Category Archives: Seasonal

Featuring the Snow Shovel

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At past the peak of winter snowing in Hida Region around March, one can notice plainly the handy snow shovels in different shapes, sizes, and colors, in front of homes, shops, and shrines, in standby mode.

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Find the shovel

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Straw Covered Tree Trunks

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Some trees needed protection from the frosty weather so they wear straw coats. In Korea, you’ll come across a lot of trees in winter straw clothing.

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Winter Electric Fan

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Electric fans as space heaters are ubiquitous in Korea to combat the chill. This is something out of ordinary for someone who lives in a tropical country and uses the fan all year round to combat the tropical heat.

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Eulalia

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Talahib is romantic

It is a peculiarity of Korea to regard the talahib as attraction and photography backdrop. And in this winter season, dead grasses exude its own kind of collective beauty.

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Art installations among the talahib as photography backdrop

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The beauty of dead grasses

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It says here there’s even a festival for the talahib

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Hot Eats on a Hot Bench

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Hot eats on a heated bench

Hot eats on a heated bench is one example of Korean winter solution. Snacking at the bustling market despite the negative temperature outside is what makes the winter season lively instead of dreary in Seoul.

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Heated bench

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It is nice to be served hot food by the ajummas

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Christmas Day Sunset

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Sunset on a Christmas Day as seen from Namsan, Seoul

Sakura

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I have never heard of any other culture that give that much reverence to a certain flower, plant, or tree like how the Japanese adored the cherry trees and its blooms. Only in Japan where viewing of a certain flower is being done countrywide.  They even coined a term for it – hanami. As far as I know, viewing of cherry blossoms in certain spots of other countries was introduced, if not influenced by the Japanese.

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Appreciation of the cherry blossoms is like a festival that entails a picnic, party or a quiet reflection of its positive symbolic meaning. Only in Japan where the blooming forecast of cherry trees is a major news item. That is how much they look forward to its annual beauty, and for it to be short-lived makes the level of anticipation very high. Moreover, their love for cherry blossoms is deep enough for it to be a constant subject in poetry, arts, food, and in almost every aspect of their lives. They even regard it as valuable enough to be offered as gift to other nations, a national pride. With this, I can never doubt the significance of the cherry tree to them.

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The Japanese love for their cherry blossoms spread to visitors of their country

I’m inclined to think that the Japanese are deep people. Who would have thought of planting cherry trees in great numbers at most parks, temples, and public roads as part of urban planning. The foresight to beautify the cities at spring because everybody feels so much joy viewing the cherry blossoms makes them quite a profound culture.

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Cherry blossoms on a sidewalk floor tile in Tsuchiura

 

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One of the roadside poster stand on cherry tree varieties

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Another cherry tree variety in this stand

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Outside this school in Taito-ko was where I spotted those cherry tree poster stands during my morning run

Ultimate Pi Day

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Magazine cut-outs as my own way of commemorating Pi Day

Let’s all take a moment to reflect that today, March 14, 2015, is an ultimate Pi Day. In relation to this, I remember back in college that I always have more affection for radians than degrees.

Happy Pi Day!

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Einstein sculpture by Robert Berks in Washington DC

Interestingly, every Pi Day is also Albert Einstein’s birthday. He should have seen his awesome sculpture in Washington DC.

Snow Country Measures

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Life in the snow country of Japan

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Constant manual removal of snow from the rooftops

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Shoveling snow into the snow gutter (beside the lady)

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Plastic shovel for fluffy fresh snow while metal shovel for hard old snow

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Avalanche barriers

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More roadside avalanche barriers

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Like an irrigation system but its purpose is to de-ice this parking lot

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Roadside waterways for depositing and de-icing while shoveling snow. The waterways will then be used for rice paddy irrigation

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Houses with triangular roof so that the snow can easily slide off. Triangular roof also prevents thick accumulation of snow

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Man using snow scoop in Shirakawa-go

Edible Winter Ornamental Plant

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I have noted the presence of potted kale in various places in Japan this winter. From what I gather this vegetable is frost resistant and that is why it is pretty common at winter time though not for eating but for the beautification of their doorsteps.

