Tag Archives: traditional japan

Creative Process, September 2018.

Art studio with spider lilies.
Spider lily blossoms in vase.

Spider lily blossoms and a drawing.
A spider lily blossoms and artwork.

Spider lily blossoms by a Jizou statue.
Swallowtail butterfly on spider lily blossoms.

The project: Spider Lily Red.
In progress is the second of the two piece series called “Flare”.
Images are from this past September, captured moments during the precious three weeks I get to spend every autumn with my favorite lilies, my muse, taking in as much, their familier red to last me for a year.
The photos are in sleepy smoky monochrome, because I am saving up the stored red so as to pour it all into the second piece I will be painting in the coming months.

Thank you for your visit, and Happy Holidays!!

Monochrome Diary, August 2017.


Artist’s hand at work.
Dancers at a Japanese matsuri.

A Cotton Rose bud.
A Cicada Shell on Tiger Daylily.

Vendors at a Japanese matsuri.
A Gardenia blossom.

A photographer’s reflection on water.
Art works in studio.

Honey indeed.

Red spiderlilies and a black butterfly.

(Jizou: a Buddhist rock statue, its humble presence usually found on roadside, in a corner of a temple, as a requiem for departed, an aid for suffering.)

Red spider lilies and a rock statue.

Best jizous I’ve ever seen live in my neighborhood. Their stone-made presence weighs of the spirit. I sit and ponder on their shrine’s faded wooden verandah. So lucky, ain’t I. Then I glance over, their expression exudes. Surely honey, indeed, and that is quite so with everybody. Lucky, everyone, in ways no one else can know.

Carved, most probably by a monk on pilgrimage, he won it within himself, to let it speak through the simplest of lines. You ought to know simple is hard, creativity brutal, what you got inside, turns up regardless. That’s quite alright they say, they are the best jizous I’ve ever seen.

Red of the lilies around them somehow look the deepest. Someone who knew, once stood here. I think of the monk, the time he lived long since past, chiseling in bold, determined strikes, what he conveyed a timeless truth. Walking back to my car I find, in a bouquet of my favorite lilies, a glimpse of my own lucky bouncing in my arms.

Red spider lilies and Jizou rock statues.
Red spider lilies and a coffee cup.

All photos were taken on last Sunday of September 2016, at a location, best remain undisclosed, where I regularly raise a cup to our individual luckies.

Red spiderlilies and a mini frog.

Hear/I am.

About a month ago the year turned. While it was turning I rushed to a close by temple for the once-a-year opportunity to hit a big bronze bell they got there with a rather large log positioned to swing horizontally.

The bell is there year-round but I waited a whole year, for I feel too polite to just walk up there any old time and hit it as I like, the booming resonance it produces.

I had an opportunity to talk with the head monk afterwards, a carefree random chat the first thing in the year. He shared with me what’s been taught to him;
to find “Hotoke” – by whom no words be voiced – listen to the water, the wind…

ALERT:
This video contains flickering lights.
(Sunlight reflections on Sea surface.)

The footage’s of the sea lit with the first sunlight of the year, coupled with the booming bass from the aforementioned bell.
That is what brings everything together really, the boom of the bell, so do make sure to boost the lower frequency.

Lily Overload (and a few images from random Autumn scenes).

Just wanted to see how a longish title would look.

As a research for my upcoming dye piece, I’ve been taking way too many photos of spider lily blossoms. Through this practice ideas seem to emerge. Well, they better.
Here I picked the best of, all taken just recently.

Silver grasses by the sea.
A Jizou rock statue.
A grasshopper on spider lily buds.
Red spider lily blossoms.
A flowering spider lily bud.
Sun-lit silver grasses.

