Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tuesday Then & Now - Nikko Toshogu Carved Panels

Here's another set of photos from the Nagasaki University's Metadatabase of Japanese Old Photographs. On either side of the Yomeimon are intricately carved panels depicting birds, animals, flowers, and other designs. Brightly coloured and covered in gold leaf, they really are gorgeous!

Late 19th century to early 20th century:

May 2006:

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Commuting Angst

Today is Saturday, which means I have the next two days off, and as much as I love my job, I am really excited to have the weekend arrive. Not because I have big exciting plans - I'll have to spend the weekend finishing off a translation contract - but because I won't have to commute.

This week has not been a good one for my commute. I've been half sat on by a gentle giant, half crushed by a not so gentle not so giant, elbowed endlessly, given a face full of scarf tassel, hit on the top of the head with the butt of a smartphone, and had my toes trampled more times than I can count. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary (with the exception of the scarf, for the first time repeated shoving of it out of my face had no result beyond making the high school student lean further back, over the half divider and into me). But, perhaps because of the translation and resulting lack of sleep (or annoyance at my procrastination skills), I've found it all too much - the other night I snapped at U for getting too close to me on the couch... Umm, Sarah? That's okay! Good even! Cuddling on the couch is a good thing, and U isn't a cigarette smelly salaryman with over friendly elbows!

So yeah, I'm happy it is the weekend. U has some work he needs to do too, so we're going to spend Sunday morning at the coffee shop, maybe check out a nearby super-sento hot springs... And maybe, I hope, a little cuddle on the couch! ;)

How are you enjoying your weekend?

Thursday, 21 February 2013


Thursday, already? Where did the weekend go? Oh, right, a translation contract that is close to do e but not quite close enough and... Gahhhhhh!

Right, so happy thoughts, things I'm loving this Thursday...
- assembling full dinners out of random bits in the fridge (and impressing U with said ability)
- planning birthday surprises (and not so surprises)
- the hesitant happiness of a brand-new relationship (a coworker! not me!)
- white radish and chicken meatball chowder (filling and satisfying on a cold day)
- chocolate raspberry kakigori

What are you loving today?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Tuesday Then & Now - Yomeimon

Here's another set of photos from the Nagasaki University's Metadatabase of Japanese Old Photographs. Having followed the cedar-lined road, and entered Nikko Toshogu, you stand in front of the Yomeimon, or "higurashi-no-mon," (Sunset Gate) as you could spend until sunset looking at it and still not be tired of it.

Late 19th century to early 20th century:

January 2010:

Thursday, 14 February 2013


- working from home tomorrow and Saturday (no commute! staying in my pjs all day!)
- making Valentine goodies for my coworkers and U
- strawberry cheesecake brownies (see above!)
- building professional contacts
- kinmedai nimono (fish stewed in a sweet sauce)

What are you loving this Thursday?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The week that was...

Last week was a hard one. It started off with an email from one of my old Japanese professors, half of the Japanese team at the university where I first started learning the language. The email said that the other professor (a healthy and active woman barely past 60) had passed away suddenly after suffering a massive stroke. Being so far away can make announcements like these harder to deal with as I had no choice but to continue on with my work day and nobody to turn to immediately (although U was a gem when I called him on my lunch hour and he listened and made comforting noises as I rambled on about the professor).

Maybe it is flu season and everybody feeling a bit under the weather, but my daily commute was even more stressful than normal. Having your toes stepped on over two dozen times within an hour train ride or having to dodge a newspaper coming close to giving you paper cuts on your forehead as the salaryman standing in front of me blithely ignored everybody around him and spread out his paper, are absolutely no where near losing a remarkable and inspiring teacher and woman, it certainly didn't help my mood and left me with less than positive feelings toward much of the human race, or at least those members of it that commute on trains in Tokyo.

But then on Friday, after a particularly bad morning commute, I arrived at work and dragged out a smile for my good morning to the always grinning janitor. She handed me a small and very intricate origami box filled with candies. It was a small gesture, but one that completely changed my mood and my day. The weekend continued on in the same way. My advisor invited a group of people, including myself, a visiting British museum studies professor, and a group of Japanese museum professionals that she has been working with, to spend part of the long weekend at his apartment in a hot springs town. Good umeshu and local beer, even better fresh local fish, and even even better company did wonders for me and reminded me again of just how lucky I have been in the professors and teachers I have had over the years. All I can do is to continue to challenge myself and use what they taught me and hope that by doing so I will be able to begin thanking them for what they have given me and, in some small way, contribute to their legacy.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Tuesday Then & Now - Five Storey Pagoda

Here's another set of photos from the Nagasaki University's Metadatabase of Japanese Old Photographs. Having followed the cedar-lined road, you approach Nikko Toshogu and, on your left, is the Five Storey Pagoda - this year specially open to visitors to celebrate Tokyo Skytree.

Late 19th century to early 20th century:

January 2013:

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Tuesday Then & Now - Approach to Nikko Toshogu

Here's another set of photos from the Nagasaki University's Metadatabase of Japanese Old Photographs. Having followed the cedar-lined road, you approach Nikko Toshogu

Late 19th century to early 20th century:

January 2013: