Thursday, October 28, 2010

following train lines

One day I went for a wee walk following some train lines in hope of finding secret op-shops. I found a promising shop called Antique Ramble... but never trust a Japanese shop by its name!

There were no antiques or rambling.

Nevertheless the walk was very enjoyable.

A wonderful letterbox with prism atop that lead the way to delightful washing + bonsais.

Some of the cheapest bikes around happen to be the coolest.

My affection for murals is never ceasing - just call me Murabel.

potato party!

Last Saturday was a glorious autumnal day.
It was so beautiful it caused suspicion. "Too good to be true," we all said, carefully packing umbrellas as well as sunscreen on our way to the annual ALT imonikai.
But do you know - it was true.

An imonikai is a traditional Tohoku picnic held in autumn. People gather, often by a river, to eat potato and meat soup cooked in big iron pots over an open fire.

The ingredients vary slightly between regions, but meat and potato are the staples, with a handful of seasonal vegetables thrown in.

For dessert there were skewers of dango - a Japanese dumpling made from rice flour, similar to mochi. There are many different flavours and sauces for dango like anko (red bean), kinako (toasted soy flour), goma (seasame seeds) and they are all delicious!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

jam and scones

The first crafternoon of the hibernating season featured fresh scones, home-made jam and so many kinds of tea it was wonderful.

I made the purplest huckleberry jam imaginable and Sophie brought around her zingy kiwi and ginger jam.

(Huckleberries are odd wee things. They look like blueberries, have a slight unpleasant odour, but make a delicious elderflowerish jam.)

Oh, and Gareth spent an age whipping up some cream by hand.

We are the fanciest.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We watched two movies

Here are some Japanese movies that we think are way cool.

First is House (Hausu), a sugar-coated, mind-melty horror film from 1977. It's about a girl who brings six of her schoolfriends to visit her aunt during the summer holidays. Things very quickly take a turn for the bizarro, however, and the girls start disappearing one by one. Sounds like a pretty standard horror movie, I guess, but in this one a piano eats a person, a disembodied head bites a girl on the bottom, a man gets transformed into a pile of bananas, and there's a cat with laser eyes. The director, Nobuhiko Obayashi, uses pretty much every camera effect available to him at the time, continuously, and the soundtrack is wildly overbearing and unusual. It's awesome.

The Taste of Tea (Cha no Aji) came out in 2004 and is a beautiful and very funny film about an odd family. There's not much of a plot to speak of, but each character has their own little strand of story that sprawls out in its own direction. It's more like a connected series of unusual moments, some weird, some awkward, most pretty hilarious. Our favorite bits are when the uncle tells the story of when he "took a shit outdoors for the first time", the grandfather's songs ("Why are you a triangle?! Why oh why?"), the boy's frantic, spastic bicycling, and any part where the little girl is being stalked by the giant version of herself. It's very quirky, but the end is surprisingly touching.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

my princess Diana-Mini

Our digital camera has given up the ghost! So until we buy another we are left with the surprises my toy cameras create.