Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Sonoma Wedding

To view the rest of photos (107pics), visit my flickr slideshow, or thumbnails.
Congratulation Alyse and Jonah, and thank you for the wonderful time. We were really partied out!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The room I've stayed

Skylight room
The Red Victorian Bed &Breakfast
Height Street, San Francisco, California

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sunday, August 07, 2011

THE JONES BEACH, 2011


To view the rest of beach photos (67), visit my flickr slideshow, or thumbnails.

Annual beach trip to Jones beach, Long Island.  Mr. Shige (on the right of the photo) rents a 15-passenger van, plus some folks w/ zip cars, organized by Mr. Mike Nogami.  BBQ actions and watermelon splitting (スイカ割り) . This tradition has been around since 1980's.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Young talents in Newark, NJ


























I had a chance to spend some time with enthusiastic kids in Newark, New Jersey. Visit Life Cinematic to read about it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tanabata nightout


























A nightout to Japan Cuts film festival/ Tanabata night out with Ai, my hometown j-girl friend. She wanted to wear Yukata on Tanabata day. To view more photos of the night, visit my flickr slideshow or set.

HOT SUMMER BIKE WEEKEND

Photo above, Davi Russo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.


























To view the rest of photos (25), visit my flickr set, or slideshow.

Went for a bike ride 2 days in a row to Williamsburg, from Astoria, Queens.
Ride, eat, drink and hang, hit the road again, stop, eat and drink till it's dark.
Cheers to you, Summer!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

7 train : Long Island City

JAPAN CUTS 2011 - New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema, part 2

At Japan Society, July 7 - 22, 2011


Photo above is Sora Aoi (蒼井そら), an actress from  the movie Three☆Points (スリー☆ ポイント), Directed by Masashi Yamamoto, stirring Jun Murakami, Sora Aoi, Daichi Watanabe, and Shinji Aoyama.

To view the rest of 58 photos from the after-party, visit my flickr set or slideshow.

Monday, July 11, 2011

JAPAN CUTS 2011 - New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema


























At Japan Society, July 7 - 22, 2011


Photo above is from the after party for Yakuza Weapon, with director and star Tak Sakaguchi (middle), and co-director and writer Yudai Yamaguchi (left).  To view the rest of photos (55 images), visit my flickr set or slideshow.

Friday, June 24, 2011

登戸/遊園 KARAOKE ALL NIGHT: JAPAN TRIP 2011, Part 06

To view the rest of the photos (45 photos), visit my flickr slideshow, or thumbnails.

A karaoke night out with my homies in my old neighborhood, Noborito, Japan.
I used to hang out with those gals either at a karaoke box, or Mr.Donuts, almost everyday after school in my high school days. This was a pure nostalgia for me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Please spread the words!!


"Create your own shop" 
Japan relief charity flea market, at Union Square  
Saturday, June 25 · 2:30pm - 4:30pm


CRS (Center for Remembering & Sharing)
123 4th Ave, 2nd FL (between 12th & 13th streets), New York, NY


If you have anything you're not using or thinking of taking them to Salvation Army, please sell them at flea market - Thank you for helping Japan vol.2 event! You can donate any % of your sale:) You can come & create your own shop starting 1:30pm, or drop us off before Saturday.


It's nice to mingle with your friends who haven't seen long time or you may find your new skill/sales:))
We're going to prepare some refreshments & sweets so please come, sell & enjoy. Or just stop by!


Please let me know if you'd like to spend nice time with us!
Feel free to contact @ 917-602-8352, or visit Tohoku Japanese Artists in US in facebook, for more information.


Special thanks to:

CRS
Ayurveda Japan Association
Ripplu-www.ripplu.com
friends who support this event!

Logo designed by Yuki Nakajima

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mexican Feast Saturday






































To view the rest of photos (27), visit my flickr slideshow, or thumbnails.

A weekend mexican home cooking with the folks we traveled mexico with.

Menus:
Hand fried tortilla chips
Guacamole
Pico de gallos
Shrimp ceviche
Enchiladas verdes
Rice and beans

Margaritas
Mezcal
Pacifico
Negra Modelo

and much more...

Thanks, Alyse and Jona for the excellent cooking and top-notch hospitality.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Young mamas and babies


Cameron and Sonja are only 2 weeks apart from each other in birthday.  They are turning 1 year old this month.

