The  swan  is often referenced in literature as an example of a "graceful" animal.

The swan is often referenced in literature as an example of a "graceful" animal.

Posted on Saturday, Jan 6
“He hurts my eyes.”
This said by my twelve-year-old competitive tennis player when I asked him if he would play another time with the son of my dentist, the dentist’s son not an accomplished player.

All the explanation needed.
They didn’t even know each other before the match that Christopher agreed to play.
And it wasn’t so bad that the boy turned out to be deficient as a player.
But graceless.
Lacking elegance or charm.
That the kill.

“He hurts my eyes.”

Gracefulness, or being graceful, is the physical characteristic of displaying "pretty agility", in the form of elegant movement, poise, or balance.
The etymological root of grace is the Latin word gratia from gratus, meaning pleasing.

Gracefulness has been described by reference to its being aesthetically pleasing.
For example, Edmund Burke wrote:

“Gracefulness is an idea not very different from beauty; it consists of much the same things. Gracefulness is an idea belonging to posture and motion.
In both these, to be graceful, it is requisite that there be no appearance of difficulty; there is required a small inflection of the body; and a composure of the parts in such a manner, as not to encumber each other, not to appear divided by sharp and sudden angles.
In this ease, this roundness, this delicacy of attitude and motion, it is that all the magic of grace consists, and what is called its je ne sais quoi; as will be obvious to any observer, who considers attentively the Venus de Medicis, the Antinous, or any statue generally allowed to be graceful in a high degree.”

269 posts to date. The 5.38% mark of my commitment. A different way of looking at the passage of time: a 13.69-year calendar. That there’s a year change today is not relevant to our computing. We count by posts, 5,000 being the number that on the day of the start of the blog seemed safe to predict. Still does.  Five thousand. So far away.  And yet I clearly hear: Tick Tock. Translation: Enjoy today.

269 posts to date.
The 5.38% mark of my commitment.
A different way of looking at the passage of time: a 13.69-year calendar.
That there’s a year change today is not relevant to our computing.
We count by posts, 5,000 being the number that on the day of the start of the blog seemed safe to predict.
Still does.
Five thousand.
So far away.

And yet I clearly hear:
Tick Tock.
Translation: Enjoy today.

__________________________________Tagging Today
Sunday, January 6, 2019
My 269th consecutive posting, committed to 5,000.
Time is 12.01am.
On Sunday, Boston’s temperature will reach a high of 45* but the wind will result in a feels-like temperature of 31*.

Dinner will be left-over roasted chicken with a saute of mushrooms, sliced bell peppers, serrano chili, fresh heirloom tomato, and tomato paste.








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Question of the Day:
How is New Year’s Day celebrated in Japan?

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Love your notes.
Contact me @ domcapossela@hotmail.com

From Kay Kane on her trip to Japan:

I went to Aritsugu in Kyoto today & the darn shop is closed for New Year's week.  No fancy chef knives this trip :(

But I did promise you something you could post.  So here it goes: 

New Year's is the most important holiday in Japan (a much bigger deal than Christmas) filled with lots of customs & traditions.  Fortunately Michaela's host family walked us thru many of the rituals so hopefully we didn't botch them too terribly.  I know you're a foodie so I'll focus on those components!

After Hatsuhinode (watching the first sunrise of the year) we tasted a sampling of osechi-ryoyi, symbolic foods for good wishes:

kay japanese new years food.png

osechi-ryoyi, symbolic foods for good wishes:
From left to right, top to bottom we tried:

(1) Datemaki (sweet rolled omelet) symbolizes the sun wishing for auspicious days ahead

(2) Tazukuri (candied sardine) symbolizes a bountiful harvest because sardines used to be used to fertilize the rice fields

(3) Tataki Gobo (pounded burdock) a deep root that symbolizes stability, pounded so the ends split to multiply good fortune

(4) Kuromame (black soybean) symbolizes good health because the word "mame" (bean) sounds like the word for "health and hard work"

(5) Namasu (daikon & carrot) red & white foods symbolize happiness and celebration

(6) Ikura (salmon roe) symbolizes fertility along with herring roe

(7) Kuri Kinton (mashed sweet potato & chestnut) symbolizes gold, wealth and prosperity

(8) Kamaboko (fish cake) the white version symbolizes holiness

(9) Konbu Maki (herring wrapped in seaweed) rolled and tied shape symbolizes scholarship

(10) Ebi no Umani (simmered shrimp) the curved shape resembles an elderly person's back and symbolizes longevity

(11) Yakizakana (grilled fish) is for good luck in one's career

On the bottom left is mashed avocado... which I don't think symbolizes anything.  I just like avocados.

