Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Onda Festival picture

Taken from the same spot as yesterday's pic, this shot shows one of the priests leading the procession taking rice offerings to Aso Shrine to wish for a bountiful autumn harvest.



Old meets new, as a horse and rider part of a thousand-year-old tradition pass by a local bakery.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pic of Aso's Onda matsuri

Here's a picture we took recently of this year's Onda matsuri, which is held right after the rice planting to offer prayers and wishes for a bountiful harvest.



Tourists watch a procession of young women known as unari carrying boxes of rice seedlings to Aso Shrine, where they'll offer them up to the gods.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tea sales rise during recession

The word across the pond is that tea sales there are actually rising during tough economic times.


Seems people there—and everywhere else, too, I'm sure—are realizing that tea is not only healthy, but is also a lot easier on the wallet on a cup-by-cup basis than your typical fancy-shmancy frappumochalatteccino.



Healthy, relaxing ... and a beverage bargain, too.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Filming in a gorgeous tea room

Here's a photo—from the "Stringing Tea" series—of us filming in a beautiful tea room in Kagoshima. Some of the scenes we filmed there were water-boiling and tea-pouring close-ups in the very beginning of the show.



Click to see the full-size version.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, July 27, 2009

Green tea watermelon punch

If you have a case of the Mondays (yes I know the reference), there would be no shame whatsoever in seeking solace in a glass of green tea watermelon punch.



If anyone needs the punch they make taste-tasted, just let me know.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, July 25, 2009

New Sigg water bottle

We have ust released a new Mellow Monk-branded Sigg water bottle. With one of these, you can sip your green tea in style while you're on the go. The Mellow Monk logo will silently prove your green tea cred.



With one of these in your hand, you won't just be sipping. You'll be sipping with style.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, July 24, 2009

How could you not be mellow at an aquarium like this?

A trip to an aquarium can be a most mellowing day indeed. But if you can't make it to one right now, you can sit back with a cup of green tea and relax to this amazing high-definition video of sea creatures swimming elegantly through a giant tank at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium:





—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Raising mellow kids

"Children Full of Life"—an episode of the Canadian TV series "The Passionate Eye"—focuses on a 4th-grade teacher in Kanazawa, Japan, who teaches his students to find happiness for themselves and compassion for others ... and that the two are inseparably intertwined.


You will also be surprised to see what painful experiences some of these young and otherwise cheery-looking kids had been keeping inside them—and how that inner pain was manifesting itself outwardly.

































—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eco-friendly—and cool-looking—buildings

My favorite building on this list of eco-friendly buildings is Seattle's Terry Thomas Building, which was designed by Weber Thompson.



No, not that Terry-Thomas.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Favorite places in Japan

Shane Sakata's list of favorite places in Japan includes Yakushima, which I visited on a tea-buying trip.



An independent tea estate on Yakushima Island.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, July 20, 2009

Two brewin' solutions

Here are two easy ways to brew loose-leaf green tea: a self-steeping glass mug (that is, a mug with its own built-in tea filter) and an in-mug infuser.



I like glass mugs in general, because in addition to the taste and aroma, they let you enjoy your green tea's wonderful color, too.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Japan's cat cafes

Cat cafes—where you can relax with a cup of tea in the company of the establishment's feline employees—are becoming more and more popular in Japan.


If you have a cat or other pet at home, why not include him or her in your next at-home green tea break—break out some catnip or some other special treat and enjoy the relaxing time together.



A pleasurable, relaxing interruption. (There are more pictures accompanying the article: click on the pic to see them all.)


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Green tea reduces stroke risk—yet more evidence

Researchers at Australia's Curtin University of Technology have published research results that show that green tea reduces the risk of stroke--specifically ischemic stroke, which accounts for 83 percent of all cases of stroke.


This follows on the heels of other findings also demonstrating the stroke-reducing effects of green tea.


Perhaps from now on it would be easier to report on the ailments that green tea does not help prevent or cure.



How 'bout a nice cup of green tea?


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, July 17, 2009

Shinichi Murayama's splashy art

The art of Shinichi Murayama is soothing and strangely entrancing—great material for a green tea break.



