Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Tuesday Then and Now - Ochanomizu

More photos from the Nagasaki University's Metadatabase of Japanese Old Photographs...

Having spent three years at university in the area, I know the Ochanomizu area pretty well. Which is why I loved seeing an old picture of the area - one that I barely recognized! It took me a couple of tries to figure out where the photo was taken and when I went to take a similar picture I discovered I couldn't quite get it. But, here is Ochanomizu anyways!

The old photo, taken by A. Farsari:

Ochanomizu Bridge and Nikolai-do, both built in 1891, viewed from Juntendo Hospital. On the left (north) and right side of the artificial Kanda River are Yushima-dai and Suruga-dai, respectively. Ochanomizu Bridge was the first bridge constructed to provide access to the elevated land, which had been built for the protection of Edo. Even though the river was artificial, this area was renowned for its scenic beauty, and visitors enjoyed fireflies and Japanese cuckoos. Taken between 1892 and 1897.

Taken last month by yours truly:

From Ochanomizu bridge, with Juntendo Hospital behind me, looking towards Yushima-dai and Suruga-dai.

Just past Juntendo Hospital, looking towards Ochanomizu Bridge (hidden by the greenery).

Looking at Juntendo Hospital from the opposite side of the river.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Crazy Foreigner

Imagine if one lived in your neighbourhood, down the street or even, heaven forbid, next door! The strange things they do, the strange smells coming from their kitchens, the odd hours they keep, the fact that they hang their laundry out in the afternoon and... leave it out overnight!! (oh no! shock! horror!) 

Some are stranger than others. Some can be found in their driveway with a SLR over their shoulder, draping a small bright red shawl over the greenery and then taking numerous pictures of it... Very very odd! 

Harmless, but odd!

A mini-shawl knit for a coworker from one of the MANY balls of yarn she gave me after having cleaned out her mother's house. She apparently threw away most of the yarn, saving the "best" for me. I in turn passed most of what she gave me along to an NPO teaching women from areas hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami how to knit. One of the balls of yarn, however, was turned into this shawl (I'm calling it a "shawlette" because it is only just wide enough to tie around your neck). My coworker is a strong, opinionated, and brilliant older woman who spent much of her life working in a male dominated field. She dresses sharply in a style that has nothing of the feminine cute so common in Japanese attire. I was surprised just how hard it was to find a shawl pattern that was lace but not flowers/leaves/arabesques. I finally found this geometrical design and knit it with a straight border instead of the scallops in the pattern. Hopefully she thinks it is the perfect pattern for her too!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Knitting Bore

I realize I've been posting nothing but old photos and knitting, and I apologize, but I'm trying to use what writing abilities I have elsewhere currently and am finding myself tired and overwhelmed despite a lighter schedule at work. I know I'll get into the new groove soon, but until then it'll probably be just old photos and knitting...

Speaking of which...

I had two hanks of a beautiful dark green yarn that I decided to turn into a shawl for a coworker. I found a pattern I liked and got started. I hadn't gotten very far when the dreaded knitting self-doubt started up, however, and I decided it was too plain and ripped it out. I added a colourful boarder and started again - ripping out the border and redoing it a couple of times - before I realized I was not going to have enough yarn to finish the shawl as started. By this time I was so fed up with the yarn and the whole idea of the shawl that I quite violently ripped it all out again, muttering streams of unbloggable words...

So a new pattern was found, started, and deemed passible - just. But then I finished it and my overwhelming hatred of the yarn and the shawl was just too strong. I shoved it into my closet, with the intention of taking some pictures and then ripping it out to restart again once I had gained a bit of distance.

Nearly a year later I pulled it out and decided that while I still had issues with the shawl (piece of &#%*) and the yarn (*$%& $%#*!!), it was perfectly acceptable as a piece of knitting and I should just sew in the ends and wrap it up and give it away - quickly!

Thankfully I did just that and the recipient, more than a little surprised at the mini-shawl, declared it was the perfect thing to ward off the blast of cold air from the AC unit right above her desk.

I'm just glad it is gone!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - A New Friend

A new friend arrived today. This gorgeous fellow has come a long way and was nervous and overwhelmed at being so far from his native South Africa.

But he wasn't lonely for long... the welcoming committee did what they do best and welcomed him warmly!

