Autumn Nostalgia Smells of Kinmokusei

Ahhhh cool autumn weather has finally hit Phoenix, and with it blows in that ever elusive feeling of nostalgia. My fall nostalgia is always accompanied by a sweet whiff of Kinmokusei.

When I was living in Kagoshima I had the privilege to attend several large Rotary conferences  one of which was located in Nobeoka. (Nobeoka is one of my favorite places in the world, it’s a lovely, lovely town!)

The conference took place in a prestigious hotel and was attended by a great number of people and was very busy and crowded. I, being that I am very uncomfortable in large crowds, was somewhat worse for the wear by the end of the first night.  Someone, I’m not sure who  (being confused is 91% of being an exchange student)  took pity on me and the other two exchange students and arranged to have a family with several kids whisk us off into the country side to stay with a friend of theirs for the night. (it seemed very random at the time, mind you, after an exhausting day I was stuffed in a car with strangers and driven out of the city. Luckily, I am well adapted at being happily confused)

The man whose house we were graciously put up in was named Yamamoto, and he lived unusually close to the mountains in a big, beautiful traditional Japanese home.One room housed a giant loom that encompassed the entire room from wall to wall, I was told that Mr. Yamamoto wove kimono on it.

The family, myself and Sebastian and Sunni, the other two exchange students slept there that night (on nice soft futons oooohh :D). We woke up early the next morning to hike into the forest, so we could drink the sweetest water in Kyushu (or at least that is what I derived from Mr. Yamamoto) I wasn’t not prepared for hiking since I had expected to be sitting and bored with a polite expression on my face in the conferences, so I had to borrow a pair of one of the little girl’s shoes (good thing I am child sized, even in Asia XD).

Japanese forests are some of the most beautiful that I have ever seen…and the water from a pool at the end of the trail was indeed the sweetest I have ever tasted.

We returned to Mr. Yamamoto’s home and packed to leave and during the chaos of cramming kids and suitcases into tiny, Japanese, tupperware-cars Mr. Yamamoto pulled me aside and broke a twig off a bush and handed it to me “This is what autumn in Japan smells like, we, Japanese, always wait for it” he said.

Now, whenever autumn decides to show up, I always return to the sweet smell of Kinmokusei and the sweet memories I have of Mr. Yamamoto and the kind family that took us to him.

(could this photo be any more chaotic? I love it!)

Now in case this post doesn’t seem sufficiently random, I thought to include this (it was for the parking lot of the fancy, conference hotel. )

Happy Finally-a-Nice-Day-In-Arizona Day, Everybody!

Spooky Fairy Tales, Anyone? Also, Cats Cats Caaats

Hi Ya’ll! I thought I would take a moment to share my most recent, finished piece of work with everyone!

This piece is watercolor and ink on cold press paper and is based off of one of my favorite Japanese fairy tales, The Boy Who Drew Cats.

For those of you who have never heard of this fairy tale, you can read a pretty good translation here, if you can’t guess…it is a story about a boy who only ever draws cats. Cats. Cats. Cats.

I also like Wikipedia’s synopsis, and the addition of all the cats having bloody mouths, creeeeppy.

Anyways, I really wanted to bring out some of the spookier elements of the story (I’ve always felt that the Japanese have a wonderful grasp on horror). This was an assignment for school and I was limited to black, white and grey, which lent itself fairly well to this scene of the story, where our cat loving little protagonist has fallen asleep in the temple after drawing,……catscatscats. I have also been working hard to create a sense of space in my paintings (usually they are terribly flat). I think I was successful in here!

I really would like to paint some more creepy fairy tale scenes! Do you have any suggestions? What do you think of The Boy Who Drew Cats and my adaptation of it?