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Autumn-Winter Japanese Insights with Paprika-Girl

Creative ideas and traditional Japanese appeal from Paprika-Girl for Autumn and Spring.

Ohkanda Riki, Paprika-Girl, is a favorite guest of many on the Seeking Sustainability LIVE series – such an interesting creative who has thrown herself into Japanese culture and traditions. She works in the traditional Japanese movies industry and wears Kimono most days of the week. She also studies Tea-Ceremony, Shodo Calligraphy, Geisha dancing and other traditional arts.

You can see many more insights into traditional Japanese culture, aesthetic and fashion on Riki’s fascinating Twitter posts.

In this interview (transcribed below), Paprika-girl talks about many of the traditional aspects of Japanese culture that she enjoys and practices in Autumn and Winter each year.

JJ Walsh 01:26
Thank you! And before we started, you gave me some advice that if I took this kimono to a kimono shop, they would be able to make it a little bit bigger, so would actually fit me

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 01:37
That’s right- Kimono are nice, because instead of just cutting them, when you when you sew them, you fold the excess material into the sleeve. This is what’s normally done regular practice. So most kemono can be you can take out the seams. And then you can stretch them out maybe a good five, six centimeters depending on what it is. And even if there’s not enough material in there, you can add more material over here, or on the sides or in the back, around the waist… So any Kimono can get to your size no matter how big or small, it is wonderful.

JJ Walsh 02:14
I might look into that, because I love this color. And I think it’s the cosmos. And now as I do my walks during the day, I see loads of beautiful Cosmos flowers. So it’s it’s a nice theme. What are you wearing today? Can you describe your beautiful kimono?

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 02:33
Um, well, this is just, um, this is a Tsumugi. And so it’s just a regular Kimono used for every day. So if you if you can get a little bit dirty, or you can do housework, and if you’re going to work you want to like this, because it’s tougher than a regular kimono. And it’s an AWASE, which means it’s good for this particular season. You have an extra layer on the inside over here. And it’s made of silk so it’s so warm. So I have this and then I have the inside of the Awase and then I’m also wearing another juban. And another juban on the inside also has two layers. So it’s really quite warm compared to what you get in the summer kimono or yukata.

JJ Walsh 03:13
Beautiful and of course, you often share this kind of wonderful insights and information on your Twitter feed. But you’ve also started a website on Wixi, so people can see your beautiful photos there as well linked from your Twitter page as much as I only did that because well for work. Because they asked me They asked me like well where do we get in contact with you? And it was until now Japan generally you carry around these these
cards?

Oh, I could show you actually actually. But um, we have the main sheet and everyone carries around their main sheet. And it’s kind of like it’s you know, British calling card from like Victorian era and like that it’s exactly the same thing. So you have your name and all that information on here when you give this every time you meet someone, but these days because of Coronavirus. Of course, you don’t see people in person as much as you used to. And people don’t tend to carry around nation as much as they used to. It’s not a significant difference, but it’s enough for people to say okay, well where can I get in contact with you? And it’s it’s hard to have too many you know, entrances here we have to find something which you can just turn to everybody. So there it is.

Yeah, I love your November in Japan page that you shared about autumn foilage the different kinds of holidays that we have like Bunka-no-hi Culture day, 3-5-3 day when children go to the shrine or temple right. I think shrines maybe so cute. The 23rd Ni-Name-Sai Japanese Thanksgiving. It’s very interesting to go to various countries and see how certain holidays they kind of coincide with other holidays and other countries too. So Ni-Name-Sai is not a copy of Thanksgiving. For even though it kind of follows around the same time.

It used to be a just what started out as a Shinto kind of ceremony. So the Emperor would go to various with godless shrine and do something important and magical, or whatever you call it, in traditional in the shrine, but on the outside of that you have all these people with parties and festivals, and you know, the type of typical Matsui kind of thing, except that you would have a lot more food involved.

So instead of having everyone carrying an Omikoshi around and going from place to place, they would they would get gather, and just share whatever they whatever they made during that season. So if you go to someone’s house, they’ll have apples or they’ll have grapes, or they’ll have maybe they’ll have duck, for example, fowl.

Or I think the other day, I went to a party and we had a wild boar. So it’s not exactly Thanksgiving, because you don’t go and see your family the same way you wouldn’t the United States, for example, but it does coincide with that same timing. And so you can assume as the Japanese Thanksgiving Yeah. And it was interesting talking about wild boar, of course, is is a more sustainable meat to eat in Japan wild meats, and there is too many boar, and a lack of predators.

So a lot of the people I’ve interviewed in the series, actually, they take the wild boar meat from hunters in the area, who wouldn’t eat it, and then they’re eating it and making use of it. So of course, instead of making it go to waste, it’s nice to see.

For me, well I’m a vegan, so I wouldn’t eat it, but if you eat meat, it’s definitely a more sustainable choice.

And it You said it was quite delicious at that place?

Paprika-Girl:
Well, yes, it’s like pork. Except that it’s more it’s tougher, a little bit more gamey. So you won’t have that strange, gamey flavor to it so much as you’ll have this, in Japanese they call it Hagotai, the feeling of something when you bite into it is called Hagotai. So something like texture. And it has just the same amount of, of, well, fat, you know, just like bacon would have . So it’s, it’s quite nice.

JJ: Yeah. So I’m actually happy if I see people eating it, because instead of just letting it go to waste, it’s much better to, you know, use it and make a business out of it. Why not?

(BTW) I saw your beautiful masks you and your husband are wearing while you’re while you’re at the restaurant. And those are gorgeous. You always have gorgeous masks that you wear.