Michaela on left and Kay on right. And no, Kay is not our own handbag girl! She is rather cute, though.

Michaela on left and Kay on right.
And no, Kay is not our own handbag girl!
She is rather cute, though.

There's a ritual involved starting with the Chozuya: cleansing area where one scoops water with left hand and washes right, then scoops water with right hand and washes the left to purify the body and mind. 
At the altar we threw coins into the Saisen-bako (offeratory box) to rid ourselves of impurities and rang the bell to summon the Gods. 
The custom is to bow twice, clap twice to wake up the Gods, then bow with prayer. 
Finally we ended with Goshuin: collecting a red stamp with calligraphy unique to each shrine/temple.

I'm sure I over-simplified everything given there are different traditions at Buddhist temples versus Shinto shrines but the locals didn't seem to mind. 

And strolling in the footsteps of Kyoto University philosopher Nishida Kitaro (1870 – 1945) on a streamside path lined with ever-changing vistas felt like a very Zen way to start the new year.

Happy 2019 to you & Kat!

XOX, Kay

This photograph shows a  kadomatsu , a traditional decoration for the new year in  Japan . The  ikebana  arrangement includes auspicious pine, bamboo, and other felicitous symbols.

This photograph shows a kadomatsu, a traditional decoration for the new year in Japan. The ikebana arrangement includes auspicious pine, bamboo, and other felicitous symbols.

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Answer to Question:
How is New Year’s Day celebrated in Japan?
The Japanese New Year (正月 Shōgatsu) is an annual festival with its own customs.
Since 1873, the official Japanese New Year has been celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar, on January 1 of each year, New Year's Day (元日 Ganjitsu).
However, many traditional events of the Japanese New Year are still celebrated on the first day of the year on the modern Tenpō calendar, the last official lunisolar calendar which was used until 1872 in Japan.

January 1st is also called shōgatsu (正月) in Japan, where family and relatives gather in celebration.
The entire nation celebrates shōgatsu, so it's not surprising to find most stores and shops closed on this day; tourists and travelers best take heed.

The big kite.

The big kite.

The New Year and "Hatsu"
Not just limited to January 1st, in Japan almost anything done the first time in the year will have the word "hatsu" (初, meaning "first") attached to it.
For example, the first laugh in the new year is termed hatsuwarai (初笑い), and the first visit to the shrine is known as hatsumōde (初詣).
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There is also an associated festival of Little New Year (小正月 koshōgatsu), traditionally celebrating the first full moon of the new year, on the 15th day of the first lunar month (approximately mid-February). This is now sometimes celebrated on January 15, in various respects.
The main events of Koshōgatsu are rites and practices praying for a bountiful harvest; rice gruel with adzuki beans (小豆粥 azukigayu) is traditionally eaten in the morning and is involved in the rice gruel divination ceremony.
Further, New Year decorations are taken down around this date, and some temples hold events, such as at Tōrin-in.
This corresponds to the Chinese Lantern Festival.
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japan ny eve poster.png
Bohnenhase Bento: Ōmisoka, Japanese New Year's Eve

Bohnenhase Bento: Ōmisoka, Japanese New Year's Eve

Ōmisoka (大晦日)—or ōtsugomori (大晦)—is a Japanese traditional celebration on the last day of the year.
Traditionally, it was held on the final day of the 12th lunar month.
With Japan's switch to using the Gregorian calendar at the beginning of the Meiji era, December 31 (New Year's Eve) is now used for the celebration.
The last day of each month of the Japanese lunisolar calendar was historically named misoka (晦日). Originally, "miso" was written as 三十, indicating the 30th day, though misoka sometimes fell on the 29th due to the varying lengths of the lunar month.
The last day in the 12th lunar month is called ōmisoka (大晦日)—with the 大 indicating it is the final last day of the month for that year—or the "great thirtieth day".
As part of the Meiji Restoration, Japan switched to the Gregorian calendar in 1873, and ōmisoka was set as December 31, or New Year's Eve.
The day is also known by the archaic pronunciation of ōtsugomori (大晦).[1][4] This is a shortened version of tsukigomori (月隠り), meaning "last day of the month".

