Spring Colors

Friday, April 24th, 2009

On my way to my favorite hot spring, I enjoyed viewing spring colors. Deep in the mountain spring trees and wild cherry blossoms entertained my eyes. Near the hot spring there is a nice noodle shop. The buckwheat noodles are home-made. I like their style and attitude. I always order noodles, Tempura ( deep fried vegetables ) and sometimes beer. Then they always offer us free side dishes.

The people who work there are local old ladies and they cook the vegetables they have grown and do their best to entertain their customers.

       

The restaurant is located on a river. It has an interesting garden and a pond where you can enjoy fishing.

Last autumn I had guests from the UK. and I wanted to take them to this restaurant but that time it was closed. I was very worried about it but was relieved to find that it is going again !

      

To take a bath we have to go deeper into the mountain. The hot spring has two big bathtubs inside and relatively shallow one outside. A lady and I were in the outside bath on that day. It was so quiet and relaxing.Then the lady fell asleep. Gradually her body was sliding, sinking little by little into the water. I didn’t want to interrupt her good nap but I thought I need to keep monitoring her. I decided I would pinch her if the water level reached her lower lip level. When the water touched her chin she woke for a few seconds but again went back to sleep. That time another lady joined our bathtub and my duty was over. I moved to the inside bath. Am I a worrywart ?

 

 

Shogi pieces part2

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Both of my sons are crazy about Shogi and one of them likes to make pieces to play with. He just made another set of pieces. He has got much better and his teacher encouraged him saying, ” With some more efforts, your pieces can sell.” The teacher’s statement made his day. I tell him,” If you make great pieces, you may not want to sell them.” Says he, ” Well, first of all I have to make  pieces good enough to sell , then I can think about it.Then he goes,” To make better ones, I need better wood and it is more expensive.” He seems to be asking     me to buy better wood indirectly. How diplomatic !

Hana yori Dango ( I prefer dumplings to flowers )

Friday, April 10th, 2009

     

This is one of my favorite places for cherry blossom viewing. It’s only 3 minutes’ walk from my house. It’s very quiet and not crowded. This site works as a reservoir when it rains a lot. We often see many cherry trees around ponds or along rivers. Do you know why ? I heard that people planted cherry trees to reinforce the banks. Also people were encouraged to have parties to make the land even stronger.

Speaking of ” Hanami” or cherry blossom viewing, many people say that they are more interested in eating, drinking and chatting rather than viewing. Of course me too. You can call this case as ” Hana yori Dando” ” Hana ” meansflowers. ” Dango ” means dumplings. ” yori” means rather than.

Have you eaten this cake ? This is called ” Sakuramochi”. This cake is wrapped with cherry leaves. These leaves are a little salty and smell very good. These are salted for preservation. You can eat these leaves along with the filling wrapped inside. Its sweet and salty combination is perfect.

To my surprise, the leaves for  ” Sakuramochi ” are produced in Izu ( Shizuoka) nearly 100 %.

Swedish art and craft

Monday, April 6th, 2009

I had a chance to help out at a Swedish art and craft exhibition.These are the famous Swedish wooden horses known as ” Dala horses”.

 This craft work reminded me of the Japanese wooden craft  “Miharukoma”. Both of them are old crafts and at the time when they started, people didn’t visited each other, nor did they have chance to watch things on TV about foreign countries. Also when I saw a Swedish textile work, I found something in common with Japanese textiles and I wondered why. Isn’t it interesting ?

             

The things displayed were not for sale this time. Many people told me,” I wish I could buy one!”  They are all top level in quality and many of them are used in Swedish Royal family.

At the same time, at the street gallery of a certain bank, they displayed glass artworks. They are also fantastic.

I learned a lot about Sweden. Particulary about Leksand and the area around Lake Siljan. I know the economic climate is hard for everyone now, but we shouldn’t forget about this kind of cultural event.