MATSURI SURPRISE

image001Some work is infinitely more exciting than other jobs.  Watanabe san, an enthusiastic and insistent customer at Blue & White urged us to take part in  the Hatoyama Jinja/ Shrine market that he was helping to plan on the 15th and 16th of September.  With scant enthusiasm, we agreed to bring Blue & White to the market.  Hayasawa san, the unadventurous manager of Blue & White  who luckily prefers to stay in the shop, unfortunately for her, went to the festival on Saturday, the rainy day of the weekend, while Sunday was the only day I could attend and fortuitiously it happened to be  a perfect Matsuri day.  Bright sun and even brighter spirits and dress!

image003Enthusiasm was palpable and all ages were decked in their best Matsuri gear.

image005Sakura and her Father wore matching yellow festival jackets to lead the parade from Takashimaya in Nihonbashi to Sendagaya, a long hot walk for a 10 year old dog!  They were followed by the 10 portable shrines of Hatoyama Shrine.

image007Each Omikoshi has its distinctive costume as well as its own house at the shrine, which also boasts a miniature Mt. Fuji that you can climb and accrue blessings.

image0095 Shrine priests blessed boy scouts and matsuri participants, even me! Everyone was decked out in their special outfit. And they were all spectacular.

image011Costume was stunning!

image013Everyone was pleased to pose!

image015The bold bravado of people and their outfits was on parade. Japanese indigo and design at their jaunty best.  They strengthened the sense of community identification.

image017Brilliant design.  Blue & white, of course!

image019Women brought their own chic.  Old men, young children, everyone took part.

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image023Style options.

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image027The 5 shrine priests waved their branches of sacred Sakaki to bless the convocation.

image029There is costume for most occupations in Japan.  The police warm my heart with their stand out blue and white, except when their lights are flashing behind me!

After leaving Hatoyama Matsuri, I rushed back to Blue & White in Azabu Juban which was also having its own children’s festival.  I was surprised to see plain white festival jackets and a fairly lackluster parade, though admittedly it was the 2nd festival in one month after the HUGE and famous Juban Matsuri at the end of August.  They may have been festivalled out.

image031My heart had been won over by this winsome little girl in blue and white at Hatoyama Jinja (shrine) Matsuri in Sendagaya, a new future destination when I have visitors looking for natural, authentic, genuine Japan!

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ECOBAG EXHIBIT THANK YOU !

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The response to our ECOBAG exhibit has been enthusiastic and in thanks Blue & White prepared a small wooden sewing box for all the things that participants will need for their next project.  Scissors, blue threads, white threads, a pin cushion, needles and pins with a tenugui to wipe their brow when it’s hot.  Which it certainly is!  All in a lidded hinoki box.

Thank you one and all for putting needle and thread to tenugui to come up with some wonderfully original ideas.  We hope to keep a line of handmade ECOBAGS in the shop at all times to encourage everyone to give up the insidious plastic shopping bag habit, and give color and character to our shopping bags.

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What made us happiest of all was the number of people who responded to our invitation and joined in and went to great troubles to enter the ECOBAG exhibit.  The array of new ideas for shapes and sizes and uses was inspiring.  People all put their heads to making useful new designs for shopping bags they could keep with them at all times and say no thank you when offered yet another plastic bag at the supermarket.

Have a look at a few of the bags we received.

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An inviting line up of new shapes made with tenugui we had in the shop sewn by our industrious and imaginative Sayoko Hayasawa

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Asako Sangai used her own silk screen designs to make her ECO BAG.  She is a Blue & White graduate and is inspired by the children she now works with.

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Noriko Mitsuya is intrigued with the infinite variety of tenugui designs she keeps discovering, and makes different shaped bags to match them.

She was eager to find new tenugui and designed bags for all uses that you can see behind her.  The smashing one she is holding will be her next ECOBAG.

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A happy match.  This customer came in and immediately spotted a strong graphic ECOBAG that worked well with her fresh Liberty print dress.

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These embroidered whales on a black on black spotted tenugui was a favorite.
ECOBAGS are FOREVER.
No end of shapes or patterns or sizes.
They brighten our lives and make shopping fun while  helping us do our small part to Save the Seas.

Every time we use an EcoBag we put 3 or 4 plastic bags out of business!
Join the Blue & White EcoBag campaign and make one for each day.  What a smart thing to do !

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Wild geese on a hand sewn shopping bag for small things.

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A TREE MOVES IN MINATO-KU

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It’s a matter of priorities.  Minato Ward has its right! Unbeknownst to me, the powers that are in Tokyo’s Minato ward, where many Embassies are located, and many international residents of Tokyo live, decided that the venerable camphor tree in the historic Arisugawa Park needed to be moved.  By chance or no, I happened by on moving day and was astonished by the large group of helmets assembled around the mammoth tree which had been shorn of its foliage, its roots wrapped in straw bunting, as I drove by.

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Not unlike many traditional festival machinations that I have witnessed over the years, moving the giant Mikoshi for Kyoto’s Gion festival and Chichibu’s night festival outside of Tokyo, the tree had been hoisted and tethered and set on stout horizontal wooden beams with rollers on wooden tracks to guide its movement 10 meters back into the park.  There were even traditional words for the front rollers – Kanzashi – and the back rollers Okagura!

A tall square mound of earth had been carefully prepared to be its new home.  Workers diligently swept away any stray stones or dirt that could impede the forward movement.
Ancient engineering which, though used infrequently, still has professionals who guard the secret.  10 or 15 had been assembled for the great move, along with 60 or so other gardeners, engineers and technicians who helped.

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I rushed by later to see what was happening and found that the tree was moving.

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A sign had been posted to inform the neighborhood of moving day, yesterday, July 26 at 10 am.  The 70 ton tree was to be moved 10 meters.  By chance I had driven by the great assembly and the straw wrapped tree, so I walked back later just in time for the move.  I had lived in Azabu for 35 years, and feel a particular love for the neighborhood and the park and its trees where I have walked many dogs many days and many nights.
The retention of ancient wisdom, the reverence for ancient trees, the respect for nature, the persistence of ancient values rang out in the claps of the 70 workers who rejoiced at their success in moving the old tree and the joy of by standers who had watched the slow process, which had started months earlier.

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And the tears that fell from my eyes as I watched yesterday and today as I tell the story of the tree that moved, are all a part of why I love Japan.

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