Sunday, December 26, 2010


How much is that Doggie in the window ?   You know the one with the waggly tail... Isn't that how the song goes... Well  I just thought you might want to see what was under my Christmas tree.... O Santa ..You shouldn't have.... but ..Thank You

Sunday, December 19, 2010


"The weather outside is frightful" and I wish that Old Man Winter would make up his celestial mind on whether to rain , pour or drop delightful flakes of snow...  Yesterday, I wore my Spring coat, Winter boots and  Summer leggings.( Ha Ha)..I was quite a sight !!!!

No matter, because nothing can daunt the joy of the festive season with it's bright lights and warm ambiance of love..not even the cold moody temperatures BRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

I've decided to leave the works of mother nature   to the Snow  Angels. They're sure to bring the beauty of season round full circle in time for Christmas... because, " I need alittle Christmas..right this very minute".

I've just dropped my hubby off at  the airport heading for Japan  and have been left behind... Air Canada has an animal embargo on animals between November 15 to January 15... So what was to be a family gathering with grandsons will now be a ' me and puppy'  .. because she is only 6 weeks old , I cannot leave her with anyone.... So Dolly and I will  celebrate her first Christmas together... eating puppy cakes and singing doggie carols .."WOOF WOOF"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


MERRY CHRISTMAS  TO ALL OF YOU  ......"It's beginning to look alot like Christmas "  as the magic of winter  castes it's spell and we all await the singing of carols and prayers of "Noel" ...

It's a time of musical merriment that I love... especially the carol singing. I attended my first Christmas Concert of the season...It was  Handels' sing-along  Messiah which is my favorite. ... Alas, I am being bad now  because the  " Halleluia Chorus is  now blazing throughout the house as I keep turning up the volume. I'm sure it can be heard all the way to the North Pole.

A present came early this year in the form of something  small and round and fluffy  " Woof Woof" ... Yes ... A puppy. We called her " DOLLY"...  I know three little boys who are going to be very excited, when we arrive in Calgary for Christmas Holidays. They're all sure to keep me very busy  during the festive season.

 If you're looking for an extra special gift  for  an artistic friend or family member  ... My wonderful friend  Monica Zuniga has a new Doll workshop. It's a  whimsical, fabric painting  doll  class that sure to delight your creative imagination for the New Year. So join into the magic of the season by creating a doll of your own. I'll look forward to seeing you there, my friends.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Brown paper packages tied up with string... These are a few of my favorites things. No matter what you buy in Japan... They always come wrapped and tied in the most inviting paper, ribbons, tags and boxes...It's such a bonus for the shopper.

When I left this summer, I bought  twelve ,  $3.00 glass angels as a small momento  for the ladies in my doll making classes.

" For you", the salesclerk asked ...No I replied " presento".
I continued to look around, while she  finished my order.  Within 10 minutes , the little clerk shuffled  up to me with a shopping bag... Oh MY GOODNESS... I was so pleased , yet embarrassed.

 Each angel had been  placed into a tiny box,  wrapped  in pink floral paper, tied with a bow and sealed  with a golden sticker.  Now that's service with a smile !!!

Yesterday I was rustling through my papers in efforts to find just the right background for a couple of geisha images....Well...I found it in  decorative paper bags that I had bought in Miyajima.

The sepia bags depicted images of Japanese life, so they fit perfectly into the ATC  Geisha theme.  I quess the lesson here is to .... Never underestimate,   ZaaArt of keeping and collecting papers.  My two ATC's " Little Sparrow" and "Blossom Geisha" settled nicely into the paperbag scene and proudly wear the tags of being recycled works of art.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Today in New Brunswick,the winds of autumn, flurry the leaves past  my windows... I have never seen the foliage fall so quicky. While the colors of a Canadian fall can  expand the heart with joy, so does the autumn  in Japan fill the heart with inner  calm and  repose.  I am missing Japan this season.... Wishing I could walk once more in the Imperial Palace grounds, picking up the tiny maple leaves to press between the pages of  my books. I love creating pictures with pressed flowers and leaves... It's a hobby from my childhood. 
I had not realized the difference in the size and shades of the maple leaves ... Our Canadian maples are so vibrantly robust and large ... some  bigger than the palm of my hand. The Japanese maple leaves are tiny and frail, mostly crimson in color... They are like  tiny fairies fluttering and dancing through the air, into my heart.

Next month I will return to Japan. I look forward to nestling down with the leaves pressed so snuggly  amongst the pages ...  recalling the fond memories of  walking through the palace courtyards in Kyoto.

Friday, October 8, 2010


WHAT !!!! No Japanese Holidays and Celebrations... I'm  in shock... I wondered if I had done something wrong by being away so long.. Oh...Oh  !!!!
Actually the only events happening in Japan in the month of  October are "Sports days", and the next real big  festivity is New Years...  I pondered the lull in the  active calendar of  festivals and  figured maybe it was  time out for the  busy, ambitious Japanese... Certainly, I'm missing  the special days and  cultural antics. Aren't You ? I mean how can there be no festivals, holidays or picnics in their Fall schedule. OK.. I understand and I'll be back shortly to report to you , my friends... Thanks for hanging in there !!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Let yourself go and see what can be created in the " spirit of the rice" ( see last blog, below).... It might surprise you !!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010


"You are what you eat" is a Japanese concept as old as civilization itself.  June is the month for planting  rice in Japan.  It is the start of a  season which is celebrated by hundreds of rice planting festivals that utilized ancient tools, clothes, songs and dances to evoke the " spirit of the rice".

