Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

First it was Cherry Blossoms and Sakura tea.  Then it was Ramen, Sake and Black Sesame ice cream.  I thought that was the end of it, at least until I went out for sushi sometime in the future.

But then I just happened  to come across a piece of vintage sheet music that struck me as a great gift for my sister-in-law, Juanita.  She’s a Japanophile, and rightly so since her son lives in Japan and she’s  visited that beautiful country many times, so when I saw this song sheet I knew it would make a wonderful birthday gift for her.

Today, May 14th, is her birthday and I made a plan with her to meet after work for a glass of wine and then dinner out.  When she arrived at our apartment we settled in with some wine, olives and cheese and crackers.  I gave her the present that Peter carefully wrapped in paper he knew she would like – it was a silver wrapping paper with the skyline of The City silhouetted on it.  This is what I gave her.

A Trip To Japan

A Trip To Japan

It is interesting, isn’t it?

But it didn’t end there….Tia came bearing gifts;  My birthday is next week and when she was in Japan recently, she picked up several only in Japan items.  Lucky me!  There was Plum Liquor, Sakura Sake, great notepaper to write to my granddaughters – the Japanese create amazing paper products.  She gave me a very unusual Starbucks gift, packets of coffee and within each packet are the makings of an origami cup.  And that’s not all!  I got a seriously cute pad that could only be made in Japan and the elusive Green Tea Kit Kat bars!  This was a delightful evening!

Green Tea Kit Kat! Who Knew??

Green Tea Kit Kat! Who Knew??


Anime pad

Anime pad


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Recently, I wrote how stressed I’ve been over a few things!  Tia, who is actually Juanita, my sister-in-law arranged a special fun day this past Saturday for both of us.  It was guaranteed to be fun and stress-free!  We were going to spend the day at Sakura Matsuri or Cherry Blossom Festival viewing the beautiful cherry trees, drinking Sakura tea, watching some Japanese flower arranging and maybe catch a Tea Ceremony.  I would be Juanita’s guest as she belongs to BAM (Brooklyn Art Museum) which is adjacent to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and where there are over 200 cherry trees of different varieties! She brewed some sakura tea which we enjoyed in a shady spot mid-afternoon.

Real China Cups

Real China Cups

And how did my sister-in-law come to be such a fan of the cherry trees?  Well, to begin with, she informed that she’s sure she was Japanese in another lifetime and one can’t really argue with that!  Her son, (my nephew by marriage) lives and works in Japan and is fluent in the language (I am so impressed with that)!  Juanita goes to Japan once a year to visit Justin and tries to time her visit to see the cherry blossoms. She came home this year with a beautiful kimono which she wore while we were at the Gardens.

Tia's Cherry Blossom and Butterfly Kimono

Tia’s Cherry Blossom and Butterfly Kimono

Viewing the cherry blossoms in Japan is an amazing experience;  In Japan this annual celebration is about appreciating the temporal beauty of nature.  Friends and families gather under the cherry trees for a picnic or hanami for food and drink, songs and to enjoy the beauty of the sakura (cherry blossoms).  Celebrations begin in the day and often last into the night.  The viewing of the trees begins the buds bursting into bloom and ends with the colorful pink and white carpet of petals on the ground.

Bursting to Bloom

Bursting to Bloom

Pink, Pink and Pink

Pink, Pink and Pink

Typical of the American way of life, I walked around the 42+acres of trees, seeing them, enjoying  them but never sitting still long enough to really, really appreciating their beauty, their delicate color… No we were off to see the flower arranging and the library and the vintage kimonos.  Well, actually in all honesty, we only had a couple of hours, it was hot and we saw as much as we could.

The Art of Japanese Flower Arrangements

The Art of Japanese Flower Arrangements

The Botanical Gardens are not only splendid with Cherry Blossoms, there are gorgeous Magnolia trees all around the Library.

