you stand up, you may be asked to bring someting along the way by others. 

1 Nov 2015

A Result

The first November after the Halloween was a misty morning. How was your Halloween day? Well..., to be frank, we are unconnected with Halloween apart from sweets, because we don't have a child. I put little ornaments in a room, but no real pumpkin lantern nor full spooky party decoration. But there was one door-knock last evening:) Lovely girls with cat make-up were standing outside:)

31 Oct 2015

Happy Halloween

We saw some people wearing Halloween costumes and make-up. They have a party today. Halloween is the day to enjoy it for them.

Also, Halloween is the day to justify to ourselves to buy a big sweet box for us... Just in case, lovely children may come to knock the door saying 'trick or treat'. Though it seldom happens... Apparently we know that sweets will disappear into our stomachs, but it's a sort of an unspoken mutual consent. We just say 'Just in case...'


Today's Sky


27 Oct 2015

Clock Change

There is something that I haven't got used to in the UK. That is "Winter time". During my first year in the UK, I worried seriously about 'how to SURVIVE the winter'. Basically I like winter. I used to enjoy snowboarding. At the peak season, I went to ski/snowboard resorts over 20 times. Luckily, my hometown is surrounded by the mountains and the sea, where I can get to within an hour. I sometimes went to the mountain after work when I was in my 20's! I think I was tough.

The clocks went back last Sunday. Japan doesn't have such a custom, so I still feel strange. Now the mornings are slightly lighter and the evenings are so dark. The time difference between UK and Japan also changed from 8 hours to 9 hours. I am always reminded the summertime or the wintertime official end by my mother-in-law.

It's too dark in the morning and so fast to get dark during the winter!!! I feel definitely that winter is around the corner. Let's think happy things such as Christmas...

25 Oct 2015

Drowning

A dream is full of mysteries and oddities. Why do people have a dream at night? It's sometimes a happy dream and sometimes a nightmare. It's sometimes very lucid and sometimes very vague. I used to have lucid dreams but recently I don't remember if even I had a dream.

When I was in Japan, I had a dream that I nearly drowned in the sea. I was on a ship and it started to sink like the Titanic. I felt water... According to a dream divination, drowning dream indicates that you are in a state of anxiety. Or if you dead by drowning in your dream, it indicates that you will have an excellent luck to create a new future. Hmm... Whatever...

At some point, I was woken up at a midnight and I realised that I was really wet around my shoulder and hair like after I swam. The thing was, I was using a water pillow at that time and it leaked ... It was a disaster...

Today's Sky :)


22 Oct 2015

Jikishi-an

Japanese have a specific aesthetic of beauty on transience and imperfection which is modest and humble. It is called 'Wabi-sabi'. It's quite a unique expression. And also it's difficult to translate into English, because there is no exact English equivalent. But I think it resembles to find something inspirational, emotional, sensational, and comfortable from rustic items.

There is a small temple where I can feel 'wabi-sabi' the most, and feel relaxed and having a Japanese mind in Kyoto. That is called 'Jikishi-an Temple'. It's one of my favourite places. Unlike popular sightseeing spots like Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkaku-ji or Ginkaku-ji, it's located in a somewhat isolated place in Kita-Saga, to the west of Arashiyama. I visited there twice; once with friends on a high school trip and another with my friend on a graduation trip.

In the temple, there are notebooks on the table. They are called 'Omoide-gusa Notebooks' in which visitors can write down their own problem, message or impression freely. I think I wrote down something on the notebook, perhaps an impression about the temple but I can't remember it.

Jikishi-an is surrounded by beautiful bamboo trees. The temple building itself was rebuilt in 1899, but original one was built in 1646. The temple is also known for the beautiful coloured leaves in the garden.

20 Oct 2015

Owl

This picture is from a newspaper the other day. I thought this owl's face had a strong impact. Cool.


17 Oct 2015

What Happened?

When I walked passed the Moat Farm bridge the other day, the bricks were broken. What happened to it??? According to a local historian, this wall is newer than the bridge bricks and it would probably have been put there to prevent vehicles driving over the bridge. Oh, well.....