Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Some ways to live cool

Last time, I wrote that there are other ways to live cool in order to survive the hot and humid summer, but I'm happy to introduce some of them this time.

Most Japanese are likely to feel cool when they look at the flag above.  The Chinese character drawn in red in the middle means "ice" and the one in blue in the bottom represents "wave".  The tiny green objects drawn near the Chinese character represent  a lot of birds flying over the sea.   The wave and houndstooth designs are drawn as a symbol of coolness for Kimono, cotton kimono for summer, and pottery as well.
Morning groly and golden fish in the picture below are also popular design to represent the summer, and they are used for various things dating back to the olden times.

Now, I'll also introduce popular food in the summer. 
First one is shaved ice!  I introduced the flag of the ice earlier, and if you see this flag hung in front of a restaurant, that means you can eat a bowl of shaved ice as in the photo below. Right? You will probably understand it's becoming cool when you see the "ice" flag.
The shaved ice of this photo has combination of toppings; adzuki beans (we call this Anko) with sweetened condenced milk on top, powdered green tea sauce (Maccha sauce), and white bolls made of rice powder.  However, it used to be simpler in the past; there is no topping but only with the sauce of strawberry, melon, and lemon.
They really help you to feel cool, but please be careful not to eat a mouthful of it, or your head gets pounding!

Next one is Soumen, white Japanse noodles made of wheet flour. This is a common dish in the summer.  They are served cold and eaten with Tsuyu, kind of a light seasoning soy sauce. We dip the Soumen into the sauce.  I often make this dish for lunch.  They go down well even when there is no appetite.

The last one is eel (Unagi).  It has been eaten by Midsummer Day of the Ox (Doyo) for a long time...
It is said that Doyo is the name for the special period that separates each four season from the next; which came from the ancient Chinese five elements idea.  In the very hot dog days of summer, we eat nutritious eel, which has been thought as good for our health in the summer.
It is very tasty and makes me feel healthy for sure, but recently, it is no longer readily available.
This Monday was the Ox of the dog day and we were able to eat eel for the first time in a long time, and I've got the energy to update the blog.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Make it cool!

I really agree with making it as simple as Val says.
Year by year, too many things have gathered in rooms. Too many thoughts have been accumulated in minds. Most of them are not indispensable. They just end up sufforcating us. A simpler life gives us space in which a nice breeze can go through.

It's the height of summer right now. You know, Japanese summer is incredibly hot and humid. So we need to contrive some ways to live cool and comfortably to survive the summer. Making the room simple is surely one of them!  Sitting in a simple, clean room and setting a wind chime at the window, it can make you feel a bit cooler. The room full of things won't be very successful.

Space is a crucial point to survive the terrible summer.
Come to think of it, cutting thick plants before the midsummer is my every year task.  After cutting the plants, I plant some blue-colored flowers and cool looking foliage.  Visually, it helps to feel cool.
(By the way, morning glory, bell-shaped flowers, is very popular in Japan as summer flowers.  They open their flowers in the morning and give us their lovely refreshing smiles. We call it Asagao and write in Kanji as "morning face")

Shaping our daily lives comfortably is associated with our blog's main idea, right?
There are many more ways to tell you, but  it would become very long, so I will write them another time.

I hope you all enjoy your summer!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Make it simple

There are tons of things I'd like to tell, say or explain on this blog.
Yet I am wrestling with time and issues and errands and...
You see what I mean... but today, I'd like to share
What these past months have prompted me to do:
Aiming at what is simple.
There are tons of things I am glad I have done,
Tons of things I wouldn't change,
Yet there is one thing, for sure,
That needs improvement with me.
I am a perfectionist, and I wouldn't like
To give up completely on that.
Still, my craving for making things better,
Nicer, my need to improve, beautify,
Sometimes pushes me to do the opposite.
Sometimes I just do too much.
This is me, this is what I am,
And I love it.
I love doing far more things than what I am supposed to do.
But yes, sometimes, it is too much,
Or too complicated,
Or too many things at the same time too.
And even if I get a kick out of it,
Sometimes it leaves me
Bitter, reproachful, or exhausted.
As I mentioned before, I've had a hard time recently.
And the spring months that usually are the sweetest,
Turned out to be the worst.
Yet, I learned a little more about myself,
About my life and the way I lead it.
In my passion for doing well
I forget that you can never control everything,
You can't make everything beautiful or great,
You have to accept to do less,
Accept to say 'No, I can't',
You must let go, let flow,
Stop worrying about what's meaningless.
In short you can also
Make it simple.

I have learnt, again, that too much and too many
Can lead you to be unfocused.
I have realized, too, that
Everything we choose to do
Not only on a philosophical level
But in our daily lives, on a practical level,
Every little thing we do has a consequence. 
Time spent on one thing will not be spent on another,
Therefore it is important not to do everything all the time
And at the same time,
But to choose and focus.
This has meant for me, in the past weeks, less time
Spent on laundry, work and errands,
And more time spent lingering and chilling out
With my beloved kids.
As the photos hint at, I've been blessed
With a little week end near the Atlantic ocean.
And the occean always does this trick on me:
It is huge, it is vast, it is strong,
Yet inspires freedom and simplicity.
And that's the trick,
Simple is Beauty!