Thursday, November 14, 2019

Teapot sold for one million pounds at auction

5in-tall china pot as being that of Chinese emperor Qianlong, who reigned between 1735 and 1796.
Dukes Head of Asian Art and Managing Director, Lee Young with the teapot.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Friday, November 08, 2019

Friday, November 01, 2019

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Aliso Creek Trail .. Early morning perambulation .. Tranquility ..... and some trail repairs underway

 Close-up of washed out bridge ... I hope the repairs include replacing it

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Tokyo's Jimbocho Book shoppers meca

Thousands of bibliophiles are expected to descend on Tokyo’s Jinbocho neighborhood over the next week or so as the city celebrates the 60th anniversary of its largest secondhand book fair.

Bountiful books: Founded in 1939, Komiyama Tokyo is a bookstore that places an emphasis on photography books.

Tough times: Isseido was the first bookstore to reopen in Kanda after the 1923 earthquake.

Survival specialists: Kitazawa Bookstore was once one of the country’s biggest suppliers of English-language books.

Paper pleasure: Isseido also has a wide selection of English-language books.

Digital fatigue: Nyankodo stocks more than 2,000 titles on cats and feline issues. 

Mix & blend Tokyo: Adventures in tea through the seasons

Mix & Blend Tokyo:Adventures in tea through the seasonsA wisp of vapor rising from a teakettle … the robust aroma of roasted hōjicha … the subtle sweetness of classic green sencha … every stimulus conspires to soothe your senses in the quiet sanctuary of Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience, a hideaway perched above the lively streets of Omotesando, Tokyo’s premier fashion district.
“I was trained to serve with poise and efficiency at a bar counter,” says tea master Shinya Sakurai, looking back on his bartender days. “The need for controlled yet flowing motion had a lot in common with the stringent procedures of the tea ceremony.”

An important responsibiliy: Shinya Sakurai operates his roasting machine with the air of a dedicated scientist.
Today he serves tea following his own interpretation of the decorous ryūrei (tea ceremony performed with tables and chairs instead of on tatami) table style from the Urasenke tradition. “I first ask customers about their preferences in tea. If they arrive after a meal, I’ll recommend teas according to what they’ve eaten.”
Offering up the second and third brews with just the right timing, the tea servers exchange only a few words with their clientele across the counter, reminiscent of the low-key conversation at a bar. The staff’s disciplined movements add a pleasant tension to this tranquil space, where time slows to a standstill. The blend of elements is inimitably Sakurai’s. 

Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806)

Studies from Nature': Kitagawa Utamaro's glorious prints


The early 1780s were a difficult time for the shogunate, Japan’s feudal government. Though the country was at peace, one of the worst famines on record was wreaking havoc across the land. Making matters worse, epidemics and natural disasters were rife. The peasantry was never far from open revolt.

