Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Bura Lantern

I confess to being more than a little unsure where one lantern leaves off and the next commences, but so be it.  Lanterns are an integral part of Japanese festivals and culture, and whether or not you remember their names,  it is easy to appreciate their charm.

The Gifu Lantern

The Yumibari Lantern

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Odawara Lantern

- another Japanese lantern, the Odawara.

The Koubari Lantern

- the koubari lantern at a summer festival. The lantern derives its name from the long pole to which it is attached.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The "Chouchin", or Japanese Lantern

For me there is just something about the Japanese paper lantern, or chouchin. Hung beside the entrance to eating and drinking establishments, it is simply inviting, promising all manner of gustatory and bibulous pleasures. Depending from the gateway to a temple or shrine, it is awesomely impressive. And carried by Japanese children for the festival of the dead, the chouchin is unutterably touching. But enough of the purple prose. Did you know that there were no fewer than six types of paper lantern? No, you say?  Then let's illuminate.

More Bits and Pieces: The "Chasen"

The chasen is the bamboo whisk used to stir the powdered green tea in the tea ceremony. Not all chasen are equal: this baby will set you back 74,000円, or nearly $800. Must be something in the bamboo.

Motorcycle Diaries, Vol. III; Misc. Photos from Sumon Mura

By noon I had hoped to go all the way to Niigata's border with Fukushima, but owing to delays caused by a flat tire and inclement weather, I opted to lunch and begin my return journey in Sumon Village, some 25k short of the goal. Before leaving home in the morning I emptied the contents of a couple of cans of beans into a plastic container and added some smoked ham and Crystal Brand hot sauce to the mix; one match fired up my EPI Gas stove, and within minutes my meal was ready. Afterwards I boiled a pot of water for post-prandial coffee. My vintage Optimus looks decidedly cooler as a cooker, but is nowhere near as fast or trouble-free as the EPI. In any case I discovered the former was out of fuel before departing.

Motorcycle Diaries Vol. III; Misc Photos

S(team) L(ocomotive) Land, Sumon Mura, Niigata. How did this train get here? The nearest line is only 2k distant, but the way is narrow, winding, and steep. A forlorn engine and sleeper car, neglected for some time. Twenty years ago the SL and neighboring campground and hot springs would have been a bustling tourist attraction. Today, the place is sadly derelict but by no means unique; the Japanese countryside is dotted with such mementoes of the bubble years.  

Motorcycle Diaries Vol. III: Misc. Photos of a Trip to Sumon Mura

A wet 175k on the motorbike, though this is not evident from the photos.  I had my first flat ever on the machine some 50k from home on the outward-bound leg. Although it was his day off, Mr. Shimizu fixed my wheel, made some adjustments to brakes and chain, and even gave me a discount on the labor. Thank you, Shimizu-sama.