瓶覗き色/ Kame nozoki iro


Moon

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

(瓶覗色・かめのぞきいろ) Kame nozoki iro is a phrase I ran into recently while quickly perusing Nihongo de Asobo, which I know I’ve referred to in previous blogs. It’s a cute childrens show that I equate with Sesame Street except that it’s (to me) far more sophisticated. It introduces kids to literature, authors, mythology, folktales, kyogen (ancient drama) and other aspects of language. It’s all about kids, so from a language perspective, it’s approachable. I used to show segments of it to my students (Japanese classes) and they loved it.

I’m not teaching anymore, but still love the show and occasionally something grabs me, like this. What really caught my attention was the video segment showing a dyer rinsing silk thread in various shades of indigo. The camera lingered over the different blues while the threads were being gently agitated under the water. Then the imagery changed to various light blue circles or moons with the phrase  kame nozoki iro in text form.

In reading about this, I haven’t come across any association with the moon, but this is the season for お月見・おつきみ・otsuki mi or moon viewing and perhaps sometimes the moon appears as a pale blue.

The word kame (known to many as “turtle”) is also the pronunciation of the word for bottle, jug or jar.  Nozoki means to peak or peep – so it’s a quick look into a bottle (of indigo) – at least that’s my understanding of it. It has something to do with a quick or first dip into the vat. So the results would be a pale blue. Some say it’s the blue of the horizon, sky blue, pale aqua (ペールアクア), so pale as to suggest a stain, so that it isn’t white. Other information I encountered had to do with the color of the sky being reflected on the jugs or bottles of indigo. One source says part of the expression dates from the Heian Period (794 to 1185) and then added to in the Edo Period (1603-1868). I’m sure there much more to this than meets the eye and I’d love to know more.  Suffice it to say, basically (瓶覗き色) kame nozoki iro means “pale blue.”

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3 Responses to “瓶覗き色/ Kame nozoki iro”

  1. shiborigirl Says:

    the perfect post to read today as i begin a full day with the indigo vats. perhaps the otsuki mi is associated with the harvest moon…it’s been fabulous here.

    • Susan Says:

      I thank you for that! I hope the rest of your day went well. I’m thinking you’re probably correct about that association – it goes together doesn’t it? I haven’t done any gazing lately and need to before it wanes too much – especially need to notice the color.

  2. neki rivera Says:

    the color of the sky reflected on the vat. that one speaks to me.

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