Thursday, 28 January 2016

Final reflections of Japan

I've been home for just over 24 hours so thought I would share some final images from Japan. I was taken out for dinner on the first night to experience Japanese Okonomiyaki and what a fun night it was. I stupidly left my camera in the hotel so thank goodness once again for the mobile phone camera (And sadly I have come home to my good Nikon camera receiving a smashed screen - it has travelled the world without a hitch but someone obviously threw my small case from a great height and it shattered)……..
We chose our own combinations and I selected one that included welsh onion just for you Kay!! Not sure if they came from Wales or not!!……..
We were handed a bowl of ingredients that included a base of finely shredded cabbage with a rice flour sauce. After a little combining it was time to cook on the hot plate in the centre of the table. A timer is set and then a glass lid placed on top while watching it cook. It is a combination of pancake, omelette and fritatta and so, so good…….

 I then topped mine with the welsh onion, some amazing sauces and with some trepidation some dried tuna…….amazing to watch that 'move' in the heat as it is so light……and it was delicious! The final treat was a light and fluffy fairy floss like cube that melted in the mouth…not as sweet as we have which was refreshing…….
 This is what the okonominyaki was supposed to look like when done by the professionals! Thanks so much Jacki and Jo….it was wonderful!…...
As we wandered back to the hotel I continued to be awe struck by the fake food displays outside each eatery…….it all looks so very real……..
 I dined on my own a couple of nights as I was too tired to go out, so some comfort food in a burger place nearby. A small and slightly sweet chicken burger - much smaller than we are used to but quite enough and very tasty…….(a reminder of how we overeat!)
 Back at the hotel one had to walk past this each day……..and yes I did give in….just once!

I didn't realise until I came home and downloaded my phone photos that I had taken this when I first arrived at the quilt show - another reminder of the spectacle of it all……..
 My flights home seemed long with the mandatory two hours required before each flight - a 5 hour flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong and then a wait of another 5 hours before just over 8 hours overnight home. I was sure it would be less taxing than the flights to the UK but the time zone change is much kinder to the body. As I reached my final boarding gate my pass would not scan…."a problem" she said with a smile and then handed me a new one. Yes…..I'd been upgraded to Business class without asking!!! Despite that one still gets very tired. By the time they serve you dinner and then wake you for breakfast you have only had about 4 hours between to get some sleep. But what an amazing experience for me and I am so, so grateful for all of it…….
  Travel can be taxing on the body and this trip was no exception even though it was short. The ankles swell and after peeling off all the warm layers I discovered my blotchy ageing spots on my arms had all dried out and been bleeding… lots of moisturiser, a good night's sleep and all is well! While I was away and since being home I've received several messages about the news of a new unpublished Beatrix Potter tale. It even made our newspaper yesterday……...
There are several links to the story including a video HERE. As I continue to drool over the incredible Beatrix potter quilts of Yoko Saito and her students I still feel somewhat disheartened over my attempts for the new book. But Larry put it into perspective by saying my work is probably "more suited to the masses and more achievable"………so I  think that might be right! You can read more about Yoko's exhibition and a report on this website - Okan Arts and I do like Patricia Belyea's response to one of the comments…….
"The Japanese have a training system for quilting that is intense and rigorous. This is not the work of dilettantes!
That makes me feel much better - more soon when my camera is fixed x

Monday, 25 January 2016

Fuji Fantasy

I cannot put into words the magical day we have had today. The photos will not do it justice but the memory will remain with me forever. Each morning I have been blessed with a view of Mount Fuji teasing me from far away. I've seen her at dusk and at sunrise from my hotel window…….

 But today I got a little closer. We had a two and half hour train and bus trip to get there so along the way a few sights. This is a golf driving range and those nets towered high……..

 And this is where the super fast bullet trains are being tested……...
 And then there was the thick snow below and the veil over the mountains…...
 Glimpses of Fuji continued to tease us along the way……...

 11am and just zero degrees but the sun was shining and there was just a gentle breeze…….

 I would have loved to capture the magical icicles from the ground but this was one of the passing views from my bus window……….
 Here we reached one of the five lakes……..

 And there she was……..and what perfect weather to capture this lifetime memory……
Thought I should really have one to prove I was there!!……..

We had a quick visit to a silk museum……...

 And then came a visit to one of the most magical and spiritual places I have seen……..The Itchiku Kubota Art Museum. The story of this brilliant man has many parallels to William Morris including the need for sharing art to the masses and researching techniques from centuries ago. We were not able to take photos inside but you can see some of the collection and the story Here. As we wandered up the path the magic started to weave its spell……….

 The views from the tea house windows were like being in a fantasy land and actually brought me to tears…….

 The stitching and beading on the kimonos was incredible as were the colours and textures. Read here about this amazing artist who spent time in Siberia in a POW camp fearing he would never complete his dream to make a lasting memory for us to see. As we walked outside I could not imagine it looking any better than in the winter snow……….

 So then it was the long trip back to the hotel where I am now packed and ready for an early start before I head home. Thanks for sharing in my memorable brief journey to Japan x