In his late 20s at the time, Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), a painter and ukiyo-e print designer, was no doubt aware of the surrounding misery. But in Edo, the capital, a dynamic metropolis of more than a million inhabitants, its impact was limited. Besides, Utamaro’s congenial social circle of young artists provided constant entertainment that must have buffeted some of the social dislocation.
In 1783, he moved into the house of a friend, Tsutaya Juzaburo (1750-97), one of the most influential publishers of his generation (the modern-day Japanese book store partly chose its name as a nod to him), thereby plunging head on into the “floating world.” It is no exaggeration to say that his life would never be the same again.
Tsutaya was a creature of the pleasure quarters. His closest acquaintances were authors and painters, some established, others dilettantes, with whom he spent many a night carousing in the tea houses and geisha establishments of the capital. Tsutaya’s bookshop, which also traded in ukiyo-e woodblock prints, was conveniently located by the main gate of Yoshiwara, home to most of Edo’s courtesans, where it catered to its gay and gallant clientele.
To the bon vivants around him, Tsutaya was a sort of Ragueneau, the colorful patissier and faithful companion to Cyrano de Bergerac, who, when not providing moral encouragement to would-be poets like him, was generously offering free sustenance to those down on their luck. Utamaro lodged with Tsutaya for more than 15 years. Many other creative types likewise benefitted from the publisher’s largesse.
Tsutaya was also an amateur versifier and specialist of kyōka, a form of witty, irreverent and humorous poetry which, in the 1780s, was growing in popularity. It perfectly fitted the times: While the country metaphorically burned, social conventions were loosening, censorship rules relaxed. These were good times for Edo’s epicureans.
Alas, it did not last. The shogunate soon reasserted itself through conservative reforms and strict censorship laws. These, however, did not prevent Tsutaya from launching one of the most consequential and successful ventures of his career: The publication of three anthologies of kyōka poetry, all illustrated by Utamaro. The first, published in two albums in 1788, was the “The Book of Crawling Creatures.” It was followed a year later by “Gifts of the Ebb Tide” and, in 1791, by the two-volume “The Book of Myriad Birds.” All were popular and sold very well. Today, original copies are exceedingly rare.
This summer, The Folio Society, a London-based publisher of fine books, released a facsimile of all five volumes in a limited edition of 500 copies titled “Studies from Nature.” The result is nothing short of glorious, and even that might be an understatement.
Folio meticulously reproduced the gaufrage on some of the original woodblock prints, thereby adding texture to water, flowers or the plumage of birds. It found innovative ways to add a lustrous shine to the wings of insects, thus recreating the effect of mica that had been used by 18th-century printers for the same purpose. It chose paper to mimic the original and it bound all volumes as they were then, Japanese or concertina-style. Finally, all kyōka verses have been translated in a companion volume, each with its own commentary, and three essays detail the historical and cultural context of the works.
At £495 (about ¥69,000), the price is admittedly steep, but not unreasonable given the quality of the workmanship and scholarship.
These tomes constitute a watershed in Utamaro’s oeuvre. Neither he nor Tsutaya — nor any other publisher for that matter — quite reached the same heights again. As a print designer, however, Utamaro’s best work still lay ahead.
From the 1790s onwards, he devoted enormous energy, obsessively at times, to the design of bijinga (prints of beautiful women). Why he became so engrossed with this topic remains somewhat controversial. A bit of a roue, Utamaro spent much time in Yoshiwara, so his interest for the demimonde should not be surprising. But bijinga were also a moneymaker, and some scholars have posited that his large output was partly stimulated by a desire to ease the financial difficulties of his friend Tsutaya, the publisher, who, in 1791, fell foul of government regulations and was so heavily fined that he lost half his wealth. Be that as it may, these prints made Utamaro’s career and reputation. Today, they can sell for tens of thousands of dollars.
By the early 1800s, the shogunate had regained its footing. Despite periodic crackdowns, the publishing industry was also doing well, bolstered by demand from an increasingly literate and mobile population. By then, however, Utamaro’s best years were behind. In 1804, he had a run-in with the law that resulted in a three-day jail spell and a conviction to wear manacles for another 50. Two years later, he died.
Utamaro is justly remembered as one of the greatest ukiyo-e print designers of the second half of the 18th century. His collaborative work with authors and poets however, is far less recognized, at least in the West. “Studies from Nature” brilliantly sets the record straight.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

New Book scheduled for release: UPDATE .. Nov 13th. 2019

#1 UPDATE:  Book now on Pre-Order; Audio eBook
#2 UPDATE: Book delivered .. now enjoying the start of a new read.
#3 UPDATE: Well, overall: an ok story. Overly complicated with the insertion of throwaway characters. I missed  hearing the enjoyable banter between the solid characters developed over the span of the series. 

London, 1892―Cyrus Barker is brought into a game of international espionage by the Prime Minister himself in the newest mystery in Will Thomas's beloved series.
Private enquiry agents Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn receive in the mail an unexplained key stamped with the letter Q. Barker, recognizing it for what it is, uses the key to unlock an anonymous door in the alleyway, which opens to an underground tunnel leading to Downing Street.
The Prime Minister has a small task for Cyrus Barker. A Foreign Office agent stole a satchel in Eastern Europe, but was then himself murdered at Charing Cross. The satchel contains a document desperately wanted by the German government, but while the agent was killed, the satchel remains in English hands. With a cold war brewing between England and Germany, it's in England's interest to return the document contained in the satchel to its original owners and keep it out of German hands.
The document is an unnamed first century gospel; the original owner is the Vatican. And the German government isn't the only group trying to get possession of it. With secret societies, government assassins, political groups, and shadowy figures of all sorts doing everything they can―attacks, murders, counter-attacks, and even massive street battles―to acquire the satchel and its contents, this small task might be beyond even the prodigious talents of Cyrus Barker.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

It's not all Steak and Chips or Shepherd's Pie

Steak and Chips or Shepherd's Pie, followed by Custard and Sherry Trifle. Only thing left to do: is an after-noon nap ...
So when you "NEED TO EAT YOUR GREENS...."

Friday, September 27, 2019

"The GOOSE Table" .... some TLC required - with UPDATE

Our entry hall table aka The Goose Table ... required some internal (out of sight) repairs and a giving the top a needed re-finish ... Dark Oak stain .. Danish Oil and Shellac, ought to do just fine.

Entry Table all sorted, but a companion has started to take shape ?

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Tearooms for Sale

One of Scotland's most famous tearooms has been put up for sale.
The Charles Rennie Mackintosh-inspired Willow Tea Rooms on Buchanan Street in Glasgow is on the market to offers over £125,000.

Current owner and creator of the institution Anne Mulhern has decided to call it a day after more than 35 years, but hopes it will be given a new lease of life.
Anne opened the tea rooms in 1983.
She said: "The Willow Tea Rooms has been a joy to create and operate along with my first-class management team and staff.

Thursday, August 08, 2019