Yoshizen's Blog

Tea Ceremony — 茶の湯、侘び助

In relation to the Sazanka post, I was looking around the Camellia flower items in the Wiki.    There are many funny stories about a mystical rare variety of the Camellia called Wabi-suke.  

You may vaguely know about Japanese Tea Ceremony — how it was refined and sophisticated etc and saw many photos of the Tea bowl, Tea room and its garden, though you may not having any idea, who actually taking part of those gatherings in the time of Samurai era.

—– In reality, if you imagine a kind of political, financial salon or a gentleman’s club = it must be the closest.  The Tea master, who host the ceremony, was THE power dealer pull the string.    The higher the reputation of the Tea master, the guest or friend is high in the position.  The Load of the country could meet the other lord in a completely isolated, safe environment such as a Tea hut in a temple.  (Anybody go into the room has to take off their sword and kneeling into the small room.)  Tea master arranged the meeting in certain intention.  So, an alliance deal could be made or needy War Lord could meet rich merchant and able to borrow lots of gold for a war operation etc etc.

Naturally, there was an ugly battle between the Tea masters, Who is the most prominent.   So, to have more valuable Tea bowl in “Wabi” became a harsh competition. = Who could offer the highest price for a bowl, kind of the battle. 

—– then, a new variety of Camellia, which doesn’t fully open its small flower was introduced into the cercle.  The flower got instant hype “This flower shows really held back humble shape.  This is THE flower to be seen in the supreme tea place”.  The particular flower was named “Wabi-suke”.  Imagine, if the Lord was greeted by a bunch of flower worth thousand of gold — guess, its effect. 

So, the shady battle to get hold the flower was fought among the Tea masters which involved even fraudulent flower growers who try to trick with sham branch with huge price.  (Think, the Black Tulip hype in the 18C Europe = when the big money involved, it creates crazy hype.) —— The trouble was that the “Wabi-suke” was not an established variety, (even worse, the definition was rather vague, such as “Smaller” and “Flower wouldn’t be fully open” kind = such flower could be just a result of a malnutrition or lack of water, and similar flower could be produced by temporary hybrid — but never repeated again and so on — etc !) —– So, even today, some says “I believe this is “Wabi-suke” but others sees not or “My one is Wabi-suke” but others doesn’t agree —– People could see every DNA of the “reputedly” or “claimed to be” Wabi-suke though, no-one is shure which one is true Wabi-suke.   It’s so funny.)   😀

(Now you must become aware, Tea Ceremony, Tea Masters are not necessary peaceful decent kind. — could have been a center of conspiracy.   In real histories, the association of War load (even Shogun) and the Tea master, Zen monk as an Adviser or Strategist was well-known.)    😀  

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Fancy Eat a Lamb ?

India complains over ‘offensive’ Australian lamb commercial

(There was a kind of diplomatic / cultural conflict.)

India has lodged an official complaint over an Australian advertisement that features the Hindu god Ganesha and other religious icons endorsing lamb.
In the TV commercial from industry group Meat and Livestock Australia, a number of religious figures — including Lord Ganesha, Jesus, Buddha and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard — are seen sitting down together to a lamb-based meal and raising a glass to the meat.
The image of elephant-headed Lord Ganesha, who is widely considered to be vegetarian, was met with anger in Australia’s Indian community.
The Indian high commission (embassy) in Canberra said it had taken the issue up with the Australian government.
Lord Ganesha along with other religious figures is found to be ‘toasting lamb’, which the Indian community consider to be offensive and hurting their religious sentiments, the commission said in a statement Saturday.
The Indian consulate in Sydney has also made a direct appeal to Meat and Livestock Australia to withdraw the commercial, according to the statement.
The industry body said it was meeting community groups to respond to their concerns.
It said it had undertaken extensive research and consultation when producing the advertisement, which was intended to promote inclusivity and not intended to offend.

(2017/09/12 14:22) – AFP-JIJI Press

It was an absolutely bizarre story, regardless whether any ground of complaint, even a shred of evidence whether any proven fact behind — or not.  Other than Ron Hubbard, no-one can proof even an existence of other figures like as what some of us are believing.  Not mention Hindu God, to believe the stories of those “religious figure” are just exists in the imagination of the people.  Think, to deny the story or alleged experience of UFO could make an insult to the person ?

