Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mellow mehameha music

One of my favorite songs on the oh-so-mellow album "Ho'oluana" is "Mehameha/White Sandy Beach," which is a medley of two classic Hawaiian songs, including one immortalized by the late great Kui Lee.


But on this album, the late great Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and the rest of the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau really save the best for last — their excellent rendition of another Kui Lee classic, "I'll Remember You."


Sample more of IZ's musical legacy here.



One of my favorite album covers.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Fleeting moments, captured

At his photoblog Those Fleeting Moments, Jason Ertel gives us enough beautiful photographs for many days of green tea breaks.


Thanks, Jason.



Caption: A line of geese along the tow path.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving in Japan

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


If you're too tryptophaned up to move right now, why not read about one man's account of a Thanksgiving in Japan.



Click on this ikebana photo to see more of this gallery.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Heike art

This collection of centuries-old Japanese artwork portays the vicissitudes told in Heikei Monogatari (The Tale of the Heike), which chronicles the power struggle between the Taira and Minamoto clans from 1180 to 1185.



Gio, abandoned by Kiyomori, tearfully leaves his estate.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Real-life robot takes the stage in Japan

Thespians at Osaka University took the stage Tuesday for three performances in what has to be the world's first-ever play to feature an honest-to-goodness robot as one of the characters.


The robot is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' Wakamaru, who, if you live in Japan, is also available for rent [Japanese only].


In the 20-minute production, Wakamaru plays a housekeeper robot who loses the will to work. (He probably got too used to the cushy life of making appearances and being a personal shopper.)



"You say you feel unappreciated? Well, welcome to my world!"


—Mellow Monk


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Three more from Keiko

If you liked yesterday's musical offering — and how could you not? — here are three more enchanting songs by the lovely Keiko Matsui.


Nighthawk's Dream







Ruins of Sonora







Night Waltz







—Mellow Monk


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Monday, November 24, 2008

Three from Keiko

Here are three lusciously mellow songs by Japanese pianist Keiko Matsui:


Water Lily







1942, From Russia







Light Above the Trees







—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, November 23, 2008

An architectural time capsule of Japan's go-go years

This slideshow highlights the architecture that the city of Fukuoka — Kyushu's largest city — commissioned in the cash-rich days of the '80s and early '90s.


You can read the related article about Fukuoka here.



The Nexus World housing development.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Movies of the Aso Valley

Here are a couple of short videos of the Aso Valley (where yours truly's tea is grown), both with and without the unkai ("sea of clouds").








—Mellow Monk


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Friday, November 21, 2008

The world's mellowist canoeist?

Even if I couldn't trade places right now with one of the people in this canoe, I would gladly settle for standing where John Frisch stood when he took this picture.





—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Aso in a sea of clouds

One of the sights for which Japan's Aso valley — where Mellow Monk's tea is grown — is famous is the unkai, the "sea of clouds," which happens when fog rolls into the valley and fills it to the rim. Here are a couple of clickable pics of this beautiful, most mellowing phenomenon:








There is a whole page of pictures of Aso's unkai here. You can also see a 3-D map of the Aso Valley — which, technically speaking, is actually a horseshoe-shaped caldera.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sand dunes and the high desert

For your enjoyment and mellowness I offer you these photos of sand dunes in Nevada and California.


And below is a beautiful shot of the high deserts of Idaho.



New light over the frosted foliage in the Arco Desert west of Idaho Falls, Idaho. 2007. [Photo found here.]


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One-minute Japanese

One minute isn't quite long enough for a green tea break, but it is long enough to take a one-minute lesson in Japanese at OneMinute Languages.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, November 17, 2008

Hawaii's Kalalau Valley

As you sip on your green tea, imagine you are gazing down into Hawaii's Kalalau Valley, the cool, refreshing ocean breeze blowing by.





—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, November 16, 2008

A million-dollar study on the health benefits of tea

An Australian university is embarking on a four-year, million-dollar study that is expected to "add to a growing body of evidence linking green tea with health benefits such as weight loss, lower cholesterol levels and prevention of diabetes."



Here's to your health.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, November 15, 2008

The glass electric kettle—perfect for green tea

Electric kettles are great. They let you boil water for tea anywhere there's an electrical outlet, even at your desk.


The even greater thing about the Capresso H2O Plus Glass Water Kettle is that you can see when the water is starting to boil and turn off the kettle before the water gets too hot.


(Because when it comes to green tea, too hot is not good.)


There is also an extensive review of the kettle in the El Paso Times.





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, November 14, 2008

Ninja-cat Toyota commercial

I am fairly confident that this is one of the stranger commercials you will see today:






—Mellow Monk


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Maru the box-diving cat — Japan's Internet sensation

The antics of Maru, a very curious Japanese housecat, have become a veritable Internet sensation in Japan. One of my favorites is of Maru box-diving, shown below. Maru has a whole slew of videos here.





—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sidewalk art that stops pedestrians in their tracks

Here's a collection of some of the amazingly realistic chalk drawings that artist Julian Beaver — a.k.a. the "Pavement Picasso" — has done on the sidewalks of the world.



The drawing starts where the bottom step ends ... or does it?


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, November 10, 2008

Leaf-strewn stone stairs in Kyoto and the Preacher's Pulpit

Here are two great pictures to mellow out to: a stone stairway in Kyoto strewn with red autumn leaves and Norway's breathtaking Preacher's Pulpit rock formation.


As always, click on the pics below to see the full-size versions.








—Mellow Monk


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Friday, November 07, 2008

Bladerunner minus the flying cars: Shinjuku, Tokyo

Pull up a chair and mellow out to the atmospheric music and enthralling images of Tokyo's Shinjuku district at night:


.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Photos of Aso, Japan

Our green tea is grown in the pristine environment of Japan's Aso region, a valley centered around the majestic Mt. Aso volcano.


Here, for your green tea break, are three images that capture the area's natural beauty (click on each to see the larger version):











—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"Deep Quiet" — head-scratching images that are strangely soothing, too. Oh, and more on that cat stationmaster.

This collection of photographs — titled "Deep Quiet" — is a little on the strange side, but they are strangely soothing, too. Great for a green tea break. Here's a sample:







Oh, and remember the story about the Japanese train station with a cat stationmaster? Well, here's a short, English-language video about him:





—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

World's first truly blue roses on display in Japan

It took them 13 years of research, but Japan's Suntory finally did it — they created the world's first truly blue roses.



The blue color is definitely mellowing, but personally I still find rainbow roses cheerier.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, November 03, 2008

A beautiful Japanese garden — in Oregon

If you like Japanese gardens and you are ever passing through Portland, Oregon, be sure to stop by the the Portland Japanese Garden.


Here is a large-size version of the amazing shot shown below. And here is a whole gallery of photos taken at the PJG.





—Mellow Monk


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