In fact one sweet little Japanese penguin was very friendly and sidled right up to the newcomer... A Japanese-South African romance in the making, perhaps?

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Tuesday Then and Now - Nikko Kanmangafuchi Jizo

More photos from the Nagasaki University's Metadatabase of Japanese Old Photographs... And more Nikko!


This year U and I both had work/study we needed to do over the holidays, but decided we wanted to get away for a few days. So we drove to Nikko on New Year's eve, rang in the new year at Nikko Toshogu, spent a few days relaxing at the lovely Turtle Inn Annex, and then drove to the onsen town of Nasu where we "hiked" (a 15 minute walk down a slippery snowy and icy path) for two nights at an onsen hotel that has been forgotten by time. It was the perfect relaxing vacation and we both got lots done - in between relaxing in hot outdoor baths surrounded by a foot of snow!

While in Nikko we went for a short walk from our hotel and went to see the Jizo statues in Kanmangafuchi. It was the perfect walk for a winter day, and the Jizo were bright and cheery in their red caps and colourful origami decorations.

Some say there are 70 Jizo statues here, some say 100, and some say that you never count the same number twice because the Jizo get up and move around... However many of them there are, however, I love how each one is unique.

While poking around on the Nagasaki University's Metadatabase of Japanese Old Photographs, I found a familiar scene...

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Tuesday Then & Now - Chuzenjiko

More photos from the Nagasaki University's Metadatabase of Japanese Old Photographs... And more Nikko!

Lake Chuzenjiko, to be exact.

During the Meiji period:

And November 2012 -

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Happy Birthday little Dragon

Last year a friend was pregnant, but when I asked about colour choices for a baby blanket or sweater, I was told that the baby, her fourth, was well-stocked with newborn knitting, and maybe I could make something for the little one to wear when (s)he got a little bigger. A beautiful and healthy little girl made her entrance last May and I looked through the patterns on Ravelry trying to find a cute little dragon sweater for the year of the dragon baby. I ended up falling in love with a different type of pattern and embarked on making my very first knitted stuffy.

The end result was nowhere near as cute as its recipient, but got to its new home just in time for the other little dragon's first birthday.

Happy Birthday little dragon! May you grown strong, healthy, and happy. May you love, be loved, and dream big!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Tuesday Then & Now - Otonashi Bridge

More photos from the Nagasaki University's Metadatabase of Japanese Old Photographs... I missed the cherry blossoms by a few weeks, but the little park along the Shakuji River below Otonashibashi Bridge, behind Oji station, is a peaceful little oasis.

These photos (and their captions) tell a story of industrialization of the area.

"Oji Station is built over Shakujii River. In this area the river is called Otonashi River. The reason for this name is as follows. Toyoshima Gonnokami Kiyomitsu, a medieval feudal lord, hailed from Kishu (present-day Wakayama Prefecture) and thus established a shrine to Jakuichi Ouji Gongen (Kumano Gongen) that later became Oji Gongen. Consequently, this area was called Oji, and the river was named after the Otonashi River of Kishu. Upstream on the Otonashi River, Takinogawa Village gained fame for its autumn colours. Taken in the mid-Meiji Period."

"A woman looking at Otonashi River (Shakujii River) from a restaurant in Oji. The river was so clear during the Edo Period that tea made from river water was praised for its high quality. The hillside along the Otonashi River was also suited for tea growing, and the tea grown here was valued on a par with the famous tea from Uji. People were probably able to enjoy this tea here. Taken from a magic lantern made around 1897, this photograph shows that the river was still clean in the Meiji Period."

"The photographs of Takinogawa taken during the Meiji Period capture the beauty of the autumn colours. However, after World War II, the development of the residential areas changed the area upstream. The river banks were covered with concrete and the river started to smell due to waste water from houses. The local people launched a movement to protect the river, and finally the government built the Otonashi River Shinsui (Water Friendly) Park in 1985. Spring water is mixed with the natural flow and filtered. Thus, clean water is circulated in certain areas. Depicting the area under present-day Otonashi Bridge, this photograph was taken by Kusakabe Kinbei between 1877 and 1887 (second decade of the Meiji Period)."

And April 2013 -

Thursday, 2 May 2013


Here are some of the things I'm loving this Thursday:

- four day weekends with U
- our new fridge! freezer space!
- spending time on my own research
- lunchtime walks in the park
- spring flowers

What are you loving today?