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


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


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


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


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.