Sunday, November 30, 2008


One of the sights that I love most in autumn are hanging persimmons. In Japan, most farms have two or three persimmon trees and even in the forest, wild persimmon trees can be found heavy with fruit. When it rains or after the night's dew fall, the tree trunks and branches turn such a dark color they look like silhouettes against the sky. The leafless trees seem to be hung out with hundreds of little orange Christmas balls!

There are two types of persimmons, (that I know of...) sweet persimmons and stringent persimmons. The sweet ones, well, you can eat them right off the tree. But the stringent ones... Wow! Take your tongue right out of your mouth! However, stringent persimmons can be made edible by drying them and of course the drying process means that persimmons can be eaten throughout the winter.

Persimmons are peeled with the stem left on and then they are tied 5 or 6 to a rope. The ropes are hung out over a line or a pole and left to dry in the very cold pre-winter air. In case of a sudden rain the persimmons are hung out under the eaves or they are hurriedly brought into the house or farm shed. In the past couple weeks, wherever I go I see curtains of persimmons drying on the balconies and next to farm houses. Occasionally there will be daikon radishes out there too being dried for winter pickling. I've seen persimmons drying outside of apartment windows and even on the kindergarten playground!

In Southern California I rarely had persimmons so to me these are a very Japanese delicacy and the screens of drying persimmons blend in so nicely with Japanese countryside architecture. The patterned tile roofs, the rough wood frames around the windows, the gold and yellow of the autumn leaves. To me, drying persimmons is the ultimate of Japanese scenery.

I have tried drying my own persimmons but my few attempts ended in disaster when I let them get damp in the rain or dew and they molded! I'll never make a good traditional Japanese housewife. That's okay! I have people like my friend Mrs. Ide who brought over a few persimmons that she'd dried in her front yard. Tetsu was overjoyed and gobbled up these delicacies with a cup of steaming green tea. He's very glad I have friends who can do all these things his foreign wife can't!

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Hmm. Do I want to talk about trials or do I want to talk about normal life? Well at least I don't think of normal life as being a trial...

Yesterday I saw Japanese society first hand at its worst. I had to go to a Homeowners meeting last night because of my position as a traffic/safety officer. Last night's meeting was attended by all the neighborhood block heads, the Homeowners Association Chairman, co-chairmen, various officers and the Child-raising Association's Chairman (in this case a chairwoman). Maybe 25 people in all. The Child-raising Association's Chairwoman, Mrs. T also brought her 7 year old son Ken, who comes to me for English.

I never did understand the problem but somehow there was a misunderstanding between Mrs. T and the Homeowner Association. Fewer parents are taking part in the Child-raising Association, however, they still have duties that pertain to the children but also service the whole neighborhood; festivals and field trips etc. A request was made by Mrs. T to have the Homeowner Association take over some of the duties (she doesn't have man-power behind her) but boy, did she get jumped upon!

Do you know what I mean when I talk about a hen-pecking party? When one person does something that doesn't gel with the group and then everyone starts getting vocal, pointing fingers, accusing, words flare and feathers start flying around the room. A few people are indignantly and loudly discussing the irresponsibility of others, everyone is talking at the same time and most of the talk are attacks on the original person who made the unfavorable comment or did something out of the ordinary.

Last night's fiasco was aimed at Mrs. T and she was accused of being a shirker, being irresponsible, being a poor leader and an uncooperative follower. Mrs. T was defending herself but other attacks flew at her from all sides. A few of us sat and looked at the floor and one man tried to come to her defense, and he was attacked too. (He has always been ostracized anyway in the neighborhood so he probably figured a few more black marks could hardly hurt him).

"If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem."

My face grew red and I thought, "Here I am not saying a word and watching Mrs. T try to make people understand her position. For all she knows I'm silently accusing her also. I am part of the problem."

I really didn't understand the situation but I did understand that Ken was watching out of the corner of his eye as his mother was being verbally abused.

So in the midst of the flurry I whispered to Ken to come with me, tapped Mrs. T on the shoulder and told her I was taking him and walked out of the heated room. On the way home, holding my hand, Ken said,

"Everyone was angry at my mom."

"Your mom was pretty angry too. That's okay. She's strong! She was doing a good thing."

Ken and I went home and ate packaged cookies and read I SPY pages and played UNO for the next hour. When his mother came to pick him up she burst into tears and allowed me to give her a hug.

