In Japan, when you enter a store or a restaurant or a home, the hosts will call out "いらつしゃいませ!"(Ira'shaimase), which means something like "Welcome!" "Come on in!" Which is what I say to you, new and old friends, as I share random thoughts and creations to whomever is interested.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Origami tessellations

How to fold an origami mikan? This was my quest. How to make a globe out of a flat square of paper. I have made many kusudamas ( 薬玉: medicine balls )before but they use many sheets of small squares folded into units. How could I make a globe out of a single sheet of paper?

And thus began my journey into origami tessellations. The word tessellation(tiling) is when shapes are arranged side by side to produce a pattern with no gaps in between. Origami tessellations are different in that they are made with one sheet of paper using only mountain and valley folds, lots of them!! It is tedious, tiresome and requires oodles of patience! Once made, you connect the edges together into a tube and then you can squash gently into an orb or flatten like a wagon wheel. If you google online, you will find the most amazing origami tessalations.. this will probably be my last foray into the genre. But at least I ended up with a pretty good looking mikan!! (and a bit of Carpel tunnel syndrome ).

Memories of Mikans

I can't think of another fruit that can evoke such memories of life in Japan as the mikan does. Mikan has recently showed up in the United States as "cuties" and Satsuma oranges but none are exactly a real mikan.
Mikans are the perfect fruit, really: small, compact, easy to peel, no seeds, no mess and deliciously sweet and juicy. Mikans can be eaten with or after any meal, on a train, packed in a lunch for school or picked straight from the tree. A small child might eat one mikan whereas I have seen teenagers go through 10 or 15 at a sitting. In fact, a high school friend ate so many mikans that her palms turned orange!
In Japan, mikan gari ( mikan picking) season is in the fall. Every year around November, our little Oshika church members would pack a picnic, pile in the few little Japanese cars owned by members including my dad’s light blue Opel Cadette(well, they weren’t all Japanese cars I guess), and head for the hills. Shizuoka is a city surrounded by hills and mountains and many of them are covered with tea fields and citrus orchards. Once up in the hills, a picnic would be laid out and the picking would begin. I don’t remember picking many mikans to bring home. The joy of the mikan-gari was the camaraderie of being in the beautiful outdoors, often with a stunning view of the ocean, sharing, laughing, and just enjoying a peaceful time.
The mikan-gari that I remember most vividly took place on Nov. 22, 1963. All these years later, I found out talking to my mother yesterday (1/29/2012), that she was not along with us on that particular occasion. Apparently, she stayed home to sew Barbie doll clothes for Christmas presents for my sister and I. So, off went our family sans mom up into the hills with the Oshika members to enjoy the beauty of the day. When we returned to church, I remember a somber looking group of folks standing in front of the church. I remember people crying and such a sadness. I was 7 years old and knew something terrible had happened but I don’t think I really understood what it meant: Kennedy has been assassinated. The sadness of mikans.
The joy of mikans came at New Year’s when we would sit around playing typical Japanese New Year’s games. There were always mikans on the table. We would stack them, juggle them, and eat them. Unlike candies or cakes or cookies, no one would ever tell you to stop eating them!
Debbie’s beautiful etegami reminds me of another aspect of mikans: sharing. Especially on a train, sitting across from strangers but sometimes becoming quite familiar by the end of the trip. No other food is so easy to share as a mikan. No worries about your germs being on the actual fruit. Peel and eat.
All of the sudden, I am craving a mikan. Ah, well. A Satsuma orange from my Houston yard will have to suffice.
Etegami used by permission of Debbie Davidson. For her story of mikans and to see more of her work, go to: http://etegamibydosankodebbie.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why blog?

I've been thinking for some time about creating a blog and spewing forth creative words of thoughts swirling in this brain of mine. It probably started when my son was in the hospital ICU for 3 months with 3rd degree burns (3 years ago). Every night I went home and wrote for the Caringbridge site. It was a catharsis for me and many people commented that it was a good read as well. I didn't quite know what to do with the ladies at church who said it was "better than a soap opera" and went into withdrawal when I didn't write for a couple of days.
Well, nothing as dramatic as that happens in my life most days (knock on wood) but I do find amazing things happening every day and wanting to share them. I find myself posting too many pictures on Facebook of this and that and want to explore my thoughts in depth rather than 2 or 3 sentences. So here goes.
My name "ShizuokaGirl" comes from having lived in Japan, in Shizuoka in particular, for many years of my early life (age 4 to 17 ). That has had a profound effect on my life and helped to turn me into who I am.

Origami Yoda

A school librarian called me to see if I could do an origami workshop/program for her Bluebonnet winners (students who had read a certain number of books). She told me there is a very popular book among the kids with an origami tie-in: Tom Angleberger's "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda." So, I bought the book and enjoyed it thouroughly (in a twisted, adolescent sort of way) and immediately set about to fold the fanciest Yoda on the internet created by Fumiaki Kawahata. Not knowing there was a video link to help with this project, I set about to fold it only from a set of diagrams.
In Yoda's words, "To fold, easy is not." You can see the blobs of paperwads that never morphed into Yoda. But in the end, success! A smaller Yoda (12 in square) and and a larger Yoda ((20 in square). Too cute, ね?