Deep Pink Magnolias

Deep Pink Magnolias

Juanita suggested we return to Manhattan and board a bus to New Jersey where she would take me to a huge Japanese food market where we could have a late lunch and I would get to see a store full of exotic Japanese food products.  I love to go to ethnic markets, checking out items I never heard of and admiring the packaging and labeling.  I could have wandered around that store for hours.  We were ravenous and ordered A LOT; Most of it was gone by the time we decided to take a photo.

Ramen, Rice, Salmon and a Hard-Boiled Egg

Ramen, Rice, Salmon and a Hard-Boiled Egg

I had such a great time checking out the Saki, the Daikon, the various Teas and then best of all, it was time for sweets!  Tia bought a dish of Japanese soft ice cream in the exotic flavors of Black Sesame (which tasted like peanut butter), Matcha Green tea and Madagascar Vanilla.  If you are a follower of this blog, you know I was in bliss!  And then we had a big fat cream puff filled with Green Tea cream.  I brought home an Ichigo Daifuku for my husband who I had abandoned for the entire day.  This Japanese delicacy is a strawberry wrapped in red bean paste and mochi and he loved it.  I hate to admit this but at the check-out counter where impulse purchases are the same in every market, we bought yeast cakes, one filled with cream and one with red bean paste.  I thought I would not eat another morsel when I got home but sometime around 8:00pm I heard the yeast cake calling my name! 

Ichigo Daifuku

Ichigo Daifuku

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Bushido – The Way of the Warrior or The Seven Virtues of the Samurai.  Bushido is a code of conduct, a way of life (and death) based on seven virtues.  Below is an explanation of this Samurai Code from the website, Oriental Outlook:

The Way of the Samurai

“During the 9th and 12th centuries in Japan the warrior class were known as samurai, also called bushi (knights/warriors – bushi hence bushido).
They emerged from the provinces of Japan to become the ruling class until their decline and later total abolition in 1876 during the Meiji Era.

These warriors were men who lived by Bushido; it was their way of life. The samurai’s loyalty to the emperor and his overlord or daimyo were unsurpassed. They were trustworthy and honest. They lived frugal lives with no interest in riches and material things, but rather in honor and pride. They were men of true valor. Samurai had no fear of death. They would enter any battle no matter the odds. To die in battle would only bring honor to one’s family and one’s lord.”

Bushido, although an ancient code of conduct is still alive and well in Japan.  The Warrior’s Code is deeply imbued in this centuries-old culture.  And nowhere is it more evident than at the Fukushima nuclear site.

The Seven Virtues are:

RECTITUDE : Doing the right thing, making the right decision, not because it’s easy but because it is morally and ethically correct.

COURAGE: The ability to do things which one finds frightening.  “Courage is not the absence of fear.  It is acting in spite of it”…Mark Twain.

BENEVOLENCE: Charity, mercy.  The Japanese symbol for this word can also be translated to mean selflessness and love for humanity.

RESPECT: We treat others with dignity and respect the rules of our family, school and nation.

HONESTY: Truth, faith, and fidelity.

HONOR: Having or earning the respect of others.  It is the status of being worthy of honor, not to be confused with the act of doing honorable things.

LOYALTY: Faithful, true, devoted and obedient.  Many centuries ago, the Samurai were loyal to the emperor and his overlord.  Post-war Japan brought a new loyalty;  loyalty to the corporation replaced the emperor or overlord and as one can see today, this virtue is held in high regard.

Today I read a deeply disturbing article online on the MSNBC website.   It was about TEPCO offering large sums of money to workers who will work in the plant while containment is underway and are looking for “jumpers”.  Definition of a “jumper” is a worker who will bring one end of a pump into the reactor, dump it in the water and run  out. And there was also a story about the fatalistic attitude prevalent with the 50-man shifts of workers trying to control the impending and continuing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear site.  Please copy and paste the url below to access this story.


Report: Fukushima nuke workers expect to die

And now you know why these 300 workers are known as the Atomic Samurai.


