The past weekend was good, but I bailed on the second social event scheduled on Sunday because of a sore throat. Saturday was interesting. I met Paula and one of her friends Ron for the Akiu Art showcase for 7 craftsmen that live in Sendai. (I'm in their social media publicity now.) Paula knows the man that makes the Edo-style tops, and runs a website about his work. How she came to be involved with it, and the government supported artisan colony of septuagenarians, was a very random twist of internet searching, responsiveness to a stranger living in Tennessee, and her commitment to Japanese culture.
The woodwork was gorgeous, and I am ready to visit Sendai to see the actual workshops. Happily, a coworker's son turned 6 the Friday before, so I bought him a top for a birthday present. My friend sent me a video of him playing with it and thanking me; it was very cute. ...I have not told her I also got 2 tops for myself.
After that, we were pointed to a big shrine that was getting ready for Setsubun. Officially it's this Wednesday, and it has to be one of my favorite holidays here: Dads (or somebody) dress up like ogres with demon masks (oni), and tiny children throw soybeans at him while chanting "Demons out! Luck in!" Families decorate with holly and/or sardine heads.
It's supposed to mark the day before spring starts, but it sure doesn't feel like it.