"I didn't cry in front of everyone. I held it in until now. I shouldn't have brought Ken to begin with. Thank you for taking him out of there."

I wasn't part of the solution but at least I didn't sit there and be part of the problem either.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I've got a headache from playing around with my dumb Christmas cards. And yes, I know if I'm going to complain and be in such a grumpy mood that I should zilch the plans to send out Christmas cards at all because it is not in line with the Christmas spirit.

I messed around for most of the day on Tuesday trying to get my pictures right and I finally called my friend Mrs. Ochiai (the computer genius!) and asked her advice. Actually I just sent her the picture and asked her to put a proper frame on it so that the camera store would take it. She kindly did and sent it back to me within an hour.

I managed to download my picture into a memory stick (oh I am learning how to do so many things!) and today I toodled into the shop and confidently handed them my memory stick.

"Oh no, Mrs. Watanabe. You have to give us a print if you want us to make cards."

Fine. I can do that. I go to their machine and upload (upload, download, I don't know which one) my picture into their computers and hand the man at the counter my order printout. They hand me an order form. I fill it out and hand it back to the man at the counter.

"Oh, so sorry to trouble you Mrs. Watanabe. You ordered the wrong size print from the computer. You needed the smaller size."

Fine, fine. Let's do it again. Here you go. Here is the printout for the smaller size print I have now ordered. Here is the order form for a 100 cards.

"So sorry Mrs. Watanabe. But to do this you need to have a frame around your picture."

"Ah-hah! I DO have a frame around my picture so go ahead and order my 100 cards."

"Begging your pardon Mrs. Watanabe but our computer screen shows that your frame is not to the right dimensions. You need 10,000 and 10,000 pixels (well, some number of pixels) and 10,000 and 10,000 (more odd numbers) of pixels of frame. Here are the directions for making your own picture with the correct frame about it."

"Wait... I did this last year and haphazardly put a frame around it. Are you sure it isn't going to work this year?" (Desperation in my voice.)

"Well... of course you could send it in this way but it might come back very lopsided and you might lose some of the picture. With all respect, I think you should try to redo your picture. By the way, the deadline for the discount is tomorrow."

"There isn't any other way to do this?" (my head started hurting at about that point.)

"Oh yes! If you want to bring in your pictures separately we could arrange them for you in a similar layout. Since you have so many pictures (family picture and 6 animal pictures) it would run about $80."

"Forget you! I'm outta here. I'll go back home and rack my brain for computer technology!"

Actually I've come home and called Mrs. Ochiai again and scanned and sent her the specific directions for getting the correct sized frame around my picture.

And on the way home I stopped at the convenience store, bought a chocolate bar, ripped into it and ate the whole thing before I got into the driveway...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

For us in Japan, it is a normal Thursday. Nothing planned in the way of a feast and no turkeys in sight. A couple of days ago Japan celebrated Labor Thanksgiving Day which has different connotations but schools and businesses did get to take the day off. It is no where near the family, feasting day that Thanksgiving is in America.

For many years our family was invited to Marlene's house for Thanksgiving and she always had a turkey ordered from Tokyo. Marlene's family, our family and another family with American connections would gather on the Sunday closest to Thanksgiving Day and have a traditional Thanksgiving feast. I'd bring green beans and a salad and maybe an apple pie, the other family would bring condiments like cranberry sauce, black olives and pickles (the husband always had a business trip to the States around this time of year) and Marlene would roast a turkey, make mashed potatoes and bake a pumpkin pie. We all spoke a combination of Japanese and English and had a big "family" day. Poor Marlene! She has always been stuck with the big job of roasting the turkey because she is the only one of us that has an American sized oven that the turkey can fit into! The rest of us bake in ovens that hold 9 cookies at a time.

Another Thanksgiving I remember before I ever met Marlene, was when a couple foreign families decided to celebrate together and one lady, Helen, ordered a turkey. I think what happened was when she went to roast it she found it wouldn't fit in her oven. Disaster approaching! We called Mrs. Furui because I knew she had an large German oven from her days of living in Germany.

"Mrs. Furui! We are trying to roast a turkey but it won't fit in the oven. Could we use your oven today? Of course please join our Thanksgiving party!"