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 08:07
My friends over in Kyoto, I know a whole bunch of Kimono makers- and this one was made by Kato Kimono, they make Kimono specifically for men.

So most of the Kimono that my husband wears, they’re from Kato Kimono. But she sent this to me kind of as a gift. Of course there’s lots of different kinds of masks and materials for masks, but I just love this one because it’s very, very soft.

It’s like feathers on the inside. It’s just the guys is just so very light. And of course this is very high-quality silk. So it just it feels like there’s almost like nothing on you. And yet at the same time. It’s like a gentle kind of like a like a it’s a shield, but in the in the kindest way. So I’m just, I just love this technology.

JJ Walsh 08:58
Yeah, it’s beautiful. And I think we will be wearing masks for at least a few more months going forward. So it’s nice to have a variety of beautiful masks that you always match really beautifully with your Kimono that you’re wearing.

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 09:15
Oh, just a reminder, if you really like one of your Kimono, you can bring those into Kimono makers and places like that. And they can use the material and what’s left over the material, like when you get something remade or reshaped, and usually have a little bit leftover. So you can give that to them to make Tabby you can make all sorts of like purchase and things like that. I mean, I use one of my old summer Kimono to make a summer umbrella. So you can use these for all sorts of different ways. Women are just amazingly versatile.

JJ Walsh 09:48
Wow, wonderful. You also had a page explaining Bunka no Hi (Culture Day)

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 09:56
Oh, yeah, Bunka-no-hi, I just love them currently because This was originally the Meiji
Emperor’s birthday. So I’m happy to say this because there are no Scorpio interesting people ever. So finally, there’s another Scorpio, I’m so happy about that. But, so his birthday was on the third. And in celebration, they would have shows, as opposed to just the standard festivals. So you would have music shows or performances, or you’ll have some recitations, or if you go to universities, they would have lectures and things like that, or tourists would be speaking.

And the direct call the director translation for this is culture, they, of course, I took a little bit of a break after he died, but then they reinstated the as a national holiday. So after World War Two, of course, they change it from embers birthday to just to culture day, but the traditions have exactly the same. So they still have orders, and they still have lectures need to go to a science museum, they’ll have something special going on for both kids and adults. So it’s a little bit more mature, of attendance festival for you to enjoy the entertainment in general. So you should really take advantage of that, at least next year, when it’s back again, on the third.

JJ Walsh 11:23
Yeah, so that was at the beginning of November, Bunka-no-hi national holiday. So that’s a good transition into your watch out for dry weather. I think November, November is a time when it is very dry. And now we need lotions. And tell us a little bit about what you should watch out for.

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 11:45
Oh, well, every year around this time, or any time that it starts to get really dry. The show will show the fire department will issue warnings for for dry weather. And you’ll get pamphlets and everything in the mail, that sort of thing that will go from house to house and put them in there. But most importantly, it is supposed to be you have to be careful about for fires. So you shouldn’t be using open flame as much. You should be sure that your plugs This is something that a lot of people forget. But there are plugins that can get in between the plug in the actual where you will plug it in a picture what that’s called. But you want to make sure the desk doesn’t spark of fire, if to make sure you have your your papers in a nice safe location.

But in addition to that, on a more practical level, for those of us who don’t encounter fire on a daily basis, which would be good. We do have to drink a lot more water than we’re used to. So this time people be more prone to headaches, it’s easier to catch a cold, you’re going to have a sore throat more often than not very dry. Wake up in the morning and your eyes are all dry and crispy and awful. And things like that. That’s because of the lack of moisture in the air. So drink more water. And then as you also should be carrying around more lotions. I mean, I use this one right now. But this is it’s is it from my dermatologist. So it’s one of those things but just keep this keep on putting on the lotion constantly. And especially now that we have to wash our hands every goodness, every you know, every time we go in or out of the house or some meet someone you have to wash your hands. So you have to be more kinder to your skin than usual. I think right now.

JJ Walsh 13:32
Yeah. And I think it I’ve been asked recently. Do I recommend any moisturizers. And I think this will segue nicely into your fragrances that you were given for your birthday. But I have just at the local drugstore, I found some tins of moisturizer and it is made in Japan. So it might be an international company but made in Japan and you can get the teens so it’s easier to recycle. Now you were given some beautiful fragrances which also came in tins. Can you tell us about it?

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 14:10
Oh, yes. Um, let’s see, there was a two that I got one of them was from is J sense. And this one was a gift to my husband. And in Japan when they’re talking about a wholesale wholesale preview when you’re trying to put on perfume. Yeah, they’re kind of picky about sense over here because the thought behind it is that this the the scent can’t interfere with whatever food you’ll be eating. So that’s where the concept comes from. So if you go to somewhere like Eon or any place where they have geisha, for example, you should they were perfumes to what they wear is this kind of a nudie nudie perfume. So this this kind of a Like a creamy perfume, and they’re usually the sense of hinoki, or the Aqua balance of sandalwood, or they’ll be an earthy sense. Or maybe they’ll have something like maybe peach, or if there is any floral scent, it’s very, very delicate. And they only take a little bit on their finger, and they put it right behind their ear. And this is just the thing that they do.

This is just what they’re taught to do. I learned from my grandmother, who was also president of Asia. So she would take this little, little bit, just a little bit, and that’s all you do. Nothing else. And anything more than that may possibly interfere. Or if you are brought over to sushi, for example, where the scent is very delicate, you really shouldn’t even smoke in those places. I mean, most of whom you can’t smoke anyone, anyway, but if you found that you can smoke, it’s not a good idea. And that’s why the western perfumes, and not saying that they’re too strong, but there are some certain guys out there a little put a little bit too much Axe body spray on, and you can kind of tell you know, so that’s not as common over here, you’re not gonna find a lot of that over here in design, since in general, they’re much more natural and kind of woody than they are by mistakes, at least from my experience.

