The vibrant and twisted trunk of a Goyomatsu (Japanese white pine) brings an invigorating freshness to the tips of each green leaf in the beautifully pruned foliage. In their tiny pots, Bonsai fascinate me as a symbol of the strength and vitality of nature. Although bonsai have always fascinated me, I have been daunted by the seeming difficulty of growing bonsai. However, one day, I found that a one-day hands-on Bonsai workshop was held in Saitama, and decided to give it a try – on a whim! The workshop was held in Seikouen, a Bonsai shop, located in Omiya Bonsai Village, Saitama prefecture. It was still very hot on the […]
I found a lovely wallet of Manekineko in Nara, Japan. Made of raven-black and lustrous leather, the inside the wallet is formed of yellow cloth and manekineko pattern cloth. Opening the clasp of its coin purse, then you can see a lot of manekineko faces again! This could bring me good luck, since manekineko is said to bring good luck. In addition, black is a good color for a purse, reminding me of being in the black. The leather is pleasant to touch and comfortable on the hands. Another one I found was made of blue-gray leather, a color I love very much. The cats in this wallet, some white […]
On a sunny Autumn day, I made an impromptu visit to Gotokuji (豪徳寺) which is said to be the Birthplace of Manekineko (beckoning cat). During the Edo era, there was a priest of a run-down temple named Koutokuin (the predecessor of Gotokuji) who was precarious about a cat and fed it some of his own portions. One day he mumbled to himself wouldn’t it be nice if this cat could usher in good fortunes.
While I stared out the window on the train, I was quietly pondering that I never had time to visit Gotokuji even though I’ve been blessed by the Manekineko more than my fair share. The train had just arrived at Gotokuji station. I got off the train hastily and took an escalator from the 2nd floor of the station to the 1st floor exit. Exiting the station, I turned left toward the Gotokuji shopping street where a relaxed atmosphere waited the commuters. Walking along the street, my eye’s caught Manekinekos in many locations.
Lucky Daruma in Takasaki City The 2004 Upper House election has been over recently here in Japan. Speaking of political elections in Japan, most of Japanese visualize a papier-mache “Lucky Daruma”, a hollow, rounded Japanese traditional doll. The daruma doll is originally modeled after Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk who achieved enlightenment after 9 years of wall gazing, Zen sitting meditation gazing a wall in a cave near the Shaolin Monastery in China.
The main character in the Soseki Natsume’s novel Botchan took a red western style tenugui whenever he went to a hot spring, which is why he was called aka-tenugui (red tenugui). This western-style tenugui should be a towel. Before towels began to be imported into Japan in the early Meiji era, Japanese people used tenugui, a plain woven cotton fabric almost equivalent in size to a face towel (35 x 90cm). The origin of tenugui goes back as far as the Heian period, when it was used for religious services, then afterwards in Edo period it began to be widely used among commoners.