Mrs. Furui was happy to help us but she had plans for part of the day. She suggested that whoever was roasting the turkey could come over and camp out at her house even if she, herself, wouldn't be home.

Blond Helen went over to Mrs. Furui's and spent the day alone roasting the turkey. No problems until MR. Furui suddenly came home in the middle of the day and found this blond stranger standing in his kitchen! He backed out of there very quickly and pondered whether he'd stumbled into the wrong house! As I recall, thanks to the Furui's, it was a lovely Thanksgiving day with lots of laughter.

As I said, this year Tetsu and I are having a quiet weekend. Marlene of course invited us again, but she has a lot of company this year and Thanksgiving doesn't mean a whole lot to Tetsu anyway. Should I figure out how to bake a pumpkin pie? I think my oven can handle that...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Busy days

A rush, rush day today. I don't like Wednesdays just because I have to have my wits enough together to take materials for three different places and 6 classes and I invariably forget something. I also seem to be on the run and checking the clock all the time. And I finally get home around 6:00. It makes for a long day (for me... For my husband who works until 9:30 at night, he can't understand what I'm griping about.)

Question: Do you think you are too busy or not busy enough or have just the right balance in your days? I think I am too busy. It seems like I don't have time to enjoy chatting with friends, and of course I could always use some extra time to work on quilting projects. I imagine a Tasha Tudor sort of life sitting among animals and flowers and quietly making things. I wonder if and when I have time to spare that I'll melt into boredom and think about the good ol' rushing around days.

My personal opinion is that in Japan at least, everyone is too busy. I have English kids who go to soccer or band practice after school, then get bused to swim school, then come to English and finish up the evening with abacus lessons. It seems that almost every child I come into contact with has some type of lesson every day of the week. Karate, boy scouts, piano, cram school, ballet, etc. etc. I can hardly talk since my English classes seem to be part of the problem but still I feel sorry for kids who have no time to just play or read or something. Maybe kids don't do that anyway anymore. Maybe they all sit in front of their TV and computer games so the parents figure keeping kids occupied is a better way for them to spend their time.

But it is not limited to just kids. I teach an English class at the kindergarten for mothers and there are supposed to be 10 students but for the last month I have had 3 or 4. The reasons? One week the kindergarten offers the mothers kimono dressing lessons, another two or three weeks there is preparation for a tea ceremony party. A few weeks there were doll making classes and puppet show preparations. Sometimes there is birthday lunch day for the kids. Of course there were bazaar preparations and Sports Day preparations. I actually applaud the mothers who tell me they just can't come to English anymore because there are so many other things they have to do. I should say so! At least they are not wearing themselves thin and juggling one extra thing.

I have no idea if Tasha Tudor ever made Apple Crisp but it sounds like something warm and hearty that she would serve her guests. Yesterday I made some for friends and students but Tetsu has been too BUSY to sample the piece I saved for him...

Apple Crisp

4 cups sliced apples
2/3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup margarine

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange apples in greased square pan. Mix remaining ingredients; sprinkle over apples.

Bake until topping is golden brown and apples are tender, about 30 minutes. Serve warm and if desired with cream or ice cream.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christmas cards

I'm trying to make a Christmas card. (In Japan we send out New Year's cards instead of Christmas cards). First I looked around on my computer and decided there isn't any picture software in it. That's okay since I only seem to need it at Christmas and New Years. Then I played around with Word and figured out how to paste pictures to a document in a way that was pleasing. (Family pictures with six animal pictures pasted at the bottom.) Great except I came to the conclusion that the camera shop is not going to want a Word document. They want jpg. documents.

Then I contacted Mary who always has such lovely pictures on her blog and she suggested I download Picasa. I have done that and now I am trying to make a collage. All this is taking a lot of time and trial and error and I really have no idea what I'm doing. I think I've made a collage (I THINK) but I need to put a border around it since I know the camera shop where I order cards every year won't take my picture without a border around it. Don't ask me why. I also can't figure out how to upload my collage into my little memory stick. I am so hopeless with the computer!

Maybe we'll forget Christmas and New Year's cards this year... but it has been a 23 year tradition... They are all there up on the wall... Hmm... a little bit crooked I notice.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cats, cats, cats

Good grief. I just downloaded some pictures from the camera (yesterday's and today's) and find that between Tetsu and me, the two of us took 34 pictures of our cats! In two days! Are we crazy or what?! Aren't you glad you didn't know us when we had kids in the house?! Could have bored you all in a hundred different ways!