つい先日一般道で新潟まで出かける機会があった。太平洋側はそこらじゅうで満開だった彼岸花だが、那須高原を越え新潟までの道程ではほとんど見かけなかったのが不思議といえば不思議。育たないのか、育てたくないのか。
それにしても南会津の星空は迫力があった。ここの住人にはこれがあたりまえなのか。地球みたいな星がこのなかにどれだけあるのか、自分みたいな奴がたったいまどこかで同じような事を考えているのか。
こんなに疑問ばかり並べていないで早く寝た方がいいのではないか。

最後の一つだけ答えがわかりました。

追記 on 2020年11月29日:
彼岸花は真冬にすらりと洗練された深緑の葉っぱを生やして日光を独り占めするのです。だから雪の積もるエリアではあかんのでしょう。
ああもうなんてかっこいいんだろう、完全脱帽状態です、惚れ直しました。

Last Edited: November 29, 2020.

Japan is…

(This post is unrelated to nationalism, activism, buddhism or martyrism.)

I study society by asking Google simple questions. One day I felt like finding out what other people think of this country. Well look what I found…

Search result screenshot.

None bothered me except the 3rd. Feeling lucky? You bet! Don’t worry though, ’cause I was just wondering that myself.
In fact I was thinking, maybe that’s the reason why I own a surfboard, although originally the purchase was made for something else.

My neighborhood guys weren’t so happy…

Sinking? What do you mean sinking??
We aren’t sinking, are we sinking?

A temple wood carving.

Calm down fella, your face’s all red. At our age you may want to start winding down, loosen your knuckle and exude the serenity of divine calm…

A temple wood carving.

Oh quiet you pastel-palmed you, and your fuzzy rosy cloud of calmness you’ve been standing in for last 700yrs. At this point nothing can shock you awake, not even a dip in the salt water…

But why, why do they think we are….sinking?

Don’t tell me we are sinking…don’t sink…

A temple wood carving.

-end of dialogue-

As 311 approaches for the second time since the big day, I wanted to clear some air in regard to our living on the edge of the seismic-atomic goings-on.

I heard talks online speculating on Japanese, that we are either in denial, naively misinformed, or staying put due impoverishment. I also noticed some of you are concerned but too polite to come out and ask (thank you for thinking of us). While I surely have no answers to any of the above, why not offer you my humble 5 yen that I think have earned through living on the east half of the island, not too close to get scorched but close enough to feel the fire.

From what I’ve seen and heard in real life, I can safely say everyone’s taking calculated risks, opposed to passively waiting for a direction. They seem to know what they want, what they can handle – emotionally/psychologically, especially – and ways to find the “path of least resistance” , so to speak, in accordance. Without being vocal about what that is, mostly out of consideration for each other – as choices we’re having to make in relation to our new state of being could be highly personal, and often of a delicate variety.

We who live in the nation, may be in this together, but what I keep noticing is the strength, perhaps at deeply hidden core of each, to stand in one’s destiny alone.
And choose the path, suited only for the individual. People know themselves, and we are all so different. Although part so alike, still so different.

Now back to the temple where the above guys reside. The place was built in Heian era, been 900+ years and counting. Sit sturdy on bedrock, built to last. Located in nondescript rural hillside, a nearly secret haven for this gem. Hazard of the hood being wild boars. Edible yes, but often unfriendly and very genki.
The Head Priest, friendly, was the one crafted all the candle holders. They were for the New Year’s eve count down event, the countless candles lighting the temple’s narrow pathways, flickering against the tall black trees in the background.

A bamboo candle holder.
A temple wood carving.
A bamboo candle holders.

So this was my first travel guide post. You will have a hard time finding a place like this one without some helpful guide going on and on about everything that’s inviting. Oh, my pleasure, stay tuned for more.

By the way, I heard Japan is about the size of the state of California, though haven’t found the time to confirm with Google about it.

Edited on January 21, 2015.

Noto Black

Calm sea water surface.
Japanese ceramic roof tiles.

In Noto Peninsula, almost all houses are roofed with matching black tiles. Being a starry-eyed tourist, I thought the community did it for the sake of aesthetics. Turned out it was for the particular type of moisture-resistant coating, resulting in the rows of semi-mat black chicness.

The kind of black that glistens softly in light drizzle.

Japanese house with ceramic roof tiles.

Special thanks to the crow.

Photographed earlier this month.

Exquisite Dra.


A carved wood dragon.
Wooden Dragon Carving, a shrine, Japan.
A carved wood dragon.