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New Year Ornaments in Japan

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Kyoto street posts with pine branches and tiny pink round balls

In the Philippines there is absence of New Year ornaments. We celebrate the event with fireworks, noisemakers, and food, including trays of round fruits on New Year’s Eve. But there are no traditional decorations unlike in Japan where in the days leading to this event, one can see ornaments like bamboo, rope, round pink balls, and pine branches. This was a curiosity to me that I took few snapshots of the ornaments.

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More tiny pink round balls in this shopping street

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New Year decoration at Randen Arashiyama streetcar station

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Ropes as New Year ornament too

Of Santo Papa and Banca

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Walking by the shore of Pundaquit days ago, I saw this banca while the Santo Papa was in Manila. So I thought about the pope and nothing else

I imagine that one day the Santo Papa might ride a banca to visit the fisher folks like how I often visualize Jesus Christ – mingling among the fishermen including Simon. Simon later on became Peter the Apostle, the first pope in history.  So perhaps the banca is better suited as popemobile, at least symbolically.

Of Japan’s Winter and Kerosene Heater

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To maximize the heat at the top, use it to warm some water

Kerosene heater is the most endearing winter necessity in Japan. It’s a pretty common space heating device in homes and shops other than the kotatsu.

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Most common kerosene heater design

Throughout my temple stay in Hida-Takayama and mountain village stay in Gokayama in Japan Alps, multiple kerosene heaters are the primary source of heat indoors where outside temperature ranges from -1°C to -7°C.

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Kerosene heater + kotatsu = Japan winter survival

Winter Walk in Hida-Takayama

Some aimless unhurried walking late in the afternoon on the first day of calendar year 2015 in Hida-Takayama, a traditional city in Japan Alps.

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Graveyard

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I appreciate the English translation

Shirakawa-go Farmhouses at Winter

Deep in the valley of Northern Japan Alps lies this mountain village where farmhouses have equilateral triangle thatched roof. This traditional house design known as gassho-style allows snow to slide off easily from the roof.

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To access the Shirakawa-go village is to cross this footbridge

 

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Gassho-style farmhouse

 

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Winter is so beautiful in this village

 

New Year Curiosity

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New year holiday last year in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Unlike Christmas, New year celebration is universal even though the revelry varies in different territories of the earth. To spend New Year’s holiday in different realm every year means to take in the curiosities of this event in a particular setting. Thus, it’s a personal tradition worth keeping.

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A drink for New Year 2014. As for New Year 2015...we'll see

Chestnuts

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Chestnuts roasting on the street

Hero

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Jose Rizal statue in Zamboanga City

Not only the streets in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao were named “Rizal”, to give tribute to the national hero, but one can also notice a statue of him in the plaza, government offices, schools, village, in almost every town and cities in the country. Rizal has become a symbolic hero of the present.
Meanwhile, I’m still in Zamboanga City and the members of the Philippine Military deployed here including the Marines that are on their way to provide security are truly the present heroes. The anniversary of last year’s seige is coming up, the reason why it’s on everyone’s mind including the memories of fear.

Buriring Season

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The defense mechanism of buriring is to inflate but the container is too small for everyone to puff up

When I was in Malapascua Island at the end of July until early days of August, I came upon residents gathering buriring (pufferfish) just near the shore of the beach. This small edible species is being fished for local consumption.

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Her dinner probably

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A tub for the catch

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A closer look of buriring in its normal size

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Keeping it alive, keeping it fresh

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Buriring fishing instead of playing or schooling

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Packing-up time for mission was accomplished - dinner procurement

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A shopping bag-full of catch

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Bloated yet truly cute

Proof of Sweetness

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Pakwan in season

Dangling thin cross-section slices of watermelon as visual proof of sweetness.

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Another pakwan stall

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