Posts Tagged ‘Kagoshima’

Kiseki/”I Wish”

December 30, 2012


Roger Ebert, in his comment about “I Wish” on Rotten Tomatoes, says, it’s “built around performances by two real-life brothers who are as unaffected, spirited and lovable as I can imagine, and one of the pleasures of “I Wish” is simply spending time with them.”  Andrew L. Urban adds, “and in the way Kore-eda [writer/director] immerses us in provincial Japanese life is exceptional.”I think they’re holding back.  There’s so much more to this film than meets the eye.

I had the pleasure of watching it last night and will undoubtedly return to it many times.  It’s one of those films – so many levels – not to mention one of the main settings is Kagoshima.  Did I give something away here?



June 19, 2011

Dad on Shiroyama

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

On my drive to Durham this morning I recalled the many times I traveled with my dad on long car trips. My route to Durham was a little off the ‘beaten path’ – it wasn’t the highway. I could linger a bit and really look. The trips with my dad were the same. Sometimes they seemed a bit harrowing as we might wind up on a narrow mountain road, or we’d get stuck in the mud. It was an adventure, it was risk and that was my dad.

He also always took his camera with him. It was part of his work, but he loved his Canon and the pictures he could take with it.

Kagoshima was the city he loved and Shiroyama was a favorite place he liked to take us. On the way up, we would pass Saigo’s cave. He would tell the story as we rode, and then at the top, there was the view: the city spread below with Sakurajima sitting silent, but powerful, in the bay.

Old Kagoshima

February 28, 2011

Old Kagoshima

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

There’s a typewritten note on the back of this photo that says, “A shot of Kagoshima from the top of a department store in the center of town. Notice the giant mountain out in the bay partly obscured by clouds.”

I suspect this was sent to my grandmother years ago, to show her some aspects of our living.

Kirishima & Kagoshima Volcanoes

February 3, 2011

Sakurajima & Kirishima Volcanoes

I’ve been keeping an eye on the activities of these mountains lately. Last week I learned a little more about Kyushu geography when Shinmoe-dake did its thing last week. I happened to catch a little snippet about it on NHK, then my friend in Kagoshima mentioned it in a recent message saying it was Hidoi – terrible. This week, Sakurajima also seems to have gotten into the same dance. The Kirishima volcano has been most impressive.

Tampa “Deai”

January 22, 2011

Oshima Tsumugi 1

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

A brief weekend trip took me to Tampa for a visit with my younger brother and his family. I keep returning there, but it was my father’s birthplace, my grandmother’s home where I lived during my college years and is now home for both my mother and brother. In many respects, it’s not just a place for visiting family, but a revisiting of family history and the stories my grandmother and dad used to tell.

This time, it was also a deai (meeting) with the young woman (Kaori) who generously made contact with our old friends in Kagoshima over the New Year’s holiday. Needless to say, it was a momentous occasion with getting acquainted, stories, gift and generous (お土産・おみやげ・omiyage)souvenir exchanges – examples of Oshima Tsumugi. The weavers in my neighborhood produced this kind of cloth. Some of the pieces I received are from Kaori’s grandmother who also lives in Kagoshima. So, these are very heartfelt and meaningful gifts.

After our all too brief gathering at Bella’s on Friday night, I spent the rest of the weekend visiting with family, re-watching 5 episodes of Atsuhime which featured Kagoshima and its local dialect, tasting that familiar Tampa/Ybor cuisine and learning more about Floridian and Tampa culture at the history museum.

Sakurajima with Clouds

January 8, 2011

Sakurajima with Clouds

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

The sun keeps peaking in and out of the clouds. When it clouds over it’s gloomy, then the snow showers start. It’s a funny weather day. I need to be doing Saturday chores, but I got “distracted” by a morning’s message from my brother asking for some proofreading/translation help.

I know how eager he is to respond to a message from Kagoshima, so most of my morning went into word searches and musing over sentence structure. Most of the confusion resulted from some “misspellings” so the job really wasn’t too complicated. Distant teaching days are coming back to haunt me, but I am also enjoying this process.

