Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Field Notes--O Sanpo

Aruko!  Aruko! 
Watashi wa genki!
Aruku no daisuki,
don don i-ko-o!

Take a walk, take a walk, I am so lively.  Walking is my favorite, go, go, let's go!

I love that opening song from Totoro, and I usually start whistling it at some point while I'm out walking, regardless of how trite it might seem to others.  I like it anyway.  And today was gorgeous, and particularly happy because I finally worked out why the sky in autumn sometimes looks even bluer than it does in summer or spring.

See?  I think it's because you're looking at the sky against something yellow, orange, yellow-green, or vermilion.  Green is right next to blue, so they don't contrast much.  But look up at brilliant orange persimmons, and the blue of the sky is brought out strongly in contrast (since blue and orange are contrasting colors).  The persimmons looked delicious this morning...

...and it looks like somebody else thought so, too:))

 I stopped by the temple this morning to drop off the keys to the community center where I teach English.  The sparrows were making a big ruckus over who would get to sit in the good hidey-holes near the roof...
Awww... they got the good spot up there!

...I heard an odd noise coming from around back, and startled a cat from behind one of the older gravestones...

There is an enormous Jorougumo right at the corner where you turn to go up the stairs, but I've no photo because the angle is odd and I had neither tripod nor ladder (and my sis can breathe a sigh of relief:)).  The moss-covered stone down on the ground is for votive candles and sticks of incense.
 school this morning the fourth-graders were burning the bamboo they cut last week to make sumi (charcoal) for next weekend's festival.  I sat down on the brick wall to watch and was joined by Aka Tombo.  Which are his wings, and which are the shadows?:))  Click on that so you can see it properly.   I found a new kind of spider I've never seen before, but I'll save him for another post...

 On the way home, I turned down a street I've not gone down before and found a wondrously shaped pine in front of somebody's house, cantilevered boughs propped with timbers on top of that big veined rock...

...beautifully twisted branches...

...and one of the most unusual stone lanterns I've ever come across.  I've never seen one with a twisted base that echoed the curves of the pine above it...

...but by far the coolest thing was a moth buzzing around the purple bull thistles...
bull thistle with bamboo background

...which are beautiful in their own right when the sun is shining on them...

...wait...buzzing?  Moths don't buzz...

Marcroglossum Saga (Sphinx Moth)  also called the Hummingbird Moth
One part of my brain was saying, "That's a moth--there aren't any hummingbirds in Japan."  The other side of my brain was going all tilty saying, "But--the wings are going so fast I can't even see them!  And it's zipping around exactly like a hummingbird... and it's moving around the flowers exactly like  a hummingbird... and it's...  well, humming!"  My readers in Europe may have seen one of these, but they are exclusively Old World, so I can guarantee my Mom hasn't seen one:))  Unless she happened to see one of these on one of her trips to Bejing and has been sly about it...  I didn't know I'd gotten a photo of it 'til I got home (oohh! yay!)  I've seen various names in English for it-- Hummingbird Moth, and Pellucid Hawk Moth among them (both those links have better photos than mine, so go check!), but in Japanese he's called オオスカシバ (Oosukashiba).  *Deep sigh of contentment*

...going on down the street (because the hummingbird moth had zipped away),  I thought about trying to make my way through the bamboo to get to an inviting patch of brightness inside, but decided I didn't have the shoes for it today...

 I'll leave you, Readers, with my favorite Japanese Maples which have already turned brilliant red.

There are few things I love more than standing under a momiji tree, looking up at the sky through starry leaves...
Mata asobou, ne!

p.s.--  Oh yeah--KK asked how big those Jorougumo spiders really are, and if I couldn't stick my hand next to one by way of comparison.  Happy to oblige (Note to sis:  close your eyes:))
 Be sure to click on that, so's to get the full effect.
Actually, it's not quite to scale, because my hand is a bit in front.  I couldn't get it too close, or I'd have bumped the web.  I thought about trying to put my hand up and over so my hand would be behind, but the web was too big!  Below is another one next to a leaf for comparison (I bumped her web and she scurried up one of the anchor threads).

Roughly, she's easily the size of my palm (her legs would touch the points of my palm), according to Wiki, the female's body size is anywhere from 17 to 25 mm (where the male's body is 7 to 10mm).  That's just her body, mind, not including those great Betty Grable legs of hers:))


  1. Such beautiful pictures! I especially enjoyed the bugs. :)

  2. Hi, Alice! Thanks so much--I enjoyed the bugs, too:)) Can't go down the street without finding something interesting--it's a wonder I don't fall off my bike half the time...

    I put these up every Friday, so stop by and check any time!

  3. that makes TOTAL SENSE about the sky color. I'm amazed i never realized it before.

  4. Hi, Falen! (loved your kittehs today!)
    I only just worked that out myself today while I was out walking:)) I really just went out with a desire to take pictures of persimmons on a sunny, blue-sky day. I wanted my mom to see, too, since she can't fly over here. And suddenly I realized why I feel so deeply satisfied when I look up at persimmons on blue-sky days.

