Monday, December 13, 2010

Free Market at Tofuji temple

The 21st of every month there is a great big flea market sort of thing at Tofuji Temple in Kyoto. You can get some things that are normally really expensive for really decent prices. It starts sometime in the morning, I would guess around 10 o'clock because nothing opens before that except the trains, and it ends at three or four, I can't remember, Noon is probably a good time to get there. It is amazingly crowed, apparently the Japanese love a good deal as much as the tourists.  It is entirely acceptable to haggle for your purchases. There are also festival foods there and used kimonos can be bought for as little as Y500, you still have to buy an obi, but this is a steal if you want a kimono.Tofuji temple is west and a bit south of Kyoto station. You can get to it by train, but it's a bit complicated, maps are nice. Definitely a Japanese esperience.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Raindrops on roses...

I thought that as I am nearing the end of my stay in Japan I would like to do a blog about my favorite things in and about Japan. In the last coupe weeks I have been feeling a sort of culture shock, and a longing for the US. To combat this I have been looking for things that I will miss when I return. The first thing that I think I will really miss is the "Ofuro" or the bath.

The bath extends below the floor about another 18"-24". So the dimensions are about 2'x3'x3'. So after showering you can soak in water up to your chin. This is especially nice because the house is not heated except in the rooms that people are in by kerosene heaters. So the bathroom is kinda cold, and the water is wonderful. There is nothing like a cold room to make you appreciate a hot bath.

Another one of my favorite things is the sliding doors. I don't really have a great reason for this, I just like the aesthetics. 
I also like the "Genkan" or entrance way. Everyone leaves there shoes here which helps keep the house clean. I like the aesthetics of this as well. I love how the Japanese love to use flowers to decorate. My Okaasan always has flowers.

I love my down comforter, even though there is no heat in my room I always wake up nice and warm, although when going to sleep I have to warm the bed up with my body, which is a bit cold.

I love katsu don. This is fried pork cutlet simmered in a sauce with an egg then served over rice. Oishiiii!

I love "Okonomiyaki" This is a kind of cabbage pancake with meat in it and the wonderful Okinomiyaki sauce and (I know it sounds gross, but it's yummy) Mayonnaise, with nori and katsuobushi on top. This is making me hungry.

I love the convenience stores, because they have many different sorts of cheap food that is always fresh.

I love Onigiri, which is a rice ball with some sort of meat or filling inside with seaweed on the outside.

I love Japanese sweets. They have Alforte, which is chocolate with cookie in the back which I will miss. I love Wagashi, which are Japaneses traditional sweets. I like the mochi and sweet bean paste, I will especially miss sweet bean. There are these doughnut like things that have sweet bean on the inside and sugar on the outside that are wonderful.
I will miss Japanese Bakeries. They are every where and the bread is so inexpensive, usually. There are so many different kinds of bread that are so yummy.
I will miss milk tea.

I will miss Kyoto.

I love the river in Kyoto because after walking in the city all day surrounded on every side by people I can walk by the river and relax away from the masses of people.

 I like the "Nishiki Ichiba Dori" which is a food market street in Kyoto. There are so many different things that you can buy. You can buy things that you didn't even know existed.

I love "Tsukemono" Japanese pickled vegitables. There are so many kinds and they are all delicious.

I also like to see the castles.

I like the rice fields, the different seasons.

I might have more later. But this is it for now.

Thursday, December 2, 2010



So mom suggested that I do a blog on my pottery class, and I thought that it was a good idea. I already put some pics in one of my other blogs, but here are some more.
Wedging Tables

There are many wheels, so it is nice.

Glazing Center

Here is the place that you can paint oxide that will show through the glaze onto pots. 

This is where Sensei puts the fired ware

This is my shelf
I am making a Totoro for my host mom

This is Sensei

We went to Shigaraki together

This is Peter, who is British.
He insists that he is a great artist.
This is his first semester of Ceramics.
So, here at Kansai Gaidai you can take only one of two art courses. You can take Sumie, or Ceramics. I, of course, took ceramics. I have gotten to learn about Japanese (Eastern) techniques of throwing, and trimming.
 The main difference is that they throw clockwise when we throw counter-clockwise. As most people are right handed the techniques are different because in the west the clay pulls on the hand, and in the east it pushes on the hand. It is kind of hard to describe. The eastern technique uses the right hand on the inside or at 12 o'clock and the left hand supports, whereas in the west we through at 3 o'cock with the right hand on the outside. In Japan we learned to center a lot of clay, then throwing from the hump. It is very handy if you are throwing many small pieces. I threw mostly going counter-clockwise, but I used eastern technique, sometime it was kind of awkward. I tried throwing the other direction, and I could do it, but it was easier to throw the direction I had been throwing all semester. It was insightful into the differences in the techniques. I don't think that if trying to use western techniques throwing clockwise would work very well. I'm sure if you practiced a lot you could, but eastern techniques would work do much better.
Sorry for all of you who are bored sick with technical jargon.
About a month ago, Britany and I went took the train to Shigaraki, an old Ceramics center in Japan. One of the "6 Old Kilns". I would eventually like to go to all of the six old kiln sites in Japan, So far I have been to two. Setto, and Shigaraki. When we got there we rented bicycles and rode to a ceramics center where they have a visiting artist program. I'm sure it is quite competitive to get in. There was a really big hill and some kilns. Pictures.
Big hill

Ceramic pandas at the top of big hill

Grasshopper on ceramic bird house

Still at the top of the big hill

Visiting artist art (ceramic)

Big Pot

Ceramic stools to sit on


There were some people firing a kiln, and we got to put some wood in.
Which, for me, isn't really a big deal, but Britany really liked it.
They were on their second day, and they would finish the next day.
They had food, but we didn't get any. 

This was a kiln right next to the one they were firing. It was cooling.

The cooling Nobori-gama
 We went on to see a museum about ceramics and we saw a shrine with a festival. I also bought some pottery, but I got so caught up in that that I forgot to take pictures. Darn. Shigaraki is also known for ceramic Tanuki, which are a badger-like animal that they use to scare off bad spirits. They are a bit creepy.

Two weekends ago I went to Nara to meet Imanishi Masaya, a friend of Yoshi's (My Ceramics teacher at K-State), who is a professional potter here in Japan. He lives behind a Temple and has his studio and kilns there. I took pictures.

Imanishi san and his wife

Iminish san and me

between the house and the studio