Monday, September 29, 2014

500-year-old mindfulness

Long considered one of the three most beautiful scenic views in Japan, Amanohashidate is a large, tree-covered sandbar in Miyazu. The image below is a slice of a 1.78-meter-wide calligraphic painting of the scene drawn by Sesshū Tōyō (1420–1506) near the end of his life, at age 82.

(Flickr user RasMarley offers an excellent analysis of the painting. To read it, scroll down a bit after opening the page.)

Note the amazing sense of perspective he creates with his mastery of light and shade (notan). He captures the feeling of calm that often overcomes one once the initial thrill of the sheer splendor wears off. This is an excellent example of how art can filter out the other emotions of an experience and make us mindful of the peacefulness it can induce.

—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tea artisan helps "brand" Aso

Tea artisan Koji Nagata, who crafts our Top Leaf and other teas, was recently featured in an episode of the Japanese TV show Dawn of Gaia. The episode of the business show presents examples of the "branding" — in the marketing sense — of small regions that are relatively unknown in Japan but which have amazing products to offer consumers beyond their traditional reach.

Koji appears in the show's look at ongoing efforts by the city of Aso to transform what has traditionally been a scattered collection of independent farmers and other producers under a single recognizable brand — "Zen." ("Zen" is from the second half of the word shizen, which means "nature" or "natural.")

The "Zen" strategy is essentially a best-of-the-best approach that includes actively certifying its member producers as well as induction into an elite showcase titled "The Zen 100," of which Koji and his tea are inductees.

Koji is shown hard at work in his office in an episode of the Japanese business show Dawn of Gaia.

—Mellow Monk


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