Noilly Prattle: February 2016

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Return to Shanghai and beyond

     We visited Shanghai in the Summer of 2008 when the city was booming--new skyscrapers in the commercial center of Pudong across the Huangpu River from the Bund, the old British banking and financial concession. 

Pudong and the Huangpu River (from our hotel) - 2008

     Shanghai is a city of contrasts, the old and the new stunningly juxtaposed, the opulent and the ordinary--the glass and steel skyscrapers of Pudong, narrow streets with street vendors and back alleys where people still do their laundry. 

Yuyuan Garden with Pudong skyscrapers in the background - 2008

Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai - 2008

     We will be traveling again in China after an eight year absence. After a brief stopover in Shanghai on February 11, we will fly to Yunnan in the southern part of China and stay in Dali, Shaxi, Li Jiang and Shangri-La and return to Japan on April 1. Since the government has issues with some websites such as Google and Facebook and blocks access to them I may not be able to blog or log on to Facebook so may be incommunicado for a while. I look forward to blogging about our trip once back in Japan if I am unable to log on while in China. 

Reclining Buddha, Shanghai - 2008

Monday, February 1, 2016


     In the Chinese Zodiac, 2016 is the Year of the Monkey.

       It is also the 16th year of the Age of Aquarius in the Western Zodiac, an age it was hoped would be filled with harmony, peace and understanding in the final days of the Piscean Age in the late 20th Century. Unfortunately, the Aquarian Age has so far been filled discord, war and incivility instead. Oh well . . . only 1,984 more years until the Age of Capricorn.

our good luck Monkey charm
       If the Year of the Monkey corresponds to the personality traits of those born monkeys, we might be able to look forward to a lot of distraction, entertainment, mischievousness and playing, for the next year anyway. The beauty of the Chinese Zodiac is that if you don't like this year, you only have one year to wait for a better deal—instead of 2000 years in the Western one. Accordingly, we started off the Year of the Monkey with 初も出 (Hatsumode) [first shrine visit of the year] to pick up our good luck Monkey charm and take a stroll (camera ever ready) around the always lovely precincts of the Kibitsu Shrine near our home. 
Kibitsu Shrine main building

ink drawing rendition of double roofed main shrine

graceful roof suggests a bird in flight
pencil sketch of shrine precinct
moss covered stone wall

shrine precinct
praying for a good year

greeting an ancestor

covered walkway from rear entrance

plum blossoms

moss covered stone lantern

this dilapidated and collapsing house is just outside one of the shrine gates - a glaring contrast

this poster on the above house
 is not really a female person