15.09.2014 § Leave a comment
Ryokan means “inn” in Japanese. Usually it’s a tatami place with shoji doors. It’s popular to stay in Ryokan at the hot spring resorts in Japan. My sister and I went to one called Rangetsu. It had a private hot spring opening to a small garden as well as a public one (where we went) which also had an outdoor hot spring pool.
03.09.2014 § Leave a comment
Kaiseki (懐石) or kaiseki-ryōri (懐石料理) is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. The characters literally mean “stone in the bosom”. The idea came from the practice where Zen monks would ward off hunger by putting warm stones into the front folds of their robes, near their bellies. Kaiseki has since evolved into a sumptuous feast of 14 items including an appetizer, sashimi, a simmered dish, a grilled dish, and a steamed course in addition to other dishes at the discretion of the chef. We had a full-fledged Kaiseki dinner at Rangetsu Ryokan in Kyoto.
The nine Japanese-style servings took two hours. Here are the pictures. « Read the rest of this entry »
28.07.2014 § 1 Comment
I have always pondered why mountain climbers, especially the ones who have regular jobs, climb such high mountains. What is their motivation—besides being interested in the sport—that they will risk their lives for it?
From what I’ve observed, doing something different is one of the best ways to relax and refresh our minds. Sitting in an office five days a week and climbing a snowy mountain are definitely two different things.
I too am doing something different. I am in Tokyo at Waseda University for an intense, three-week Japanese course in this hot, humid summer weather. It would definitely be less of a challenge if I were visiting during the lovely cherry blossom season or in a cool autumn. I was forewarned by a Japanese native: “Tokyo’s summer is disgusting.” But I wasn’t intending to be a tourist anyway; this is exactly the different kind of experience that I was seeking. « Read the rest of this entry »
09.04.2013 § 3 Comments
Only recently did I learn that at one time Isamu Noguchi was married to Li Xianglan, a woman with a fascinating life. This knowledge came as a shock to me, or almost like regret, because Li Xianglan was such a legend and such a prominent figure during my childhood. She was a very famous singer and movie star during my mother’s youth. My mother was her diehard fan and would sing her songs and talk about her all the time. There were no pictures of her in those years because of her mysterious status and I always wondered, how beautiful could she be? What happened to her after she left China? I did not know that she had a long career after she left China using two different names, Yoshiko Yamaguchi and Yoshiko Ōtaka.
07.09.2012 § 1 Comment
Work of Tadao Ando, St. Louis
These are pictures I took of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. I made the trip specifically to see the work of architect Andao Ando, an amazing Japanese architect. He had been working as a truck driver and boxer prior to settling on the profession of architecture. Despite having no formal training in the field, he established his own design studio in 1968, Tadao Ando Architect and Associates.
Tadao Ando’s architecture emphasizes nothingness to represent the beauty of simplicity. His work is known for its creative use of natural light and is mostly constructed with concrete, simple geometric forms creating complex space. Ando’s architecture is the manifestation of his understanding of Zen or Haiku.
Inviting, textural concrete walls enclose a narrow space, yet it opens so powerfully with the soft reflection of the water.
23.07.2012 § Leave a comment
In linguistics, manner of articulation describes how the tongue, lips, jaw, and other speech organs are involved in making a sound.
This morning I needed to look up a few English words while studying Japanese. I was thrilled to learn these new words because they are so rare to me; that always piques my interest. I had come across these terms in Chinese when I was serving the Chinese language school as a volunteer teacher. Now learning Japanese in English is like killing two birds with one stone: I get to learn both languages. « Read the rest of this entry »
29.06.2012 § Leave a comment
One of the subconscious reasons I started to study Japanese was to be able to read Japanese textile-related articles. The Japanese people’s ability to maintain a catalogue of their traditional color names throughout history with actual colors samples is most amazing to me. I brought back five of these kinds of books with me from Japan. My fever of studying color names was reignited when I purchased a Japanese-English dictionary last year at the Mizuwa Marketplace bookstore in Arlington Heights. At the front, there are about five pages of color blocks with name identifications. I was in awe to see that a common little dictionary would have such a professional level of color work. « Read the rest of this entry »
04.05.2012 § 2 Comments
Journey to Japan
This spring’s trip to Japan reminds me of my first trip to Italy in 1992. I called it “The Grand Tour”– a term referring to the tradition of 18 century European artists who could not consider their art educations complete until they had make a trip to Italy. I prepared for this trip to Japan for over a year and a half, and never have I put so much time into preparing for a journey to a foreign country. I am not sure if being able to ask for directions on the street or in a busy subway paid off for all of the time I put into studying the language, but I certainly was happy that I could be free and independent.
14.12.2011 § Leave a comment
This past summer when I took a Japanese composition class, my Japanese teacher was a Japanese American. She has been supporting a group of psychologists in Tokyo who run a social program to help counsel the Tsunami victims. At the end of the semester, she brought little knick-knacks to the class to fundraise for the program. The money is used to buy “American” candies or toys for the children when they come together.
19.07.2011 § Leave a comment
I took a Japanese course this summer at the Oakton Community College. The teacher asked me why I wanted to learn Japanese. I couldn’t really tell her why. I wanted to do something crazy when I turned 50 but could not find anything crazy enough. I think learning Japanese can qualify for my wish on my 50th birthday. « Read the rest of this entry »