Monday, September 30, 2019

Monday Morning Star Count Week 21

Year Three of the temperature quilt  

Week 21

September 15 - 21 

84, 81, 88, 77, 79, 79, 72

I am reporting the high temperature each day.  My Year Three temperature/color (Fahrenheit) scheme remains the same: 

100 + Brown 

90-99 Red  

80-89 Orange 

70-79 Yellow  

60-69 Green  

50-59 Blue 

40-49 Purple 

30-39 Pink 

20-29 White 

10-19 Black  

You can see my finished Year One Quilt here.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Yakuza Numbers Hit Record Low

Yakuza is the name for the Japanese "mafia". The Japanese National Police Agency keeps track of the number of people recognized as Yakuza and claim that their numbers fell to a record low of 30,500 in 2018 because of an intense crackdown on organized crime. The agency claims Yakuza numbers fell about 4,000 from 2017, and this is the 14th consecutive year of decline. I wonder if the decline is due to the police crackdowns or because of the declining population in general?

By groups, the Yamaguchi-gumi was the largest group with 9,500 members. Sumiyoshi-kai had 4,900 members and Inagawa-kai had 3,700, according the the police agency. 

The number of Yakuza members investigated by police in 2018 was 16,881 in 2018. Drug cases represented 4,569 members, with bodily harm at 2,042 and fraud at 1,749. Police claim it is harder to live as a Yakuza member because of police crackdowns and social exclusion of members.  

In the US, mafia members have the reputation as being very violent. I don't know if that is also true with the Yakuza.  When I think of the Yakuza, I think tattoos.

Tattoos have long been associated with the criminal Yakuza, so most ordinary people do not have tattoos.  Many (most?) onsens do not allow people with tattoos to enter. 

What is the organized crime situation where you live?  How are tattoos thought of in your country?

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Sneak Preview

The stitchers will soon be finished with their Brazilian Embroidery projects and ready for the next project. I don't really know what to call this project. One of the stitchers found some great  printed fabric online and placed an order for the whole group. We are going to embellish the plain black and white printed people and make something.  I have already cut a piece that I plan to make into a bag and have started dressing my girls. I think they are about two inches tall. 

What do you think? Is this cute or what? Stay tuned, I'll have more to show soon!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Smalls Stitch A Long 2019 - September

This month's Small's SAL finish is a free Christmas tree ornament designed by JM Cochrane and the chart can be found here. I used Danish Flower Thread and  Mill Hill beads. I made the twisted cording with two colors of green #5 perle cotton.

This year's Smalls SAL is hosted by Mary at Mary's Thread.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Biwa Performance

Monday was a national holiday in Japan, so I had the day off work. I met two friends in Fuji City for lunch and to attend a Biwa Performance.  This was my first experience to see and hear the biwa, a Japanese musical instrument made of the wood from the tsuge tree. 

My friend met with the biwa sensei (teacher), Mrs. Nakamura, who performed on Monday about a week before the performance.  My friend took these photos and sent me this information. The performance is singing a historical story while playing the biwa. The songs and instrument have a very sad sound, as the stories are rather sad, even though I couldn't understand the words.  

the Biwa instrument

the piece used to strike or strum the strings

the biwa tuner

Mrs. Nakamura

Mrs. Nakamura played the Koto (another Japanese instrument) when she was younger, but found it too large to carry as she got older, so she began playing the Biwa. When she was younger, she had family responsibilities, living with her husband's parents and raising her children, so she did not have much free time. She said that she now feels a lot of confidence in herself when she is playing. 

Her performance on Monday was  湖水乗切、Kosui Nori Kiri, which means Crossing the Lake. Here is the explanation of the performance provided by Mrs. Nakamura to my friend: It is the story of Mitsutoshi, a cousin of Mitsuhide. Mitsuhide was serving Oda Nobunaga, but he killed Nobunaga in Honnoji.  When Mitsuhide killed Nobunaga, Mitsutoshi was in Azuchi Castle.  Mitsutoshi was the cousin, but also a follower of Mitsuhide. Mitsutoshi thought it was a bad idea to kill Nobunaga, but he could not stop Mitsuhide. When Mitsutoshi heard that Mitsuhide did kill Nobunaga and Hideyoshi was quickly returning from the west to fight against Mitsuhide, he thought of the wife and children of Mitsuhide who were in Sakamoto Castle and wanted to save them.  He got on his beloved horse to go there, but the enemies were chasing them. To avoid the enemies, Mitsutoshi decided to cross the lake.  He started to swim while holding the kura of his horse while the horse was swimming with four legs.  The enemies stopped chasing them when they went into the water.  They swam about two kilometers across the lake.  When Mitsutoshi and the horse reached the other side of the lake, he tied the horse to a tree so it would not get involved in the fight with the enemy.  He left the horse on the side of the lake and went to the castle by himself.  Later the horse became the horse of Hideyoshi. 

I think we saw about eight performers. The performers wore traditional kimonos and sat in seiza on the floor while singing and playing. I did not take any photos during the performance because I did not know if it was allowed, although I did hear some camera noises. It was a wonderfully interesting Japanese cultural performance.  I'm glad my friend invited to me attend.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Work In Progress Wednesday - Cross Stitch and Beads

This week I worked on the winter scene, 

the Flapper Bear Ornament, 

and the Mill Hill Camping Out.

Next week, maybe more of the same or maybe something new.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Relay For Life Japan 2019 - Nagaizumi

Last year I participated in the Relay for Life Japan event in Nagaizumi.  I was so happy when I was invited to attend again this year!  The Ippo Ippo team picked me up at the train station and treated me like I was a regular member of their team. 

It was held in the same place as last year, and the set up looked very much like it did last year.

The first lap of the relay was reserved for cancer survivors, the next for care givers, then everyone joined in.

This musical group entertained us for the first hour or so of the relay.

As it started to get dark, the luminaries were lit.

The empty table, for those no longer here.

In the evening, there was entertainment by some of the participants.

It was a two day event and we slept on futons in the big building.  Just like last year, we went to sleep late and got up early the next morning.

An artist drew a picture and the relay participants filled it in with pens and paint.

This is how much money was raised!

A big thank you to Ippo Ippo and everyone at the event!