Tag Archives: Nature

Claude Monet art exhibit in Tokyo

10 Jan

I’m not an expert on art by any means.

My tastes might be considered “low brow”.
I listen to heavy metal music, my favorite TV shows aren’t really educational or anything, and I don’t see the appeal of “over-rated” movies such as “Lost In Translation“, “Forrest Gump” and “The Lord Of The Rings“…those movies were all boring to me.
The movies I like are more exciting.

And I don’t feel comfortable eating in “four star” fancy restaurants…I prefer a simple 「居酒屋」 (Japanese izakaya “blue collar” type restaurant).

Even though I may be a “simple man” I can appreciate art sometimes.
I have never attended an opera or even a musical on stage, but I have watched 歌舞伎 (Kabuki) plays and sometimes I go to art exhibits at museums.

I have seen a number of 浮世絵 (Ukiyoe Japanese woodblock prints) exhibits…and yesterday, my wife and I went to 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo) to see the 「モネとジヴェルニーの画家たち」 (“Claude Monet and the Giverny Artists”) exhibit.

It’s at the “Bunkamura Museum” in Shibuya, Tokyo until 2011 February 17th.

I learned that Claude Monet moved to a tiny French village called Giverny and painted the natural views that he saw there. And his work inspired many artists from other countries, but the vast majority were Americans, to go to Giverny and set up an “artist colony” there to learn from Monet.

Also, Monet was inspired by Japanese art (other famous Western artists, including Vincent Van Gogh, were too) and he had a collection of Japanese Ukiyoe prints.

Monet's painting of his wife in Japanese kimono.

Monet's painting of his garden in Giverny, France.

Monet's painting of a hay stack.


Are you interested in art? Monet? Ukiyoe?
How about your taste in food, movies, music, etc?

Japanese for all seasons

28 Dec

A new year is about to begin…in fact a new decade.
It’s almost 2010. I can’t believe how fast time flies…this coming year will be twenty years since I first came to Japan!

So, for the new year, I thought I’d mention a few common seasonal terms in the Japanese language.

— First, this time of year (late December), we say 「良いお年を」 (“Yoi-otoshi-o“). It means “Have a happy new year“.

— On New Years Eve, you can go to a temple in Japan and hear 「除夜の鐘」 (Joya-no-kane), which is a Buddhist traditional of ringing the temple bell by the monk 108 times for a good new year.

— In the first week or so of January, 「明けましておめでとうございます」 (“Akemashite-omedetou-gozaimasu“) is said…it means “Happy New Year“.

— Also in early January, people in Japan go to a shrine to wish for a good year. The first visit to a shrine in the new year is called 「初詣」 (“Hatsu-moude“).

— 「節分」 (Setsubun) is a tradition on February third of throwing beans to ward the home of evil. Click here to read my FAQ about this holiday.

— The first warm breeze of Spring is called 「春一番」 (“Haru-ichi-ban“).

— In late-March to early-April, Japanese people love 「花見」 (Hanami)…”Cherry-Blossom Viewing“.
Click here to see some photos and video that I took of Hanami in Tokyo last April.

— Around Golden Week time, 「新緑」 (Shin-ryoku) starts. Shin-ryoku is the new green foliage of spring.

June is Japan’s 「梅雨」 (Tsuyu), or “Rainy season“.

— It couldn’t be Summer in Japan without 「蝉時雨」 (Semi-shigure)…the chirping of Cicadas, and 「花火」 (Hanabi)…fireworks displays.

— The 「赤蜻蛉」 (Aka-tonbo), Red Dragonflies, can be seen in Autumn.

Autumn is known for both 「日本晴れ」 (“Nihon-bare“), “Blue Skies Over All of Japan“, and 「紅葉」 (Kouyou), Autumn foliage.
Click here to see the photos I took in a park last Autumn.

— In Winter, the leaves fall off of the trees…in Japanese, it’s called 「木枯らし」 (Kogarashi).

How many of these words did you already know?

熊田千佳慕 R.I.P.

13 Aug

熊田千佳慕 (Chikabo Kumada) was an artist born in 横浜 (Yokohama, Japan) in 1911.

He was a graphic designer until the age of 26 when he changed careers to do something he was passionate about. He became a botanical artist.

He loved children and he loved nature…especially insects. So he wrote books for children about plants and insects.


He was often called the 「日本のファーブル」 (“Japanese Fabre“) or even 「プチファーブル」 (“Petit Fabre“).

He was called that because ジャン・アンリ・ファーブル (Jean Henri Fabre) was a French entomologist (insect scientist) who lived from the early nineteenth century until the early twentieth century.
He’s pretty famous in Japan.

Jean Henri Fabre (1823-1915)

Jean Henri Fabre (1823-1915)

My family and I are interested in insects. (Click here to see a couple photos of our latest “pet”.)
Last year we went to a ファーブル (Fabre) exhibit at a museum in Tokyo.

Flyer for "Jean Henri Fabre" exhibit in Tokyo

Flyer for "Jean Henri Fabre" exhibit in Tokyo

Like Fabre, 熊田千佳慕 (Chikabo Kumada) loved insects.
And he drew detailed illustrations of plants and insects for children’s book even when he was into his late 90s!


This year, the 松屋 (“Matsuya“) Department Store in 銀座 (Ginza, Tokyo) is celebrating it’s 140th anniversary.
As part of it’s celebration, they’re having an exhibit of the artwork of 熊田千佳慕 (Chikabo Kumada) on the 8th floor from yesterday (2009 August 12) until August 24.

kumada-art01But what makes this exhibit especially significant is that it is now a memorial to the artist…since, one day after the opening of the exhibit, he died today at the age of 98.

Tragically, it wasn’t old age that took him. He may have very well lived past 100. He died today when he choked to death on food that he swallowed wrong.

My family and I plan to go to the exhibit of his artwork in the 松屋 (“Matsuya“) Department Store this month.


熊田千佳慕 (Chikabo Kumada): 1911 July 21 – 2009 August 13 (age 98), R.I.P.

Chikabo Kumada, 1911/7/21 - 2009/8/13

Chikabo Kumada, 1911/7/21 - 2009/8/13