Um, so you won’t go to like bath and Bodyworks into these like bombs of like floral, fruity kind of explosions and sent over here, you’ll get something like green tea, or aloe, or wood or this one’s over here, for example, this one is an earth sent, and I have a light, pretty kind of accent. And then there is a floral scent. So that’s what it’s called in English, I apologize. But the sins are just so so small, just a little bit, it’s all you need, if you kind of carry him around too. And, um, this is also another one that’s very popular in Japan. There is the last fan, unless you can has the very vain and

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried vervain before it’s one of the more popular sense but vervain it’s also one of those really fresh, very delicate sense. So this is really popular so I’ll be sitting on the train or something and then I’ll I’ll get this wave of vervain and it’s from a person next to me was putting some cream on their hands or something. It’s just so popular. But I got this wonderful set for my birthday too. So um, thank goodness it’s my favorites and ever so if I run out of this go and buy someone just obsessed with this particular scent.

JJ Walsh 17:34
Yeah, no, I like how even at L’occitane, very little of the very few of the products are in plastic that you’ll often find the paper or the the tins. I really like this trend in beauty products.
Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 17:51
Yeah, it’s beautiful. You know, every once in a while. If you’re so lucky. Then you have a grandma. You have like a great grandmother’s house some people do I did when I was growing up. So my I used to go and visit my great grandmother’s house which is still in the family over in Chicago but you have her old cosmetics there. What’s interesting about great grandmother’s of cosmetics is that they’re not in plastic. They’re always either in glass or metal these 10 things and all these potions and lotions and stuff which I have no idea what it’s in there. That all smells like rose. You look in their eyes like ooh, you mean like more goop and it’s like 100 year old goop which is just amazing to be able to see this in front of

JJ Walsh 18:36
it. I remember that to like my grandmother’s vanity area where she had a mirror and she had her makeup and beauty supplies in front and there were glass bubbles and and tins and wooden boxes and we need to get back to that. It’s so glamorous and beautiful. I love it.

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 18:59
yea plastic bottles are no fun! You use it you throw it away. It’s not pretty like it used to be.

That’s right. And you also introduce some beautifully beautiful smelling incense. Do you use incense when you do tea ceremony? Yes, but this isn’t tea ceremony incense This is everyday incense. This is different than the standard wood that you’ll usually get for because they do have family shrines at home for for your your ancestors ancestral science shines kind of thing. But this is not that kind. This is just stick incense for everyday use. I always I will always like put one use one in the vestibule every morning when I clean just to kind of like refresh the air and wake the house up in the sense. The kind of stuff I use for tea-ceremony don’t have a picture of it, but it’s these little chunks of wood. That’s what it is.

Little tiny like square chunks of wood and what you do is Put them on top of the coal holes inside of the we have this little RO where you goodness gracious.. How do I explain this in English?? We have a kind of a dugout place inside of the tea room on which you put your hot water pot and kind of an attorney underneath there you’re having coals in there which you heat them over in the kitchen and then you like put bring them over to the tea or tea ceremony room. On top of that is where you put the the incense. And there’s many different sense for it, but just just one little piece of wood that you kind of stick in there and it kind of glues and makes everything smell nice. Yeah,

JJ Walsh 20:40
your your pictures of the the sunken RO (R-O) yes, yeah, that’s it. Tell us about the process of changing to that, that style for tea ceremony.

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 20:56
I’m so well, I just moved to this new house. And so we had what is called the dovid ci, which means that there’s a cot, there’s a cut in the floor beneath that cuts on me. So if you’ll lift up, the tip of me is all it’s always very movable. So these aren’t like kneel down or anything, but you can lift them up and underneath that you’re usually going to get wood. And so there’s a square portion of just beef Academy, which if you lift it up, you can put in a box, which is insulated. And then inside there, you put another metal box, which is for the sake of the fire, of course, and there’s no like actual flames burning or anything like that. But it’s just the coal that you’re going to put in. And on top of there, you have to put ash.

And then you put in this kind of middle circle like this, which, inside of the ashes there, you cover up the base of the of the circle in the ashes. So here’s the base and and place to where you’re supposed to put all the coals, but the coals in the middle of the circle over there. And on top of that you put the middle die on pot. And this happens in November, every year. It’s called an Okaero- so it opens the RO is KAIRO. And it’s considered the new year for tea. So as a result of opening up your Tatami and putting on the RO, all their friends and you’re a tea ceremony up some people have tea ceremonies, some people want to, if their students will come in though, everyone will come and visit just to see the hole.

And you put in some nice incense over there and give everyone nice sweets. And you also have to present them. It depends on the system that you’re working with if you give them some kind of food. And so what I’m doing over my house is I’m giving them a interpreter. And so what you see at the bottom there instead, and so you have these little bowls of mochi and sweets and everything. And they give you a present in return.

The basic is almost always something sweet, some kind of a sweet, so more sweets, which is great because more people are going to come anyway after giving them sweets. So you kind of kind of pass it around, but it’s a big event. And also all the utensils that you use which are made out of something perishable, like like the chesson for example, the whisk that you use for potty, that’s when you have to buy new ones. It’s during that time period and you use new Cheshire food, water scoops and things like that he scoops so it’s a very special time of year.

