waxing gibbous moon + last goodbye to the summer visitors

our japanese custom of autumn moon-viewing came from ancient china as i posted on october 3rd. and, i've just learned, for the ancient japanese, the annual moon-viewing must take place for not only the full moon but also the waxing gibbous moon, which was believed to be the second most beautiful moon. i've found that it falls tonight. luckily, the sky looks clear enough.

meanwhile, the temperature rose as high as 24 degrees c yesterday. the indian summer seems to stay on for one more day or two. obviously, this warm weather, due to the global warming, has prolonged my local butterfly season so that i can see tiny butterflies like pale grass blues in the park. as long as a butterfly is seen the season is summer to me.

however, according to the recent weather forecast, we will eventually need to prepare for chilly mornings. no wonder, october is ending! it must be the time i to bid last goodbye to the summer visitors in the park. so here, i wanted to show you who i ran into there this season. plus, the last night's moon.

oh, are you going to a halloween party tomorrow night?
happy halloween!


shocking pinks in the park

we’d enjoyed the whole sunny week until today. it’s said that autumn makes people feel melancholic, while there’s been no room for melancholy in my heart so far; i’ve been too busy treasure-hunting in this october country. when i take my routine walk around the park, i always find and bring back home something beautiful like a crimson cherry leaf or two. i feel so great and appreciative of what nature has to offer us. when the weather is brilliant, the park’s rich flora and fauna just makes me happy. i am no doubt having the best season in japan.

meanwhile, it’s cloudy and going to rain tomorrow. i may, more or less, feel melancholic. i am not really in the mood for a treasure-hunt today. i know that the best time for viewing the red maple leaves in the park patio should be this weekend, though. never mind. i’ve lately seen a couple of maple trees with leaves tinged red there. while we have another month for japanese acer leaf-peeping, we japanese could go frantic over the viewing autumn foliage. i love the autumn tints, too. but, on a cloudy day like today, these unexpected “shocking pinks” in the park should look gorgeous under the grey sky.

pic 1, 2, 3
all the kochias in the park garden have turned pink now. among the autumnal colours such as gold, red and brown, its pink is quite shocking.

pic 4
this is 紅花常磐万作 benibana-tokiwa-mansaku (loropetalum chinese) in the park's cottage garden. the olive green leaves have changed smoky burgundy. this plant blooms in spring, so my encountering one pink flower at the tip of the branch came as a lovely shock.
enjoy the autumn colour, everyone!


still crazy for summer noodles

i read an article about a new michelin guide a few days ago. 京都 kyoto, where i am from, has 110 stars. i don’t care less about it, though, i am happy to live in a foodie nation and proud of kyoto as a gourmet city. japanese foods have gone more global than ever. i find even 蕎麦 soba, to cook just like pasta, quite often in the food blog sphere. but, 素麺 somen, another typical japanese noodle, seems not popular yet. as somen is usually served cold, we customarily eat it in summer. in autumn, many bundles of unused dry somen will be seen in the cupboard in my or anyone’s kitchen. so, i made a somen salad.

the other evening, i saw a tv news about 松茸 mastutake, pine mashroom, which is one of kyoto’s specialty crops. matsutake is in season! however, the report told us that this autumn would experience the worst ever season in years. the reporter even told us the price of matsutake mushrooms. believe it or not, it was 130, 000 yen (1,425 dollars or 958 euro) for only three. would you buy one? me? of course not, since i simply can’t afford it. instead, we can get some far cheaper imported matsutake. i bought chinese ones from my local super market. well, they are not exactly the same, but they are still mastutake.

meanwhile, i’ve recently tried a new bean, which we japanese call “morocco bean” somehow, for the first time ever in my life. they were just flat green beans basically, and probably similar to romano beans? a few sundays back, when i was still in the mood for a mediterranean summer meal, i made a salade niçoise with the beans. i ate it along with a lemon pasta, which i added that chinese matsutake. we are having another gorgeous sunday now. i still go sockless. a lovely autumn day like this should be called Indian summer, but i take liberties with it and call it mediterranean summer — perfect for a noodle dish.

pic 1.
somen salad: i always put lots and lots of vegetables, such as okura, red onion, tomatoes and young leaves, for any pasta salad. this time, i added some shredded left-over chicken sauté. this dish goes with sesame paste vinaigrette.
Pic. 2
moroccan beans: i don’t know why this bean is called “morocco” bean in japan. does anyone know? by the way, i leaned that this bean is grown only in certain areas in japan. so, it looks like a pretty exclusive kind in terms of season and production.
pic 3.
lemon (needless to tell you?) and chinese matsutake: the shape of chinese matsutake is a bit different from japanese ones. but it’s affordable. i needed to overlook the fact that it had little aroma, obviously.
pic 4.
spaghetti al limone con funghi matsutake & salade niçoise (in the background): stir-fry sliced matsutake mushrooms in olive oil. smash garlic cloves roughly with a knife for garlicky extract and a flavour. add all the ingredients, together with fresh lemon juice and olive oil, to the cooked pasta while it’s really hot. you need salt and pepper to taste, of course. i love to use 紫蘇 shiso (japanese equivalent for Italian basil) leaves as a garnish.
hoping that you are having a gorgeous autumn sunday, too!


cornwall where colin and joy live

i learned that irving penn passed away on thursday, aged 92. he was one of my favourite photographers. and i am very fond of black and white photos like his and henri cartier-bresson’s, although i don’t take any black and white photos myself any longer. i only rely on digital camera now and my old canon eos has been laid to rest in my closet for years. i’m not good at portraits, but i used to take a few black and white ones, of colin wilson for example. he is an english author who is actually better known in japan and the usa than england.

