Thursday, February 26, 2009


This is Kasuga, my wonderful new/old Hakata Doll. She's an antique ceramic that weighs alittle over 5 pounds. Her unusual hair color and intricately designed kimono are breath-taking.

She drinks tea in the elegant ceremonial fashion. It is a happy day for her. See, how gracefully, Kasuga poses her hands...Beautiful !!!.

The process of creating Hakata Dolls varies amongst masters and families, who are recipients of the art technique traditions, that span many centuries.

Hakata doll makers procure their own clay ( tsuchi) locally. The dolls are named, after the area inwhich the clay has been found. In this case Hakata-ku, Fukuoka prefecture.

The pre-owner cared meticulously for this Hakata Doll. I was fortunate enough to receive the artists' signed signature plaque, plus a wonderful, old, rusty carrying case, inlaid with silk padding. Thank You !!!

I am not sure of the exact date of this doll, nor the artists' name, although it seems to say, Tatumi/Tatsumi. Japanese is a symbolic language, often it seems, that the written name or story is interpretive or not exactly understood.

No matter ... for in true fashion, Kasuga, is ZaaArt of a Master Hakata Artisan...whoever he may be.

Friday, February 20, 2009


No Valentine's Story for Japanese Women... It's true !!!
Being a romantic , I decided to use my ESL, English Class for a sweet romantic interlude of learning .. .. games, puzzles, valentines, stories and poems , all stamped with a big red heart, spelling FUN.

My husband and wife duo, needed to practise their conversational english and writing skills, so I asked them to write a love note to one another, paste it on a Valentine card, then exchange and discuss their thoughts together.

ALERT ... It was suddenly a very delicate situation and very apparent that showing affection was taboo. Anyways ,ONLY men receive chocolates on Valentines day in Japan .. It's part of the business plan, to encourage goodwill toward, future business endeavours. Goodness.. so much for reciving a heart shaped box full of yummy chocolates. Strike One in the history of romance.

Ok, how about Valentines, my friend? ... "No, we do not exchange Valentines," he calmly replies. THUMP ...There was dead silence... Suddenly, a screaming cry resounds ... " I buy you a Valentine and chocolates every year." ... "You buy me nothing," she complained. Oh, Oh ... Is this Strike two in English 101?

OUCH !!!! I was starting to feel alittle stressed and very saddly out of my culture. Needless to say there was alot of conversational english going on. There was also, lots of emotional expression (SOB) and complete sentences with alot of periods and exclamation marks at the end. Was I in the middle of a relationship crisis? No.. It was just stellular English Comprehension and Grammar.

I absolutely marvelled at their ability to ask one another questions. ..And even ( blush) clapped when each one used the appropriate english in a statement... Their vocabulary was excellent. AHHHHHH, I thought, listen to the wonderful continuity of their tones...Up and down.. and soft and loud... HMMM They are learning how to express themselves.. Good work!!!

OK .. Talking is over... They stayed overtime to write a note to one another, cut, paste and exchange Valentines for the first time in their lives. YES ... There is a lesson to this story. All the ESL and Love was not lost ... They actually walked out the door smiling and holding hands... BRAVO

My male student, even decided that for Valentines Day, he would drive his wife to the bus, to spend the night with her girlfriends .. to drink Beeroo.

It seems , that ZaaArt of Love's Labour is alittle lost, romantically, in the Asian translation, but moving forward...slowly, in the English Department

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Springtime is a coming and with it the Hina Matsuri celebrations. The most important dolls of the season are the tachibani " standing hina, emperor and empress or the Dairi-bina, the seated royal pair, who are featured in most of the festive displays around Japan.
These two little doll( left) are approximately 5 inches tall, including the stand. Their heads are made from a cotton Q-Tip and the bodies from hard cardboard tubing, the size of a quarter in diameter. It was fiddly work , because of the tiny size. Tweezers where needed to secure the embellishments such as the ribbon, fan and hat onto the dolls. I was really amazed at how delightful I felt when I had finished... Tah Dah !!!! Now I only have twelve more figures to make to complete the set... WHEW!!!
The Girls' Day Festival ( March 3 ) was established in 1687 and is perhaps one of the most celebrated in Japan. A few days before the festival, mothers and daughters take out their Hina and arrange them on a red cloth . Sometimes this includes a tiered seven step display with the Emperor and Empress at the top, followed by three ladies serving sake, five or ten musicians, two guardians with weapons and three servants. Toy trees and semi-precious stones, representing a dowry such as carts, chests etc) may also be included. In the Western world, we build Victorian Doll houses and enjoy a casual tea party . In Japan, Hina Matsuri represents, the cultural requirements of manhood and womanhood. It comes with a wish for marriage and a warning not to leave the display up too long, lest the marriage be delayed. So ZaaArt of making dolls and drinking tea is much more culturally exotic here in Japan.