Saturday, May 11, 2013

Japanese Tea Ceremony: Obama Town, Nagasaki Prefecture

Japanese Tea Ceremonies are without a doubt one of the most amazing and culturally moving experience that you will ever have in Japan.  It goes to the root of the Japanese philosophy of complete perfection, taking years to master a simple art form and to practise until the movements become natural.  It is then and only then that one can be called a master and the years of dedication are seen as a steeping stone to bigger things.

I have had the privilege to see and participate in many Japanese Tea Ceremonies and I can tell you this they are never boring and definitely not tedious.  The attention to detail, the spectacular kimono designs, the calculated movements and the presentation itself are just beyond belief and words definitely can't describe the emotions that course through ones body.  Although I must say that the western body is not designed to sit Seiza style (to sit on one's feet whilst kneeling on a tatami floor) and within minutes the elegant posture associated with Japanese art (martial arts included) go by the wayside and sitting cross legged is resorted to.

However, this isn't frowned upon because us westerners aren't expected to be able to follow all things Japanese but at least we can enjoy the bitterness and healthiness of the green tea which is a more extreme form off green tea that is brewed and we are all accustomed to.  The ochagashi (japanese sweets) served before the tea helps remove some of the bitterness from the palate but just think about the health issues and this bitterness will be the last thing from your thoughts.

The town of Obama, has an amazing cultural center that promotes Japanese Tea Ceremony and given half a chance I would go every week, maybe this will give you the impetus to come and try for yourself?

Click on the Japanese Tea Ceremony Nagasaki photos below to enlarge:

Amazing Kimonos

A thing of Beauty

Beautifully presented

Traditional wares

The Tea Ceremony Ladies

Typical Japanese Tea Room

Amazing Japanese Scrolls

Below is a video of my daughters Kindergarten class going through the Japanese Tea Ceremony ritual.

Please feel free to watch.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Flying Carp: Nagasaki and Fukuoka Prefectures

Flying Carp is a scene that everyone should get a view of.  I look forward every year to see the Flying Carp in Nagasaki and Fukuoka fly strongly and proudly in the fresh spring winds. On May 5th every year Japan celebrates Children's Day which used to be known as Boy's day.  The flying Carps are a symbolic sign for the children to be healthy for the coming year and really emphasizes the close knit and strong bonds that are created by the extended family all pitching in to help raise the children together unlike our western nuclear family concept.

The tradition is said to have begun in the Edo period (1603-1868) based on a Chinese legend about a strong brave carp swimming upstream and becoming a dragon.   The Tango no Sekku (Tango Festival) for boys was celebrated on May 5th by putting up carp-shaped streamers made of cloth and other material in their gardens.  Families announced the birth of a boy and wished for his healthy growth.

The Nagasaki flying carps have gradually changed over time.  Originally made only in black, other colors like red and blue were added and baby carps are now flown with the larger ones to symbolize the family.  I am extremely glad that this change has taken place as I couldn't imagine the Nagasaki Flying Carp only being in black as it would feel more like a funeral than a celebration of the Japanese children.

I love to stare and look at all the special feature of the flying carp they are unique and absolutely are a fascinating thing to watch.

Click on the Flying Carp pictures below to enlarge:

Impressive to say the least

Every year in May

Lots of color

Popular with all ages

Can never get to much Carp