Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Postcard from Japan: Tuesday, October 25, 2016, Part Four

Dessert at Ieta Patisserie after walking around the Mitsuke Buddhist
Temple.  I, of course, had the chocolate cake with the whipped
cream mouse on top (Halloween is very popular here now).
We had walked to and from the Buddhist temple for a couple of hours.  It was a gorgeous blue sky warm day---perfect for taking pictures.

Akiko-san chose the fig tart and coffee.
I guess I was determined to have my daily dose of dessert each day but I wanted to treat Akiko-san to dessert in the afternoon.  Of course, she already knew where to go.  Dessert is eaten in the afternoon with coffee or tea.  Fresh figs in desserts are very popular here.  My friend, Miura-san, in Ashiya, particularly loves them so I took these pictures for her especially because we would always eat up our dessert before I remembered to take a picture.  Picture or not, the Western-style desserts are French or German, such as tortes, tarts, shortbread, and all are lovely to look at and even better to eat.  They're usually very light but rich and not too sweet.  (They always want to know why American desserts are so sweet.  I tell them that it's because we like them that way!  And they have anko and anmitsu, red bean paste, which is extremely sweet, too.)

This evening, Akiko-san has invited her friend's to come for dinner.  They are a very special couple to her and have been very good friends for a long time.

Tanaka Kazuomi-san
Mr. Tanaka was a police detective for almost 35 years here in Shizuoka Prefecture.  Every 2-3 years he would be moved from one local station to another one far away so that he would not develop any bias or personal attachments to those he worked for or investigated.  He certainly didn't seem like a police detective--- a very friendly, good natured, outgoing and smiling man.  Before he entered the police academy as a young man, he studied photograph.  Now that he's been retired for 10 years, he's gone back to photography.  He has his own dark room and does a lot of photography for Akiko-san and her gallery.  I have to mention about the "thumbs-up" and "peace sign" in their pictures.  That seems to be what everyone does when you want to take their picture...

Tanaka Keiko-san
His wife, Keiko, is also a very happy, fun, and smiling woman.  One of their children lives in California from where they had just returned so we had a good time with English and Japanese, and some red wine.

Akiko-san making dinner.
We also had a fabulous meal because Akiko-san is a superb cook.  Her latest "new" dish is hash browns.  She puts a little curry powder on top as it's browning.  Then she pulls the pan off the stove and flips the shredded potatoes to the other side.  Very impressive!

We had steak (Kobe beef, of course), carrots, hash browned curried potatoes, sauteed mushrooms (matsu take--- from underneath a pine tree?), and salad (salada in Japanese).

And I love this woman!  She serves salad for breakfast!! (something I craved since salad greens seemed not be on my mother-in-law's menu of food at all....)  Akiko-san always had excellent Ocha (green tea) and French bread.  The last morning there, she offered me a little packaged cup of Greek yogurt with aloe in it.  Really luscious.

Of course, we had to have a picture of everyone.  I had my new turquoise
camera so, Tanaka-san who knows cameras, set it up for a timed photo.
The first try didn't work but it was so hilarious an experiment that
it's better than the one that did work!

Hanko stamp purse (about 3-1/2" long) made from woven banana
fibers with indigo dyed kasuri (ikat) sections.  The metal disc with the
red braid holds a tiny red stamp pad for the hanko.
The really exciting thing for me is that Tanaka-san is going to make me a hanko, a name stamp. I'm sure you're familiar with the red square stamp that appears at the bottom of a lot of Asian artwork.  I had purchased a small, long hanko purse (didn't know that's what it was at the time) in Okinawa at the Ito Bashofu Center (woven banana fibers with indigo-dyed kasuri).  I've been using it as a coin purse because I can find the mounds of coins a lot easier than in my old one.  Everyone thought that was really funny.  We spent a lot of time at dinner discussing what Chinese characters to use for my name.

Top one is the first one we tried.  Then
Tanaka-san suggested the bottom one
that has a change in the first kanji.
In Japanese, my first name is changed to read:  Ji-e-ni-fu-a  (make sure you pronounce the "e" as a long "a" sound).  Tanaka-san was especially good at this and he's made quite a few hanko for friends before.  Here's the picture of the drawing with Chinese characters (top left) that he first made, and then the bottom square with the final characters we all decided worked beautifully.
The bottom one fits my personal character, I think, better than the top one.  Of course, when I told my mother-in-law what characters had been decided on, she completely disagreed and started rewriting it....

So on the bottom square, the top right most kanji (Chinese character) means to sit (as in zazen meditation--- I do sit quite a bit) and it's one of the only kanji that has the "Ji-e" sound.  (This was the most difficult one to decide on as the previous one above means "kami" or god and has the sounds of "Ji-u," not sound I want.)  The bottom right-most kanji "ni" means thoughtful.  The next two were the most meaningful to me as an artist as the top left-most kanji mean fabric or cloth (that's me!) with the sound of "fu" and the last one is linen (I brought lots of linen clothing with me on this trip!) with the sound of "a."  Since Tanaka-san won't accept money, I'll come up with a textile figure, hopefully a shibori-stitched and indigo-dyed one.  (I already gave his wife a hand-dyed silk scarf and some of my hand-printed coasters.)

What a day!