Still, the “Real” trouble is, there are many attacks and killings of the person who is handling or eating Beef meat has been kept happening in India.

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Amaya !

Music-A09A7495

In the 80s, before CD, the source of our music was an analog casset tape and a Walkman, if not a FM radio.  (Still, there was a possibility to resort with vinyl disc, open tape, AM radio, even live music etc)  So, I was collecting some tapes, or even making live recordings. 

Other than the photography, a Raison d’etre of me in the west was to feel the music in its original acoustic environments —– in fact, I made no secret why I took a boat from Yokohama to Siberia and to the west was to listen the Organ music and the Spanish Flamenco, both of them needs to be in the original location.   If you listen the Flamenco music and see the dance in a Tablao (a wine bar with flamenco performance) you must hear that the audiences (participants ?) not only clap the hand but often shout (give a call) = calls “Ole”, “Asa” or “Amaya”(sounds amaja = in spanish, Y pronounce as J — J became H ) = I asked what is the difference of those calles , Ole, Asa, Amaja —– people said all same.    Still, Ole seems to be highest praise = “Great, Go on Go on” and Asa seems “Good, carry on” but Amaja was a ? ? ?

Some days ago, when I checked Youtube viz, I found an old viz of Carmen Amaya among the mountain of flamenco.

Some of viz saying “Legendary Amaya” = It seemed She was the great dancer and a singer, as Wiki tells the impressive story. —– with a flash of inspiration, I realised that a call of Amaja was, in fact the name of Carmen Amaya.   It was somewhat the same to give a call to the beauty queen “Cleopatra” = To call a dancer Amaya mean, “You are as good as legendary Amaya” or “You are a Reincarnation of Amaya” = the best praise.  The name Amaya has become to be the Honorary Title for the bast dancer. (Of course, people calls it for a compliment — Don’t be too serious.  It was not a selection of National Academy. —– In the other hand, now I became aware that there is a sensitive issue behind = since Carmen Amaya was a Romani / hitana / gipsy, therefore very tricky minefield is here, such as to give a call Amaja to a non Romani dancer could be an insult = has to be careful = better just call Ole or Asa. )

(This was what I thought, but if you know the otherwise or have a different view please give a comment here.)

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Japanese reading (of Kanji 漢字)

It’s no doubt, the hardest part to learn Japanese is in the reading of Kanji 漢字(so-called Chinese character, Japanese got other types of characters, Hiragana ひらがな and Katakana カタカナ as well). Reading of particular Kanji in its particular case may differ from the other.   It may be originated from the ancient Japanese word, or the word related to the Chinese word, hence taking its pronunciation from Chinese — though, there are many different Chinese Pronunciation, from north to south, the different historical kingdom etc.    In short, to read Japanese correctly, you need to know it beforehand. ( = You needed to encounter it before and refer to the dictionary then —– and remember it !)  Make the situation worse, that there are many peculiar words originated from the Buddhism, Confucius, Medical term, Scientific term etc etc. —– (Somebody said that to learn such system from the childhood, it must be a strong stimulation to the brain = so, it’s no wonder why Japanese is receiving so many Novel Prise, while Korean (Who use only simple Hangle ) got non.)

Rather recently, there was a political farce involving even Japanese PM around a word Sontaku (忖度 = mean consideration — I didn’t know such word existed, let alone its reading ) whether the PM gave a special favour when a government land was sold to a private organisation with a huge discount.  (It could be a scandalistic corruption !)  (Think, does the word “Attention” mean favourable special treat ? — or just a handling equal to the other ? = Whether a recipient can sue the officer as the attention the person received was not what expected ?)

