Saturday, January 20, 2007


More praise for the Kyoto International Community Center! I made it to all three courses today, and it was fantastic!

First at 10:00 in the morning was the Shogi club. Shogi is a traditional Japanese board game that is very similar to our chess. The board has an extra column and row (9x9) and most of the pieces are the same with a few exceptions. You can read the complete rules here. The two biggest differences I noticed were the ability to promote all pieces when they move into the enemy's territory (back three rows) and to "drop" pieces you have captured from your opponent back into play as part of your team anywhere on the board! It adds a whole new dimension to chess, having to think about what's on the board, what your opponent has off the board and what you have off the board. It was so much fun. The Sensei even served out coffee and biscuits while we played and gave me this board and pieces to take home and practice!

Next up was Origami. So what if I did origami as kid? We first made pigs, or boars, since it's now the year of the pig. Then we made "demons" (the rose pink guy) for Setsuban on February Third. You're supposed to throw dried beans at the demons to ward of evil, since most demons are allergic to beans...
Next up was the hardest one, that little green pinwheely type thing. It called for a very tiny piece of paper to begin with and it's folded so many times, but it's also the coolest one. If you put it on a smooth surface and blow on it from above, it spins like a top! A Wind Top! I love it. Time for a tea and cookie break. Lastly we made the also cool star baskets. Origami can be so pretty, and even almost functional sometimes. I'd love to find a way to use lacquer or resin to preserve it.

The day ended with Calligraphy. I did much better this week, partially due to choosing an easier Kanji than the 京都 (Kyoto) I did last time. The one I did today means "era," I forget how to say it in Japanese. It was a bit easier, and since I was there on time I got more practice in. The instructors are very helpful even though they don't speak much English. The one on the left is the better of the two. More snacks and social time! I talked with some students from Germany, Sweden, and Canada. It was good to meet some new people, particularly English speaking ones.

And now for some more Textures of Kyoto, or Gion specifically:

A couple days ago we went grocery shopping, and since the seafood is so affordable here we I had to try some salmon. Alison did a great job cooking it up with grilled asparagus and soba noodles. I made a little tofu with miso glaze in case I didn't like the fish, but I have to say it was delicious.

The Sea Dragon and Koi are tattoos I recently had done on my fore arms. Hope you like them.
Just kidding, images courtesy of Needle Addicted.

P.S. With our highspeed internet connection and computer you can now click on the photos we put on the blog to see them full size.


Anonymous said...

This is wonderful - how fortuante you ae to be doing all of these activities - good for you. And they all look great - you must be good at the game - sounds right up you alley. Glad you liked the samon - it is so good for you - brain food. Sorry about the computer glitch - we'll figue it out.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful words and wonderful images. Usually I can figure out who is writing what, but sometimes it would be helpful is you both added your names to your verses.
Alison, I have those conversations in my head all the time too. Generally it just part of the decison-making process. Thanks for sharing.

Alison said...

At the end of each post it says who wrote it. For example, at the end of the past post there is a line across the page that end the post then it says posted by matthew. and it shows how many comments there are. I hope that helps

Anonymous said...

i am glad you found a way to do crafts!