Wow!

Wow!

Traditionally, important activities for the concluding year and day were completed in order to start the new year fresh.
Some of these include house cleaning, repaying debts, purification (such as driving out evil spirits and bad luck), and bathing so the final hours of the year could be spent relaxing.
More recently, families and friends often gather for parties, including the viewing of the over four-hour Red/White Singing Battle show on NHK.
his custom has its roots in the ancient Japanese culture surrounding toshigamisama (歳神様) or toshitokusama (歳徳様), which revolved around the practice of showing reverence toward the god of the current and upcoming years.

Traditional noodle making in Dalian, China  Noodles are a staple food in many cultures.  They are made from unleavened dough which is stretched, extruded, or rolled flat and cut into one of a variety of shapes.  While long, thin strips may be the most common, many varieties of noodles are cut into waves, helices, tubes, strings, or shells, or folded over, or cut into other shapes.  Noodles are usually cooked in boiling water, sometimes with cooking oil or salt added.  They are often pan-fried or deep-fried.  Noodles are often served with an accompanying sauce or in a soup.  Noodles can be refrigerated for short-term storage or dried and stored for future use.  The material composition or geocultural origin must be specified when discussing noodles.  The word derives from the German word Nudel.  Toshikoshi soba (年越し蕎麦), year-crossing noodle, is Japanese traditional noodle bowl dish eaten on New Year's Eve.  This custom lets go of hardship of the year because soba noodles are easily cut while eating.

Traditional noodle making in Dalian, China

Noodles are a staple food in many cultures.
They are made from unleavened dough which is stretched, extruded, or rolled flat and cut into one of a variety of shapes.
While long, thin strips may be the most common, many varieties of noodles are cut into waves, helices, tubes, strings, or shells, or folded over, or cut into other shapes.
Noodles are usually cooked in boiling water, sometimes with cooking oil or salt added.
They are often pan-fried or deep-fried.
Noodles are often served with an accompanying sauce or in a soup.
Noodles can be refrigerated for short-term storage or dried and stored for future use.
The material composition or geocultural origin must be specified when discussing noodles.
The word derives from the German word Nudel.

Toshikoshi soba (年越し蕎麦), year-crossing noodle, is Japanese traditional noodle bowl dish eaten on New Year's Eve.
This custom lets go of hardship of the year because soba noodles are easily cut while eating.

About an hour before the New Year, people often gather together for one last time in the old year to have a bowl of toshikoshi soba or toshikoshi udon together—a tradition based on people's association of eating the long noodles with "crossing over from one year to the next", which is the meaning of toshi-koshi.
While the noodles are often eaten plain, or with chopped scallions, in some localities people top them with tempura.
Traditionally, families make osechi on the last few days of the year.
The food is then consumed during the first several days of the new year in order "[welcome] the 'deity of the year' to each household" and "[wish] for happiness throughout the year".

Bonshō (Japanese: 梵鐘, Buddhist bells), also known as tsurigane (釣り鐘, hanging bells) or ōgane (大鐘great bells) are large bells found in Buddhist temples throughout Japan, used to summon the monks to prayer and to demarcate periods of time.  Rather than containing a clapper, bonshō are struck from the outside, using either a handheld mallet or a beam suspended on ropes.  The bells are usually made from bronze, using a form of expendable mould casting.  They are typically augmented and ornamented with a variety of bosses, raised bands and inscriptions. The earliest of these bells in Japan date to around 600 CE, although the general design is of much earlier Chinese origin and shares some of the features seen in ancient Chinese bells.  The bells' penetrating and pervasive tone carries over considerable distances, which led to their use as signals, timekeepers and alarms.  In addition, the sound of the bell is thought to have supernatural properties; it is believed, for example, that it can be heard in the underworld.  The spiritual significance of bonshō means that they play an important role in Buddhist ceremonies, particularly the New Year and Bon festivals.  Throughout Japanese history these bells have become associated with stories and legends, both fictional, such as the Benkei Bell of Mii-dera, and historical, such as the bell of Hōkō-ji.  In modern times, bonshō have become symbols of world peace.