cool and fresh air of this glorious autumn morning brought me memories of my october trip to scenic cornwall where colin and joy wilson lived. i sort of befriended them when i made colin fly to tokyo for a special lecture as part of a symposium i organised along with my girl-colleagues. they were kindly saying to me i should visit them home in cornwall some time. so some months later, when i started my ma art course in london, i took a train from paddington. in advance of that, joy reminded me not to forget to bring a raincoat with me because the weather could be whimsical there.


joy picked me up from the st. austell station. after a heavy shower, the sun appeared on the way to gorran haven. the day turned out to be a beautiful indian summer day, which seemed as if it’d last forever in cornwall. fuchsias were still in full bloom here and there in the village. in their big garden, there were a bungalow and several sheds that all stored some 30, 000 titles of books. i stayed at the bungalow comfortably but in fact i slept being surrounded by their bookshelves. during my stay, between sightseeing, joy took me to various places such as an archaeology workshop and a local library for her research, namely, to help colin out.

colin would work on a book in his basement study from early in the morning to 5pm every day. supper would start around 6pm when colin opened a bottle of wine. they had no dinning table. we gathered in the lounge instead, using a tray on our each lap. colin kept talking (almost nonsense) to rowan, his younger son who lived with them, while joy kept just smiling quietly. although i forgot why, i happened, and sure was certainly honoured, to meet all his family members at the weekend as his daughter came back home from south africa for some reason where she lived at the time and his elder son drove home from london to join.

as time went by, i lost contact with them. but i am glad to find via some net news they are both well. especially these black and white photographs make me feel appreciative of the precious time in cornwall colin and joy offered me.

pic 1.
his house is built on the hill overlooking the sea, while the parrot perching on a branch overlooking me in his lounge.
pic 2.
small room next to the entrance hall. i found the young colin on an old poster quite cute.
pic 3.
idylic view out of the bungalow window where i stayed. there were flocks of sheep and goats behind the wire fence.
pic 4.
bungalow interior.
pic 5.
lounge with colin’s creative clutter.
pic 6.
their cat fell asleep on joy’s lap while their dog yawning. i often walked the dog down to the nearby shore during the stay.
pic 7.
joy told me that all the animals in the house belonged to her daughter. whenever she came home she left joy and colin her pets one by one.
pic 8.
entrance hall. no cornish country life could exist with no wellingtons!
pic 9.
in the bungalow. i picked nasturtium from the garden and placed on the windowsill.
pic 10.
mr colin wilson, smiling.
how are you enjoying this sunday?


amendment (plus shades of autumn)

i was wrong. sorry, the moon last night was not full yet. the mid-autumn moon festival does not always coincide with an exact full moon. that’s what i’ve just learned. it is very confusing. but luckily enough, i could see a beautiful moon last evening. besides, it is a beautiful sunday; i’m still in a half-sleeve tee and the sky is as transparent as the voice of joni mitchell, which may assure me of a chance to gaze at the true full moon tonight.

meanwhile, i am eventually being taken with warm shades of autumn like those as above: rudbeckias, cherry brandy, in the park garden and sweet macarons i received from masaco, my friend, in tokyo. have a beautiful sunday!


under the silvery full moon

the moon is in her plenitude tonight. and, it is a harvest moon and called 十五夜 jugoiya (the 15th night). this mid-autumn full moon festival falls on october 3rd this year, so peoples in many asian counties are partying today. we japanese also have a little celebration. our aristocratic ancestors would gather to recite poetry under the full moon. we modern japanese, meanwhile, put a foodie custom first like we usually have special dishes such as a rice dumpling. so, i am going to turn my ordinary pumpkin risotto into a “月見 tsukimi” dish by adding a poached egg to it. "tsukimi" literally means moon-viewing. any dish with an egg, which is likened to a full moon, can be called tsukimi-style.
regarding activities, needless to say, nobody reads poetry anymore. traditionally, we arrange ススキ susuki (japanese pampas grass) in a vase to deck the room. many japanese still do that. most importantly, we view the full moon. unfortunately, the chances look rather slim over here in osaka at the moment. i am hoping that the clouds will clear out in the evening, though. for the japanese, moon always represents good or romantic things. nothing ominous. and i am sort of a moon power believer. whenever something unmemorable happened in my life, i noticed a full moon up in the dark but cloudless sky. i always come to think that the moon goddess would make things to happen for me.

well, this could sound a little bit lunatic, but i’d feel like taking photos of a moon when shinning brightly. i in fact captured it with my camera when i was in London, new york, buenos aires. naturally, wherever i was, the moon was always there. in other words, the full moon you gaze at tonight no matter where you are is the same moon as i do from my window. quite fascinating, don’t you think? let’s make a wish upon the mid-autumn full moon.

pic 1
nuts, which somehow resemble some planes, from the park. i wish they were edible.

pic 2, 3
both full moon photos were taken from my balcony last year. i’ve had mystic full moon experiences in my life. but i’ve never turned into a werewolf so far.

pic 4
have you ever heard of japanese beautyberry (callicarpa japonica)? this shrub is named after the great novelist, 紫式部 murasakishikibu (lady purple). it’s usually purple as the name tells its colour (take a look at my pic in the old post). white one is relatively unusual and looks like a pearl or even a full moon? it’s lovely to find it laden with lots of tiny berries in either purple or white in my neighbourhood.

pic 5
the bloom of 金木犀 kinmokusei (sweet olive/osmanthus fragrans) has passed the peak now. you’d never imagine how heady the sweet scent of this little flower was. it was just like dreaming.

pic 6
my pumpkin risotto á la tsukimi. i’m pretty good at poaching eggs. i am proud of my son who can make a poached egg, by the way.

wishing you all a beautiful full moon!