JJ Walsh 23:38
I didn’t realize that that November is such a an interesting and important time of year for tea ceremony. That’s wonderful. So I’m showing also you were explaining about the unclose in English Tokonoma is it? Oh, yeah.The hanging?

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 24:00
Oh, yes. Um, yeah, the Tokonoma. This is an essential part of many Japanese rooms, not just tea rooms. But the top one was where it’s, it’s a little bit of extra space. It’s what it is. You’re not supposed to fill it with too many things. But generally, you put some flowers and put a hanging wall scroll and you might put something like a like an art piece to display.

So currently in the top one, we have some flowers. And I think I just changed my scroll actually, but this is it has to be a very seasonal wild scroll. There are a year round things too. So if you don’t want to buy one for every single month or so then there are ways to get around that. But you’ll also notice in this particular photograph, there’s the Cha-Tsubo. Tea originally or in many places, it still is, it’s carrying these big ceramic pots.

If you go into some older shops and places like that, hold on one second. Here we’ll say it has been, oh, there’s wine is here. But yeah, that if you go into the old traditional shops, maybe in downtown or all the areas, you’ll find a lot of these, these pots, which I want to be lining the walls.

And you’ll notice that it’s tied with this red knot. Well, the purpose of the red knot is to protect protect from poison. So way back during the Edo period, and before that, dime, yo, and important people like that would often be assassinated for, you know, more kind of reasons. So they would have these very, very complicated knots that would be used to show that no one had opened the top of the top of the trestle.

And so it’s during this time of year since it is a new year. So the new one comes with one of those complicated knots. And it’s kind of fun, because that’s one of the things you have to learn in T is how to tie those things. It’s quite nice. I’ll show you a video of it later on at some point, after.

JJ Walsh 26:20
I’ve never heard of that. That’s a wonderful story. And you have so many pictures this time of year of your beautiful tea and the wagashi. And yeah, gorgeous. Every year, tea ceremony is different. So it’s fun to kind of see how the light hits each one of the items. So I enjoy taking photographs of it. Personally, I like the shapes. Yeah. And your Ikebana in the Enclave you shared about that it has some wild flowers for autumn. Beautiful.

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 26:56
Yes, the Nanakusa. There’s none except for autumn and they smell except for spring, I’m going to have to put down a list of those things eventually. But the notebooks are just the traditional flowers you’re going to find in any part of the any part of the country. And so those are used kind of inclusively, so anyone can use them. That’s kind of the thought behind it. There is some meaning to each and every one of them. But I don’t remember what I put in there. I think Fuji Fatima maybe and. But what I like about the flowers in general, for tea ceremony, as opposed to regular flowers is that the 40 semi flowers are not supposed to be something special.

So you don’t go out and buy them. You don’t go and find the perfect rose or anything like that. You go around your corner, go over to the over to like the park. And whatever you find that the park that’s your tea flower. So even if you’re living in Germany or in America, or wherever it is, your tea flower should be, oh well this is this time of year and therefore you have to use this particular Japanese flower. It’s specifically designed so that it’s not supposed to be like that. That’s the point of the tea ceremony. So you have to have something that anyone can enjoy. And anyone can see this on their average daily walk over to the park. So if you’re going into the park, do not pick next door neighbor’s roses.

You don’t have to worry about that. Just go and get a stock of grass and get a piece of leaf which is turned colors right now you’re gonna find a lot of them small color change leaves, which have been part of bouquets right now. And that’s good enough. So yeah, that’s the whole point of it. Is to enjoy the current season the way you enjoy it naturally right now wherever you are.

JJ Walsh 28:42
I love that. I love that idea and this kind of like dry How do you describe it like a Fern at the top. I see this lining all of the riverbanks right now. And it’s a beautiful I’m sure some people just hate it as a weed. But it is just looking at it next to the river. It is so beautiful. All of these that move with the wind and everything. I like it. This is the key and it’s perfectly acceptable as a tea flower by the way. So find that here. And so if you and and another really cute thing of course we have to introduce is your kitty Kotatsu

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 29:32 so cute.

JJ Walsh 29:38
Look at that little face. So is it really just a special heated table just for kitty.

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 29:48
Well, this particular one is unique. I have to give you a link to this at some point but last last year during winter mommycon maker is beat me on their little baby gun. Right? The big we found they sell a little bit better than the little ones. So he put that just as sweet. And so one of the little beacon farmers created this system where the if you buy a box of Nikon, you’ll get with it a cat, put that. And so you’ll have this thick piece of cardboard and then four little poles, you stick into it also made of cardboard, and it comes with the gun. So and I ordered this and I thought out this wonderful little kotetsu. And then on the top is another piece of cardboard just like a regular put that so it has like it’s kind of like double plated. And I used my cats, one of his little one of his blankets. And he just loved it.

The second side is like mine. So I do have a heater in there but it’s the you know the one of those cat or pet heaters that you’ll get over like it any pet shop or anything that looks like your square kind of little things like this, and put that underneath it instead and then put on top of there another little blanket and so he kind of pleases in between the hot kind of the hot plate the hot plate for animals. And he the top of the cortex, you just notice that it’s made for him just crawl inside of there and then poke his head out just because he wants to see what’s going on in the world. But it’s such a happy kitty.

JJ Walsh 31:22
That is so gorgeous. And I I’ve seen people have the kotatsu on all day in the house for winter for their pets and dogs, cats. I’ve seen rabbits and their contatto. So if you keep it on low, the pets do love it. And then you don’t have to heat the whole house. There’s very few houses in Japan which have a central heating. And most of us live by heating room to room right. So the kotatsu is a great lifestyle. Yeah, helps, helps a lot.

