Maria’s Beer Balcony in Germany

Yesterday afternoon, I invited friend Maki on an afternoon walk through the nearby forest. We were too early for chestnuts, but decided to meet once more on my balcony in the evening.

September evenings can still be quite pleasant in Germany. We watched the sun set behind the Taunus mountains, and before it got to dark, I called my daughter to take our photo with her mobile. My iPad is in Nottingham at the moment, on loan for a couple of days, only.

Maki and Maria

Maki from Fukushima/Japan, residing in Oberursel

Maki enjoys her life in Oberursel, but would rather live with her British husband of two years in the U.K. instead. Unfortunately, the U.K. immigration office makes her entry very difficult. Her first application has been denied, and now a second one is made with the help of a lawyer. This process is a real drag on the young couple.

She can stay in Germany, without having to be married to a German. She just started her third year of residency in Germany, all the while wishing to be with her husband in the U.K.

Some bureaucracy is full of flaws.

Maria’s Beer Balcony in Germany

Here we go again. This time, my best Japanese friend, whom I had met while living in Maryland in the early 90s, came by for a visit.

I have been to her parents’ home in Nagasaki a few times, but we seldom get a chance to meet up in the States (conflicting schedules). But this time around, at the end of her one-year-trip around the world, she visited us in Oberursel.

Balcony with Nobuko

Nobuko, originally from Nagasaki/Japan, living in the USA

The weather was not too grand around the end on June, but we still managed to do our Kanpai! (spelled with an n, but pronounced with an m) on the balcony.

A Traditional Japanese Home

While visiting some friends in Wakamatsu-ku a while back, one of my former students had arranged to visit this very traditional home in Tobata-ku, Kitakyushu-shi.

My friends in Japan have always know how much I like Japanese antiques and textiles, so this private visit was especially arranged for me. I got a tour of this stranger’s home. It was amazing to see her home fully furnished the traditional style, it was like stepping into a museum. Many Japanese prefer western style housing, some of them so modern, they have lost their Japanese touch (until you get to the fully automated toilet).

Here we are in the genkan (entry way), filled with old farming tools.

genkan

genkan

The traditional Japanese homes generally have no so-called bedroom, as the futon (sleeping mattress) can be rolled out anywhere on the tatami. The rooms are separated by sliding doors. Dark wood frames each room, with kasuri (indigo dyed fabric) patchwork tapestries on the wall, a blue and white hibachi for decoration. etc.

Antique Japanese interior

The owner takes great care of her museum-like house and everything is very neatly arranged.

Antique Japanese interior

A big old tansu (cabinet) holding many old textiles, such as kasuri, chirimen, shibori, etc. What a treasure.

tansu

tansu

This hibachi is a very traditional heating device: a charcoal hibachi, most often made from cypress wood for its durability.

Hibachi

hibachi  火鉢

This was a great experience to visit this lady’s home and it reminded me of my favorite pastimes while in Japan. Those were going to antique shops, looking for old textiles in factories where recycled material was handled and sold by the kilo, patchwork lessons taken in Japanese (my sewing vocabulary became quite impressive), and buying jitai ningyo (dolls from the *Taishō period), and much more.

*The Taishō period (大正時代 Taishō jidai) is a period in the history of Japan dating from July 1912 to December 1926, named for the Emperor Taishō reign during that time.

Review for Japanese Restaurant Mangetsu in Frankfurt

Thanks to a longtime friend’s birthday celebration, we had the pleasure of spending an evening with good Japanese food and drink in Frankfurt.

We were invited to the restaurant Mangetsu (full moon), a typical Izakaya-Restaurant.

In general, an izakaya (居酒屋) is a casual Japanese drinking place which also serves food. As a matter of fact, having food with your drinks is encouraged.

Japanese restaurant Mangetsu in Frankfurt

We had plenty of plates on our table, ranging from bite-size eggplant, jidori (grilled chicken), hotate (scallops) to edamame (beans). Each one of our “appetizers” was delicious.

scallops

For an Izakaya, there was plenty to choose from the menu. Here are two of the pages:

For a complete view of the menu, visit Mangetsu menu.

The Mangetsu sushi is one of the best I have eaten in years (I had also spent three years in Japan). Very litte seaweed, fresh ingredients, and dipping each piece into the mayo/brown sauce streak made for a very smooth taste. This could be addictive.

Mangetsu sushi in Frankfurt

Last, but not least, we washed down our food with Kirin beer and some Sake.

Kirin beer in Frankfurt

If you are looking for good food served in a casual atmosphere, then you should try Mangetsu. I know, I will be back.

Interwoven Wood – a Japanese Mosaic Design

When I was in Japan this past month, again I was given a lot of cultural gifts, such as kimono, kasuri fabric, hankies with sakura blossoms, etc.

As much as I appreciate these presents, it became time for me to start rearranging a few things around our home. While reorganizing my collectibles, I found this Yosegi-zaiku parquetry box. I would have just moved it aside, if I had not read an article about this special skill just a few days before.

Parquetry box from Japan

Yosegi-zaiku parquetry is a craft combining colors and grains of wood to create mosaics.

The different types of wood used are macropoda holly, zelkova, lacquer tree, or camphor tree.

The very first yosegi-zaiku is said to have been made by the artist Ishikawa Nihei of the Hakone region in Kanagawa Prefecture in the later part of the Edo period.

This traditional craft is done by Japanese with a deep understanding of the nature of wood.