January 28, 2011

Frane Lessac and Mark Greenwood

Frane Lessac is an author and illustrator. She has illustrated books with other authors including her husband Mark Greenwood.

They came to visit our SCBWI chapter here in Tokyo. Frane Lessac talked about illustrating and writing and their travel and research on projects. I love all the small details in her illustrations, and I especially liked hearing the story behind Simpson's Donkey, a book she and Mark Greenwood worked on together. Have a look at Frane Lessac's website and blog and Mark Greenwood's website.

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January 24, 2011

Street Repair

They are tearing up the street along the curb in my neighborhood.

I was getting worried about the azaleas. In some places it looks like they are going to tear them out to make the road wider. That would be really sad because the azaleas bloom all along the street in early spring. Besides being pretty, according to a Nasa study, azaleas clean the air.

Walking further down the street, I realized what they are doing. They had replaced the middle of the road and now they have to bring the curbside up to the same level. See the drop off? They have to get rid of it.

We'll be glad when they are finished. They do most of the work at night when there is no traffic. Little Brother is studying to take high school entrance exams next month. He needs good sleep! He hasn't complained, though.
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January 20, 2011

Ume Bonsai

Great-grandfather's ume bonsai are blooming. He has been gone for 17 years but his trees still bloom.
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Our daphne hasn't bloomed yet.

Tulips Rising

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January 10, 2011

Coming-of-Age Day 2011

Big Sister and Little Brother and Papa have strongly suggested in the past not to take pictures of people on the street because of privacy issues. So instead of going out to the shrine to take pictures of young women in kimono, I decided to post another catalog cover. It's a public publication and it gives the company, Joyful Eli, publicity. Check out their website. Check out the labels below for more posts about Coming-of-Age Day. I did sneak a photo of a young woman a few years ago. It's one of my favorite photos. See it here. Also check out the website Kids Web Japan. Big Sister will dress up next year.

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January 07, 2011

Seven Herbs of Spring

Fresh from the grocery store or

freeze-dried and packaged, these seven herbs are eaten on the 7th of January. Usually on top of rice in okayu, rice porridge. Something warm and green for this blustery cold day today in Tokyo.

These packets of freeze-dried herbs are sprinkled on rice and hot water is poured over it to make a dish called ochazuke. Ochazuke is also made with green tea over rice or other kinds of dried flakes and hot water.

Starting at the top and going clockwise, there is seri, Japanese parsley, then nazuna (shepherd's purse), gogyo (cudweed), hakobera (chickweed), hotokenoza (henbit), suzuna (turnip), and suzushiro (daikon). Do not substitute or try eating any of these herbs from the roadside where you are. Some may not be the same!

Check the labels below for other posts and the website, Kids Web Japan, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Kids Web Japan-- seven herbs of spring

Japan Times 2003 article by Linda Inoki-- Haru no nanakusa

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January 04, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

Aunt brought us this mochi from the grocery store. Inside, there is potato paste (sweetened mashed potatoes) that was dyed pink. It is supposed to look like rabbits. Four little rabbits huddle in a plastic hutch.

There was a time (not too long ago) when things were never sold in fours. In pairs, threes or fives, but not fours. Four is an unlucky number because the word in Japanese (shi) is the same sound as the word for death.

Times are changing. Big Sister told me that some people are saying that shi (four) should be considered as a short form for shiawase which means happiness. It will be interesting how much this changes. Gift packs are still being sold in pairs or threes or fives.

Scroll to see earlier posts about mochi or click on the label below. Click here to read about the number 4.
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January 03, 2011

Oshiruko, A Winter Japanese Dish of Beans and Rice

beans can be bought dried or canned. They are used in a rice dish eaten on special occasions, sekihan, and to fill glutinous rice cakes or mochi. A bowl of sweetened atsuki beans are also served with mochi in them. Those things that look bars of soap are the glutinous rice cakes before they are cooked. After they are heated they become gooey. They should be eaten carefully.

Click on the labels below to see other posts about mochi and sekihan.

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January 02, 2011

Lucky Dreams

Check this post about the dreams of the second day of the year.

January 01, 2011

Happy New Year--First View of the New Year

Mt. Fuji had a big cloud stuck to it at sunset last evening. We have clear skies this morning in our piece of Tokyo sky. (This is not at sunrise.)

So glad we still have our view. Even with the wires draping it. It could have been different.

Click here to see last year's post. Click on the label below for more about the New Year's holiday in Japan.
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