I, I just talked to Karen Hill Anton the other day and she was she first moved into Japan many years ago in the deep countryside. And they had a cutout in the center of the house. And at first she thought we don’t need that. And then it just became the only place they wanted to be in the house, especially in the old drafty houses, right. It’s wonderful. Um, let’s talk about your new novella. I’m very excited. So I read your your first one dragon pond, and this is a new one. Tell us about it.

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 32:37
Okay, well, let’s see. Well, this particular novel is a little bit different than usual. Because this was designed as a movie. I had a movie script, which was started, I think it was 2006 or 2007, that I wrote a movie script. And I wrote the concept. And then over the next few years, it kind of developed little by little into kind of a script. And this was actually picked up and filmed during just recently. So I just filmed this already as a movie. And but the thing is, is, of course, when you film something here in Japan, it’s a very limited budget, so it’s very unlikely you’re going to get a lot of money to do it. So whatever was filmed, had quite a lot of the story. And of course, you can’t really show a person’s inner turmoil, things like that. So what I did was I wrote this novella, almost like as a summary of what I have a summary of what I really wanted to say during the movie. So it was my original script. But the original script, of course, was in Japanese.

So when I was writing this as a book, I decided I was going to write in English, because of course, it’s easier for me. And that’s also one of the points of the movie is he wanted to have something which is kind of transcends language a little bit. So when this movie is released, in certain locations are going to release it with subtitles. So it will be also available in English. But, um, but putting all that kind of backstory aside, this particular novella is kind of a critique of the film industry.

So it’s not from the perspective of filmmaker, which is me it isn’t a perspective of an actor. So the story is that of an actor in his early 30s, who doesn’t see any future for himself, but over the over the ease of his 20s he had, he has a lot of pride and he had to have a lot of pride to be an actor in the first place. But he had a lot of a little bit too much self confidence. And so he kind of put himself up on a pedestal and then he cut himself off from the rest of the world as a result, because he wanted to make it look like he was going up in the world. And he stopped talking to people like he should have and a person they need communication in for his people like to call themselves introvert and I’m an introvert and lots people that are introverts.

They don’t want to be around too many people. But people even if they are introverts, they really do need communication, they need to get to know not just a person as a as an acquaintance, but then you are friends. And so in our daily lives, we have a tendency to go and beat, someone will say, Hello, we’ll talk to them for whatever business that we have to do with them, but we don’t really know who they are. And we don’t spend a lot of time speaking to them. And maybe we’ll meet them at a party, we’ll exchanged phone numbers or online messages or something, but they can never talk to them again. And then they just wonderfully awful phrase in Japanese, which is condo.

And so when you meet someone, and you’ll say, oh, let’s meet up again, condo, in condo, it doesn’t translate perfectly into English, but it means some time, or next time. So yeah, let’s have a drink next time. But next time never really comes about. And so what happens is, you’ll have hundreds and hundreds of phone numbers in your phone. But people that you don’t know that you don’t you’ve met once you don’t really know where you met them, but you don’t want to delete them just in case they call come sometime, you know, and you’re kind of stuck in this conundrum.

So the concept of the story is this guy who has ever isolated himself and put himself on a pedestal, goes through his mobile phone. And he calls for the sake of meeting every single person in his phonebook, just so that he can figure out who are these people. And so through doing this, he makes, he kind of revitalizes all the connections that he used to have. And then he gets his gets his life back on track. So it is a happy story, ultimately. But it’s supposed to be a critique of both the transient nature of the film industry, and also our habit of not really getting to know a person once we’ve met them. So that’s what I kind of hope to do with this book.
JJ Walsh 37:00
I love that concept. That’s a really interesting concept. And I I really enjoyed your last novella about dragon pond and the girl leaving out to the NACA and having experienced there. And I think your insight as a movie director in in seeing so many of these scripts and making some of them yourself. It translates so beautifully into these short novellas so I can’t wait to read it and I hope you continue making more. Good job. Thank you very much. Well, you know, it’s during the we have the Coronavirus thing going on right now. So you have to use your time and do something and I’m not going to be on set after right something I’ll go nuts. Yeah, well, good for you putting your time to good use. Let’s talk a little bit about your beautiful Kimono – I have some gorgeous pictures here. This one you’re next to a Christmas tree. So maybe a winter Kimono gorgeous

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 37:57
So it’s a daily use one we have. It’s kind of an off-white. Yes, it’s supposed to be off white and blue. But you can barely tell that with this and you have to get up really close. One of the nice things about some of the material is that you’ll read Japanese patterns in general and not you don’t tend to be very big. So you will see like foodie soda and young people’s candles with these big flowers on them. But they’re actually kind of rare and those aren’t used on everyday basis. What you’ll get for everyday basis is a pattern which is so gentle, so very delicate that you have to kind of look and see very closely in order to actually see what’s on the sleeve and what’s on the material. So this is one of those where it has these little wave patterns on there. But from a distance it just kind of looks like a gentle gray. Jet This is it’s an everyday kimono.

JJ Walsh 39:04
It’s beautiful. And I saw your hint that it’s perfectly okay to wear a mens ob with your
Kimono and you show a beautiful simple like white and gold Oh be there?

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 39:19
No. Oh yes. Oh, this is any suits actually. It’s it’s all off white. But it has it looks kind of bold because of the shadows because it’s a textured, nice way so you have all these crests on them. But yeah, especially during this summer and even with some of you for example, because some of us think of it like the jeans of kimono, so you can wear this every day. So for everyday kind of Jean kind of kimono you can wear any kind of ob you want. I mean if you don’t want to wear something which is too fancy Of course because it doesn’t really match jeans at first, but I’m thinking of it in that term. But you can wear these really thin always you can wear the Han Obi you can wear men’s obi you can And kind of angle that if you want a little bit more with over here on the side, you can you can angle it down if you want to.

