Search

Montgolfiere Weekly

An exploration of culture in its many forms

Travelling in Japan: Kyoto

By Patricia Lightfoot

Here is the third instalment of a brief tour of Japan presented through the Japanese words I practised each day.
In Kyoto, we stayed in a two-hundred-year-old wooden building that had been operated as an inn by the current owner’s family for over a century. The ground floor is now a whisky bar with Belle Époque–style stained glass. The upper floor has traditional Japanese rooms with rice-paper screens, tatami mats and cushions to sit on, but there is also an Edwardian sitting room with a wooden floor and armchairs. Continue reading “Travelling in Japan: Kyoto”

Travelling in Japan: Nikko

By Patricia Lightfoot

Here is the second instalment of a brief tour of Japan presented through the Japanese words I practised each day.
The train from Tokyo took some time to leave the greater metropolitan area, which was not surprising as some 38 million people live there, and move into a landscape of villages, small holdings, rice fields, trees with no leaves but bearing orange fruit, a few large houses with gardens of manicured trees, and distant mountains. Continue reading “Travelling in Japan: Nikko”

Travelling in Japan: Tokyo

By Patricia Lightfoot

Based on a recent visit, these are my impressions of Japan. It’s a Western country, so a lot is familiar, but there are many fascinating differences. I was struck by the great contrast between the skyscrapers and neon signs of downtown districts and the older neighbourhoods. Walking into our neighbourhood in Asakusa in Tokyo was like entering a film set: narrow streets were lined with wooden houses that are hundreds of years old, often where the same family has lived or run a business for many generations. In these areas, businesses can be hard to find, because they can be very discreet. Continue reading “Travelling in Japan: Tokyo”

Under the spell of Malcolm Lowry

by Carolyn Brown

Day of the Dead — when the boundary between the land of the living and that of the dead becomes porous — could not be stamped out of Mexican culture by Spanish missionaries and was instead uneasily grafted onto All Souls’ Day. Over the succeeding four centuries, its primordial appeal has never flagged. “We Mexicans have a weird relationship with death,” explained one of my students as we drove by a cemetery festooned with marigolds and tables of offerings — ofrendas — for the festival. “We laugh at it, and we hate it.” Continue reading “Under the spell of Malcolm Lowry”

Playing with robots

By Patricia Lightfoot

I have been thinking about Nora Ephron’s account of her obsession with Scrabble Blitz, “a four-minute version of Scrabble solitaire,” which left her with “all the symptoms of terminal attention deficit disorder,” as she dreamed about scrabble, fell asleep memorizing two- and three-letter words and tuned out of conversations. I am now beguiled by the Bridge Base Online (BBO) app. I play the anonymous form of the game with three robots. My symptoms are not as pronounced as Ephron’s, but there’s no telling how far this might go. Continue reading “Playing with robots”

Schweine Museum

By Amy Flora

Walking up the road in the 30-degree heat I wondered, “How will I know exactly where the museum is?” Fortunately, an enormous pink pig–themed school bus appeared on the horizon: the first of many surprises. Continue reading “Schweine Museum”

The China trip continues

By Anita Hamilton

After we left Chenjiagou, we took the train to Luoyang in order to see the Longmen Grottoes — over 2,000 artificial caves and tens of thousands of carved Buddha sculptures (from bunches in finger size to several metres high) in the side of a hill. This, our first train ride in China, started on a stressful note as we found that on our tickets (which we hadn’t inspected closely in advance) we were seated in two separate carriages on the train, four carriages apart. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we hadn’t had all our suitcases (all way too heavy) to lug around with us. Continue reading “The China trip continues”

Tai chi boot camp

By Anita Hamilton

We’re back from yet another trip — this time to a tai chi boot camp. Seems that we’ve repeatedly changed plans from travelling to Cambodia and Viet Nam for years now and this year has been no exception. I’m starting to doubt we’ll ever get there ….

After taking up tai chi at the beginning of 2016 here in Germany, we decided to study it intensely for a month in China at the same school where our teacher studied. Intensely meant six days a week, six hours a day. When we left, we’d reached the point of basically knowing the 75 moves of the old-style Chen tai chi, first form; however, we were not yet able to do the whole routine all on our own at that point. Continue reading “Tai chi boot camp”

Lost books

By Patricia Lightfoot

When I say “lost books,” I don’t mean books that I once owned and can no longer find. I mean books that I once heard being read aloud, or read myself and returned to their rightful owner, but have no way of finding, having long forgotten the title and the name of the author. I remain sadly tantalized by fragments of barely remembered text and images. Continue reading “Lost books”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