Happy Birthday, Shakyamuni Buddha!

Hello Dear Readers,

April 8th, according to the Solar Calendar, marks the birth of the historical Buddha, known by Buddhists as Shakyamuni Buddha or “the Buddha of the Shakya clan”.  For folks who follow Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese Buddhism, the Buddha’s birthday falls on different dates according to the lunar calendar.

This video is just a brief overview of the Buddha’s Birthday in the Mahayana tradition and how can appreciate the life of the Buddha.

Enjoy and wishing you warm celebrations!

Doug

P.S. More on the baby Buddha as the lone, world-honored one

Ohanami: Cherry Blossom Viewing

Recently the family and I took a visit to the University of Washington to view the Japanese cherry-blossoms or sakura (桜).  This is a tradition in Japan called ohanami (お花見) which just literally means “flower viewing”.

We missed last year’s viewing due to bad weather,¹ so were happy to view them this year, especially since Little Guy is now old enough to kind of understand.  At the very least, the kids could get some fresh air.  🙂

Here are some photos of our visit:

Untitled   Untitled

My daughter took a few photos too:

Untitled   Untitled

…and she snuck in a photo of me and her little brother:

Untitled

Happy Spring, everyone!

P.S. Past ohanami at the UW and in Japan.

Girls’ Day 2017 Wrap-Up

Hey Folks,

Just wanted to post a few pictures from our Girls’ Day celebration at home.  This is another doll set that Little Guy made in his Japanese preschool:

Untitled

Here is the sakura-mochi we had.  Lately, it’s been harder to find it around here, even at Asian-food markets, so we were happy to find this one.  It was delicious as usual.  I enjoy sakura-mochi once a year, but like the Thanksgiving turkey, or Christmas treats, it’s worth the wait.

Untitled

My wife also made a nice clam soup.  I can’t recall what kind of clams these are, but usually we get Manilla clams.  The small colored balls are fu, which are dried wheat balls (naturally colored) that expand in water.  The soup itself is made from shira-dashi, which is like a clarified fish broth (dashi).

Untitled

Finally the piece-de-resistance: a large plate of chirashi.  Chirashi is basically sushi rice garnished with sashimi and such.  This is mostly maguro tuna, egg, shrimp, and some boiled spinach on the side.  The rice itself is mixed with shiitake mushrooms and such.

Untitled

We played lots of karuta games with my daughter.  The particular game we played was a karuta game based on famous Japanese yojijukugo phrases.  Since neither my daughter nor I am that familiar with them, my wife read the cards for us, while we found the right cards to match.  My daughter won most games, though not without some serious competition.  😉

All in all, it was a great Girls’ Day and looking forward to Easter and Children’s Day next.

Happy Girl’s Day 2017

Untitled

It’s that time of year again!  March 3rd is “Girl’s Day” or hinamatsuri (ひな祭り) in Japanese.  Time to enjoy excellent sakura-mochi and chirashi, and spend quality time with the kids, especially my daughter “Princess”. My son made this in one of his activity books for the family by drawing in the faces (Mommy obviously did the rest). We are very proud of him.

To all the ladies out there, young and old, happy Girls’ Day!

P.S.  Past Girls’ Day posts for 2015, 2014, among others.

Setsubun 2017 Wrap-Up

February 3rd is a Japanese holiday called Setsubun (節分), which according to the old calendar marks the turning point when winter gives way to Spring (also called “risshun” 立春).

There’s a lot of traditions for Setsubun. One tradition is that people make special sushi rolls called ehōmaki (恵方巻き). The tradition is to eat the whole roll facing a specific direction, which changes yearly according to geomancy, without saying a word. If you successfully do this, you will have good luck. This year (2017) the auspicious direction was NNW. Here’s me stuffing my face in the process:

Untitled

Different areas of Japan have different ways of making ehōmaki. For example, people in Miyazaki Prefecture use lettuce with shrimp and mayonaise, while people in Yamagata Prefecture use roasted-chestnut paste.

Untitled

My wife made this one with seven ingredients to match the Seven Luck Gods (shichifukujin 七福神):

  1. cucumber
  2. carrot
  3. kanpyō (stewed Calabash Squash)
  4. shiitake mushrooms
  5. egg
  6. unagi eel
  7. takuwan (pickled Daikom radish)

Further, it’s fun to dress up as an orge (oni 鬼) so kids can throw roasted soy beans at you. This is called mamemaki (豆まき). The idea is to drive out bad luck and bring in the good luck.

Untitled

The mask I am wearing was made by my daughter when she was 6, so it isn’t very fancy but I liked it so much I use it every year instead of buying one. This year, my son made one too and got in on the act.  It was a daddy-son Oni combination!

Happy (belated) Setsubun to everyone!

Spring Is Almost Here

This is a great haiku poem I read though the 72 Seasons app, which I reviewed previously.

地の底に Chi no soko ni
在るもろもろや Aru moro moro ya
春を待つ Haru wo matsu

“All manner of things beneath the ground wait for spring.”

松本たかし
Matsumoto Takashi,
poem published in 1935

According to the app, Matsumoto Takashi (1906-1956) started life in a family of Noh theater actors but had to give it up due to ill-health. He began composing haiku around the age of 15 and became a magazine publisher and editor by 1946.

Enjoy!