Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Golden Ebisu

A jewelry story in Osaka has put on display a solid-gold statue of Ebisu, the traditional Japanese god of good fortune and other nice things.


If you can't afford the $8 million price tag of this 16-inch version, smaller models are also available, such as a tiny 1-gram charm on a cellphone strap for only $100.


[Source: Sankei/MSN Japan]



Ginza Tanaka's pride and joy—alongside its $8 million gold statuette.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, December 29, 2008

Origamical art

Here is a list of 17 wonderful works of origami and other forms of paper art.


(Purists might point out that some of these are technically not origimi, hence the term "other forms of paper art.")



"Grulla" is the title of this piece.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bubbles and Belgrade

Richard Heeks has taken some fascinating close-up photos of soap bubble, such as this one:



From the photographer's Web page: "When a soap bubble is about to pop, it sometimes takes on this semi-transparent stringy look (you try describing it). Reminds me of the Death Star."




And "Katrina 2353" has taken some amazing shots of Belgrade:



"Colors of spring."


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hong Kong and Mars

Below is a small part of a huge panorama of the Hong Kong skyline at night. And here is a beautiful picture of Mars, where you can see dust clouds swirling over a Martian volcano.






—Mellow Monk


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Friday, December 26, 2008

Tea to go with Contigo

With a permanent tea filter like one of these and one of Contigo's wonderful, absolutely-will-not-leak insulating mugs, you can brew your loose-leaf green tea and take it on the road with you.


First, you start out with the tea, filter, and cup, like so:







Next, you place tea in the filter, and put the filter inside the cup.







Pour in hot water — but make sure the water is not too hot — and let the tea steep for about 3 minutes. (For second or third steepings, you only need to wait a minute or so.)







Now remove the filter, screw on the mug's top, and you've got a hot, leak-proof cup of green tea ready to take anywhere.





—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays, everyone.


May this day and all the rest be like a cup of green tea — warm, healthy, and delicious.





—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Beautiful bonsai

From Sweden, Petri Borg runs a beautiful and comprehensive website on the art of bonsai.



An example of sharimiki, also known as driftwood-style bonsai. This particular one reminds me of the late, great Jeffrey pine on Yosemite's Sentinal Dome, made famous partly by an Ansel Adams photograph.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mellow furniture

Even if you can't afford to buy such things now, the furniture at Green Tea Design is simply soothing to look at.


Such as the Yoshida Wall Unit, shown below.





—Mellow Monk


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Monday, December 22, 2008

A tatami mat for your desktop

Click on the image below to bring up a desktoppably larger version (about 3 megabytes).





—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, December 20, 2008

A lake on an island on a lake on an island

The volcanic island of Taal, which has its own little lake, is located on Lake Taal, on the Philippine island of Luzon.





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, December 19, 2008

Green tea to go with Tigo

The Tigo Filter Cup is made for brewing multiple infusions of loose-leaf tea — such as our green tea — while on the go. Read an extensive review of the Tigo cup here.



The Tigo Filter Cup—brew multiple infusions of loose-leaf tea anywhere there's hot water.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, December 18, 2008

More skinny buildings

The super-skinny Japanese home I wrote about previously is only one of many, many such buildings in land-scarce Japan.



Perhaps they pre-fabbed this building and dropped it in from the top.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Green tea and yogurt

Look for more products containing green tea and yogurt: Scientists have found that despite its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, green tea does not harm the beneficial bacteria in yogurt, and that yogurt, similarly, does not break down green tea catechins.



Two great tastes that are also great for you.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Mellow Monk mugs

Just in time for the holidays, we have opened a new Mellow Monk store at Zazzle.com. I am very impressed with the quality of their items and their printing, and I am confident you will be, too.


Right now, we have three varieties of tea mugs, but we will be adding more products to our Zazzle store soon. In the meantime, if you need a Mellow Monk tee-shirt, you can still get one at our old store at CafePress.





—Mellow Monk


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There's no stopping the shoji cats

A warning to anyone contemplating installing shoji doors in your home: Don't expect them to keep out a determined cat ... let alone two determined cats:






—Mellow Monk


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Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How to impress your teenager

Anyone who has a teenager knows they can test the patience of even the mellowest of souls. For instance, it is a universally accepted rule that a parent can never, ever be cool or hip in the eyes of his or her teenager.


Even the successful comedian/actor/writer Dennis Leary laments that when his teenage daughter asks to be picked from school, she instructs him to pick her up around the corner from the school, so as not to be seen by her friends. ("And don't get out of the car," she pointedly adds.)


So if not even Dennis Leary can be cool in his teenager's eyes, then what chance do the rest of us stand?