Well, my cats are cute (to my eyes) and the most photogenic things around. You don't want to see me peering over my reading glasses or Tetsu sleeping on the sofa again.

I wish I could get a picture of all five cats together (that would be a big help for the Christmas card I need to make... How am I going to put 6 animal pictures on my Christmas card? No room for the rest of the family!) But there is no way that Velvet is going to join this crowd. Can you distinguish where one cat starts and one cat leaves off?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Maple leaves

After our walk yesterday morning Tetsu and I cleaned house (he is such a good house cleaner!) and then started out on our day's adventure. We took Choco with us but she doesn't really get to do much except go for a ride. Better than being tied up in the yard I suppose.

First stop at the electronics store and Tetsu bought me a new vacuum cleaner. Do you know how much vacuum cleaners cost? (Around $300 for this one and it was middle range. I could have bought one for $900). I realize that that may not sound like much to some people but the last vacuum cleaner I bought (5 years ago) was about $90 so I was surprised at this price. We could have splurged and bought a more expensive vacuum cleaner (all this animal fur to contend with) but since I had been expecting to spend around $150 this was as far as I was willing to go. Now that I've got it I'd better use it!

We made a stop at Tetsu's mother's and she was in a cheery mood because she had gone to the doctor's the day before and they had given her a bag of medicine. I cannot believe how much medication is handed out to people in Japan. The other interesting thing is I've never seen a child-proof cap in Japan either. It is all handed out in foil wrappers and in little bags. Tetsu's mother LOVES dividing up all the different medications (she has at least 10 types) and putting them into little compartments in her drawer and cutting out the labels and taping them to the compartment handles. She also calls the nurse daily to ask if she should take more or less medicine for some symptom that has popped up that day. And no, the nurses don't appreciate being called.

After visiting with Mom, Tetsu and I went to find an onsen (hot spring) that was reported to be in the next town over up in the mountains. We drove for about an hour getting deeper and deeper into the mountains and the road kept getting narrower and narrower, sometimes with barely enough road space for one car let alone for passing on coming cars. I seriously wondered what we were getting ourselves into. The mountains were towering on either side of the road, the road itself was crumbling away on the cliff, the few farm houses we passed looked like from another century.

BUT the onsen was a wonderful place and very modern in a woody sort of way! The baths opened up onto the surrounding mountains and the scenery was spectacular! Although it was icy cold up there in the mountains, sitting in the steaming bath made all the scenery more beautiful and the dark red maple trees were gorgeous. After about an hour Tetsu and I met up again in the lobby area and Tetsu announced that it was the best onsen he'd ever been to and that he wants to come again soon.

Back an hour into town and after a quick dinner (revolving sushi) we stopped at a small park that was having a maple leaf festival. The park was artistically lit up as to show the beautiful colors of the maple leaves to their best. With my little digital and no tripod, you can hardly appreciate the deep colors but it really was beautiful!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Yesterday was a quiet day at home and I played around on the computer quite a lot. I even finished editing 6 months of blog posts and ordered a book again from Blurb. But yes. Christine said she checked it out and Blurb no longer services Blogger which was a big shock to me. Well, I had already downloaded the 6 months of posts and they seemed to accept the upload so I guess I will get a book of January to June 2007 blog posts eventually. I'm tired out anyway so I'm not planning to make more books for awhile but I do hope they get it worked out or I find something comparable just so that I have the option of having my blog in book form again someday.

I did some knitting... Nothing to show. I made the November Noah's ark block so I'm on top of that project. I find my eyesight is stressed when I do embroidery more than when I do patchwork or quilting. I had a headache after making these cute penguins. Of course the headache could have been due to the fact that the cats decided to destroy the house while I was trying to embroider. Getting into pots. Knocking things off piano and bookshelves. Tearing into the wallpaper and the bathroom door. (I'd locked them in to give Velvet some freedom.) I was jumping up and down like a jack-in-the-box and finally grabbed three cats and put them in Chip's old cage for an hour or two. They seemed very happy all cuddled there. Maybe I should do that more often.

