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Posts Tagged ‘asakiyume’

In a Nippon article by Sakurai Shin, translated, we learn about urban bee culture in Central Tokyo.

“The urban bee farm is the work of the nonprofit Ginza Honey Bee Project, or Ginpachi, founded in March 2006 by Tanaka Atsuo.

“It started when Tanaka, who rented out space in Ginza, learned from a beekeeper that it might be possible to raise honeybees on the roof of the Kami Parupu Kaikan building. From this location, Tanaka learned, the bees could gather nectar from Hibiya Park and the grounds of the Imperial Palace, both within a radius of around three kilometers. Bees are highly sensitive to pesticides and other environmental pollutants, but the Imperial Palace is relatively free of agrichemicals. In this sense, Ginza turns out to be a surprisingly good area for beekeeping. …

“In the 10 years since the Ginza Honey Bee Project began on one corner of a Ginza rooftop, the ripple effect has spread to other parts of Tokyo and far beyond. There are now more than 100 urban beekeeping projects nationwide, and more in South Korea, Taiwan, and elsewhere in Asia.

“ ‘Ten years ago, of course, we never imagined the project would have such an impact,’ Tanaka says. ‘I think it’s because people have been able to make it into their own project, reflecting local conditions and responding to local issues.’

“Tanaka also credits the honeybees themselves, emphasizing what human beings can learn from contact with these industrious insects.

“ ‘For example, when I see the bees returning to the rooftop from their flight around Ginza, I can tell from the pollen stuck to them that it’s safflower season, or the tochinoki [Japanese horse chestnut] trees are in bloom. Spending time with the bees puts us in touch with the natural world and its changes. Ginza may seem an unlikely place to be tackling environmental issues, but it’s becoming that sort of neighborhood.’ ”

More here.

This lovely story came to me by way of blogger Asakiyume.

Photo: Nagasaka Yoshiki/Nippon.com

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Are you familiar with the “Lens” blog at the NY Times? It focuses on “photography, video and visual journalism.” Here David Gonzalez writes about the photos of Putu Sayoga.

[Hat tip: Asakiyume on twitter.]

“If you live in a far-off place, a library may be something you’d only read about in books. That is, if you had books to begin with.

“That became the mission of Ridwan Sururi, an Indonesian man with a plan — and a horse. Several days a week, he loads books onto makeshift shelves he drapes over his steed, taking them to eager schoolchildren in the remote village of Serang, in central Java. ..

“Mr. Sayoga, a co-founder of the collective Arka Project, had seen something about the equine library on a friend’s Facebook page. It reminded him of his own childhood, where his school had only out-of-date books. Intrigued, he reached out to Mr. Sururi, who offered to put Mr. Sayoga up in his home while he spent time photographing Mr. Sururi on his rounds. …

“Mr. Sururi made a living caring for horses, as well as giving scenic tours on horseback. One of his clients, Nirwan Arsuka, came up with the book idea as a way of doing something to benefit the community, specifically a mobile library. He gave Mr. Sururi 138 books for starters. Most were in Indonesian, and the books included a lot with drawings.

“Children at the schools he visits can borrow the books for three days, and demand has been so great that he now has thousands of books.” More here. Check out the slide show.

Photo: Putu Sayoga

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Photo: Tokyo Five, via Gwarlingo

Back in the early days of this blog (nearly five years ago), I posted about the imaginative Japanese manhole covers that I had seen at the Gwarlingo website. Now Asakiyume has clued me in to collectable cards made from the designs.

The Japan Times has the story. “The cards will be distributed for free to anyone who wants one at sewage plants and other facilities. Pictures of the manholes will be on one side of the cards, which are roughly business card size, while explanations about their designs will feature on the reverse side.

“The manhole designs differ from area to area, and often feature flowers and animals used as symbols in respective communities, or yuru kyara (local mascots). …

“The manhole cover designs are decided after asking the public for ideas, or through a competition among manufacturers of manhole covers. [Hideto Yamada of the GKP, a group including officials from local governments and the infrastructure ministry’s sewage management department] said he hoped the cards will help lift public interest in the sewage system.”

An even better way, I think, would be create greeting cards and postcards that could be sold widely and sent around the world.

More at the Japan Times, here.

Photo: Remo Camerota, via Gwarlingo
A design for a new drain cover.