  5. I love Friday Field Notes. We saw a Hummingbird Moth once, and had exactly the same confusion you did. Uncanny isn't it.

    And here's why I like Friday Field Notes:

    What is this life if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare?

    No time to stand beneath the boughs,
    And stare as long as sheep and cows.

    No time to see, when woods we pass,
    Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

    No time to see, in broad daylight,
    Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

    No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
    And watch her feet, how they can dance.

    No time to wait till her mouth can
    Enrich that smile her eyes began?

    A poor life this if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.
    —W H Davies.

  6. Daz--thank you. That is so beautiful--and that's just how I feel. And I can't tell you how happy it makes me that people in other places, on the other side of the planet even, can come with me when I'm walking and see what I see and maybe feel what I feel. It's nice to have company when I go out:))

    I was accused once by an ex of not paying attention. I replied that I paid very close attention, just not to the same things that he did. And, I can't help it--it's not a hobby. It's force of lifelong habit. The house I grew up in had a hickory tree right outside the kitchen window next to the table, and my dad made a birdfeeder for it (which, for all I know, is still there). We none of us ever walked through the kitchen without turning to "see who was at the feeder". My sister will tell you the same thing:)) The birds, and the trees, and the flowers, and the field at the end of the road were as much my neighbors as my human neighbors. When I first came to Japan and had no bird book, it drove me *crazy* not to know birds' names. It was like constantly meeting the same people, nodding and smiling, without knowing their names.

    I'm not sure whether my mom reads through the comments here or not (she reads my posts, but I'm not sure whether she's figured out how to look at the comments:)). If it's ok, I'd like to send that poem to her, too, because I know she'd love it (if she doesn't already know it--she has a fair amount of poetry up in her head:))

  7. Lovely Amy. As always. You have such an eye for these things. Now this time there was a strong distinction between your fair country and mine. Not much bamboo in North Dakota. Love the spider shot and you have proved you are a woman to be reckoned with. Most people would be terribly comfortable that close.

    The contrasting sky makes a great deal of sense. I foolishly thought it was because of the low humidity. Oops.

    But you know, there are types of what is known as hummingbird moths here in the states too. I confess. I didn't know this before. I was just sure I saw one this summer and had to look it up after reading your article. Apparently, they are rare but present. This one loved our honeysuckle. It was cool, but I know nothing more!

  8. Amy, that's my favouritest poem. I thought most people knew the first two lines. Maybe it's better known here than elsewhere. But, yes of course it's okay. It's not like I own it :-)

    My 'attention to detail' normally runs to old cars and bikes. I once walked into a lamp-post — darn near knocked myself out — watching a chap riding through town on a Brough Superior. This is not to be recommended!

  9. Daz. That's a wonderful poem. Beautiful. I've never heard it before but will have to mark it down. Here's the end verse of one of my favorites by Robert Frost.

    I could give all to Time except - except
    What I myself have held. But why declare
    The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
    I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There,
    And what I would not part with I have kept.

    I've always loved the meaning, the saving of those few simple things that we consider most important, the memories, the things we have touched and those that have touched us. This verse was the on the front page of a book by Wallace Stegner (one of the most brilliant authors of regular fiction ever). It hooked me the first time I read it and still stirs something deep within. Frost can do that to me.

    One of the reasons I like the Friday field Notes so much is they encapsulate Daz's poem in visual form. The secret to happiness lies all about us. We are simply to busy in our quest to find it that we forget to stop and look for it at our very feet. One of the reasons I like you two so much is that you stop and really look.

    And Daz's hair. I just love the hair. Someday, we really have to meet in person.

  10. KK--thanks. It means a lot to me that what I've found that I like to write about most, others like to read. I really didn't expect anybody but my mom and my sister to pay any attention to my field notes (a grand title for my pictures of things growing out of cracks and looking up at the sky--but I really want you to see it, too:))

    The Frost is beautiful:)) And you're right--there are hummingbird moths in the US, although not the species in the above photo (that one is Old World). I should amend that! But...shoot! Maybe my mom *has* seen one! It's almost impossible to find something she hasn't seen (or at least know about).

    Daz--this is dreadful. I'm smiling and chuckling picturing you walking smack into a lamp-post. Were you alright?:)) Like I should talk--there's a reason you should never be a passenger in any car I'm driving ("ooooh, look! cows! aaah!)...;-)

  11. Oh yeah--KK, the blue of the sky probably is mostly lower humidity (especially here--dang! summer is awful--very hazy, can't see Fuji), but I like to think that the profusion of contrasting colors affects the way we see it, too:)) (blue-orange, green-red, yellow-purple)

  12. I don't know Amy. I like your explanation better. The contrast fooling the mind sounds more logical that the humidity thing. Our brains react imperfectly but beautifully to such things. Today, I was out looking at my maple tree in the front yard peering through the leaves at the sky. It definitely seemed bluer with them in sight. Then again, I could be just fooling myself again. Damned trickable brain!

  13. I *looooove* optical illusions! There are a couple of good TED talks about that, too. Daz linked to a really good one at his forum...last week? Week before? No longer ago than that. Really interesting!