Photographed circa 1998, with a film SLR camera, at a neighborhood shrine in Kawasaki, Japan. These carvings became one of the main inspirations for my dyed dragon series.

At Work, Autumn 2005.

Artist at work, self portrait.

Photo#1: Self Portrait – 31Oct05. A selfie before there was “selfie”, was meant as a snapshot taken for myself, as a record of things going well on the test version of “Dragon Series”, the fragmented / deconstructed dragon, a blueprint roughly drawn with fabric marker, creating “flow” good enough that made me smile.

Originally posted on my website which used to have different URL, sometime in 2006, then on Flickr in 2014. With those uploads I photoshopped/trimmed out the clutter – it was shortly before moving out, but this time you get the full picture – nearly untouched / minimum edits, messy as a part of the story.

Photo#2: Wall Decor – Oct05. Also a snap of my apartment wall. 

The drawing is one of the ‘study’ sketches of the dragon below, the print from Redon exhibit I traveled to see in Gifu, and a few impressive leaves I collected, all somehow translated into the piece above.
Honorable mention: I have a special fondness for wire hungers and clothespins. The one on far right facing the pic is from Italy, and so far the most durable. The top three on wire are classic Japanese bamboo pins, they are also very sturdy but I haven’t seen them in stores for some time.

Photo#3: Dragon Carving – photographed circa 1998 at a shrine down the street, where I used to swing by in the morning and practice drawing the dragons even just for 5 minutes, before heading out to catch a commuter train packed like sardines in a glass jar, carrying a purse heavy with books (mostly materials to aid unblocking my creativity), a journal, a sketch book, pens, pencils, a sharpner, swim gear, lunch, a mini disc player…

Now that I am on the subject please allow me to elaborate…..
In 2002-2003 I painted the first dragon dress using the acid dye, spent about a year painting it and messed up over-applying the dye. Couldn’t wash off excess dye. The “failed” piece became the threat, a potential source of air bound dye particles. Had to throw that one out. So disappointed I nearly threw the whole thing out.
(Special shout-out to Mr.S from the dye material store in Tokyo for going out of his way to give me his constructive criticism to the 2003 me nearly in despair, along with all the encouraging know-hows since around 1998.)

What you see in Pic#1 is me working on the second try – the semi-abstraction on the test piece I worn is “flowing”, but when I painted with dye it looked like was drawn with a felt marker, which was not what I was after.
In 2006 finally “got” it the 3rd time (if included the first dress painted with pigment marker on rayon/poly, this would be the 4th try) – the year I worked on 3 pieces – Aqua Dragon Dress 1, Aqua Dragon Dress 2 and Indigo Dragon Top.

Why am I telling you all this – mostly as an encouragement in case it’s needed.

I am getting good at what I do, in other words I like where I am at but it wasn’t done overnight. I had to practice, make lots of mistakes, and while at it hold the vision and believe in it all by myself, simply because no one else could see it, it was my vision.
Believe in what I alone can see and keeping at it thru thick/ thin/ fine/ foul, when what is happening in the current is anywhere near where I wanted to get to. That probably was the hardest part of the whole process. Made me stronger though. And proud, in a way nothing can take that away from me.

Written / compiled 19~21Feb22, published on 21Feb22.

Additional Note on March 23, 2022:

“Is your dad Poseidon and is that a pyramid?”

Me: no and no.

Since early on, I sensed what was there but not visible, a form of floating vibe / energy / emotions.
I was an empath before there was ‘empath’.
What I try to depict is what’s sensed combined with what’s seen. Bring the “hidden” to surface.
…And be hated – worry not tho, I am being funny mostly.

The triangle, bottom-left of me facing the pic, is a calendar falling off – as mentioned above, I was packing to move. Calendar had pictures of wild horses, their mane was what I used to draw dragon’s flowing, um, hair..?

Poseidon’s daughter Lamia, in Greek mythology, was a half-lady, half-snake creature with a sorrowful history. I didn’t know anything about her until someone pointed out to me.
In contrast, I am a common human female down the street. doing her clumsy best in this strange world of ours.

A pencil sketch, a Redon print, and leaves on a wall.
Japanese wood carving of a dragon.