Sunday, April 6, 2014


Early morning & we left the hotel for Kinetsu Kyoto station.....destination...Toba Station and Mikimoto Pearl Island. 

On the train.  Amy, our wonderful guide for the second half of our journey looks as if she's wearing a Mickey Mouse hat!

We have arrived!  Time to study the map.

Eileen & Miss Judith along with Bonnie take advantage of the ten minute walk to photograph the ocean.

Mikimoto Pearl Island is quite small.....situated in Ise Bay right offshore Toba in Mie Prefecture.  It's here where Mr. Mikimoto developed the process to make cultured pearls.  Bonnie & I are quite excited!

We're about to walk onto a short enclosed 'walkway' to step onto the island.

The view from the walkway.

Up close.  See, there really are Cherry trees everywhere!

There's a viewing room in the main building where people (us) sit to watch the 'scheduled' visits of the Ama.  The Ama are the women who dive for the pearls.  They grow up doing this and have known little else.  Some of the older women work with their husbands who are in charge of the boat as they dive.  There are even some Ama in their 60's!  I found it strangely sad and wondered if they found joy in their lives.  The day was overcast and quite chilly and the ocean became quite rough as we watched and waited.

Right on schedule.....the boat with the Ama girls arrived.

They wear white clothing over their wet suits as this is supposed to repel the sharks.  I'm not so sure about that theory.

The women have baskets that they're tied to via a long rope.

Here we go!

Oysters anyone?

Into the basket yo go!

The girls wave goodbye to us!

......And Bonnie & I decide to go shopping!  But we have our priorities so first.....lunch!

Pearl heaven!

As well all left the building we heard the loudest thunder clap ever and were grateful the Ama girls were safely out of the water!  The winds seemed gale force as we walked back to the train station. I wondered what they were telling us with this sign.  How afraid, be very afraid!

But then, on cue...the sun came out!

And Pam spotted an island bird.

No thanks, I'll take the escalator!
I scream, you scream........

Had to capture 'The Girl With the Pearl Earing'!

Fun on the train...
We even saw a rainbow.

Bye bye train!

Cute kids on an outing.

All the businessmen dress alike.  Who sends out the memo?
Can you even begin to imagine how nuts I went on meeting "leo'....a beautiful Japanese Akita.  This Akita-ken is from Akita the Northern part of Japan's main island..... the true home of the breed.  So precious!

Oh happy day!

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There is no avoiding the pull of the internet, the blogs, the YouTube imaginings. It's as if we're all 'On the Road' with Jack Kerouac each in our own world of meanderings. When we tell someone to 'get a life' it might be a bit difficult when you're dragged into other people's 24/7.

I've come to realize two foundational principals, there are no accidents and everyone has a purpose. More and more I'm desiring everyone to come into a full realization of their purpose as we all find our way on this little jewel of a planet.

For me, as a professional 'Western style artist', I stumbled into Chinese Brush Painting after a trip in 1980 to Monet's home/garden. Seeing all of his collection of Japanese woodblock prints was an ahh haa moment for me and when I returned to the States I started painting in the Chinese manner and never looked back. The first year was extremely painful for me as I felt that I should be able to master the technique since I was a 'trained' artist. Not a chance ... that just gets in your way.

Now, after teaching close to 3,000 students and having my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' published by Watson Guptill, I can say that every one of my students does better their first day than I did my first year! Why? Because I insist that they leave their critical parent outside and just enjoy the journey, respecting the work that they do. I never let anyone throw anything away because that just ingrains frustration and defeat.

We really only begin to learn when we stop and figure out how to 'save' a painting. It works every time.I am so proud of my students, their receptivity and eagerness to express themselves is a continuing blessing for me.So, back to finding your purpose. Perhaps it starts with realizing 'it's not about me'. It so easy to want our needs met and to filter everything thru this attitude. When we realize that we're here to be of benefit to every life that we touch the universe really provides the ways and means.

The best part is that it's really exciting to not have yourself on your mind all the time!I'm re-reading a wonderful book about authenticity and in my next meandering I'll tell you about it. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your journey and am here to answer any and all questions about Chinese Brush Painting.