There’s there’s so many ways to where it can, because you’ll notice in the red one, which you’ve just put up on screen over here, the, the width of the Obi is quite large. And so it covers up the most of the middle part over here. But you can, you can make that thinner if you wanted to. Or if you have like, it’s not just for thin people though, too.

So if you have like a little bit of a gut, you can angle the Obi forward so that the front comes down and the slight delicate slope. And that’s another way to make it flattering. So any kind of body type can use the kimono. Just a matter of how you play with the Obi and Eddie the color over here. And how you how you stretch out the sleeves and what kind of combination you make, which suits you best.

JJ Walsh 40:57
Yeah, beautiful. And you said this black and red kimono that we’re looking at on the side
you wore to calligraphy class shodo class, you were worried worried about the ink.

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 41:12
I haven’t actually spilled ink on Kimono yet. But yeah, come on. On the other hand, the one thing that is kind of difficult about them is that they’re difficult to wash. So you either have to turn them into someone a specialist, or if you just a little bitty kind of a thing, then then you take bingeing. And so you kind of dabbled with benzene to get rid of it. Water will take care of a lot of it, but you don’t throw it in the washing machine. Unless it’s a polyester one, which I don’t have too many of those. But these old silk ones, they don’t wash very well.

So you would I was going to the the shuttle class that day, I was kind of worried that he would make me show how I fold everything. So I have a wonderful, absolutely amazing Shodo teacher. I’ll have to show you something that he’s written before. But he’s, he’s the teacher to the Emperor. So is absolutely the top class most wonderful Shodo master in probably in the country. lovely old guy, 73 years old. And so anyway, so he’s very, very kind.

So when he’s teaching you how to use the currency, right? Especially the old, the old, Japanese calligraphy, there may possibly be a time when they go, oops, and then it goes weak. And then the brush goes me, which hasn’t happened yet. But I kind of imagined he had happened. And he goes, Oh, no, every time I go to shadow class, I’m wearing a dark colored kimono. Just in case that happens. And I hope it doesn’t. But you know,

JJ Walsh 42:40
that it sounds very, like a good idea. I would be very worried about spilling ink on my beautiful kimoto as well. Karen Hill Anton actually she traveled from the countryside for hours one way to get to her calligraphy teacher back in the day. Now she doesn’t do classes anymore. But she you know, she talks about how important that calligraphy was, to her Japan experience. Have you found the same thing? Like it’s, it’s just so meditative? Like it’s just such a beautiful part of Japanese culture?

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 43:21
Oh, yes, you said an interesting word there the meditative part of it. I think that a lot of Japanese culture really looks is going to go back to what I love so much. But T and T comes Of course, there’s a strong connection with Zen and Taoism and things like that, and the calming of the soul, in a sense. And so one of the things that you do learn in teas, you have to learn how to do Shodo too.

Because if you go to a tea ceremony, of course, you’re gonna have to write your name, you have an entrance book in the front, I have to write your name and your writing in front of all these people. And you have to hold the fresh, right and it’s really inking Oh my god. But you also have to write letters to say if you to invite people to tea ceremonies, and then to accept the letter itself. And it’s a it’s a structure that you’re going to have to study.

But one of the elements of calligraphy or Shodo in general, is that you have to have a very calm heart in order to do it. And so one of the things that a wonderful teacher will critique for the various people is that if you don’t, if you don’t like home with like in a yoga kind of a sense, you have to calm yourself down and breathe out when you’re writing. And it can’t be too slow and it can’t be too fast. So you have to kind of very much Calm yourself when you’re writing each and every letter. Right?

So even if it is kind of like a series of letters, something that’s connected if you do this in one breath, so it’s like did you write each one of the phrases So you’re not writing each and every line, you’re writing it as a kind of an exhalation. So it’s very much like you said, like a meditative process. And if you’re, if you’re frustrated, or if you’re angry, or if you’re something, something, it’s going to come out in the letters, you can tell from the way what’s being things are being written. I mean, I guess you could do that in English, too.

But it’s fun to go back and see these like the letters written by Daimyo way back and 300 500 years ago, and they’re some of them are four letters. And some of them, you can tell which ones were dictated, you can tell which ones were written by the very angry person who is writing about, or someone who’s in love and trying to make a beautiful message, you can tell by the state of the calligraphy in there. And so that she said that it was something that has to do very much with the soul and how you’re feeling at the time when you’re writing. It’s even an important part of Japanese culture. And it does require a little bit of sense.

JJ Walsh 46:00
Wonderful, I love that. Also, in the photo, you’re wearing a mask from the same company
that you had your towel kit died, which we talked about in a previous episode.

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 46:14
Oh, yes. Um, yeah, this mask, the same mask that was wearing over at the first picture with my husband. But I’m not the same mask for the same maker. It’s cut off Kimora over in Kyoto, which makes men’s kimono. This was an experiment, man. Yeah, this was an experiment. So I’m very, very picky about all the things in my house. To be keep it you know, try to be picky. Right, you if you’re gonna spend one third of your day in a location, you want it to be nice. So I didn’t just want any new throw, I wanted this particular color. And the backstory of that is, my husband bought me a pillowcase, which is awful color, fuchsia, and my entire bed was beige until that time. But you know, now I have this one, this this purple pillow case, I didn’t want to make the rest of it fuchsia because they don’t like that color, particularly. But the only way to tie it to the brown and with the fuchsia was to have a very dark colored purple Hellcat. Right. And it’s the same protocol kit, I think that you might have behind you with your with your umbrellas. fabric. I didn’t have that color. I looked everywhere for it.