Bushido, Samurai warrior, The Way of the Warrior, Samurai code of conduct, Atomic Samurai

A Samurai Warrior

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Are you f____g kidding me?  It’s not often I put unprintable words in my blog but Glenn Beck is the exception to the rule.  This fucking moron, this preposterous puffed up adder idiot went over the line last night with his remarks about the earthquake in Japan.

On his first day back from vacation, Glenn Beck addressed the earthquake in Japan, and said he thinks that it could be a “message [is] being sent” by God.

Speaking on his radio show Monday, Beck said, “I’m not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes,” before quickly adding, “I’m not not saying that either.”

He then said that whatever one called God, “there’s a message being sent. And that is, ‘Hey, you know that stuff we’re doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it.’ I’m just saying.”

It’s Conspiracy Theory Wednesday and I’ve been exposing some of the Tea Party Movement‘s many conspiracies.  Thank you Glenn Beck for making this Wednesday’s blog soooo   easy. AND he used a phrase on the Lake Superior State University‘s 2011 Banished Word List! “I’m just sayin”??!! Good God Glenn! Pathetically trite.

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Although it’s hard to resist asking God, Mother Nature, the Force or whatever higher power (if any) that you believe in, there’s really no point in asking WHY?


Friday morning about 5:00am; FIRE! A pre-dawn blaze with enough wind to whip up the flames and carry sparks and embers through the air where they landed on another historic home.  Fire in Ocean Grove is a greedy beast, swallowing up as much timber as its tongue can reach.  WHY? Oh there are any number of reasons being bandied about; neglect, arson, faulty wiring, gas  pipe problem – WHY? Destruction, Loss, Damage See photos in


The photos in this link are posted in Blogfinger, a blog with lots of local information and a sounding board for residents.

Friday afternoon in Tokyo; EARTHQUAKE! TSUNAMI! What could be worse than having your house tumble down, the road open up below you,  gas pipes ripped apart, electrical wires loose  with fires breaking out and explosions every minute or two?  ONLY to be followed by a massive tsunami wave.   The tsunami roared over the initial damage and compounded the destruction 100fold. WHY? Destruction, Death, Fire, Flood, Mayhem, Radioactivity

smoke rises, Japan's coast, Ishimaki,Japan, earthquake, tsunami March

photo from MSNBC

Otsuchi, Japan, ferry boat, tsunami, earthquake

Otsuchi, Japan

Photo from MSNBC

total destsruction, earthquake, tsunmami,

Where is his house?

photo from MSNBC


Saturday afternoon: One day later, a few blocks away from the devastating fire site and on the other side of the world from the massive natural disaster, new life is forming.  Why? My daffodils are coming up!  Don’t they know it’s still March? We could have a snow storm.  I thought they would bloom at Easter as they have in the past.  Doubt that I’ll still have blooms since Easter is late this year.  My neighbors across the street who get the afternoon sun in their front yards already have snowdrops and crocuses blooming!

Daffodils, Ocean Grove, La Vie en Rose,March, spring

Early Spring-The Life Cycle Begins

Photo by Lori

Sunday afternoon: Growing up in New England, I can tell you that Spring is a much yearned-for season.  Every kid knows that when you see the first Robin,  Spring has arrived.  This big red-breasted harbinger is a sign that once again life has returned to the gray and leafless landscape.  When you see your first Robin of the season, you automatically smile because you know and anticipate what is coming.  Is there any season more welcomed than Spring?  I don’t know why the Robins have landed so early in March;  I think the ground is not completely thawed and any worms or grubs are still deeply burrowed.  We may still get snow but they’re here bringing a promise of new life.  Why?


harbinger of spring,  Robin, March, spring

Harbinger of Spring

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Cover of "The Cove"

Cover of The Cove

“They are blood dolphins as in blood diamonds.”