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summer-party-at-the-office

Where I work, they try to treat employees a couple times a year to little parties. It doesn’t hurt. If you’re having a down day, you can always find something to like about the higher powers making the effort. The first photo shows a few employees at the Cape Cod-themed event on the garden floor of our building. On offer were music, mini golf, lobster sliders, watermelon-blueberry smoothies, and other summertime edibles.

I am also posting a real beach I visited last weekend, with lovely rosa rugosa all around the path. My other shots show the shadow of a bike on a sunny day in Fort Point, landscaping at a home on Beacon St., and an exotic flower in front of Barefoot Books, which does a nice job with plantings.

Asakiyume came for a visit, by the way, and we had lunch and a lovely chat. I will wait to get her permission to post a picture I took of her. But I can activate your visual imagination by telling you that the photo is from a walk in the woods, where Asakiyume spotted an elastic band between two trees and immediately realized someone must be trying to teach themselves tightrope walking. I would never have figured that out. The photo shows her testing her skill. Such a lovely metaphor for the multiple balancing acts we had just been discussing. Turns out it’s hard.

beach-entrywith-roses

bike-shadow

Beacon-St-flowers

flower

she-flies-thru-the-air-with-the-greatest-of-ease

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I’ve been wanting to share this remix of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland but hoped to add something beyond saying that I like it.

Then today, Asakiyume tweeted some comments on fantasy that science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin posted at the Book View Cafe blog.

Le Guin was reacting to a comment Kazuo Ishiguro made about his latest novel when he was interviewed by the NY Times: “Will readers follow me into this? Will they understand what I’m trying to do, or will they be prejudiced against the surface elements? Are they going to say this is fantasy?”

Le Guin launched into a spirited defense of fantasy in which she mentions the very story I had been thinking about for this post.

“Fantasy is probably the oldest literary device for talking about reality. ‘Surface elements,’ by which I take it he means ogres, dragons, Arthurian knights, mysterious boatmen, etc., which occur in certain works of great literary merit such as Beowulf, the Morte d’Arthur, and The Lord of the Rings, are also much imitated in contemporary commercial hackwork.

“Their presence or absence is not what constitutes a fantasy. Literary fantasy is the result of a vivid, powerful, coherent imagination drawing plausible impossibilities together into a vivid, powerful and coherent story, such as those mentioned, or The Odyssey, or Alice in Wonderland.” More here.

I love Le Guin’s characterization of fantasy. It reminds of something C.S. Lewis said about writing good fantasy. He said that, within the laws of its own realm, everything had to be plausible. Or words to that effect. And he wrote an essay with a splendid title, “Sometimes Fairy Stories Say Best What’s to Be Said.” (For a comparison of Tolkien’s and Lewis’s ideas about fantasy, check this essay.)

 

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Last year my friend Asakiyume, whose family is Catholic but who admires Ramadan, decided to fast for Lent the way people do for Ramadan — all day until sunset. She saw the fasting as a way to connect to people who have no choice about hunger.

Some members of my extended family observe Ramadan, but it’s their religion. And I knew a Somalian in Minneapolis to whom I once, in my ignorance, said, “Happy Ramadan.” He laughed and told me patiently that Ramadan wasn’t about “happy,” rather it was a time of reflection and sacrifice. I realized my blooper was a bit like saying “Happy Good Friday” or “Happy Yom Kippur.” One doesn’t say “Happy Lent” either. “Happy” is for the day before Lent and Mardi Gras.

Read about Asakiyume’s thought process and why she once borrowed another religion’s custom here. She writes a wonderfully eclectic blog full of deep thoughts and photos from her walks that suggest mythical vistas and fantasy characters to her.

light and shadow

(Today, of course, it is perfectly fine to say Happy Valentine’s Day! And if you missed getting birthstone-jewelry hearts for your Valentine at Luna & Stella, here, fear not! Mother’s Day is just around the corner, May 12.)

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Asakiyume writes that an old friend visited her and brought along an unusual harp. Asakiyume explains that the nyckelharpa is “a Swedish musical instrument that’s both keyed and bowed.”

That sounds harder than walking and chewing gum. Even the hurdy-gurdy that I hear in the subway doesn’t look as hard as that sounds, and the hurdy-gurdy involves keying and cranking.

“It’s older than the violin,” Asakiyume says of the nyckelharpa, adding, “my friend tells me there are old tapestries and paintings showing the angels playing these nyckelharpa in heaven.”

(Readers of this blog will note that I can seldom resist tidbits about Sweden. Egypt is another favorite. Both for family reasons.)

Here is Asakiyume’s friend playing the nyckelharpa.

 

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