Slideshow, available.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Tulum Wedding


To view the rest of the wedding trip, visit my flickr slideshow, or thumbnails (178 photos).

Olivia and Pete's Wedding Getaway in Tulum, Mexico. Congratulation guys, and thank you for a Lovely and heavenly memories.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

鎌倉 KAMAKURA: JAPAN TRIP 2011, Part 05


To view the rest of the photos (101 photos), visit my flickr slideshow, or thumbnails.

On March 27th, we held a dinner party in Kamakura, an old Castle town (1192, AD) in Kanagawa.  It was such a joy for me to see my loved-ones dressed nicely, and spending some quality time together.  Thank you all for coming, I love you and miss you!  Special thanks to Mike Nogami, for coming from NYC and taking fantastic photographs.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

五時のおやつ: 坂本風大学いも


揚げずにカリッと炒めたお芋に煎った黒ごま、メープルシロップ、最後にレモン汁を絞る。

手順:サツマイモの細切りに少し塩をしてレンジで2分。その間に黒ごまをフライパンで軽く煎っておく。煎ったごまを皿に取り出して、フライパンにバターを溶かす。チンしたお芋を強火でかりっと焦げ目がつくまで焼く。最後にメープルシロップとレモン汁、ごまを絡めて出来上がり。頂き物の川根茶と一緒に食す。ああ、幸せ。

ポイント:かりっと炒め焼きをするのと、ごまを煎ること。

Daigaku-imo (literally meaning University potatoes)
This is a modified-version of traditional Japanese sweets.

Cut Japanese yam potato into sticks. Microwave them for 2 mins. Toast black sesames on frying pan till you smell the sesame. Empty the sesame out of pan, melt butter in a pan, saute potatoes till crispy outside. Blend black sesames into potatoes, drizzle maple syrup, sprinkle dash of lemon juice at the end.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nami, 9 Months Old


At Sakura festival in Roosevelt Island.  Nami is expressing his joy of being fed, by Mahi-mama.

Friday, April 29, 2011

京都 Kyoto: JAPAN TRIP 2011, Part 04

Gion, Kyoto, March, 2011
Flickr photo slideshow is available.

Kyoto is a luxurious place. You can enjoy the smell of its history in every block. In 794 AD, Kyoto was the capital of Japan.The town was exempt from bombing during WWII, for the preservation of historical buildings throughout the town.










Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tuna Carpaccio, Kyoto Kawaramachi Style


新鮮なマグロとアボカドのぶつ切りにエクストラバージンオリーブオイルとわさび、レモン汁が絡まって、仕上げに刻み海苔。旨い!

Chunky fresh tuna and avocado, marinated with mixture of wasabi, extra virgin olive oil, and lemon juice, topped with shredded nori seaweed.  Yam!

Margherita 579京都店

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring flower in Naoshima, Japan


Click to see a flickr slideshow from this trip.

瀬戸内 直島 Naoshima, Kagawa: JAPAN TRIP 2011, Part 03


CLICK TO VIEW A FLICKR PHOTO SLIDESHOW (40 pictures).


In the early evening of March 15th, we were on the ferry heading to Naoshima, a small island located in the Seto Inland Sea, after two days of multiple train rides, originated fromYamagata (Northern Japan).  For the time we spent in transit and milder climate made me feel that we came farther South.


After we landed, we took a bus to the other edge of island, where the guest house was.  Luckily I was able to make a reservation at the place I was most interested in staying few hours earlier. The place was called Omiyake (おおみやけ), a guest house and a cafe in a historical district, where most of 家(ie; house) project sites were.  I was attracted to this guest house mainly for its architectural interest. The building was over 400 years old and was registered as tangible cultural properties (文化庁有形文化財).  But the most special part of our stay was actually meeting with the owner, Miyake-san. He was the 33rd in the Miyake bloodline (and the O part of Omiyake signals his importance as the firstborn, and now head of the Miyake clan (in fact, many neighbors around him had the same last name of Miyake).  He was a real character.  He welcomed us with tons of drinks as soon as we checked-in, until our bed time, accompanied by Mayuko, a young girl who was working at his cafe.  Our conversation went anywhere from Miyake-san's 30-years of life in Europe and his beautiful wife, to ultimately accusing me of the cause of earthquake. Photo below is Miyake-san and Mayuko.