In checking on the correct spelling of れんしゅう・renshuu (practice), I found this little proverb:
Narau yori narero.

It’s better to learn through experience than to be taught.

pickin’ out stitches

January 6, 2011

pickin’ out stitches

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Actually at this point, I’m taking my usual afternoon tea break. It’s a good thing I had some pieces ready to dye and then work with later. It’s been a quietly exciting day.

I received photos of the family I knew so well back in Kagoshima. The only word that comes to mind at the moment is natsukashii. We have all put a few years behind us, but I see their faces as I knew them. It’s just good to see that they are there and seemingly well. My only hope is that this deai of sorts has not been too disruptive.

So, my thoughts are with them as I cut, unwind threads and catch up with Kouhaku Utagassen, the New Year’s eve entertainment on NHK. I’m behind on my watching. I did catch parts of it throughout the day, but I really wanted to spend some time with it. This year’s theme was Connection through Song, so some of the elements referred to furusato (hometown) or home. It’s a bit natsukashii.

’tis the season

December 18, 2010

Ue Arata Cho

It’s the old neighborhood where I grew up, but it isn’t.  It’s entirely gone, been wiped clean by…growth, change, progress…except for one small house and shop across the street from that deluxe gas station on the right.  The station actually sits in what used to be my front yard.

This image is from Google earth, the ‘magic carpet’ I occasionally take when I want to swoop in and take little walks down the streets where I used to ride my bike, visit in the weavers quarters and play with my neighborhood friends.  It has improved vastly since I sat looking at the same place on my brother’s laptop several years ago.  This summer when visiting his home, he pulled me over and said “Susan, have you seen this?”  I was astonished.

In retrospect, perhaps none of this is so remarkable, except that I simply have not made my way back to this spot since high school days.  It’s present day Ue Arata in Kagoshima, Japan – my furusato (hometown), not my birthplace.  Other aspects of my life were born here, though.

It’s a long and short story that can’t be told quickly or easily in words just now.  It appears though, that my family & I will make at least a ‘virtual’ contact with this place in the very near future.  Suffice it to say, emotions are running high at the moment and it’s difficult to focus.  It’s what comes with the season though, thoughts of home, the heart home, furusato.

Kagoshima Nui Project

February 11, 2010

Embroidered shirt from the Nui Project

With no overall composition or goal visible, the artist’s intentions pale compared to the strength of the ‘accidental.’ Shaped by the individual’s senses and preferences, the act of stitching is as powerful as the potential of the materials permits.

Shin Fukumoto – Direction of Kobo Shobu

The image and link on Slow Cloth attracted me, then I read that this takes place in Kagoshima – I was hooked (of course).  Keith Recker’s “Able Embroiders” in Hand/Eye describes the project and displays the images beautifully – best I’ve seen around, actually.  I also wanted to include  Shobu Gakuen’s Nui Project site (all in Japanese, of course) as well as a blog with images that takes us a little more behind the scenes.  I also ran across this pdf file also on Shobu Gakuen and thought some readers might find it worth a look.

the mochi “dance”

January 26, 2010

the mochi “dance” 1

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

It isn’t really a dance, but it appeared that way while watching the mochi tsukuri at the Triangle Nippon Club’s Shinnenkai (New Year’s Celebration) at the Duke Gardens this past Sunday.

There were so many things to be enjoyed and appreciated at this event, Koto, good food (Chirashizushi), and the opportunity to mellow out with a bowl of Matcha, but my favorite by far was the mochi pounding – pounding sweet rice into a large cake – a traditional New Year’s activity. It’s something I recall witnessing in my old “Kago” neighborhood.   The image that comes to mind is of a huge stone mortar in the center of a small crowd and some of the strong men of the neighborhood doing the pounding.  I wonder if it could have been carved from a large lava rock from Sakurajima – pure speculation, but a possibility.

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