And they do not have it. It’s not possible doesn’t exist. And I didn’t want anything else. So I was telling this to Mankato can medical cover over and Kyoto. And she reminds me that you know, Kimono or you can dye Kimono to any color you want. Right? Like, yep. What if we got a really nice quality towel kit. And we try to do it, make it exactly the right shape you want. And like, ah, let’s do it. And so that’s what I did. I just, I bought this really great. It’s even body towel.

So it’s made it over in Japan. Very nice quality, very soft, it’s poofy. And it was a pink one. And I sent it over to Kyoto. And so she sent me back all these like little, these little tags, swatches of color. And I chose my favorite color from that from all those purples in there. And she matched it so well. And it was funny because he kept on sending me all this little mess just like, Oh, I don’t know if I can do it. And oh, the material I’ve never dyed towel before. And maybe it won’t hold the color and maybe it will, it will bleed and this and that she was sending me this message, I must have had maybe 15 messages of her saying I don’t know if I can do this. And then she sends back the talent. She’s like, I don’t know, I’ve watched it like four or five times and there isn’t any lead anymore, but maybe it’ll wait in the future and to all panicky but it is so perfect. I mean the color, it’s it’s perfect, there is no bleeding, there’s no running off all of my hands. Like she said that would be it was amazing.

So I’m kind of hoping in the future that this will be something more available, because instead of buying their standard version like bedcovers, I mean you have the option to make your house into absolutely anything you want it to be. So that was a wonderful opportunity to use this this very unique identity to this very special this cultural, cultural skill within which which otherwise would have only been applied to self. So no, I just love it. Just amazing for me.

JJ Walsh 49:45
Yeah, no, that’s fantastic. I love it too. I’m I’m a big fan and I’m sure you are as well as of Indigo dye of natural using persimmons to dye clothing. I would love to see More dye shops, you know, pop up around Japan, and people can take things that have, you know, worn colors, or it’s just not a color that fits their lifestyle and get it newly dyed in it, you can extend the life of the product, which is very sustainable and wonderful and beautiful, right?

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 50:21
Let me go back to Kimono again, but you could go to any Kimono shop, and they will know what that is shop, because that’s part of it. So people will go in there to get their tea. If you get a tea ceremony tomorrow, it has to be one color. So you go in there, and you say a new tea ceremony tomorrow. And then one of the nice things about them is that even after you use them, let’s say you have a light pink one, that’s what a lot of people do. Look at the light pink one, you go 10 years go by it gets kind of old and ratty looking because you’ve been you spilling tea all over it, and they died dark red, and then it gets a little bitty bit a little older, and then no 10 years go by and then you get it dark, that dark purple. So they intend to keep on reading these things so that you can sustain the life of the material. So anytime they want something guy and go to a Kimono shop, he’s not just for buying big booty so that you can buy anything and do anything there.

JJ Walsh 51:12
So cool. I’m gonna go to my local kimoto shop, you’ve inspired me. Let’s let’s transition a little bit. We’ve got nine minutes, I want to talk about what gushy and you had so many beautiful wagashi this one I really love. And it’s supposed to look like a fallen yellow gingko leaf, which we see the beautiful gingko trees around right now on a wet stone. I love the concept of it like so simple, but so beautiful.

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 51:48
It was this wonderful thing I thought this over and I forgot about this. But I just walked into the Wagashi shop, I was going to buy some dorayaki for my husband loves dorayaki. So these wonderful dorayaki. And that I buy over there and I just looked over there to see the different kind of numb unless you they have and every tea shop will have their own namanga shoe. They only make them there. But the concepts themselves, they’re free, they’re free use concepts. So since you can see there’s that gingko leaf that’s because this particular season, you will only get gingko leaves during this particular season. And so everyone uses the same motif, but they do it in their own way. And so this one is a mossy stone after rain with a wet gingko leaf on top of it. And that was just so remarkably beautiful. I mean, inside was just wonderful. We had civil on on the inside of delicious, but it really catches your eye each and every one of these things. They’re very unique to the season. So beautiful.

JJ Walsh 52:49
Yeah, gorgeous. And I’m showing one of your pictures at our local shrine where you can see the beautiful gingko tree and all the gingko leaves in the water. So this is such a wonderful time to see this beautiful autumn view. And then to have it followed up in tea ceremony or when you take a tea break and have the beautiful word gushy and mocha, she is always almost always vegan, so anybody can eat it. And the gushy shops are very traditional, small, usually family run shops that really need our support to keep going. So it’s it’s wonderful thing to promote to visitors and residents alike.

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 53:32
It’s really fun if you go and what I like about Google Maps right now is that these days, if you live in Japan, you can just wherever you are, you can put in something like whether she right you put in whether she into the search bar in Google Maps, and they’ll show you three or four of those teensy shells, which are near your location. So even where I live right now, there are three little tiny mom and pop shops with around the nearby my house which I could go for a walk. And there’s a couple that I have to go by bike.

