Lived there 2 years and actually attended a wedding reception where the bride and groom changed outfits at least 3 times. Once was a western white dress (rented) and a fake multi tiered cake. They staged a cake cutting/ photo op where the only bit of real cake was at the back so it looked like they were actually cutting it. Was fun.
It's an fascinating culture. Visiting there and seeing in-laws gave me more of an insight into my wife's family dynamics, even though her generation is Sensei -- e.g., I see pretty smooth teamwork among them prepping New Year's feasts.
I understand the polyester kimonos the young folks wear, but the fake cake is surprising. But then, food can be a crippling expense -- high quality mochi can way outpace Godiva. We loved the department stores' food sections.
Always perfect quality, always polite, respectful, bowing, handing you the tray for your money with two hands:
I read that the depth of the bow depended on one's stature -- one bowed most deeply to professors, doctors, etc. And a husband of a relative there said learning Japanese was difficult along the same lines -- the pronoun "you" depended on your class in that hierarchy -- you had to remember a person's class and address them accordingly. I've never heard anyone else discuss it, so I don't know.
My husband travelled there for business and lived there for six months. Doing business is a whole new set of rules too. Japanese often nod their heads or say yes when they mean they understand and not agree. Back then, in business, a woman had to be a sort of honorary man for them to work with you. The children are taught to bow as babies, by the parents pushing their backs forward when they are able to sit up. I just loved it there and it’s been such a long time ago for me, I can’t wait to go back next September, Covid in control willing.
Baked goods were highly prized (this was the mid 80s) and the cake was like a 6 tiered tower. I couldn't see it but supposedly there was a little cut out area at the back where cake was placed for the couple to share. The rest of the cake wasn't cut and handed out like you'd see as a western wedding. Just wheeled off. Another difference was you didn't take a gift, you bought a very special envelope at a stationers and put cash in that you took to the reception. Then the couple gave everyone else a gift. When I got home and opened it the box contained a lamp that turned on with a touch. Was a finicky thing that tended to turn off/on at will. Since I lived across the road from a cemetery that weirded me out a bit.
Yes, class is a thing. How many words you used to greet someone reflected status. If you were lower you greeted someone higher with the full ohayo gozaimasu. Then if you were more equal it might just be ohayo. And then the least respectful would be this sort of grunted "ush". I was an officer at a Japanese facility and the only female (except the COs secretary) so I got a mix of responses.
My son was adopted from Korea and met his wife, a Korean citizen, in Chicago. They were married in Seoul. Bowing was an important part of the ceremony - in this picture they are bowing to the entire assembly. They also bowed to each other (just from the waist) and to each set of parents - that bow was like the one in this picture. There was a smaller, private ceremony that followed where they were dressed in traditional dress - and there was more bowing then. When his mother-in-law visits, his bow is just from the waist. Somehow I haven't been awarded this honor when he sees me!
At least as practiced by the Japanese Americans here, it's acceptable to take a physical, non-cash wedding gift. Maybe the custom mutated when it arrived here, because it is part of the American culture. So, my nieces and nephews usually have wedding registries. Japanese seem to keep relationships equal, and spend a lot of energy keeping tabs -- when my in-laws had their 50th wedding anniversary, we made 1000 paper cranes (what a job) and hung them in the banquet hall. On entrance, each family received a gift, an expensive crystal clock.
What's more revealing is the koden -- cash in a special envelope -- given to the family of the deceased at a funeral. Supposedly, it may have originated in villages to help families with funeral expenses -- a loan of sorts. Books have to be kept of the donations. This is kept so that when someone dies in another family in the community, the same amount is returned. It even gets more complicated -- when you give koden, you later receive a thank you note with --- a book of U.S. stamps.
I read that because real estate and housing is so expensive in Japan, and the living space is so small, material gifts are not given -- only edibles -- mochi, chocolates, etc. If you didn't know, folks don't usually meet in each others' homes for the same reason -- family gatherings occur in hotels -- I met my wife's step-grandmother in that fashion.
Japanese Americans have changed greatly in the past few decades. My wife was the first to marry a non-Japanese (that's a whole different story) in her community. But my nephews and nieces and grand-nephews and nieces are becoming quite a rainbow.
One of the most interesting facets of Japanese culture is the low level of violence to one's person, e.g. by thieves or muggers. I read that the government had struck a pact with organized crime (itself a descendent of the displaced Samurai) -- no violence to citizens, in return they were undisturbed in their protections racket.
Alan Watts, who played a large role in bringing Buddhism to America, both admired that society and called it the most compulsive society in the world.
The pic in this article isn't as good as Doug's, but worth posting anyway:https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/03/asia/koala-christmas-tree-australia-scli-intl/index.html
Really cute and a nice story. Merry Xmas!
You might be curious as to what the Itsukushima Bride actually looks like:
The bump on her back is the Obi or sash beneath her wedding coat.
She is also wearing a wig.
Tech note: This turned out rather nicely. I struggled trying to keep the wedding kimono white, while trying to find pleasing skin tones, while dealing with a really strong hue of the wedding pavillion and wanting to darken the latter so that she would stand out figure from ground.
There are tremendoug photo ops in Japan. I was scheduled for March, 2021.
Are Japanese women actually more quiet and subservient to men? Dream on, it's a complicated story.
Portrait of a Japanese Woman, Gion.
And, to continue, Japanese are obsessively clean -- I walked 4 blocks on the main drag in Gion trying to find a discarded cigarette butt. And there were no trash cans to be found -- you stow your trash in your pockets and discard it at home. It's was really something, couldn't find a trash receptacle in the department stores either.