Until modern times, the rice crop was the standard used for managing land and levying taxes. The word for cooked rice itself is synonymous with a meal; other foods served with it, even expensive shavings of  beefstake, are considered (o-kazy) or side dishes. There's rice, rice and more delectable  rice than you could ever imagine.

In Japan , not all rice is white or brown ... There are 1,500 varieties that come in your choice of rainbow colors., which makes for an exciting cereal diversity.  My biggest decision is what shape to buy ... fat, pearl, thin or flat,  as they all have a different  texture.... Decisions .. Decisions !!!

Imagine your child going on a  seasonal  field trip to plant rice.. What fun!!!! I want to don a pair of  shorts and  a  hat and slosh my bare feet around the wet rice paddys too. ( Ha Ha)

 Each rice seedling is  carefully, hand planted  into the mud,  to ensure that it stands up securely, thus  protecting the tiny stems  from drowning in the water flooded fields.  Certainly this is a first hand education in understanding the work required to put a daily bowl of rice on the table.

My favorite part of the whole season is the ZaaArt of  celebrationing this tiny sheath of green( rice) and nurturing it,  with the traditional  folklore songs, dances  and drumbeats of the heart. It's truly a tribute to nature !!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


It's Cherry Blossom season...and time to get back to the blogging... I have missed you all and decided that our chat sessions were way overdue. SO close your eyes and think of the most magical place you could visit. Where did you go ?

Japan, imagine that!!!! I'm here too, enjoying the beauty of the Sakura trees  in full splendour. Every year the Japanese track the ' sakura zensen" cherry blossom front  as it moves northward. The blossoming begins in Okinawa, in January and typically reaches Kyoto and Tokyo at the end of March or beginning of April. A few week later  Hokkaido experiences the  transience of blossoms,"mono no aware", the extreme beauty and quick death of the Japanese cherry blossoms which  has often been associated with mortality  .

The Japanese eagerly await  the forecasts and gather in large numbers at parks, shrines and temples with family and friends to hold flower viewing parties.  It is a sight to behold.. definately  the stuff that dreams are made of.

" Hanami" festivals  celebrate the beauty of the cherry blossom and for many it's a chance to have a relaxing picnic under the shade and beauty of the cherry tree...  I love this reverent celebration of nature, where households, poets, artists, singers and all people gather 'en masse ' to  breath in , an enduring metaphor for  the ephemeral nature of life.

The Sakura is an omen of good fortune , an emblem of love  and represents the regalia of Spring. I'm keeping my eyes closed so that all the cherry blossoms can flutter and  flurry, on and around me for one more day.  It's  a glorious experience....That's the "ZaaArt" of  enjoying nature here in Japan.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Traditional crafts of Japan are mainly made by hand . It takes many years to acquire the techniques  and skills associated  to what is known as  a traditional craft product.  Recently , I have  been attending  Mataro Doll classes  studying the  traditional making of Mataro dolls and the Palace ball craft.

The " Goten Mari"  was a ball originally made with silken threads. During the edo  Era     (1600-1867), ladies  in noble household throughout the country enjoyed making and playing with these balls. As a result, this ball came to be know as " Goten Mari" or the " Ball of the Palace".

It is a 10 cm round  round ball  molded with clay and  deeply etched with  a specific design that you cover  with fabric and paste into position. All the seams are folded  and overlapped into  carved spaces, thus,  creating a perfect geometric ball of beauty.  It is the first  requirement before attempting the   Mataro Doll, which is one  Japan's most  celebrated traditional  crafts.

Kanabayashi Mataro, Master DollMaker shares "Zaa Art" of this 100 plus year old tradition by training and certifying  craft people in the superb, ancient techniques of creating  Japanese Dolls.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Eat , Drink, be Merry and celebrate" Bonenkai", in Japan. It literally translates to " forget-the-year" which means, "partytime",  for the  weary  Business workers and friends.  The gathering is usually held in a restaurant and rallies  the usual consumption of finger food and alcohol. Some people cheer, while other cringe at the thought of the 'Japanese drinking party".. It's a time when the   media  , sends out warnings,  about drunk obnoxious women( Ha Ha) ..

Bonenkai is an end of the year bash and whether you drink or not, it would be impolite not to attend,  In Japan, you do not pour you own first glass, so, it's hit and miss as to whether or not  your going to get gingerale. It's also  polite, to  lift your glass in an, " receiving ritual" to say thank you to your host, who is usually the boss.

There are many customs in Japan , and as, it is impolite to pour your own glass of water, spirits or any liquid,   you are at the mercy of the very  kind Japanese, who never allow you to have an empty glass. If you want to stay sober and make it to the New Year, the trick is to not drink your drink, keep your glass full  or "what the heck", join the rest of the people under the table.

Luckily there is a " NO drinking and driving", imprisionment  law, in Japan. For the most part the people adhere to the rules and obligingly take the subway or pile into one of the hundreds of Black Cat Taxis' that line the streets of the downtown area.

During "Bonenkai", it's not only the giggling  women, but the the  men, who become a great source of entertainment,  as they stumble through the doors  swerving down the alleyways, in the general direction of home. In one instance, I couldn't help but chuckle as an elderly gentleman and his friends were herded home like little lambs, at the end of a wives stick..( Ha ha)  and she didn't spare the rod. ( Hee Hee)

Thank goodness :Bonenkai"  the  " woes and trouble" of last year  are behind us . It's time to start  2010 with renewed vim and vigor.. Oh Oh..Oh No... not another party!!! "Shinenkai"( Welcome New Year) begins on January 10th  through to the  end of the month. SO "akemashite omedetou gozaimasu"
Have a "Happy New Year", my friends... Remember ' ZaaArt of  keeping  the glass full on the table. Wishing you all a healthy and prosperous party..  I mean , New Year.