Japan – Emperor Akihito, 85 yrs old abdicates, first time in over 200 years

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This past week, I have been reading about the abdication of Japanese Emperor Akihito. An emperor has not abdicated in over 200 years. It’s sad, but he has had illnesses, so he needs to rest.

He met his wife, a commoner, while playing tennis. They married in 1959. He and Empress Michiko have three children.

His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59,and Princess Masako will now take the thrown. Life has not been easy for Princess Masako. She did not want to marry into royalty and when she did all of her freedoms for traveling, etc. were taken away from her. This caused her to fall into great depression. Also, the fact that she gave birth to a daughter and not a son was stressful. Hopefully, her new role changes her outlook on life.

In America, we are lacking when it comes to International news. Luckily, with the Internet, we can read Asian newspapers to understand what is going on in Japan right now. It’s all very interesting. I wish them well.

Japan: Becoming a Geisha / Maiko for a day!

I was transported back to my childhood days when I read Josy’s post, “Maiko Makeover – Dress up like a Maiko in Kyoto.

As my parents traveled the world when I was child, my mother started bringing me dolls from each country where she traveled. I had two favorites. The first was a Japanese Geisha doll in a beautiful glass container. The second was a pair of dancing dolls from Thailand. While I don’t have the dolls anymore, I was able to find a good representation on http://www.pixabay.com, see photos.

F0A4B597-AC57-48E5-A734-E4C20BB16EA1The geisha doll was absolutely beautiful. As you can see in the photo, the doll’s face was painted white, stunning kimono, the sash at the waste, her white socks with black sandles and incredible hair piece. Oh, and the cute umbrella was fascinating to me. Certainly in Indiana we did not see this type of dress. It was a treasure.

So, when I came across Josy’s post, I smiled and had to look twice at the photos. WAS THAT REALLY JOSY dressed as a geisha? Yes, indeed it was! Josy was in Kyoto, Japan and in her post she explains in detail how she went for a Maiko Makeover. By the way, a maiko is an apprentice to a geisha. Josy takes us step by step through the stages of getting the makeover, which is fascinating. She includes location and price as well… all we need is a plane ticket over to Kyoto!

I learned something new. I didn’t realize that going for a makeover in Japan is a big touristy thing to do. If you are an avid hiker, you’ll enjoy Josy’s Blog, “A Walk And A Lark,” you’ll see spectacular photos from her different hiking adventures.

Thanks, Josy, for bringing back such nice childhood memories for me!

Textiles: Indigo, Japan to Indiana

3c665b69-ddc6-4b1c-9250-889d338d5fb2When I was in grade school, my parents would travel around the world for three months at a time. They left my twin brother and I at home. When they came back there was big excitement. Their luggage smelled like world travels and my mother had gifts for us. From Japan, she had chopsticks (of course), a pin cushion for sewing, a pearl ring and the big surprise was a kimono. Keep in mind, in the 70s, unless you traveled around the world, you would not find these special items.

I fell in love with the color indigo when my mother gave me this special kimono from Japan. My mother loved kimonos. The kimono was a lovely white / indigo pattern with a bright pink sash. For those of you who might not know, indigo is a color between primary blue and violet. It’s a very majestic color.

A few years ago, I went to the Seattle Asian Art Museum for the “Mood Indigo” exhibit and learned that a man, Rowland Ricketts, had an Indigo farm in Indiana. He had a beautiful exhibit at the museum. It was in one room, he had textiles hanging in a tall circular direction (see here), so we would have to walk in a circle viewing the shades of indigo. Brilliant idea to add the plants around the room that produce the indigo color. He wanted us to connect the fact that the blue dye comes from plants.

This was such a surprise, because I am from Indiana, not a lot goes on in Indiana. We do have farm lands with sweet corn, cabbage, sunflowers, etc., but I would never have thought a farm for indigo. This was interesting! Oh, HOLD ON, Mike Pence our Vice President is from Indiana. Forgot about politics. Otherwise, just corn.

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Indigo plant

Ricketts’s story is that in 1996, he apprenticed in Japan for 2 years to learn the art and process producing the indigo dye color. He was looking for a job that would bring meaning to his life, creating indigo dye was it. The process is a long and laborous one, because the dye comes from a plant, which needs to be grown, dried and fermented. He met his wife, Chimani, while they apprenticed together. They make a good team, he does the farming side of the business and Chimani weaves the yarn into fabrics.

Ricketts is an Associate Professor in the School of Art, Architecture & Design at Indiana University.

Clearly, I am excited that with so many art forms dying out that Ricketts has brought the Japanese textile art of indigo to our home state of Indiana!

Japan: Shinto shrines – Make a wish “Ema (絵馬)” boards

Ema wooden-plaque-1659071_960_720Life is full of surprises. When we need a dose of inspiration somehow the Universe sends it to us in different ways. Yesterday, I was having a tough day. Job searching is NO FUN!  We apply, apply, apply with “no response.”

Feeling mentally exhausted, the first thought that came to my mind was “I WISH….”

Well, here is what was interesting. I received an email from The Daily Post: photo challenge, where Jen H. posted a story called, “Wish: Sharing wishes with strangers makes a powerful emotional statement.

She had posted a photo of “Ema (絵馬)” boards hung up at a Shinto shrine in Japan. Jen H. explains in her Blog that Ema boards are meant to be “wishes.” You purchase an Ema board, and as you see in the photo, you write your wish on the board, hang it at the Shinto shrine, pray and “dream” that your wish is granted.

Shimogamo Shrine

Shimogamo shrine in Japan

It’s very interesting to read about the different Shinto shrines. This is a beautiful shrine called, “Shimogamo.” This shrine is famous for helping you realize your dreams and wishes. Take a moment to visit “The Kyoto Project” website. You’ll enjoy reading the history of the shrine and if you’d like to visit they mention the different festivals that take place there.

It’s time to MAKE A WISH… my “Ema” board is calling!

How about yours?  What is your wish?  Put it out there to the Universe.

Here’s to wishes coming true in 2017!

 

 

Nativity Scenes from around the world…

This weekend a friend brought me to a church where they had different Nativity Scenes on display from around the world (Japan, Thailand, Africa, Uganda, Canada, New Zealand and Poland). It was a little dark to take pictures; however, I think these came out relatively well. It’s interesting to see how each country has their interpretation of the sheep, the wise men and so on.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate this holiday!

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