We Do Miss Fiji

One of the most beautiful videos I've seen in a long while - underwater sites in Fiji and Tonga. It goes by fast, so just pause it as you please to take in the scenes.

Full screen is a must for this one:

We will return one day.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Turning to final approach, Matei airport, Taveuni, Fiji


A B C D Goldfish?

L M N O Goldfish!

O S A R Goldfish! C M?

O I C D Goldfish!

Or do you?

(full screen highly recommended)

Painting a cross section of goldfish between each layer of resin, artist Riusuke Fukahori creates three dimensional images, much in the way 3D printers work. The result, as you can see, is a stunning illusion.


It Is To Laugh

According to ancient mythology, Japan's Sun Goddess, Amaterasu Omikami, went into hiding in a cave after an argument with her brother that had resulted in the death of one of her attendants. As a result of her entering the cave, the world was plunged into darkness. What to do?

Eventually, she was coaxed out by the prayers and dancing of Ame-no-Koyane-no Mikoto, Hiraoka shrine's main diety along with the laughter of the other gods.

Nowadays, there is an annual Laugh Festival held at Hiraoka Shrine in Higashiosaka, Osaka Prefecture. Priests and followers give it their all to laugh out loud, long and hard.

Other countries and cultures have laugh festivals as well. And laughter can lighten one's burdens even if one has to "fake it" at first. Our minds and bodies are so intertwined that the physical act of laughing or smiling will trigger happy feelings in the mind. Like yawning, laughter is contagious.

So have a good laugh. Even the gods will enjoy it.

Daffy and Porky in Robin Hood Daffy (1958)


Momo Rocks-in the New Year

Momo likes to drum. When she sits on "her" bench on our front porch and wags her tail, she hits the storage box of the storm shutters which sounds like a drum. Of course, off camera she can really get into it at times and make sound like a "taiko" drum.

2012 is of course the Year of the Dragon. Our friend Arkonbey, who draws comic books and graphic novels (among other talents), recently got the idea for a comic about an all girl puppy band called the "Glitter Dragons". To read about how he came up with the idea and the name, check out this post on his website Obscurum.

Arkonbey emailed and asked if he could model the drummer after Momo and of course we said that would be a great honor. So now Momo is drumming for the "Glitter Dragons".

Here is the band on stage:

Drawing by Arkonbey, over-painting by his significant other, Sweet Enemy

And now the Glitter Dragons have their own blog. Click on the logo above to check it out!

Momo, you rock! You never cease to amaze us. Thank you Arkonbey and Sweet Enemy. Happy New Year of the Glitter Dragons!


Ending 2011 On A High Note

Friday we took the car on an hour and a half journey west, while Bluesette crew member Martin rode the train two hours eastbound, to meet up in the town of Ushiku, Ibaraki as a way to celebrate the end of 2011.

First we visited the Ushiku Daibutsu, a steel framed bronze statue of Amida Nyorai - Buddha of infinite light and life. The statue, built by Higashi Hongwani (lit. East Temple of the Primal Vow) and completed in 1993, stands 120 meters (394 feet) tall from ground to top and 100 meters (328 feet) from head to toe.


Comparison of Ushiku Daibutsu to the famous budda in Todaiji Temple in Nara, the Statue of Liberty, and of course Gojira (Godzilla).

It is more than merely a landmark as the interior has several floors of exhibits which tell the history and teachings of Buddhism. At chest level there are windows allowing one to glimpse a view of the surrounding countryside. As the weather was very clear, we were able to see Tokyo Sky Tree and Fuji-san which is 95 miles to the West.

Here's Martin ringing out 2011

After coming back down to earth, we were famished so headed for the *NEW* Doki-Doki restaurant. I have mentioned the original Pocket Farm Doki-Doki, which is closer to Lake Hinuma, in previous posts. Martin blogged about it here: Five Stars For The JA Ibaraki Pocket Farm Doki Doki Restaurant. The restaurant/farmers market was started by the JA Ibaraki - the farmers association - to provide an outlet for locally grown produce and meat. They offer a huge selection of fresh, local foods, prepared using the favorite recipes of farmers and chefs. All you can eat. It's always a great experience.


Round one for me - all vegetarian except for a piece of fish. Kimie tried the pork "shabu shabu" with her fist tray. We all went back for 2nds and 3rds.

After the leisurely lunch, in spite of feeling like a nap, we headed for Chateau Kamiya. This is the site of the Japan's first winery, built in 1903. At the time, they had vast vineyards and VIPs would come out from Tokyo for "secret" parties. The building was designed by a French Architect and the vines were brought from Bordeaux. The brick buildings are now a National important cultural property.


Chateau Kamiya

The vineyards were gradually sold off for development decades ago and the ownership changed. They no long make wine there. Instead, they make a local beer and import wine from France (mostly) which they re-bottle. Martin tasted some and said it was awful. With good wines from France, Germany, Chile, Argentina, the USA, and Australia readily available in Japan, one wonders why the Chateau Kamiya would bother trying to sell sub-standard re-bottled wines. Seems a losing marketing strategy to me.

There appeared to be some earthquake damage to the clock tower of the main building. Only the shop was open - the museum, wine making room, and restaurant were all closed. Might have been a great place to visit at one time, but I can't recommend it as we saw it, other than to view the buildings for their architectural historical value, and this lovely Iigiri tree with its bright red grape-like bunches of berries in the main courtyard. The Iigiri is native to China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan.


Then it was time to head home. While the Chateau was a disappointment, the Daibutsu was uplifting and the meal at Doki-Doki a delicious feast. An interesting monument, delicious food, and friendship - a great way to celebrate the end of the year.

So long 2011.