This morning Tetsu and Choco and I went out for our morning walk as usual and as we passed one of our farm friends he called us over and loaded Tetsu's arms full of daikon. These are long icicle radishes that are very popular in Japanese cooking. Usually they are quite long, but Mr. Yano also raises round daikon (different from turnips) as well as the long type. One of my English kids had brought over two daikon the other day too so I have a lot of daikon! Last night I'd made fish and daikon simmered together (that's why the cats were trying to get into the pot) and daikon and fake crab mayonnaise salad, and this morning I've made daikon and deep fried tofu miso soup for breakfast. Such abundance!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nothing new...

I got 13 out of 15 of the items on my list done yesterday. (I put easy things on that list like "make dinner" and "teach". I HAVE to do those but crossing them off the list made me feel good.)

I've got Vel on my lap. I've decided that whenever possible I will give Vel lap time with me when I'm on the computer. That means that we are shut up in the Japanese room together but at least he doesn't have to worry about being ambushed by one of the other cats. Can you tell that he is somwhat depressed? It doesn't look like it is affecting his appetite.

A free day for me today but I've already wasted an hour of it playing around with Blurb. I'm trying to get my 2007 blog posts into book form again but I wrote so much that there were over 400 pages. Editing that... I don't know if I'll ever get that done but it does seem important to me to have a book in my hand in case the computer and Internet ever loses everything. I was happy with the results from the little 2006 blog book I made so it is a matter of editing the 2007 blog posts. Don't even think about 2008.

Yesterday I made a small block for Mrs. Harada's mini Round Robin (but I can't post that because it wouldn't be a surprise.) and while up in the sewing room I realized that this year I didn't post goals on my blog which made for very little progress on the quilting front. I don't know if I was just busier in the second half of the year or what, but I didn't get very much quilting done and there are various projects hidden away in drawers and boxes. I almost forget sometimes that I am a quilter and that doesn't seem right...

More knitting today (one of the things on my list) and I need to get to the Noah's Ark embroidery.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I've got a list of things to do. I think if I cross things off my list I'll feel like I'm getting things accomplished. Otherwise it seems like my day gets away from me and I don't know what I've done with my time.

Yesterday Toi spent the day at the vets for his little boy operation. I denied him food in the morning and put him in a cat box and dropped him off at the vet at 9:00. I felt worst about not giving him food when all the other cats were getting fed! Picked Toi up around 6:00 and all the other cats welcomed him back. He seems not the least bothered by his traumatic day.

I've played around with online Stories in Hand and am writing some family history. I'll probably bore you with some of those tales in the near future...

My vacuum cleaner broke. Actually I found it broken and my first thought was,

"Oh good. Now I can buy a new vacuum cleaner. I never liked this one much."

Tetsu informed me that he broke it the other day when he was vacuuming for me and that he'd try to fix it for me this weekend. I don't really want it fixed...

I am knitting a bit and getting into the pattern for Tetsu's Christmas vest. Not sure if I chose wisely or not. The yarn is tweedy and the pattern is a subtle criss-cross that barely shows up. Well, I'm not starting over at this point so this is the way it will go!

Mrs. Harada sent me her block for our Mini Round Robin. Now what would be a nice block (we are adding blocks, not rounds) for sweet, feminine, sensitive Mrs. Harada? I need to think about this today too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Create in me...

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...
And God created man in His own image,
in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them.
And God blessed them and said to them, "
Be fruitful and multiply..."
Genesis 1:1, 27-28

When I read this in the Bible and I think of how God the Creator of all, made man in His own image, I think that God is telling us not only to go out and fill the world with more people but to also be fruitful, create and multiply our creations...

I like making things but I think most people do. I think that making and creating is something that sets us apart from God's wonderfully made and loved animal world. Humans are called to create. Imagining something, planning the process to arrive at something tangible, spending the time and the effort to produce something, breathing life and soul into that something, that is all part of creation.

I don't mean that artists are the only ones who create. Artists create pictures or sculptures or photographs. Musicians produce music. Businessmen create empires. Politicians create societies. Parents procreate and create future adults. Teachers create future citizens. Housewives create havens of peace for their families. Truck drivers create byways of commerce. Doctors create hope for the hurting. Babies create mud pies and messes and learn quickly how to create smiles in others! And even the elderly create dreams, prayers and the occasional jigsaw puzzle. Writers create worlds with their words and we bloggers create journals of our family history, information and thoughts. We also create friendships!

And quilters create blankets of comfort, sandwiches of love and kaleidoscopes of joy.