None. None whatsoever.


However, actor Henry Winkler may have found a loophole. The "Happy Days" star reports that the only time his daughter was impressed with any of his stagecraft was when he made a guest appearance on Oprah. "I am now, for the very first time in her life, a celebrity — because I'm on the Oprah show," he said backstage.


So, Mr. Leary, all you have to do is get on the Oprah show, and you may suddenly become cool to your teenagers.


Maybe. Just maybe.





—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, December 13, 2008

The meaning of tea

The Meaning of Tea is a documentary that explores the tranquility, healthfulness, and prosperity that this wonderful plant brings to the tea-drinking world:





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, December 12, 2008

South Pacific pastoral — and rain at sea

Speaking of remote places, the South Pacific's Chatham Islands are a remote — and beautiful — locale:





And speaking of oceans, I was also enchanted by this photograph of a rain cloud at sea.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bring on the monkeys!

In the wintertime at Nagano's Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park, people come from all over the world to photograph the wild monkeys enjoying the natural hot springs there.







And if walking amongst a large troupe of wild monkeys sounds like your cup of tea, then Mt. Takasaki, in Kyushu's Beppu City, is the place for you:





—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

African images

You have probably seen a few of George Steinmetz's amazing nature photographs — such as this famous one — at one time or another, but maybe didn't realize the images were from the same photographer.


At least, that's how it was for me.


Mr. Steinmetz is passionate about Africa and has published a book of his African photos titled "African Air." The "air" refers to the motorized paraglider from which he took these incredible photographs.



Bartaga village, Niger River, Mali.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Free shipping in December

Happy Holidays, everyone.


As our holiday gift to you, we are offering free shipping on all orders through the month of December.


To take advantage of this offer, use the coupon code number 212081665 when checking out. As shown in the example below, after entering your shipping zone and ZIP code (Step 1), enter the code in the VOUCHER box (Step 2), then click RECALCULATE (Step 3). Then proceed with checkout.





There's one catch: This offer is only good for orders shipped to U.S. addresses, and is for U.S. Postal Service shipping only.


Other than that, that's all there is to it. There is no minimum purchase required. Simple and mellow, yes?


—Mellow Monk


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Furoshiki wrapping demonstrated

This video demonstrates a few clever ways to wrap gifts in a furoshiki, a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth—which is also reusable.


You can buy genuine furoshiki here.





—Mellow Monk


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Monday, December 08, 2008

The story of tea

Literally everything you ever wanted to know about tea can be found in the amazingly comprehensive, exceptionally well written, and beautifully illustrated book The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide.


You can even read a lengthy preview at Google Books.



One of the many beautiful photos in this liberally illustrated book.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Surreal mountain scene

Here is a large version of the amazing photograph below — taken in Luoping, China — from National Geographic's Visions of the Earth series.



From the NG website: "Blooming rapeseed plants weave around hills near Luoping, Yunnan."


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Nilgun's haunting pics

If this sample of photographer Nilgun Kara's haunting photographs piques your interest, you can view more at this gallery.



The Lonely Ones.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, December 05, 2008

Remote places

The island of Tristan Da Cunha is so remote that it's nearest neighbor — the island where the British exiled Napoleon after Waterloo — is 2,430 km away.


And here are some pics of an abandoned Japanese mining town.



No Blackberry service here.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, December 04, 2008

A narrow home in Tokyo

Land prices being what they are in Tokyo, you sometimes just have to make do with a tiny plot even when building your dream home.



Be it ever so humble.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Green tea and teeth

Among all the beverages out there, brewed tea is the best one you can drink from a dental health perspective, according to a study published in a recent issue of the journal General Dentistry.


And because of its many health benefits, green tea is the best of the brewed teas—"not because green tea is 'the in thing'—but because there are advantages," says Dr. Mohamed A. Bassiouny, lead author of the study, which was conducted at Temple University in Philadelphia.


You can read the full article online.





—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Astounding astrophotos

Here are 10 stunning photos of the cosmos by Australian amateur astronomer and astrophotographer Phil Hart.



Five Moons, by Phil Hart.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, December 01, 2008

Like a hermit crab in reverse: the crabs that house warrior spirits

Speaking of the Heike Monogatari, as anyone who has seen the classic film Kwaidan knows, in the waters where the Taira clan was defeated in a decisive naval battle lives a species of crab that is said to harbor the spirits of the Taira warriors.


This legend arose from a pattern on the crab's shell that — cue the Twilight Zone theme — bears an uncanny resemblance to a human face.



A scene from Kwaidan.


—Mellow Monk


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