September 30, 2008

In the Potted Bamboo

This red and black caterpillar was eating violets but then started climbing the potted bamboo when I started taking pictures. We think it will be a butterfly with a leopard pattern. We looked it up in Little Brother's big bug and insect book. There are several butterflies that have caterpillars like this that eat violets. The pictures were too small to see the detail so we're not sure what it will be.

This is obviously in the praying mantis family. It fluttered from one bamboo pole to another and watched me as I took pictures. We looked it up and it's called a kokamakiri.

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September 29, 2008

Battery Vending Machine

Recognize the dog?
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September 27, 2008

Tea Ceremony Book

Big Sister is in the tea ceremony club at her high school. The club will perform for some students from the American School. The members feel they need to practice English. Big Sister will help, but the club advisor has found some books for them to learn the English words for the utensils, etc. This is one of the books.

It was written by Grand Master Soshitsu Sen and published by the Urasenke Foundation in Kyoto. This book has many photos of the ceremony developed by this Foundation. There are different styles of the tea ceremony. This is one of them.
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Stripped Bark

I didn't know crape myrtle trees do this. It looks like they shed their skin at the end of summer. All of them had strips of barking hanging from their branches and on the ground around their trunks.

We usually visit these trees in the winter at Jindai Botanical Gardens. Then they are bare of leaves and their branches and trunks look smooth and slippery. Crape myrtle is called "monkey slip" (or slide) in Japanese. These photos were taken September 10th.

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September 26, 2008

Coming Home from a Funeral

When I left the house yesterday, I saw this small plate of salt near our entrance. It was wrapped in saran wrap. Aunt had put it there before she left for a funeral of a friend at work.

It is a custom to throw salt on a person who comes home from a funeral. A pinch of salt is thrown on the person's back and front. It is supposed to scare away spirits who follow the person home. Our family also does it when we return from the cemetery.

When we go to funerals, we usually ring the bell for Baba to come to the gate to throw salt on us. (Baba usually stays home.) Today Aunt threw salt on herself. Baba was having tea with a neighbor in the afternoon and I was gone.

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September 25, 2008

Eye Sculpture at Fuchunomori Park

To get a better look, click to enlarge the picture. Click here for more about Fuchunomori Park.

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Some of the Sights at Funchunomori Park

These are some of the things I saw today at Fuchunomori Park. A wading stream. It's very popular with small children. Little Brother and Big Sister used to love playing here.

A wading pool with fountains. There were other kinds of fountains. This is a fun place, too.

A dead willow tree. There are many other trees in the park. We used to sit under this one. It is near the playground.

This is the willow's trunk. It is covered with moss. This tree is old. Sad to see it's dead. Or is it? Did it just lose its leaves early? Other trees were marked for pruning or cutting. This one wasn't tagged.
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Current Art Exhibition at Fuchnomori Park

I only saw the signs for this. there is a small museum at Fuchunomori Park.

September 23, 2008

Shuubun Treat

Today is the autumn equinox or shuubun in Japanese. It is actually a school holiday and a work holiday for some people. Today is ohigan, a day when spirits come back. The big red kanji on the paper label says ohigan.

This is the plastic box without the paper label. It is marked with its own label. It tells us that the box contains ohagi.

This is ohagi. It is a azuki bean and rice treat. It is eaten on ohigan. Check the next post for a close-up.

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Autumn Tea Cups & Fancy Plates

Not everyone has special tea cups for autumn. I bought these when I first came to Japan as a souvenir. They were made by a company called Arita.

These plates were a gift for attending a funeral. Click on the label below for more about that.

This is the underside of the ohagi. When I turned it over, I left a fingerprint on one side. Big Sister was grossed out. She ate it anyway.

She turned it back over with a fork. She ate it with a small cake fork.

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Autumn Equinox

This grass and pampas grass are used as autumn decorations. This picture was taken the 10th. Today was a beautiful, sunny day, too.

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September 22, 2008

May We Have Your Attention

Bamboo strips and a sign mark a spot of interest at Jindai Botanical Gardens. That's a light post in the center. It's pretty typical of light posts here. The sign says to look closely on the ground.

Here's a closer look. "X" almost marks the spot. That's a little mushroom peeking out around the knot tied around the bamboo. There's another mushroom on the right. People did stop and gather around to look at them.

This mushroom was in another area. It's camouflaged. It looks like the log that it's sitting beside. There was no marker for this one. It went unnoticed even though it was spotlighted by the sun.

These photos were taken on the 10th when it was sunny. It is typhoon season. It is rainy and unusually cold today in Tokyo.
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September 21, 2008

Eco Style

Instead of the usual styrofoam cups, Cup of Noodle has a refill pack. This cup is plastic and can be used time after time. The noodles are in a plastic package on the left.

We can go to their refill site and download and print some covers to change the look of the cup. (The middle of the cup twists out.) The website is in Japanese, but who knows, all this may be coming your way. If it hasn't already! The main Nissin Foods site can be read in English, but it doesn't mention Eco Style. I linked to their Food Safety section.

The illustrated instructions of how to make the noodles are on the bottom of the box. See the "Peace" sign at the end? What a nice touch! A nice gesture! We do that a lot here. Esp. when someone takes our picture.

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Lilies in the Field

Actually, they're in a forest. These pictures were taken the 10th so they may have bloomed by now. So, I've missed them. Perhaps we all have. It's been raining a lot lately. It is typhoon season.

It's nice to think about all these lilies blooming in a small forest in Tokyo, though. Especially since we've had so much rain. At least it's been cool!

Their name is cardiocrinum cordatum. Wonder what color they are. Look it up!
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September 19, 2008


Can you see what's there? Someone almost sat down here.

This feral calico cat did not stir. It's not unusual to see cats in the Jindai Botanical Gardens. Calico cats are not common here, though. Elizabeth Coatsworth wrote about one in The Cat Who Went to Heaven. It's a nice story set in Japan. It's one of our favorites. The author said three colored cats were considered lucky. This cat was fortunate to have a safe place in the sun and in the shade.

This picture was taken on the 10th. It was a beautiful bright day. It drizzled all day today.
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