Bonshō (Japanese: 梵鐘, Buddhist bells), also known as tsurigane (釣り鐘, hanging bells) or ōgane (大鐘great bells) are large bells found in Buddhist temples throughout Japan, used to summon the monks to prayer and to demarcate periods of time.
Rather than containing a clapper, bonshō are struck from the outside, using either a handheld mallet or a beam suspended on ropes.

The bells are usually made from bronze, using a form of expendable mould casting.
They are typically augmented and ornamented with a variety of bosses, raised bands and inscriptions. The earliest of these bells in Japan date to around 600 CE, although the general design is of much earlier Chinese origin and shares some of the features seen in ancient Chinese bells.
The bells' penetrating and pervasive tone carries over considerable distances, which led to their use as signals, timekeepers and alarms.
In addition, the sound of the bell is thought to have supernatural properties; it is believed, for example, that it can be heard in the underworld.
The spiritual significance of bonshō means that they play an important role in Buddhist ceremonies, particularly the New Year and Bon festivals.
Throughout Japanese history these bells have become associated with stories and legends, both fictional, such as the Benkei Bell of Mii-dera, and historical, such as the bell of Hōkō-ji.
In modern times, bonshō have become symbols of world peace.








At midnight, many visit a shrine or temple for Hatsumōde, or the first shrine/temple visit of the year. Throughout Japan, Shinto shrines prepare amazake to pass out to crowds that gather as midnight approaches.
Most Buddhist temples have a large bonshō (Buddhist bell) that is struck once for each of the 108 earthly temptations believed to cause human suffering.
When seeing someone for the last time before the new year, it is traditional to say "Yoi o-toshi wo" (良いお年を, lit. "Have a good New Year").
The traditional first greeting after the beginning of the New Year is "Akemashite omedetō (明けましておめでとう, lit. "congratulations on the new year").

This celebration is the equivalent of New Year's Eve in the Western world, and coincides with Saint Sylvester's Day celebrated by some Western Christian churches.
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NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen (NHK紅白歌合戦 Enueichikei Kōhaku Uta Gassen; "NHK Red and White Song Battle", more commonly known simply as Kōhaku, is an annual New Year's Eve television special produced by Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
It is broadcast live simultaneously on television and radio, nationally and internationally by the NHK network and by some overseas (mainly cable) broadcasters who buy the program.
The show ends shortly before midnight.

Before the show began broadcasting on television in late 1953, the show was held on 3 January and only consisted of a radio broadcast.

Main hosts from 69th Kouhaku.

Main hosts from 69th Kouhaku.

The program divides the most popular music artists of the year into competing teams of red and white. The "red" team or akagumi (赤組, 紅組) is composed of all female artists (or groups with female vocals), while the "white" team or shirogumi (白組) is all male (or groups with male vocals).
At the end of the show, judges and the audience vote to decide which group performed better.
The honor of performing on Kōhaku is strictly by invitation, so only the most successful singing acts in the Japanese entertainment industry can perform.
In addition to the actual music performances, the costumes, hair-styles, makeup, dancing, and lighting are important.
Even today, a performance on Kōhaku is said to be a big highlight in a singer's career because of the show's wide reach.

I have half a brick of ladyfingers. I hope your match is wooden.

I have half a brick of ladyfingers.
I hope your match is wooden.

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Good morning on this Sunday, January 6.
We talked about gracefulness and then read a report from Kay Kane on her trip to Japan.
And followed that with a series of highlights of the Japanese New Year, ending with a discussion of the Japanese New Year’s music tradition, the four-hour long annual TV show, "NHK Red and White Song Battle"
We’re done.

Che vuoi? Le pocketbook?

See you soon.

Love

Dom