Next day, we toured around the island. The island was known for its many contemporary art museums.  Among them, we visited the Chichu Art Museum (literally, "in the earth") . The museum featured a number of site-specific installations by James Turrell, Walter De Maria and paintings by Claude Monet. The building was designed by Tadao Ando. For me, the experience was rather clinical, and the museum staff's uniform reminded me of the movie, THX-1138.  Overall, I was more appealed to the old/ or naked part of the island, rather than the contemporary art.  Maybe, the contemporary art did enhance the beauty of traditional Japanese culture, or vise versa.  Anyhow, it's an unique place and worth visiting.



Picture above is Naoshima Ferry Terminal, Architecture by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa.

*As a small trivia, Miyake-san was planning to sing up for a candidate of the next regional election.





Tuesday, April 19, 2011

kitchen sink



Of my grand parent's house in Yamagata, Northern part of Japan.

To view photos from Yamagata, please visit my flickr slideshow.

Yamagata, earthquake and memorial Service: JAPAN TRIP 2011, Part 02


CLICK TO VIEW A FLICKR SLIDESHOW.

On March 11, when the earthquake hit Nothern Japan for the first time, we were in Yamagata, Northern part of Japan, where my mother was originally from. We were there for my grand parents' memorial service, that was scheduled the following day.

It wasn't so long after we arrived in Yamagata when the first earthquake hit the Pacific coast of Northern Japan. 2:46pm.  Though it was the kind of shaking I've never experienced before, there were almost no physical damage to the house we were staying.  I secretly suspect it was the snow, which kept the old house from collapsing.  As in the photo above, the snow was accumulated up to the second floor, on three sides of the house.

We did lose electricity for a day and a half. Luckily, our water and gas were running, so we were able to cook. After dark, our light source were flashlights and candles that they keep to light their alter.  Under the candle light, the dinner table looked rather romantic and made me think of a dinner from hundreds of years ago.  At night, nine of us kept ourselves warm by dressing like we were outside, (partially preparing for the possible evacuation due to the aftershocks) sleeping together in one room, with one oil-heater.

Next day, we decided to carry out the memorial service, despite the lack of electricity.  A monk and about 20 relatives and neighbors gathered in front of grand parent's alter. The service was followed by script reading at a temple, then dinner at a local banquet hall.  I don't know exactly how cold it was that day, but it was cold enough to make our breath white while we read scripts inside the temple.

While we had such an emergency occasion,  it was the most intimate experience with my family in Yamagata.  It must be a human nature that people get closer to each other when there's a challenge to overcome. I felt the temperature of people around me, warming each other inside out. I found some beautiful quality that was missing from my daily life after four days of stay in this little mountain village.  Life is not all about convenience.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Arrival in Tokyo: JAPAN TRIP 2011, Part 01




CLICK TO VIEW A FLICKR SLIDESHOW.


This picture is from a night spent in Shinjuku with our friends, Kimie and Akira. The lady in the center is Aya, who teaches belly dance to Kimie. She is surrounded by the percussion group who accompanied her dance that night.  The gentleman standing to her left is her husband.

Friday, January 28, 2011

~ JAPAN PREP PART 3 ~ Mikuni Matsuri and Tojinbo 三国祭りと東尋坊



CLICK TO VIEW THE SLIDESHOW.

One of the Japanese traditions that I love and miss so much is Matsuri.  Matsuri (祭) is the Japanese
word for a festival or holiday. Matsuri are usually sponsored by a local shrine or temple, though they can
be secular.  Normally I hate being in a crowd of people, especially in urban area, but being in a Matsuri
crowd is an exception. The reason is quite simple.  Because I see many smiles there.

As I get older, I come to understand the true meaning of Kan Kon Sou Sai (冠婚葬祭).  It’s a Japanese
word refers to four ceremonial occasions in family relationships. As you see below, the word is made up
of four kanji characters, which refer to the four main rites of passage in one’s life.

冠 (kan) - the coming of age
婚 (kon) - marriage
葬 (sou) - funeral
祭 (sai) - ceremonies for ancestors

Cerebrating one’s passage with the people around him/or her (such as family, relatives, friends or
neighbors) is so basic, yet it's universally important. It’s a way to show your respect to others, and to
yourself. By being a part of the circle, one may re-discover who she is, or where he is at.  It is also a
great opportunity to have skin-to-skin conversation with the people around you. And most importantly,
It is a physical experience where you can feel the presence of temperature, vibe, or emotions. Now that a
world is becoming more virtual than ever, I find the custom like this very precious, and necessary for our
universal peace.

