Monday, June 30, 2008

Steam Locomotive (2)

This efuto was created from a photo I took from a hotel room at the end of June. It is the same locomotive I drew previously. The smoke engulfed almost the entire train and I could not help imagining the misery of passengers if the train windows were open upon entering the tunnel ahead.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Steam locomotive

A steam locomotive gives us a sense of power and industriousness. It also reminds us of the day when human efforts to conqure nature were never questioned but received with enthusiasm. I saw this locomotive when I went to Kitami City in Hokkaido at the end of June. It was a special occasion on which this old machine was revived to carry fans and tourists marking the beginning of Summer.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kamaboko (steamed fish paste)

Toyama Bay produces an abundance of marine products--fish, squid, shellfish, sea urchin, and seaweed. Despite being a city boy, I have acquired the taste for them largely because my grandmother, born and raised in Toyama prefecture, shared her favorites with her grandchildren, including me. Kurozukuri, chopped squid marinated in its ink, was one of her favorites. It is salty but tasty. I used to love it, but nowadays, I try to avoid salty food. I was therefore glad to see my wife buying kamaboko, which does not contain salt, as a souvenir at Toyama airport.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Piggy Censer

On June 16, I stayed at the official residence of Seicho-No-Ie Head Temple in Nagasaki prefecture. On the tatami mat of the corridor of the residence I found this pig-shaped mosquito-coil hanger. It looked familiar and made me feel a little nostalgic. I briefly recalled my boyhood when I used a similar-shaped hanger while studying or reading. Nowadays, we rarely see this type of hanger. I liked the color combination, too.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wooden Cat

My eldest son recently came back from a vacation in Bali. His souvenir to me was this green wooden cat. Not one, but three cats of the same form with different sizes. Seeing them, I realized the face of the three is almost identical to that of other wooden cat I bought several years ago at a shop in Tokyo. I was happy to realize that we share the same taste.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Cocoon Animals

Before WWII Japan was famous for its silk production. Nawadays, however, you seldom see people raising silkworms in rural areas. In the late 1960s, Mikijiro Murata in Morioka, Iwate prefecture, came up with the idea of creating toy animals from silkworm cocoons. This turned out to be a long-lasting popular folkcraft.

I bought these three animals at a souvenir shop in Morioka station. These are three of twelve kinds, (from left to right) monkey, wild bore, and dragon, representing the twelve signs of the Chinese/Japanese zodiac. Aren't they cute?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Piggy Pot

I saw this pig-faced pot standing by the window of a small house when I visited the souvenir shop in Aomori City. The name of the shop was Kohgen-Sha, and it was not merely selling souvenirs but it was a compound consisting of a souvenir shop, a pottery, a small museum, and a coffee shop, all related to the poet-storyteller Kenji Miyazawa. This particular pot, however, did not seem to have anything to do with Miyazawa. It even looked foreign to my eyes. I simply assumed that it was an imported pot, probably from Africa. But for some reason it matched well with the place where Miyazawa's numerous fairy tales were once published.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Apple Cookie

Aomori prefecture is famous for its great many apples. It produces about one half of Japan's total output of appr. 842 thousand tons (in 2003). Naturally, products made from apples make good souvenirs from Aomori. My wife bought apple cookies and other sweets for her friends. I drew some of them in a way that they somehow represent the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. China is the world's top apple producer, with its 2003 production of 20 million tons.