It’s 11:53pm Thursday night and I have ABC’s Nightline on and there is a segment featuring the former dolphin trainer turned activist, Richard O’Barry.  O’Barry is discussing the current and continued dolphin slaughters in Japan.  Although his hard-hitting documentary The Cove raised international awareness of the heinous murders being committed in Japan, it’s not enough, the killings continue.  Since the covert filming of The Cove, security has tightened in the area.  However, now the Japan news media is covering the events and this will bring a much stronger force to work against the dolphincide.

Several months ago, I wrote a blog on The Cove and the impact it had on me.  I want to share it with you again.  Please click on the link and read and I guarantee you too  will be moved to action,

Search Results for ‘dead dolphins’


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The Cove - A Must See

I’m sorry that the headline for this blog is so graphic BUT I had to get your attention! Usually I try to write blogs that are tongue in cheek, satirical and amusing, but not always and this is one those- NOT FUNNY!  Two nights ago,  I watched and wrote about Inglourious Basterds. What I didn’t reveal was that I also watched The Cove.  This excellent film is essentially a documentary but done in a feature presentation style with a bit of a thriller aspect too.   The Cove won the Audience Award at the 2009 Sundance FilmFestival. It has been shown on NPR networks.  AND it has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Documentary Feature category.  I think it will win!   I couldn’t comment on the movie then and am not so sure I’ll really be able to articulate all that NEEDS to be said, shouted actually! So I’m shouting!!!!!!!

The Cove is one of the most disturbing, emotional, graphic, horrific, tearful, heartbreaking and heart wrenching,  frustrating, and angering, shocking, brave, upsetting, dismaying, sorrowful, maddening and really really difficult movie to sit through. So why should you see it?  BECAUSE….This is MURDER, it is happening NOW and once you know about it, you can’t just shrug your shoulders and say “oh well”.  Knowledge is powerful, however it comes with a responsibility to respond.  The truth must and will out. And once you know it, well each one of us has to decide how, when and what we can do.  I can’t do this powerful movie justice, so please read what some other people have to say about The Cove:

23,000 Dolphins are slaughtered each year in a hidden cove in Taiji, Japan. The Japanese government covers it up. No one could get in. (PlanetSave)

The Cove exposes an atrocity of unimaginable brutality. The dolphin slaughter depicted here is committed yearly and without knowledge of the general Japanese public, even though they could be buying highly-toxic mercury-laden dolphin meat disguised as fish from their local supermarkets. (PlanetSave).

What’s most unusual about this documentary is the undercover tactics filmmakers were forced to use to make the film. As soon as the documentary begins, you become aware that there’s resistance to the filmmakers’ presence in Taiji, and that the crew are not only being monitored, but are actually under threat of arrest which, under Japanese law, can last for many months, even years, without a hearing or trial. (About.com)

Be prepared: the film is as brutal and heartbreaking as the most alarming news footage you’ve ever seen of human natural disasters and tragedies such as hurricanes, earthquakes and terrorist attacks. (About.com)

And lastly, these are not my words but I am thankful that I can print here because I feel the same way.

That’s it! I’m putting my foot down! I am so sick of people saying “The Cove, oh no I can’t see that film, it’s about dolphin killing.” You stupid person, you’re wrong and I’m not listening to you anyone. I’m saying this as simply as possible. You are a bad person if you do not see this film. Everyone, EVERYONE needs to see The Cove. Not because you all need to go out and save Flipper but because it will inspire you to do something (not necessarily with dolphins) good in your life and leave you feeling empowered. You can make a difference in whatever way you want just like the people in this film are doing.

So stop your bitching and get out and see this movie. (Screencrave).

Here’s the link to the YouTube clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bE3KAuWaz8 – sorry I couldn’t figure out how to make it live, please copy and paste to your browser.

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It’s only Saturday morning and already this weekend, I am struck by the assortment of friends and acquaintances I have in my life and the different world we all live in.