Anyhow, I missed Matsuri so much that I looked up online before our last visit to Japan in May.
Fortunately I found one, called Mikuni Matsuri, which takes place in Mikuni town, of Fukui-Prefecture.
It is known as one of the three famous Matsuri in Hokuriku region (北陸三大祭り).  The biggest
attraction is Dashi (山車: Carts with 5 meter-tall paper dolls of historical figures). Dashi are carried
through the narrow streets of Mikuni by people in different costumes, with bands playing traditional
music until midnight.

There were also about 500 street venders selling food and games that are unique to matsuri occasions.
Just being there breathing in the air filled with smoke and smell of food, or looking at young girls dressed
up to attract boy’s attention made me feel so nostalgic.

The highlight of the night, was “火の太鼓” (The Fire Drum), the drum performance/ Jam session by the
local members.  Boys, girls, mother and father, they all took turn, and played as they felt. I was
fascinated not only by their energetic performance, but was seriously moved by their joyful faces.

On the next day, we walked along a coast, head to Tojinbo, a series of surreal, eerie basaltic cliff.
Tōjinbō is a well-known place to commit suicide in Japan. According to statistics, as many as 25 people
(virtually all of them young unemployed men) commit suicide by jumping off the 70-foot-high cliffs
annually. On the walking trail along the cliff, there were many signs with some motivational words to
keep people to from jumping.  There was even a phone booth, equipped with coins or calling cards so
that they can call the help line.  It was quite a contrasty experience to visit the sight, especially on the day
after such a lively event in town.



私はお祭りが大好きです。都会の人ごみは苦手なのですがお祭りの人ごみだと許せてしまいます。なぜか、
と言えば単純です。みんなの顔が楽しそうだから。

最近歳を重ねてくにつれて、冠婚葬祭への関心と重要性をひしひし感じるようになりました。人生の節目を尊重
し、それを家族、親族, 友人そして近所の人たちといったコミュニティ単位で時間を共有すること。それによって
体感できる人の体温、空気、そして会話のリズム。 周囲の人を認識することによって見えてくる自分の所在。 
そんなことを再確認できるとても素敵な習慣だなあと思うのです。

日本訪問中の5月に何処かでお祭りはやっていないかしら、と探した末に見つけたのが福井県三国町での三国祭
りでした。三国祭りは北陸三大祭りの一つとも称されており、その最大の呼びものが、巨大な武者人形山車
(高さ5m)の行列です。各町内から自慢の山車が参加して、笛、太鼓、三味線のおはやしとともに情緒漂う街中
を夜遅くまで練り歩きます。

又、三國神社に続く町並みには500以上の露店が並び、浴衣やじんべいなどを着てお父さんやお母さんに手を
引いてもらっている子供たち、異性を少し意識しておしゃれをしてきたような学生さん、露店から漂う独特の
り、辺り一面にたちこむ白い湯気などが、私の記憶の深い部分をうずかせます。

その晩のハイライトは、火の太鼓という、町内の会員の方々による太鼓と横笛での豪快なジャムセッション
でした。みなぎる若い力を鼓動で表す男性、笑顔いっぱいでたたく中年の女性、ベテランの男性、など様々な
人々が自由に表現する様はとても晴れやかで、その音色は強く、そして温かく私の魂に響いてきました。

祭りの翌日は海岸沿いへ、東尋坊という高さ約25メートルに及ぶ岩壁の周辺の散策をしました。ここは自殺の
名所としても全国的に有名で、各所に自殺を思いとどまらせるための句碑や看板設置してありました。又、周辺
の公衆電話にはテレホンカードや10円硬貨を常備して誰かに相談ができる「救いの電話」が設置され、自殺を思
いとどまらせる努力があちこちに見受けられました。前の晩のお祭り騒ぎとは極めて対局的な一面が見受けれ、
複雑な気分の一日でした。



Monday, January 24, 2011

~ JAPAN PREP PART 2 ~ 金沢 Kanazawa

Click to view a slideshow.

My first visit to the Hokuriku region (which faces on the Sea of Japan, bordered by the Japan Alps) was
Kanazawa City, of Ishikawa prefecture.  Kanazawa, the biggest city in the Hokuriku region is a castle
town that was ruled over by the Maeda family for three centuries after the first lord Toshiie Maeda
entered Kanazawa Castle in 1583.

