Archive for the 'Japan' Category

France, Paris: The Throne in the Palace of the Louvre

Monday, January 7th, 2019


France is celebrating 160th anniversary of diplomatic ties between France and Japan. Japonismes 2018: Les Ames en Resonance, will run through February 2019 involving exhibitions and events promoting Japanese art and design. Visual artist Kohei Nawa’s monumental sculpture “Throne” has one of the most prestigious spots in Paris: the Louvre. “I see the location as a connecting portal of modern lifestyles and the past, says Nawa, the Kyoto-based artist whose 10.4-meter-tall work is installed under I.M. Pei’s 1989 glass pyramid in the Louvre’s main courtyard.

The making of the throne itself involved both the past and the present. It was designed using state-of-the-art 3D modeling software and carved by robotic arms, however its gleaming gold leaf exterior was hand-applied by Japanese traditional craftspeople.

“The maximum capacity the pyramid can hold is 3 tons, so I told the museum I would ship a sculpture weighing exactly 3 tons,” says Nawa about the work’s creation. “I think they were bit worried, but after it went up, the Louvre’s curator, Martin Kiefer, told me the sculpture looks like it’s been at the pyramid all along.”

It’s not Nawa’s first “Throne” and it is different in that in previous iterations there was usually a small child seated within Nawa’s unique abstract shapes and geometric forms. For the Louvre, the seat is strikingly empty.

“Thrones are for kings. Here, the seat is for the authority that will eventually take over the control in the future. I left the seat empty to emphasize the invisibility,” says Nawa.

It sounds ominous, but Nawa goes on to explain that he foresees the type of power we see controlling today’s politics, economy and lifestyles as disappearing in the future, and in its place will be a very different form of authority. It could be artificial intelligence and advanced computer technology that will “take the throne,” he suggests, while we blindly follow, something that history has shown us that humans have had the tendency to do.

To us it is interesting that he chose a throne to be placed in this, the Palace of the Louvre, where French Kings sat on their thrones. Francis I chose this edifice as the residence for French kings and where it remained thus until good old King Louis XIV decided to move to Versailles and this building was then used to store his pretty things.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Worldwide Pop-up Restaurant Day August 17

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

An international idea celebrated in 50 countries, Restaurant Day is a food carnival created by food-loving people setting up one-day restaurants. The idea of the day is to have fun, share new food experiences and meet others in our community. People offer their family cuisine, favorite recipes, desserts or whatever in their backyard or a park.  Prices are very inexpensive.RestaurantDay

Check the maps to see if there is one in your city.

Date: Sunday, August 17

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

History of Tea

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

Tea, which is over 5,000 years old, was possibly born in the Yunnan province of China. Legends mention Shen Nung, an early emperor and scientist, who ruled that all drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. One day while traveling, his servants boiled water for him, and just then dried leaves from a nearby bush fell into the boiling water. The emperor drank the brown liquid and enjoyed it.

In 800, Lu Yu wrote “Ch’a Ching”, the first definitive book on tea. He diligently recorded the various methods of tea cultivation and preparation. Zen Buddhist missionaries later introduced his meticulous methods to imperial Japan. One missionary in particular, Yesei, had observed its use in religious ceremonies in China and appreciated its value, and there are records of his findings.

Tea was so highly thought of in Japan that the serving of it was elevated to an art form, resulting in  the Japanese Tea Ceremony. While visiting Japan I was privy thrice to this exacting two hour ceremony while sitting on bended knees – once by a Buddhist Monk in a temple, once by a Canadian Tea Master and once in a private home while dressed in a kimono.

Perhaps one of the first Europeans to encounter tea and write about it was the Portuguese Jesuit Father Jasper de Cruz (in 1560), and around that time a Dutchman named Jan Huygen van Linshoten visited Java. He wrote about his voyage to the East Indies in 1598 and mentioned “cha”, as it was called in Mandarin.

Around 1650 the Dutch under Peter Stuyvesant brought the first tea to America in the settlement of New Amsterdam, later re-named New York by the English

Tags: , , , , , , , ,