See a sample.  Climb a mountain = Yama ni noboru = 山に登る = To-Zan = 登山 —– The word Yama is an original Japanese, we’ve been using it thousand of years. —– Then, the Chinese Kanji was imported = 山 was assigned to Yama which Chinese pronounce Shan or San and here a character 登 was used to express climb = noboru (though, Chinese use it in a bit different meaning)  The same Kanji 山 was read as Yama or San (Zan).  (If you mixed up, you would be only a laughing-stock = Similar to a situation when you ask the direction “Where the Gare Nord” in Paris.   😀 )  ——  In the next post, I’ll show you when Japanese made complete mistake. (or made a joke knowingly )

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Mizu-yokan

After I cooked Sakura-moch, still some Anko (Sweet red-bean paste) left in my hand.  I could finish them just eat on a piece of bread though, eat them with bread is not much different from eating “An-pan” which we can easily buy from a shop, I decided to make a Mizu-yokan which I haven’t done despite of my long-standing promise.  🙂
Basically Mizu-yokan is a kind of Jerry cake = Anko was (semi) hardened by a Jerry from a sea-weed (called Kanten / same as an Aga-aga from an eastern food shop —– we don’t use animal Jerry, it got to be made from a seaweed) (Photo left)   Dried Kanten or Aga-aga has to be boiled untill they were completely dissolved. (Photo middle)  Then, Anko was mixed into Kanten liquid and they were boiled together —– then, put them into a container and made them cool down and hardened.  (Photo right)
So, this is a Mizu-yokan.  Eat them chilled.  Made them with different densities Anko-Jerry mixture and make two-storied Yokan — if you like.  (I wouldn’t say this sample is anything successful or looks typical —– still, they filled my stomach.  😀 )
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Sakura-mochi (Japanese Cherry cake)

Sakura-mochi(1)-DSC07142Sakura-mochi (桜餅) is a common Japanese sweets.  You can buy it from any Japanese sweets shop.  It is not a kind of very complicated cooking still not many people ever attempt to make it by themselves.  (May be to make Ohagi / Botamoch could be the farthest people does.)    Many years I’ve been thinking “Why shouldn’t I make it” and “I want to eat — I haven’t eaten it more than 30 years”

So, this is my attempt to make it though, I never seen how it was made neither my mother told me how.  Therefore, all I’m showing here were done by the sheer guess-work and I wouldn’t claim any authenticity in a Japanese sweet making tradition or any suggestion pretending any kind of wise man.

Sakura-mochi(2)-000From the improvised idea of Rice-cake making,  I used White Rice powder and Glutinous Rice powder half and half, because if it was pure glutinous rice it may become too sticky. (Photo left)  So, I mixed one large spoonful of each powder and one small spoonful of sugar with 3 and half large spoonful water. (Photo middle) then put a half runny mix to a dish and Micro-waved (Mid-High, 1.5 to 2 minutes)
So, the Photo left was the cooked skin of the cake. —– carefully peel it off and use it to wrap up the Anko (Sweet Red bean paste) (Photo middle) —– Then wrap the whole cake with salt pickled Cherry leaf. (Photo Right)
Sakura-mochi(4)-DSC07152Voila, here it is.  Japanese Sakura-moch.  —– Looks genuine ! (isn’t it ?) —– The taste was genuine (what else could it be !) —– (If I could steam the finished whole cake, the flavor of the Cherry leaf would have gone into the cake more.)    Considering this is the first ever attempt in my  life (in fact, I did one test run before Photo shooting) = the result wasn’t too bad.  “Well done Yoshizen” (eat two Sakura-moch made a man Fully satisfied !   😀  )  

Incidentally, the Cherry leaf was meant to give nice flavour and a looks good wrapping, and not meant to be eaten. (I hope, you didn’t try eat it with struggle. 😀 ) There is other variation of this = Kashiwa-moch (柏餅), which use an Acorn like Kashiwa’s leaf for wrapping though I couldn’t find that tree in this country.    Kashiwa-mochi was meant to be eaten on the day of the Boy’s festival (端午の節句) = 5th of May.   And the Sakura-moch was originally for the Girl’s festival (桃の節句)    (I guess) though, it became so popular, you can find them all year-long. (Nothing wrong with it.  🙂  )

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PS : While giving a thought, I realized that the Kashiwa-moch must be invented first.    When you play in a Shinto shrine, you clap the hand = it called Kashiwade  (柏手).   The leaf of the tree Kashiwa has a shape of a hand, hence the hand spread the fingers was called Kashiwade, and the Kashiwade is a symbol of the honest, single-minded clean person (think it in comparison to a gripped hand which could hold a weapon and next moment it could hit you).  So, a boy’s parents wish their boy grow to a strong honest man and think the things associated with Kashiwa is auspicious.

