2005 December Essay
Silence of the Origami
Outside is pure white scenery. Almost nothing moves. Trees are covered with snow, and the lake is all frozen. Everything is silent. Perfect day for dreaming. And making yuki-daruma!
I remember the evening in Shi-san's place, and when they took me to onsen. Onsen was so fantastic experience. The scent of a stone, and hot water and chill air.. Everyone looked so relaxed there. Sure, the men could have been more handsome, but then again, even though I was a foreigner with very white skin, nobody stared at me.
I felt I was part of the place, like everyone else. I stretched out and looked at the sky. Only few trees blocked my view a bit. I felt very calm and so peacefull.
My favorite place was a special stone bed located outside. In that stone bed, a hot water was flowing on the surface, and hot steam was rising. When you lied down on it, you felt perfect mixture of cool outside air, and hot steam. People fell asleep in few minutes. To feel the stone, and warm water flowing down your spine was brilliant feeling.
Sauna looked like movie theater. It was a large room, and people were sitting on the benches, looking at TV hidden behind thermal and moisture isolating window. Why do they need TV here, I thought. Here in Finland, we do not have TVs in saunas. Old thinking in Finland is that sauna is a sacred place. Nowadays Finnish people maybe think that TV is a sacred object, perhaps.
But there in Japan, in sauna, I saw a Japanese newscaster. He is a famous person, with large eyes. The ways he express himself is so trained, and so discreet that I cannot stop sighing. And he is one of the most beautiful men I ever seen! His masculinity is like a hint of aftershave in cool morning. Nothing too agressive, but calm and gentle. Impressive person. Totally different from Koizumi.
I'm always touched to notice how Japanese people love natural things, like, moss, for starters. The saying "A rolling stone gathers no moss" is interpreted differently in Japan, than in the west. Japanese think this rolling business is all too much wasted movement. Besides, Japanese people like moss. Why not, moss is really nice!
No wonder onsen is so popular in Japan. Even the public city onsen like this is built so well that you soon forget you are in city. Amazing how they can block the car sounds. Well, I still haven't experienced the ULTIMATE, REAL ONSEN like the ones in Beppu or Hakone.
Today I'm reading book written by Lafcadio Hearn, a part of book series, actually. The book is called "Japanese Miscellany". I was really touched about his description of dragonflies, tombo in Japanese.
From "A Japanese Miscellany"
Iri-hi ni tori no
-- O the expression of that cock's eyes in the sunset-light- trying to catch a dragon-fly!"
It seems today I have nothing urgent to finish, so I decide to spend my day with origami, the Japanese paper folding art. I have a lot of origami paper. Ones I got from Mi-san and Fu-san, and ones that I've got years ago. All those beautiful colored papers have been waiting for me, to get myself together and learn how to make basic ones, like tsuru, the crane. I was wondering that actually origami reminds me of life. When you make origami, usually you make lot of folding, only to notice that in the next step, you need to unfold it again. The purpose of most of the folding is only to prepare the next fold, that usually transforms the figure into entirely another shape. You fold, you unfold. Just like in life.
Japanese designers have fantastic sense for textures, just like we see in kimono fabrics, and origami paper. Some say that one of the most important cultural heritage of Japanese is their sense for textures. Japanese textures have fantastic, universal style in them. Some of the textures are formed from simple triangles with pastel colours, reminding me of aprons I see in Japan. Some of them have dragon flies in them, or other small figures.
It reminds me of quilts, and textile design, which Japanese are popular all over the world. Could this have something to do with the fantastic sense of style Japanese have about making kimonos, or tsumugis?
Here in Finland we have Marimekko, the famous textile design company. One of it's leading characters, is indeed Japanese, famous designer Ishihara-san. Although I haven't studied much about the subject, I must say that Ishihara-san's contribution to Marimekko has been vital for it's success.
I make couple of tsurus of different colours and hang them in a string. Perhaps a good suggestion for someone's Christmas present?
I love Asahi Haikuist Network's haikus, including my own: Asahi Haikuist Network
Outside, still no hint from sun. Its noon now, but my digital camera's light blinks "not enough light". I miss the gentle sunlight I experienced in Japan this november. I present haiku:
Behind the double glazing
giving crane it's breath