Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Calligraphy and Chicken Hearts

First of all, I will start off by saying that yesterday, for dinner we had a mini-party with a bunch of family and friends, and we had take out yakitori, which is basically like chicken shish kabobs, but there are different kinds that use different parts of the chicken, and in addition to eating some chicken breast and green onion shish kabobs, i was told to try the chicken hearts, and the chicken skin (kawa). The skin basically tasted like grilled chicken, but chewier, and the chicken hearts basically tasted like chicken breast peices, just a fraction of an inch different in texture, but they weren't bad at all. I was surprised. Anyways...

Today’s main event was going to the calligraphy class. It was pretty cool, I have to
admit, but I think that the tea ceremony stuff is cooler. The Sensei (teacher), has our stations already set up when we got there. There’s a tray with a little box carved with a slope, where you put water, and then there’s a thing that looks similar to a block of wax, that you dip in the water and then move around and around in a circle on the slope of the box until finally, your water has turned to ink. Also, there’s a felt mat you put down, then you put down your paper and then a long, skinny weight on the paper. She set the real students (i.e. my host mom and others) to work and then asked me what symbol I wanted to learn, so I said Hana (which means flower). So, the sensei got out her neon orange ink and showed me just how to slant each stroke, and overall how it should look, and then set me down to practice. It took quite a few tries, and I still don’t think I got it right, but finally she gave my calligraphy thing a big orange swirl (which means well done), and we moved on to another symbol: Yume (dream). While I was doing that one she came over and showed me how to position everything to do it right. You have to sit dead center, and place your right hand on the paper to steady it, then your index and middle finger go on the top of the brush, your ring and pinky finger go behind, you stick your elbow out and the brush should be straight up and down. I kept hunching over to the left, like you do when you’re writing, so my symbols kept veering left on the paper. Eventually she okay’d my second one and we moved off to the third and last: Kibou (hope). That one was more difficult because it is made of two symbols, rather than of just one like the others were. I finally sorta got it, but I can see why being a calligraphy person is a profession in and of itself, because I was no where near as good as the lady, and it seemed so effortless when she did it. Also, as a present she took out some fancy paper and wrote one of my words (Hope) in the second type of calligraphy (there’s the proper, easy to read stuff and the scrawly stuff that most people like to hang up), and signed it for me. It was pretty cool.

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