Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday Thirteen - Amazing Japan

I’d like to share a collection of unique ideas from Japan I’ve been gathering.  I hope you enjoy.

1. Namazu-e – the ancient myth that giant catfish cause earthquakes; a lot of the art was politically charged regarding those that benefit from having to rebuild

2. Chickens Suit – the brainchild of an Australian brought to fruition in Japan.  Note this stylish bird’s wearing an homage to Australia’s flag; there is a similar one in the style of Japan’s flag

3. Pluto-kun – a character designed to advocate the safety of plutonium in the early 1990’s for Japan's Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation

4. Cute posters – not entirely a unique cultural element but I love this poster promoting power saving during this difficult time in the country

5. Hello Kitty – you can buy everything from toasters to vibrators with this Sanrio character (personally, I have a pen, some notebooks, a bat plush for Halloween, and a marshmallow lollipop – what can I say?)

6. Anime – has anyone not run into this?  I’m neither a reader nor a watcher but I do love the artwork for “InuYasha, a Feudal Fairy Tale”.  Gotta love a scruffy dog boy

7. Hentai – meaning “sexually perverted” in Japanese vernacular, the term covers a full range of fetishism in both real life and pornography; the program “Madventures” showed the host in a full body suit being ridden by a girl dressed in a manga costume

8. Language – with no spaces between words, the Japanese use five character sets and words borrowed from many other countries: hiragana (phonetic), katakana (phonetic for foreign words), kanji (Chinese characters), rōmaji (Roman letters), and Arabic numerals; here’s a random, mostly inclusive sample:
コンビニエンスストアの LAWSON 店舗にて、払い戻しをし

9. Samurai – the teachings and discipline still have resonance today

10. Visual Kei – a sub genre of J-rock that is stunning to both eyes and ears; here’s an image of X Japan from the eighties

11. Mascots – the Japanese use them for everything; this odd one was created back in 2008 for the 1,300th Anniversary of the Nara Prefecture capital

12. Kimono – still in use today for mostly formal occasions (I want the one pictured)

13. Hanami – this traditional custom of flower appreciation takes on a whole new meaning when the cherry trees are in blossom

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday Thirteen – The Smallest Tree in the World

1. Salix herbacea is also called Dwarf Willow, Least Willow, or Snowbed Willow.

2. It is a tiny creeper which grows to only 1-6 centimeters in height.

3. Technically, it is merely one of the smallest woody plants on Earth!

4. The roughly circular leaves are 1-2 centimeters long and wide and appear shiny green.

5. The scientific family of the plant is called Salicaceae, which covers a broad group of flowering plants.

6. As the family grouping suggests, the Dwarf Willow does flower.

7. These flowers are called catkins, which do not have petals.

8. Like all willows, the plants are considered either female or male.

9. Catkins on the male plant appear yellow while they are red on the female version.

10. They live at over 1,500 meters in the southern range of their sub-Arctic habitat.

11. The tiny fellows can also be found at sea level in the Arctic.

12. Widely distributed on both sides of the North Atlantic, the miniscule plants thrive in tundra and rocky moorland.

13. This tree would make an instant and easy Bonsai!