Portrait of a Japanese Woman, Hiroshima
There was a door behind her. She emerged, and I was taken aback by her kimono and loveliness. I motioned to my camera, and she was so gracious and positioned herself -- I motioned to her to move a bit to the left to frame her against the building. Sometimes, it seems more than graciousness -- she seemed happy to please.
I wanted to share a new discovery with you, that is pretty exciting -- at least for me. First, let me show you the image:
This was taken on a family-owned, environmentally conscious farm. What's really important about the farm is that it hadn't been in existence for very long -- Cuba departed from strict socialism, allowing families to own land.
So here's the discovery: The pineapple image was pretty in it's original state, but is boosted here by techniques I learned this evening -- painting, digitally, on the image with various hues, glows, and color boosts. Imagine, using digital pad and stylus to actually paint on parts of the image. I haven't run across this in any other course of PS before.
For example, there were distracting leaves in the pineapple image that were yellow and dying. I took a color from one of the other leaves and painted the dying leaves back to life. You can imagine what we can do with grey hair.
Was asked for the original pineapple image, right out of the camera:
Just imagine what they do on those mouth-watering ads.
Yep. Many would argue that the enhanced pineapple just is too far removed from reality. But I kind of think that if you were there in Cuba, you'd experience the entire moment of being there -- the smells, the sun, the beauty of the location -- a multi-modal experience. So, the enhanced photo is sort of a way to take you there, to give you an experience. Maybe I'm nuts. LOL.
Thought I'd post some images for Tauck folks that love horses. These are from Iceland and trace their origins back to the Vikings. Their pedigree is so prized that if a horse leaves the island, it cannot return.
This is midday lighting and it is harsh and definitive.
These two are from that angled, softer lighting from the setting of the sun -- "Golden Hour".
I also wanted to show you, if you're interested in editing your photos, what a professional editor can do -- Photoshop. I'm just learning this stuff. Below is a Delhi Street scene. It has already been worked over in PS to make the man and sacred cow stand out from each other and the background.
Below is a sophisticated conversion of the photo to Black and White.
I don't know how discernable this will be. Many photo editors simply desaturate a photo to convert it to black and white. But here, a lot of different steps were taken in this conversion. Instead of only desaturating colors, the colors retained their tonal (black and white) values -- yellow is near white, blues are near black. So the image retains a gradation of richness of tones.
For those true photo nerds, if you didn't know, the camera wars have heated up. Canon, Sony, and Nikon have put out new mirrorless models aimed at the professional market, that are finally worthy of that market. For example, for animal and bird photographers, the new auto-focus system find's the PUPIL OF THE ANIMAL'S EYE. Not new, but finally a mature technology. Also, full-frame 45+ megapixel sensors. Folks like wedding photographers are switching over -- decreases having an out of focus shot to near zero -- a critical tool.
Good to see you back Doug!
Yep, couldn't take a Tauck trip; might as well get an R5! Thanks British.
Fantastic photos everyone ! Japan is high on our travel list. Visited Yokosuka, Tokyo, Mt. Fuji during my Navy days and so want to return. During my shipboard visits in the 70s, it was 330 yen to the dollar now it is 108 yen. I remember paying over $20 for a pizza THEN now I'm guessing it would be around $60 U.S.
I’m sorting out old photo slides this afternoon amd just been looking at ones of us in Japan many years ago. Now hoping our Japan tour goes in SEPTEMBER
Pizza? I had spheghetti and meatballs, and the chef put soy sauce on it. Ugggh. So I stuck to the noodle shops, much, much cheaper. We stayed next to the train station in Tokyo and ate at that very wonderful complex of restaurants and shops beneath the train station.
Just got the R5, and I am happy like Steve -- went out this evening, 2 weeks after the second vaccination, for a sunset shot; nice low-light capability.
Nice! Guess Facial Rec found his eye!
A balmy day -- 59 degrees in Connecticut. The brown is beginning to see bits of green, so we went to the local zoo. It's not a foreign land, but . . . it was reminiscent . . .
Food in Japan is interesting. I spent 2 years in Yokosuka plus travel North and ate some weird stuff. Starnge Japanese foods and even stranger local versions on non-asian dishes. Pizza and chocolate glazed Duncan donuts were the things I most wanted when I got home. Did like Katsu Curry, Yakisoba, Tempura and Sukiyaki.
Sashimi? No. Before I went to Japan I met up with one of my college biology professors ( a parasitologist) who had done a recent research trip there. By the time he got done filling me in on the critters in raw fish there was no way I'd eat any.
Yikes, I’m married to a Parasitologist. He does know someone who got parasites from roll mop herring in Denmark. Oh well, our Scandinavia and Japan tours will be canceled anyway this year and it won’t stop me wolfing down lots of raw fish
But millions of folks eat it. So, wonder what the disease rate is. Is it the same as getting hit by lightning, or moer like getting hit by a car?
Mother-in-law always used to run out and buy the sushi grade tuna when I came to town. She was wonderful.
This evening's folly:
Creature found in the Beardsley Park Zoo's hot house.
Yes, plenty do but it was hard for me to as I would always have this voice in my head urging caution. I did try it a couple times but never had anything I wanted again except crab which of course is cooked.
If you own a dog you might have immunity to many of those criters anyway. I like sashimi. I would eat Japanese before Chinese anytime. I used to live in North Beach (SF), which I often called upper Chinatown. I often walked through Chinatown late at night going to work. You really don’t want to see the kitchen in many Chinese restaurants.