First and foremost because of the gravity of the situation, there’s my friend, Josh.  Josh called me (actually woke me up) this morning with a phone call and one sentence, “Turn on CNN and call me at the office!”.  Groggily I went into the den, and tried to remember what channel CNN was on.  OMG what a horrible shock – an MAJOR earthquake in Santiago, Chile.  Josh’s partner and my friend, Ricardo lives in Santiago.   Josh had spent the holidays there and was expecting to meet Ricardo in Prague on this coming Tuesday.  Thank God, Ricardo called Josh’s cell phone at 3:00 am and had left a message that he was safe as was his father who lived even closer to the heart of the city.  No further communication from Chile; you can’t get through on the phone, you can’t reach LAN airlines, the airports are closed and since Ricardo is a chief resident at the hospital, we can only assume he is there.   Please keep Chile in your prayers, it is so upsetting that this event is following so closely on the heels of Haiti.

ANOTHER EARTHQUAKE – My nephew Justin, lives in Japan and I have just tried to reach him thru Facebook because I’m not sure how close he is to the epicenter of the earthquake that struck there.  Apparently that quake hit offshore and the major concern is a tsunami – I know he surfs so he must be somewhat close the shoreline.  As I type  this and listen to the CNN minute by minute coverage in Chile, I am learning how quickly a tsunami can spread from shore to shore, country to

The volcanic Ring of Fire

country and even continent to continent – especially if the country is in the Ring of Fire (see photo). Do I have to worry about my own surfer son, Joel, who lives in San Diego and lives well within tsunami wave range?

Closer to home, several of my friends are clearly living in worlds apart. Last night I took Peter and his lifelong friend Murray out to celebrate their joint birthdays.  After a delightful dinner at Compass, a restaurant on the Uppper West Side, we went to see the show, BAWDY at the Triad BAWDY is an old time burlesque show; complete with bumps, grinds and tasteful striptease.   The show is headlined by Jesse Lutrell, a very talented, very energetic and very gay performer.  He is a gifted young song and dance man and he sings in a story-centric style, so reminiscent of the cabaret and nightclub acts dating back to the American birth of vaudeville.  SO how did we happen to be at this show?  In two words; Grace Gotham.  It so happens that Grace Gotham a/k/a Sarah Liston is a friend of ours.  We hadn’t seen Sarah and her husband, Dave in quite a while and were we ever surprised to learn that our friend, wife of an Episcopalian  Deacon and member of our local Community Board, was actually performing burlesque!!! Well why not? Sarah is a published writer and you can read all about her journey into burlesque in an article published in the magazine, Marie Clare which I have published on this blog.  She’s a hoot and very good I must add – and yes she really can make her tassles twirl.

Then this is the weekend that The Glen Beck show airs where my sister-in-law, Juanita is in the front row of the audience.  She sent an email blast to all of us with the air times.  I told you she wasn’t a blood relative!! So I am DVR’ing this program (with explicit promises to Peter that we will only just see her and shut it off) at a time when I’m sure it won’t interrupt another really important show I might be watching like Grey’s Antatomy!! LOL Now we know she is in another world.

Next, my dear friend and mentor, Joyce is in the hospital recovering from knee replacement surgery.  She is in her mid-seventies and has the body and muscle tone of the someone 20 years younger but any surgery as you get older is serious.  I’m happy to report that she seems to have come through it very well and may even be home tomorrow.  And then rehab starts.

Lastly, we are leaving in an hour to get out to Port Jefferson, LI to attend a surprise birthday party for my daughter’s mother-in-law.  Because of the misery of the snow, our car is snowed in and this being Manhattan, even if we dug it out (good thing we bought that extra shovel last week!), we would never find a parking place when we got home.  The streets in Manhattan are very messy because when they plow, all the snow builds up around the cars.  We have to take the LIRR and to board that train, we have to go diagonally across town to Penn Station.  Believe it or not, we will be leaving our apartment at about 1:55pm and should arrive in Port Jefferson Long Island at 4:40pm.  In that amount of time, I could have driven to the Jersey Shore and back or to Connecticut.  And then we have to come home again.  It’s going to be a long day….

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