Monday, October 27, 2008

Kominkan Matsuri

Yea! I'm an exhibiting artist for a few minutes! My painting teacher hung the painting I did of the higanbana flowers in the little matsuri show in the neighborhood where she lives. It's amazing how much better my work looks mounted and framed :)

Here's the room with the art, calligraphy, and flower arrangment displays. It was actually surprising to me how many students take extra curricular calligraphy classes. It's nice to see the young ones taking an active interest in such a traditional art.

It was fun learning how to sign my name in a "scripty" kind of hiragana (bottom right). I spent most of the last class practicing, because I only had one chance to sign my work. I also reworked my inkan a little bit, so you can see that printed in red underneath my name. And I think that the signature is supposed to go on the left side, but I thought it was more balanced on the right. It's good to be the gaijin :)

Man, I have a goofy smile in that photo. My teacher was taking it with my cell phone camera, and the kids behind her were teasing her & making funny faces because my teacher was squinting so much to take the photo. These kids were later climbing all over me (I made the mistake of letting one climb up on my back so she could see the performance on stage) and playing with my hair, and asking me a million questions. Hilarious. Elementary school kids are the same everywhere I guess.
Sorry the photos are so small...I'll be stuck with my cell phone camera until my other one gets fixed...IF it can be fixed... :-(

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


One recent Saturday I had to work, so I had the previous Thursday off. My painting teacher had sent me to Nagasaki to buy a stone and carving tool so I can make another inkan (seal to sign my paintings), but it was an exercise in futility. However, the trip wasn't a complete bust, as I was able to attend part of a festival called "Okunchi" in/around/for (?) Suwa Shrine in Nagasaki. It's held every year October 7-9, and since they don't change it to make sure it falls on a weekend, many people have to work and therefore miss out. Here are the torii (archway/gate/s) leading up to Suwa Shrine, where this dance took place. I think there were 2 other locations around the city where representatives from a select 7 machi (towns or sections inside the city).

Groups from the machi do a dance or perform with a large boat-like thing...
Here they are pushing it up the stairs to the very small! stage area in front of the temple.

Here is a look at the crowd in the stands watching the performance. If you look closely, you can see many people have a cloth over their head to keep the sun off of's still pretty hot in Nagasaki!

Here is a look at the performance - and behind that, a glimpse of downtown Nagasaki. At this part in the performance, the men work together to spin the boat - it really gets the crowd going wild (I think I must be missing something, but it DOES look pretty hard). There are also some guys holding poles with globes on top - I think a combination of percussive music and these pole guys help to direct the guys pushing/pulling the boat. I think this whole thing is a really interesting way to build community spirit :)

Feel free to comment if you've got any experience with the Okunchi festival!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Well...I'm definitely not bored lately!
I've been helping my students practice their speeches (never ending task) and now I'll be heading to my Japanese ink painting class. Here is my teacher's mom (the one who always makes and gives me tasty food) showing one of her calligraphy scrolls to some ladies from the neighborhood.

Hope you are all well and enjoying Fall's cooler temps and harvest!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Having a ball at the Navy Ball

Just thought I'd put up a quick pic since you all have probably forgotten what I look like.
Work is reeeeally getting in the way of my life here! ;)
My friends at the base were kind enough to include me in the Navy's Birthday Ball, and so I got to get dressed up AND I had some place to go :)
Thanks, Skii for the dress! I felt like a million bucks!
(ok - now back to my regularly scheduled craziness...which at the moment, includes teaching the Monster Mash to some elementary school kids...)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Today, on the second anniversary of Mom's passing,
I will be saying a few prayers at noon and midnight my time
(which is 13 hours ahead of Florida - you can do the math ;) )
You are welcome to do so, too...

Prayer for the Deceased

Remember, Lord, those who have died
and have gone before us marked with the sign of faith,
especially for Noreen.
May she, and all who sleep in Christ,
find in Your presence
light, happiness, and peace.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace:
where there is hatred let me sow love,
where there is injury, pardon,
where there is doubt, faith,
where there is despair, hope,
where there is darkness, light,
where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be comforted as to comfort,

to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.

Because it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Thank you all for your continued prayers...
I can definitely feel them here on the other side of the world :)

And thank you, B, for the flowers - they're really lovely!

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Here's my first "art" inkan (personal seal ~ my 'signature'). I have another one (that's registered in Japan) that has my full last name on it in katakana, and I have to use it when I "sign" for important things. This inkan, however, only includes part of my first name, "rei" (which is really To-RAY-shi in Japanese). This kanji for rei has to do with beauty. So, since I think beauty is such an important ideal, I thought this would be fitting.
It's carved out of stone, and reeeeeally difficult because of the tiny surface and shape of the stone. I honestly think this is a little kawaisou (pitiful), considering my previous block printing experience, but this uses completely different materials than anything I've tried before. I'm itching to go back in and carve a little bit more to make some of the lines a little stronger/thicker, but my teacher won't let me because it's so much more precious to be "imperfect"...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Funny how when the sun comes out everything can magically feel a little better.
(of course, I never underestimate the power of prayers and nice emails, either...thanks :) )
This week in my painting class I actually painted from a live subject. I usually paint from a book (twisting every step of the way...but I'm not the teacher...), however, this week my teacher let me paint some higanbana, a flower that's blooming now (& the one in the previous post). I'm going to need more practice with this subject, but I thought you might like to see my first attempt. The red thing is my inkan (name seal). I'll photograph that and explain it a little better in another post.

Here's a photo I took of my workspace at my teacher's house. It's a really interesting place. From what I understand, my teacher lives with his parents in one (Japanese style) house, the grandparents are in a separate one on the same property, and then they have this painting building. It looks like they might have a garden on the property, too.
In my workspace you can see my practice paper on a piece of grey felt, my ink well, water (brush rinse), the porcelain container that holds water to add to the ink to get various shades of grey-black, fude (brush - it almost sounds like "who-day"), blotting towel, my subject, higanbana, and, of course, some delicious tea and treats (this week it was homemade veggie tempura) from my teacher's mom.