Now how do you think he did this?


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Japan slideshow

In this two-and-a-half minute musical slideshow, James Grey presents every photograph he took on a trip to Japan, in chronological order:





—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Green tea may help the brain cope with sleep disorders

Researchers have found that green tea may counteract the negative effects on the brain of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.


Green tea polyphenols—including, one presumes, EGCG—apparently negate the increased oxidative stress that occurs in the brain when breathing stops temporarily during sleep.



You can also sleep more soundly by switching to green tea from coffee.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pikachu van in Japan

I'll bet the average fifth grader would be totally jazzed if Mom came to pick him up at school in this Pikachu van.


(And just think how mortified your teenager would be.)


If you liked that custom van, here are more you might enjoy.





—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Green tea promotes a lean liver

LiverSupport.com has a good summary—backed up by plenty of journal references—of how green tea is good for your liver.



Regular readers of this blog know that whenever I blog about something visually gross—such as livers—I like to balance things out aesthetically with a photo of a geisha or maiko.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Japanese house shaped like—and not much bigger than—a slice of pie

Japan is known for its small buildings, but this one really takes the cake—a tiny, slice-of-pie-shaped building.


The current owner says his grandfather built the structure about 100 years ago.





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, July 10, 2009

A summer night at Sensoji

Muza-chan has taken some wonderful picture of Sensoji Temple in Tokyo's Asakusa district, my favorite part of the city.



Click the pic to see the full collection of photos.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Another Kitaro classic: "Silk Road"—performed live!

The title of this piece by Japan's Kitaro refers to the historical trading routes and was composed for an NHK documentary of the same name, whose popularity brought Kitaro international fame.





—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Origami Lite

Simon Schubert makes 2-D scenes slightly 3-D by creasing paper.



Looking down the stairs ... at the Bates Motel.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Optical illusion redux

In this optical illusion, let your eye dart from one corner of the image to another. The small oval shapes should appear to move



It should look like three cylinders are rotating slightly.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, July 06, 2009

The online tea course

TeaCourse.com has an an online course all about tea.



Click on the "sign" to learn more.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, July 05, 2009

The way to tea: It's all about the mellow

Green tea is more than just a beverage—it is the cornerstone of a healthy, mellow way of life.


But the tea can't do all the work. You have to make a little effort, too.


To maximize the mellow during your green tea break, Jennifer Sauer—author of The Way to Tea—suggests following these simple steps [excerpted from a recent issue of Better Homes and Gardens]:

  1. Create an atmosphere of relaxation by arranging fresh cut flowers and playing soothing music.

  2. Find a quiet comfortable place on the floor or in a chair by a window so you can benefit from the natural light.

  3. Steep the tea in a small pot to your desired strength. Remember, don't use boiling water on green tea. "You want to extract the nectar contained in the leaf, not cook it" says Pratt.

  4. While the tea is steeping, notice what's going on around you-the light, the temperature, the weather. Don't think; just observe.

  5. Before you take your first sip, give thanks for this quiet moment you have created.

  6. During each subsequent sip give thanks for a different aspect of you life, such as friends, health, children, spouse, job.

  7. On the last sip of tea, smile softly to yourself and say one last sentiment of gratitude, such as, "I give thanks for the great abundance in my life."

  8. As you clean the tea ware, contemplate on how the ritual cleansed your mind and body.




—Mellow Monk


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Friday, July 03, 2009

Yosuke the parrot

Police in the town of Nagareyama were at a loss about how to return an escaped African gray parrot to its owner, so the bird, tired of waiting, did the natural thing—he recited his name and address.


And when I say "name," I mean Yosuke provided his first and last name to the police.


Not bad, bird.



"I am Yosuke Nakamura, and I live at ..."


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Amazing photo of our Sun ... and the Space Shuttle and Hubble telescope

If you look closely in this massive image of the Sun, you can see the Atlantis space shuttle and Hubble orbiting telescope silhouetted against it.



caption


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Optical illusion castle

Here is a fascinating optical illusion. When the page comes up, stare at the black dot in the middle of the image, then prepare to be amazed.



If you want to start over, refresh your browser window.


—Mellow Monk


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