The Kaga domain (加賀藩 Kaga han: includes current Kanazawa city as the capital), which was
founded by Maeda Toshiie, was powerful feudal domain.  Its income rating, over 1,000,000 koku, was
the highest in the nation, after the Tokugawa shogunate itself.

Since the Kaga Clan invited many artists and craftsmen to this area, it achieved a high level of
craftsmanship that continues to flourish to this day. Kanazawa is also famous for their special products
like rice, sake, sweets, etc., due to its temperate and rainy climate with heavy snow in winter.

We rented  a couple of bicycles for a day and toured around town during the day,  and then head West
for about 1 hour to Taihei Sushi (太平寿司), a sushi restaurant, that was recommended by our friend,
who is a Sake Sommelier in NYC.  It’s needless to say that the sushi was excellent, but I was really
entertained by the presentation of each sushi piece.  I felt like I was eating pieces of  craftwork.
The local sake we tried, Tengumai Yamahai (天狗舞の山廃仕込み)tasted pure and smooth. It was
the perfect compliment for the freshest meal (In fact most of the fish were still alive till we ate them) .
It even made our bike ride back more exciting.  We ended up getting back in town in 40 minutes, racing
a quiet road at night.

The picture above is a rice field near Taihei Sushi. It was well worth riding bicycle (ママチャリ) for
an hour to the suburb area of Kanazawa, since we’ve got to feel the vibe of what the real life is like
around the area.

初めての北陸旅行で訪れた街は金沢でした。五月の日本海は穏やかで、海の色はカリビアン
を思わせるようなエメラルドグリーン色なのには驚きでした。

加賀百万石の勢力を誇った前田家の城下町である金沢の町並みには、繁栄時の歴史の足跡
が街の各地に見られて、歩いていても自然と優美な気持ちになりました。街全体の美意識の
高さによるものでしょうか。また、観光客でごった返す京都や鎌倉などの古都に比べると
比較的静かで、全体的に落ち着いた印象でした。五月にしてはわりと日差しが強く、カラ
フルな日傘をさした女性の姿が印象に残りました。

ハイライトは自転車を一日レンタルして東茶屋街、各お寺などを巡った後、昼下がりに酒
きき師の友人のおすすめで太平寿司さんに一時間かけて自転車で一時間かけてうかがったこ
とでしょうか。太平寿司さんは金沢市内より西の郊外にあり、周りは田んぼで蛙の合唱が聞
こえてくるのどかなエリアでした。お寿司は新鮮でローカルでしか目にする事のできないネ
タを沢山出していただきました。一品一品が美しい細工者のようで、味覚と視覚の両方で楽
しませていただきました。お寿司と一緒にいただいた 天狗舞の山廃仕込みは、とてもスムー
ズで飲みやすく、お寿司には最高の組み合わせだったので沢山飲んでしまいました。おかげ
で帰りの自転車の旅は、もう夜で車も少なかった為、レースのように駆け抜けて40分くら
いで戻れました。

私にとっての旅行の醍醐味とは、やはりその街の華やかな表の顔と、地元の方の暮らしぶ
りをかいま見れるローカルなエリアにある裏の顔の両方を訪れる事と、そこの空気を吸って
食べ物を食べて、地元の人と会話を交わして、その街に住むって一体どんななんだろう、
と肌で感じられることでしょうか。

Friday, January 21, 2011

~ JAPAN PREP PART 1 ~ 鞍馬山 (Mount Kurama) , North Kyoto



Click to view the slideshow on my flickr.


Mount Kurama (鞍馬山 Kurama-yama?) is a mountain to the north-west of the city of Kyoto
It is the birthplace of the Reiki practice, and is said to be the home of Sōjōbō, King of the Tengu
who taught swordsmanship to Minamoto no Yoshitsune
Kurama Temple (鞍馬寺 Kuramadera?) is now designated as a national treasure of Japan.


I had a chance to visit my friend, Rosie-san (in the pic above), who lives below the mountain.  According to her,
Mount Kurama has been known as a power spot for about a century, and she comes almost every other day, 
before she goes to work.  So we joined her ritual one morning in May. The dewy air, sounds of insects, birds, 
frogs and chanting by the monks were heavenly harmonized and quite soothing.
I'd recommend every one to go there early in the morning (around the sunrise) where you can have it on your own.
This is what I call "a luxury time".