Living on the floor

First it was hard for me to take off my shoes every time I entered a Japanese house or private space. Now I’ve become so used to it that when I’m back in Spain I tend to take off my shoes even in the cases I’m not supposed to.

My subconscious tells me that it is not good to walk into a house with my dirty shoes. Even if the shoes are not really dirty, the fact that the shoes have been “outside” makes them “dirty”, or “not-pure” enough to touch the floor of an interior place.

I’ve found that living on the floor has its advantages. I love that it makes even tiny houses look wider when you are inside. By forcing you to be on the floor you tend to have less furniture. If I really need furniture I try to buy “low” ones (low chairs, low tables etc), so I have good access to them even when I’m sitting on the floor. It also makes everything look like much less cluttered than when we fill our rooms with “high” bookshelfs/beds/kitchen-tables like we do in western houses.

Take off your shoes, sit on the floor next to a window filled with sunlight, read a book while drinking a tea.

 

tatami

Urban Mini Temple

When strolling around the streets of Japanese cities one of the things that I enjoy the most is bumping into small Buddhist temples or Shintoist mini shrines. Sometimes they are so well integrated into the architecture of the buildings that you might not even notice them when passing by.

mini temple

mini temple

Eggplants and Cucumbers in Obon

A couple of weeks ago, from the 13th to the 15th of August, Obon お盆 was celebrated around Japan. Matsuris took place all around the country to honor the spirits of the people’s ancestors.

One of the traditions during Obon consists on introducing wood sticks into eggplants and cucumbers like shown on the pictures below. Cucumbers represent horses and eggplants represent cows. Legend has it that the spirits of one’s ancestors travel to our world riding on cows and horses. In the following pictures that I took in a coffee shop in Kichijoji there’s no incense, but usually there should be. The smoke of the incense marks the way from our world to the spirits world so they don’t get lost when coming and going back.

obon

obon