Tag Archives: Japan

A trail-blazing woman

owl on branch with greeting

Today I mailed this “wise owl” card to my great-aunt for her 109th birthday. No, that is not a typo. Helene “Helli” Stehle was born to a butcher and his wife on December 6, 1907, in Basel, Switzerland. But longevity is by no means the most remarkable thing about Helli. This pioneering woman first achieved fame in Switzerland as a stage actor playing strong characters. She has always been a vibrant, strong-willed woman with a great zest for life, so I can imagine how riveting her performances Read more

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Exploring art in old Japan

maple leaves in fall with haiku

Besides a grand family adventure, my trip to Japan earlier this summer (see Journey to Japan) was also an exploration of Japanese art and haiku—and a chance to stock up on hard-to-find art supplies. A major highlight of the trip was a visit to a famous art supply store in Kyoto, founded by a painter in 1863 and still run by his descendants. At the one-room Saiun-do (“Painted Clouds”), I found the fine brushes, made of weasel hair and bamboo, for which I had spent years searching. I also Read more

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Journey to Japan

mountain and pine night landscape with haiku

Well, I’ve been back from Japan for almost a month now, and I still can’t begin to describe this heart-expanding trip. Much as I had planned and anticipated the journey (see my last post, Eastward ho!), it was even better than I could have imagined. Over three weeks in June, my family and I explored serene Zen gardens and bustling city streets. We spent one day hiking the ancient Nakasendo trail between post towns, and another day hiking through ten thousand vermillion torii gates at a shrine Read more

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Eastward ho!

mountain meadow with poppies and lupine, haiku

At the Seabeck Haiku Getaway in Washington last fall, we started with a fun icebreaker: write down five items from your bucket list, then walk around the room and share with other participants. (For more about Seabeck, see The path unfolds.) After the exercise, my daughter Maya and I compared lists. I definitely don’t share her dream of working a stint as a bartender! But it turns out that we both had the exact same number one wish: to travel to Japan as a family. Meanwhile, Makino Studios Read more

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Remembering the Great East Japan Earthquake

marsh landscape with poem

I’m writing on the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan. It’s so hard to lose someone you love; multiply that grief by the nearly 16,000 people killed in the 2011 disaster, and the amount of suffering unleashed is overwhelming. In addition, more than 200,000 people are still displaced from their homes, and the Fukushima nuclear plant continues to dump radioactive water into the sea. And yet, we are such a resilient species. Japan is Read more

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