Saturday, January 31, 2009

Green train tracks

Europe's grass-lined streetcar tracks sure are mellow on the eyes.


Japan's city of Kagoshima also has a similar streetcar track. The grass is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also absorbs heat during the summer and reduces streetcar noise year-round.





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, January 30, 2009

Japan's northern territories

Sovereignty of the two southernmost islands in the rugged but serene Kuril archipelago is disputed by Russia and Japan, the latter of which refers to the islands as the Northern Territories.


Although it's a touchy subject among some folks there, the majority of people seem only vaguely aware of the issue. So let's just sip our tea and enjoy the photographs instead.



Dispute? What dispute? You'd never know it from peaceful scenery like this.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy New Year!

Monday was Chinese New Year's. A belated Happy New Year to you all. Here are some photos of Chinese New Year's celebrations around the world.



Dragon dance in Malaysia. (Click the pic for the glorious large version.)


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Breast cancer risk reduced by green tea: study

A study recently published in the Journal of Nutrition concludes that "regular drinking of green tea was associated with a slightly decreased risk for breast cancer."



The Yuyuan Old Town area of Shanghai, where the Journal of Nutrition researchers surveyed and compared the health histories of green-tea drinkers and non-green-tea drinkers.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vancouver fog

The title says it all — a recent shot of Vancouver literally shrouded in fog.



Click to see big picture.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, January 26, 2009

Van Gogh galleries

Does somebody have a case of the Mondays?


If so — and even if you don't — the Monk has the perfect cure: sipping green tea while perusing four online galleries of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh.


(Click on each thumbnail to view the full-sized image.)



"The Langlois Bridge at Arles with Women Washing."


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, January 25, 2009

A snowy village illuminated

For a short period each winter, the villagers in Shirakawa — a World Heritage site — light up their distinctive thatched-roof homes to the delight of locals and tourists alike.


Village of Shirakawa, Tochigi Prefecture
More winter pics here.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tea fields and more in Sri Lanka

Emerald green fields of tea are just some of the sights to be found in the heart of the politically troubled yet beautiful nation of Sri Lanka.



Tea pickers at work in Kandy, Sri Lanka.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, January 23, 2009

Mikaella's images

Among Russian photographer Mikaella Speranskaya's more popular works are her street scenes.



Scenes like this are beautiful and serene yet somehow melancholy at the same time.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Furuta family photos

Akihiro Furuta has published some interesting and touching photos of his family.



"Love" is the title of this one.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Shinto shrine near Seattle

If you live in or will be passing through the Seattle, Washington area, consider stopping by the Tsubaki Shrine, one of the few Shinto shrines in all of North America.



The entrance to Tsubaki Shrine.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Japanese manhole covers

Now here's a photo collection you don't come across every day—Japanese manhole covers.



Technically, a lot of these covers aren't manhole covers but covers for curbside fire hydrant valves, which in Japan are mostly located underground.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, January 19, 2009

The kettle with the "green tea" button

Breville USA makes a variable-temperature electric tea kettle that not only saves energy but makes it easier to brew a delicious cup of tea: The kettle will heat the water up to the right temperature for your tea—there's even a "green tea" button—without boiling it. This improves the tea's flavor in two ways: By avoiding too-hot water and keeping flavor-enhancing oxygen in the water, which would otherwise be boiled off at higher temperatures.


And if you're planning to drink a rapid succession of cups of tea, there's even a "hold" button, so that the water will be at just the right temperature right when you're ready for it.


Sometime modern technology truly does make life simpler.



There's even a "green tea" button. I am impressed.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ice temples

Here's a nice pic from Rob Orthen: Hats of Ice, which I've also seen referred to by the name "Ice Temples."





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, January 16, 2009

Kaleidoscope, virtually.

Have you ever dreamed of making your own virtual kaleidoscope online? Well then this is your lucky day.



Whatever shapes you drag into the small circle on the left show up "kaleidoscopized" on the right when swept by the blue wedge.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Coming-of-Age Day

A Stormtrooper-costume-wearing blogger has written about his visit to a Japanese Seijinshiki ("Coming-of-Age Day Celebration").



See if you can spot the one who's different from the rest.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kyushu tops list of bathing spots

Not only does Japan account for two of the world's 10 most extraordinary places to take a bath, but the number one spot—Beppu City—is on Kyushu, only a two-hour drive or train ride from where Mellow Monk's tea is grown.



Beppu offers many such hot spring resorts, where you can achieve a whole new level of mellow.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Leukemia risk halved by green tea

Appearances can be deceiving. Case in point: Humble-looking green tea is so powerfully good for you that a recent study showed it can cut the risk of leukemia by half.


The study—led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health—examined nearly 900 participants and concludes that "[d]rinking sufficient amounts of tea, especially green tea, which contains more catechins than oolong tea and black tea, may reduce the risk of leukemia."


The full version of the paper, which was published in the journal Cancer Causes and Control, is available here.



Humble but healthy.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, January 12, 2009

Lightning, the awe and beauty

These photos inspire awe and sometimes even terror, but the one below—"Electric Sunset New Mexico"—remind us that lightning can be beautiful, too.





—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cities vintage, abandoned, and artsy

Photos of U.S. cities decades ago, London in the wee hours—when no one's around—and cityscape art made from unusual materials.



London's Belvedere Road.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Japan's scariest bridge

Deep in the Japanese Alps is the Muso Suspension Bridge, known as Japan's scariest bridge. Are you brave enough to cross it?


Because I'm not.





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, January 09, 2009

Tony the Tiger—in Japanese spoon form

This spoon was in a box of cornflakes we bought in Japan back in the '90s. Even if no one told you, you would know with near one hundred percent certainty that this Tony the Tiger hails from Japan.


How? Because he's giving the peace sign, of course.



Showing his age but still going strong!


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Green tea improves brain performance

This is good news for a lot of people: In a study done at Oxford University, green tea was one of three foods found to enhance cognitive performance, the other two foods being red wine and chocolate.


An abstract of the original study is available here.



Brain-protecting plants ready to be rendered into tea.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Mountains and storms

When it comes to the mountains of the world, I am naturally partial to Japan's Mt. Aso, in whose foothills our green tea is grown.


However, Jack Brauer has taken some beautiful photographs of other majestic mountains.


And folks with a very high tolerance for risk—kids, don't try this at home—have taken these storm photographs.



"Pehoe Blue," taken in Torres del Paine, Chile.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The yabusame arrows still fly

The ancient art of yabusame—firing arrows from the back of a horse—still thrives in Japan.



A yabusame event in front of the Aso Shrine—not far from the groves where our green tea is grown.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, January 05, 2009

Noushin's photo blog

Noushin's photo blog has some excellent shots — perfect for a green tea break — such as this one:



"Untitled."


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Single-serving glass teapot with built-in infuser

I really like this single-serving tea infuser pot: It's made of glass (much better than plastic), and it's designed to keep the tea leaves out of the water after the brewed tea is poured out. That way, you can control the steeping time and get multiple steepings out of your loose-leaf green tea.





—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, January 03, 2009

A lost world discovered

A uncharted, unexplored "lost Eden" in the heart of Mozambique has recently been explored — and found to be a treasure trove of new species — after scientists discovered a mysterious green patch in satellite photos using Google Earth.



Lusher and richer with wildlife than anyone had suspected.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, January 02, 2009

Aurora from earth and space

The U.K.'s Guardian has an amazing 10-slide slideshow of the aurora borealis. And here's a great shot of the aurora seen from space:





—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year, everyone!





"Believe me, there's a little something extra in tonight's green tea."


—Mellow Monk


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