—– So, a clever owner of the sweet shop (和菓子屋) invented a sweet wrapped in a Kashiwa leaf = Kashiwa-mochi and sold for the boy’s day’s celebration.   It must be a big hit, then they thought, if there is a sweet for boys, why not for girls as well = then Sakura-moch was made.   🙂
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Go into a mud (but not me)

(On this post, as it happened often, the sharp clear pictures were taken by Canon Fisheye lens, a bit fuzzy images were taken by a Pinhole, and more fuzzy pictures were by homemade Mag Lens on Sony A7R camera.)

There was an event to walk the low tide creek, at the Deptford Creek, organized by the Creekside Discovery Center, as a part of the Creeknet, XF Symposium. — http://deptfordcreek.net

It can be a kind of treasure hunting or a nature study.

(So, the “Treasure” found in the past walk has been displayed in the center = after such tenacious repeated  hunt, there may not be anything left though.  😀  )

M m m ——.

So, the participants borrow the big wader and the stick and get the instructions.  (but being as a Japanese, with our deep religious restriction, we wouldn’t touch somebody else’s shoes, let alone a wader worn by hundreds of others = It was the same reason how the prisoner could keep their shortwave radio in a prison camp of the WW2, as the Japanese soldier never touch the prisoner’s possession.)

And receive more lectures.

So, at last they marched away to the mud.

And after came back in one piece, received even more lectures.  After all, to organize a community activity is a campaign.  Campaign means persuading the mass with one opinion, same to the political campaign. —> Successful one may become a politician. (and get a power and money ?) — am I too cynical ?   Ha ha ha  😀

Don’t get me wrong, to show this picture here, is not meant to be implying a “Rubbish”.  Walking in the mud is a great act though, a funny story here was that, they are appealing that the new development of the area are destroying the environment and the nature etc etc —– but they’ve found that the water is getting cleaner, the more fish, shrimp, crab were found etc etc !  (Unlike the hundred years old traditional housing or local cottage industry, those new developments are having much more strict environmental regulations (such as a sewer etc).   Don’t dwell in an easy buzzword.  See the situation with your clear eyes.  (If you have one — or two ?)

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Paulownia / Princess Tree

If you see only a flower of this plant, you may well mistaken it as a flower of foxglove, but this flower blooms on the 10m tall tree.

This is a tree called Paulownia, AKA  Princess Tree.   This tree was named by a German doctor who brought it back from Japan, Franz von Sieblod.   Russian Royal Princess, Anna Pavlovna helped Siebold to compile the book of Japanese Flora, hence the name of this flower was dedicated to her. — (U and W in Poulownia can be pronounced as V !)

In the east, this tree (could grow even 15m tall) has been used to curve music instrument and make the furnitures for a bride. (The wood repel the insects, hence protects the Kimono inside)  So that, when the parents got baby daughter, in tradition, they plant this tree and the time of her wedding, the grown tree was used to make dowry furnitures. —– How sweet the story isn’t it.   🙂

If you see (and smell) this flower, you will be convinced how noble this flower is. —– Why noble ? —– She doesn’t have a pompous beauty like a big rose, or the Somei-Yoshino Cherry like over whelming gorgeous power, and she looks rather humble, still its presence makes your mouth shut.  Siebold must have felt the same.

It must be well-known, that the Japanese Emperor’s emblem is the Chrysanthemum flower.  And the emblem of the Japanese Royals is this Paulownia flower. — (Cherry flower is the emblem of the Japanese military force.)  It shouldn’t be confused that the Shogun was just a minister of defence under the Emperor,  and the authority of the Japanese Emperor and the Royals never touched by anybody in the past 2600 years.   So, Japanese Empire and her Emperor is the longest continuing one blood line entity in the world history.   (Second longest is the British though, their blood line often changes = current royals is in fact germans. —– So, when British Queen shook hand with Japanese Emperor, she took her grave off.)