But if you if I run out of bagasse, right before somebody comes to visit, like oh, then I can just run outside to go to this little tiny shop and get some things just just perfectly for that. But yeah, tea ceremony. I mean, the one thing that it mentioned this before, but it’s all about appreciating this season and your surroundings that you’re in now. So instead of thinking, Oh, I wish I was over there and like in whatever not and try to try to I wish I was in Kyoto Of course I do wish I was in. But we chose in Kyoto and I wish I had this, this and this, you learned to appreciate the things that you’d have at hand instead. So instead of imitating the way it should be in your mind, you imitate what you haven’t had appreciated. Use it so that it looks as beautiful as you can get. Yeah, that’s the whole point of it. So that’s why you have to appreciate the gingko leaf awaking gold leaf on the on the stone. I mean, that’s something That’s beautiful and should be appreciated for what it is. It’s small it is, you know,

JJ Walsh 55:04
it’s gorgeous. It’s like mindfulness in your food. You know, not just not just mindfulness while you eat, but actually looking at it is kind of a practice of mindfulness. I love that. Taking daily walks, helps a lot, you’re gonna notice these tiny little things, little corners of, you know, Chip, concrete, little flower coming out from the side of the road, those things are important, and they’re delicate there, they should be appreciated. For sure. I also noticed that you’ve been making Tsukemono pickles, can you walk us through the process a little bit?

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 55:47
Well, I do that every day. It’s better. Well, we have that was a, what you do is there’s hmm.. Let me think… terminology. But um, you have a new cup, if you go to any good old jinja, you can get this at a grocery store. You can get this so many places, you can get Nuka. But Nuka is this is this mixture of it’s soybeans, it’s brown soy beans, mixed in with all these other different spices and fermentation little you fermented, they have a KIN inside of there as well to, the easiest thing for you to do, if you want to start this is to go to a place and buy premade nuca. You don’t have to start from zero, because that is kind of a complicated process. I did outline that once about a year ago, on my Twitter,

I made a little infographic about it. But you could just go by Nuka. And then you can kind of match it up to your lifestyle. But you can inside it up, you can put almost any vegetable and even some fruits, whatever you like, when you match the Nuka to your home, whatever you feel like it really salty, or if you like it spicy, or whatever it is, you can kind of adjust the flavor to it. But usually the the vegetables buried in the Nuka for as long as you particularly want, you can leave it there overnight, it’ll get really, really salty. Or you could leave it there just for a couple hours just give it a real gentle tinge of salt.

But the only thing that you have to be careful of with Nuka is that you have to mix it every day. So once you make a new Idaho, which is what it’s called, you have to go through there and mix it up with your hand every single day. And it should be done with your hands. So don’t put on make sure you don’t have any cream or anything like that. But put your hand in there and come and mix it in there and get the air in there. Make sure there’s nothing. It’s not like flying all over the place where it’s better than anywhere because it will mold if you don’t if you don’t do that.

So it’s very important to go through that every day, you’re going to get very nice skin as a result. So it’s definitely worth doing it. But you can at least in your house. Yeah, you can have any kind you want. And people if you really enjoy somebody else’s new car, or if you go to your house and you’re like, I really like these come along and we’re like oh, it’s just a it’s made at home, then you can ask them for a portion of their new car. And then you can mix that in with your own new car as well to to kind of spread the flavor on they’re very versatile.

JJ Walsh 58:15
It’s almost like a sourdough starter is something that kind of same concept. Right? I found. Yeah, I found the Wagashi that looks like Christmas. That you know stems from that really cute little shop that you find. So it’s the next the next season Christmas season. You can also find traditional Japanese gashi that has kind of a Christmas theme. I love that. It’s coming. It’s coming pretty soon. Only another month and the other will be right there before the Christmas shopping. Yeah, my I have my wall. It doesn’t matter. But I’ve

I’ve bought beautiful masks for everyone. I found loads of different masks with Japanese themes at different shops around Japan. And so along with other small gifts, I mean sending things are really difficult right now internationally because of the slow post and Coronavirus problems. But definitely sending beautiful mass from Japan is such a nice, nice choice this season, I think. Yeah, they’re inexpensive as well, too. They’re all generally they’re handmade. And they’re made by local people with their own ideas and concepts.

And I realized that they had masks that they have, for example in the United States as opposed to other places. They’re, they’re different than the ones that they have here. So they’ll be appreciated abroad. Yeah. And I of course if you’re in a very dangerous area, having one of those high quality and for masks or you know the ones that the medical officers use that that’s probably a good idea. But for the day to day, use the reuse. The cotton or the silk masks that you can find all over Japan is such a nice choice. And it seems like we have a really great variety here in Japan compared to other countries. So it’s always a nice choice any other Christmas items you’re looking at from Japan to send?

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 1:00:18
Oh, I’m not at the moment. I will though as soon as because it’s very seasonal, of course. And they do. Yes, they do have some places will have some Christmases are playing right now. But they’re all the things that I use in my daily life like the 10th degree, or like Kimono or like a lager sheet. That’s it’s very seasonal. So as soon as I get in December, you’re going to see a lot of that all over the Twitter feed. Probably Instagram, too. Yeah.

JJ Walsh 1:00:46
Wonderful. I look forward to it. And thank you so much, once again for joining us and
sharing your wonderful deep insights about Japanese culture.

Riki Ohkanda (PaprikaGirl) 1:00:56 Thank you very much for having me.

JJ Walsh 1:00:58
Thank you. Maybe we can have you again next season in spring as we’re coming into spring. You can tell us new Kimono fashion and things that are changing and tea ceremony land. Nobody. Wonderful. Thank you everybody for joining. And join us again tomorrow. Actually, tomorrow is another Kimono theme.

We have Stasia Matsumura who is a Kimono stylist and she’s a photographer for InKimono in Tokyo so we will continue the Kimono theme into tomorrow. Thank you so much paprika girl, everybody. Have a good day. Take care of yourselves. Bye