With all this creating going on you'd think the world would be a cluttered chaotic place but God also provided a provision so that more can always be created.

"Pay close attention now:
I'm creating new heavens and a new earth.
All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past,
to be forgotten.
Look ahead with joy.
Anticipate what I'm creating..."
Isaiah 65:17-18
(the Message Bible)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Animal life

Monday morning and the work week has started again. I need to get ready for some teaching. It occurs to me that Chip and Toi are getting bigger but I haven't recorded the changes in them very well. So here are a couple of pictures of the two of them. Patora and Cleo and Velvet are just big, not bigger so nothing to show there.

Chip is leaving her cute kitten stage and entering cat stage. Her body is longer and her fur is soft and sleek. She may always be a bit juvenile because she still sucks on a blanket every night. The acrylic fur blanket has just enough pile for her to bury her nose in and she uses it as a pacifier. Makes for soggy sleeping for me. Chip has gotten used to Choco (and vice versa) but I doubt that they'll ever be friends.

Toi has fattened up quite a bit and is a big favorite with all my visitors and students. He loves laps and will seek out anyone who sits down and then settle down to purr. This is quite flattering to non-cat owners and he is a real heart catcher. Toi is probably going to turn into a BIG cat because he eats anything and everything and never seems to have enough. I think it must be after effects of the stray period in his life since for so many weeks he had to eat what he could find. Now he must think if food is available then he'd better eat it all in case nothing is set before him ever again.

Cleo and Patora take life in stride but they look a little like buzzards lately. They peer down at the bottom of chairs and sofa waiting for Velvet to make an appearance and Velvet has turned into a derelict hermit. He camps out in the caves he has made under furniture and growls at the two older cats when they walk by. If he'd just keep quiet they probably wouldn't notice him nor be ready to jump on him. It is like he is asking for a fight or else he calls out for me to come and rescue him which means I have to lift the edge of the chair and pull him out. Cat psychology I am not versed in and I don't know how one gets cats into therapy anyway but Velvet needs a little counseling right now...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another trip to Mashiko

I'm sleepy. I stayed up until 2:30 am chatting with my friend Chiyo-san. I normally go to bed at 9:00 so I am sorely lacking of sleep this morning. Wonder what time I'll crash tonight...

Chiyo-san and I have been friends for nearly 25 years. We were both newlyweds when we first met and because she'd spent a couple of years studying in California, her English was and is very good. As the years wore on our families grew but when Leiya and Chiyo-san's son were still babies her family was transferred to California and we only saw each other once a year in the summer.

It has always been interesting to get together and compare stories because I am the American living in Japan and she was the Japanese living in America and we have always had an empathy between us about reactions to cultural differences and misunderstood situations. This empathy is still going on and that is one reason we stayed up so late last night!

I picked Chiyo-san up at the station in the morning and we decided that instead of going straight home that we'd go to the neighboring pottery town of Mashiko. I wrote about visiting there last year when Leiya visited so you can look up the link if you're interested. On the way Chiyo-san and I chatted so much that I made a few wrong turns but it is a famous town and we eventually found our way. Mashiko is the perfect place for chattering ladies like us to visit. The little town has been beautified and has a very peaceful Japanese feel about it. The streets are lined with hand made mud kilns, and little shops some with pottery galleries, most with artistically arranged show windows. Tourists meander along the street and peruse the shop tables fingering and contemplating the rustic pottery. We didn't buy very much but we enjoyed the window shopping.

Besides the pottery shops there was also an indigo dying workshop and we both found that very interesting. A very old thatched roof building, dark with few windows and beneath the floor the indigo vats were hidden with just their openings showing. There must be a heating process involved in the dying because from around the room, steam wafted through the cracks in the floor. Skeins of thread were hung around, and out in the yard bolts of dyed fabric were stretched and hung on bamboo. Everything was too expensive but the fabric was oh-so-tempting!

I found all sorts of interesting textures and patterns during our stroll around Mashiko town.

Wood stacked along the street for burning in the kilns.

Old roof tiles laid upright along a path to make a non-slippery walkway.

Bundles of raw cotton waiting to be spun into thread and then indigo dyed.

Heavy paper cutouts used for the silk-screening process in dying.

Tea cups displayed in a shop.

You really should visit Mashiko if you ever come to Japan.