Untill two days ago, I didn’t know this tree was here and I was thinking only another tree in the north London.

This group of plants used to be called Labiatae (since its looks, and as in the same group of foxglove, Sage, rosemary etc) though, now they were called Lamiaceae and the botanical classification is lots more complicated.  (May be the study of gene might have found which species is closer each other etc.)

When I saw this tree from a distance, I thought it was a Jacaranda, —–  I have a quite soft spot to the pale violet-coloured flowers, I don’t know why, and the smell of this flower has been imprinted to my subconscious since I was small.   And its associated memory coming back at once.   It was THE MOMENT to see a lost friend again after many many years !

Fallen flowers still giving nice fragrance —– this is how royals smell !   And you know, royals never fart !   😀

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All mighty Good

 It said to be 500 years since Martin Ruther cause a revolution in the history of Christianity.  In the time of authoritarian Catholic, Martin Ruther started to preach, to communicate with the God in the common language, not in Latin.  (Obviously, even all mighty God didn’t have a multi lingual capability then !)

In the 13th century when western Christian mission arrived to Japan, they found that the Japan was the most awkward place to preach. — Japanese asked to those missionaries “If your God was such all mighty, why he couldn’t come here by himself while speaking in Japanese ?”  Of course, those western monks couldn’t answer the question. = So, they failed to convert Japan into Christianity and failed to make it into a colony, so even now, the Christian population in Japan is only about 1%. (Though, I’m not sure this figure include Muni as a part of Christian population.)

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Puzzling Cherry

Seeing this picture, very few of you will noticed that this is in fact a quite familiar place.  In deed, I’ve shown the photos of here in my blog a lots of times if not over hundred.   This is a very corner of the green patch I described as a flower meadow in my blog in the past three years. 

Why I’m fussing about was, the wild cherry trees growing here, now having a full bloom.   What’s wrong ? —– Nothing wrong.     But I just wondering how those cherry trees came here.  What I dubbed Instant flower meadow was created by the local residents on June 2014 simply by spreading the seeds of the meadow plants.   So, I guess that, those more than ten cherry trees, all about the same size, looks the same variety, must be started to germinate here then as the same lot. (= not accidentally brought by the bird as an individual seed.)   So, they all together are now three years old siblings and having the flowers first time. 

In the past, I was thinking that those small trees were the seedlings of the nearby Multilayered Cherry tree.   But now a fraud was exposed !    The bag of the “Meadow Flowers Seeds” were adulterated with cherry seeds = and its right or wrong have to be strongly questioned.  Ever growing those cherry trees wouldn’t go together with the idea of a flower meadow. —– May be closer to the real nature and its cycle of the plant though, those wild cherry were too obstructive to “The Meadow”.  They are not expected to grow in a garden patch of a council housing estate here.

The particular cherry itself was a rather primitive wild cherry.    So, I want to see this flowers have cherry fruits and eaten by the birds.  (then spread to other locations. —– would it really happen ?) 

You might be noticed a phenomenon, that the most of the cherry blossom doesn’t have the siblings under the tree.  First of all, not all of them makes cherry fruits, let alone good to eat fruits. Because of them were created only for the sake of beautiful flowers, and often those variety was infertile.  Especially the most popular cherry in the world, Somei-Yoshino was originated from just one tree discovered in the Somei village in the west of Edo (Tokyo) 150 years ago.    From that tree, all the Somei-Yoshino were artificially propagated by grafting one by one.  ( But now, with the limit of the genetic strength, the Somei-Yoshino is coming to their end, and the nursery had stopped to produce any more Somei-Yoshino, following a direction of  the Japanese Gardening Association.    It was replaced by the next generation “Jindai Akebono” ! —– You can Google this story.)

So, the under the Somei-Yoshino tree, there even a single seedling germinate.

PS : ————————

Puzzling Cherry-DSC06483Now its middle of June.  I found the cherry fruits on that Puzzling Cherry !  (Quite modest size and the taste wasn’t too bad.   🙂

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