Bebe Taian: Dragons in the Water

July 8, 2011

Dragons in the Water

Today I was all set to get photos of a new outfit! Well, maybe not new. I've worn it before, but not on camera. Black haneri, blue hitoe iromuji somewhere between ocean blue and sky blue, and my dragon obi! The dragon obi is a favourite piece since I was born when rabbits become dragons, and it's so versatile in colour that it can be worn with grey kimono, blues, or even paprika red! I prefer the stormy blues unless I'm in a particularly dragon-like mood. I also wanted to photograph some of my kimono better. Someone who has been taking inventory of their kimono collection reminded me that I should do the same so that I can decide how much renters' insurance I need.
Sadly, it has been heavily downpouring all day. I won't complain too much- we really needed the water! But this means that the apartment is completely dark. Even with the indoor lighting, it's very dim and yellowy. Not at all appropriate for photographs! Kaaa. So, what can we talk about today?

Maybe about weather in Japan.

In most places, the rainy season starts in May, and lasts through mid-July. Some places start a little later, and in Hokkaido, which always seems to have gorgeous weather, it doesn't really start at all. The rainy season is called "Tsuyu", and it basically means that you should always carry a small umbrella, even if the day looks nice when you set out! Like Florida, it can go from beautiful blue skies to complete washouts in all of an hour. And if you don't like the weather now, just wait an hour and it'll be different!

Like Florida, Japan's rainy season brings a terribly oppressive humidity. Humidity that rots clothing, fogs up glasses when you walk outside, and makes it feel like it's 20F hotter than it is. Bread on the counter even gets moldy overnight sometimes! (Ask how I know. Ugh.) What on Earth do you do then? It's a time when one can get easily irritated, but there are some beautiful things during Tsuyu to explore.

Ajisai, close-up
- Ajisai-viewing. All over Japan, ajisai (hydrangea) grows in abundance. I saw many, many of these beautiful plants lushly blooming all over Tokyo. The petals can change colour depending on season, breed, and even iron content in the soil. So, if a piece of iron is being broken down in the soil on one side of a large pot, the flowers will turn blue, whereas the other side might be pink- and in between, they'll go purple or have "freckles" of both colours! Ajisai are a rainy-weather flower with petals like raindrops. And if you're going to see flowers...

- Ayame. Irises. Remember what I said back in May about them? There are three different kinds of Japanese iris, depending on where they are cultivated and when they begin to bloom. There is a breed of iris now called "Maiko no hama"- beach of maiko - that is beautiful, and a little striking. It is very white with tinges of purple on only the edges of each petal, while the very centre is yellow. Ayame are popular for ikebana this time of year. There are so many varieties to choose from!

- Hot tea on a slow day. This is the day when I pull out my favourite cups and make good tea. Usually something summery and fragrant, but also sometimes a higher-quality "plain" green tea. Take your time making it and drinking it. Look around at your surroundings while you do, and count your blessings. It's easy to get carried away in the maelstrom of things like kids, unemployment, a harried work schedule, stress from medical issues or family problems, and overwhelmed with chores. Take just a moment to realise that even though all of those things are going on, you are surrounded by four walls and a roof over your head- and that's more than many right now. Inhale. Let it out slowly. How many books have you afforded? Think of the retail value on all of those shelves alone- how fortunate! Are you and your family fed? Well done. Don't think of all the bills and other worries- that will wait until tomorrow. Just take this moment for what it is right now.

- Do you craft? Today is a good day to pull out papercrafts, sewing blocks, or anything you have around. Even blank printer paper can be turned into a few sheets of gorgeous stationary with some time. It doesn't have to be a complicated design, either! If you have stamps, or want to free hand some cute flowers on the edges with different coloured pens or markers, then by all means! Write someone a letter. It doesn't have to be long or particularly interesting. Leave it for a lover, or a friend, or a relative that you haven't spoken to in awhile. They'll be glad for the reminder, and very appreciative of the handmade quality of your note. Nothing is like a handwritten letter, and nothing is like a handwritten letter on stationary you crafted! It's the ultimate freedom to make every letter different. You can even print templates for stationary off of the internet.

One of my favourite projects was buying a gorgeous blank journal for a friend, and then stringing a few beads onto the ribbon in it before filling every few pages with a quote they'd like, or copied from this collection of Japanese poetry. There is still plenty of space to write in the book.This is the one I used.

- Maiko/geisha image journal
- "Asian Landscape" journal (okay, it's Chinese, but early Japanese history involved a lot of trade with China- that's where their writing, clothing, and most holidays and stories come from!)

- Finish up any "loose ends" chores that you have today. If it's raining too hard, there's little point in being outside. So get the little stuff out of the way now! Load the dishwasher, wipe the counters, sweep the floors. Then go back to reading or watching a good movie over tea. Tea solves everything.

What will you do today?

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