Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sakura, Part 1

     Sakura, cherry trees famous in Japan for their beautiful floral displays and organic form, can also be appreciated for their bark.  In northern Honshu, within the area known as Tohoku, craftsmen gather cherry tree bark and use it to carefully craft small household items of beauty.  Often encountered are the canisters used to store tea, tea scoops, and jewelry boxes; prices range from around $5 for simple tea scoops, to over $100 for larger items.
Typical Tea Canister†
The shiny, redish material is the inner bark.

Unpolished Tea Canister ‡
Although the typical horizontal bands found on many cherry species is still visible, this canister was created using the outer bark.

 Picture Sources:

     As a member of the Rose Family (Rosaceae), the cherry tree is closely related to apples, hawthorne, pears, and plums.  These plants generally share common features such as terminal end buds and 5-petaled flowers.

Plum tree with typical Rosaceae flowers.

Plum tree showing bark.

     This in one area in which the specially bred Sakura cherry trees can differ with the rest of its family: very showy, multi-petaled flowers.  Sakura are cherry trees that don't produce [edible] fruit, having been selected over the centuries for ornamental purposes.
Full flowers of an ornamental Sakura tree;
horizontally-striated bark also shown.
A close-up of the leaves and flowers of one Sakura, used as landscaping in Virginia.

This sakura, found in Morioka, Japan, is so old and large that it not only
needs supports to keep it standing, it also split the boulder
on which it originally grew (in a small crack on the rock's surface).
     Although useless for fruit production, the iconic Sakura is famous throughout Japan and in many other lands for its flowers and form.  Hopefully, you now appreciate its bark as well. 


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tokyo, you say? Yes... But there is so much, and I never spend any time there.

     I spent a day in Tokyo a few weeks back.  It was my run-around-until-you-drop-to-adjust-yourself-to-the-timezone day.  It was a very long day (VLD), and what few pictures I have will follow.  Think of this as an introduction to the subjects of art and architecture to follow.
Amazing street performer at the Tokyo Dome complex.
   Odaiba, an island created from dumping enough trash into Tokyo Bay to create land, hosts a number of museums, an amusment park, and a couple department stores (latter shown above).  Fort Venus, shown here, is patterned on an Italian market street.
     Also located in Odaiba, is the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Miraikan.  The home of Asimo, this science museum also houses a range of rotating science exhibits that are well worth the train, tram, and walk needed to get there.  My first visit there introduced me to the wide world of magnetic levitation- a subject I now enjoy greatly. 
     This trip, there were exibits of Serendipitous Science, Emerging Innovations, Interactive Electronics, Micro Anthropology through Photographs (difficult to describe), and Closed-system Communities.  I also saw a 1:10 model of the Japanese Quark Detector (Super-Kamiokande Detector).
Interesting idea: Forget wires and wi-fi, just run the signal through the human body.
Ooooo... Algorythmic anime a la photonic projectors, plus pens.

     And just how big is Tokyo?  Well... as seen from the top of Sunshine 60 (home of Namja Town and the Ice Cream Museum), Tokyo seems a never-ending sea:

In urban Japan, buildings are spaced so far apart, a cat could not fit.
And thus ended the Day in Tokyo.  Just made it to bed.   .....zzZZZZzzzZZZZzzz.....

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tsukemono Press

Introducing, the new tsukemono press (and friend)!

1.6 Litre Picre, 1300 yen
Finding your own press seems so much easier than finding a bucket, an appropriately-sized plate, and a weight.  I picked up this little wonder at a store in Yatsushiro.

Having misplaced my Quick & Easy Tsukemono: Japanese Pickling Recipes book, I've decided to launch my tsukemono press using a made-up recipe: 3 japanes eggplants, 3 tsp salt, a dash of sake, some seaweed (konbu), and a few hibiscus flowers (they're red, and I don't much care for shiso).

Engage the screw-top press, and presto:

Pickles' first press
I think this one will turn out well!  I'll have to wait until morning, but will post the results shortly...

Tsukemono, japanese for "pickled things," are a big thing in my family; we eat carrot & daikon, mustard greens, cucumbers, and cactus- for the most part buying them at stores and in markets.  Now, with the addition of the Tsukemono press to the household, I look forward to making my own.  I foresee Interesting Tymes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The beginning of a New Era... Coming Soon

Any readers of this blog will have noticed a certain lack of activity over the past few months. The author (me) has recently had a change of schedule which should allow him to update more frequently and with new and exciting topics!

For instance, the state's Sugar Art Show is coming up again, which means more crazy gingerbread creations, and Hyperbolic Yogurt will be hosting more topics of creative arts and engineering (or such is my hope).

-Would have uploaded pics of most recent adventures, but due to PC error, cannot do so; must await return to country, normal keyboards.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Unknown Musicians are Sometimes the Best

I realized I had the means of spreading this video of a musical genius... So, here's the video... And Enjoy!