Japan’s Ichigo Ichie

Living in the Moment

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Summer is always a time to relax and make time for ourselves, something that’s especially important now. While you’re enjoying sunny days, the Japanese philosophy of ichigo ichie (living in the moment) may be just what you need to regenerate.

A phrase that might sound silly the first time you hear it, ichigo ichie is a tenet of Zen Buddhism that dates to 16th century Japanese tea ceremonies.

It calls on us to use all our senses to take in and celebrate the beauty of the moment, here and now. Instead of fixating on the past or worrying about the future, it is a chance to get rid of our negative emotions and feelings of fear, sadness, or anger.

Performing the tea ceremony’s intricate rituals of preparing and drinking the tea causes us to focus intently on each step of the process and the environment itself, being fully engaged in the moment and finding harmony and tranquility.

Ichigo ichie also heightens our awareness of the fleeting nature of time and the need to embrace the things and experiences that are meaningful to us before they are gone – such as the famed Japanese cherry blossoms that only bloom for a short time in the spring.

When Japanese greet each other by saying “ichigo ichie” it tells you that the encounter is unique and special and should not be allowed to slip away. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be savored.

By employing ichigo ichie and savoring the moment we can enhance our awareness and joy of life and create harmonious interactions with others.

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Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at surfwriter.girls@gmail.com Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.

Kimonos Showcase Olympics

Japan’s Wearable Art at Games in 2021 

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

The kimono, the national garment of Japan, has been worn by emperors and samurai, Buddhist monks and geishas, the rich and the poor.

Now, in preparation for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics Games, through its KIMONO Project, Japan has created 213 handmade kimonos inspired by each participating country’s culture, history, and scenery.

Valued at 1 million yen each – $9,000 – the handmade kimonos are each made by leading kimono artists using traditional handwoven and dyeing techniques.

Whether for everyday activities or to celebrate a wedding, formal occasion, festival – or even the Olympics – kimonos, with their different patterns and designs, are woven into the fabric of Japanese life.

A quintessential part of Japanese culture, the kimono was introduced into Japan’s Imperial Court by envoys from China’s Tang Dynasty during the Kofun period (300-538 AD).

Over the following years the original Chinese designs were supplanted by Japanese motifs often representing nature and the seasons. Made from the richest silks and finest cottons, kimonos are known for their deep colors and intricate patterns.

One of the most popular motifs is the Three Friends of Winter pattern depicting images of pines, plums. and bamboo – plants that do not wither in the harsh winter days. The pattern represents prosperity.

Kimonos with cherry blossom motifs are often worn just before Japan’s famous cherry blossoms bloom in the spring. But, only until the blossoms start to bloom because it’s considered unlucky to try to compete with the real blossoms.

Depending on the fabric and method of construction, kimonos can range in price from a modest amount to upward of $50,000.

Among the most beautiful kimonos are those made by Chiso, the iconic Kyoto kimono house established in 1555 that created the KIMONO Project Olympics kimono representing Japan. Chiso’s hand-crafted kimonos can take up to eighteen months to make and involve a production process of 20 to 25 steps.

Wrapping the wearer in folds of timeless fashion, the kimono truly is Japan’s wearable art…and the perfect showcase for the beauty and strength of the Olympics Games – games that for the first time will include surfing, which, like the kimono, has a long and storied tradition.

Let the games begin!

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Nook, Nook, Who’s There?

Finding Your Cozy Spot

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

With people spending so much time at home there’s been an increased demand for private space. A cozy nook to call your own.

Today’s open concept floor plans, while great for family time and parties, often don’t provide the solitude people are looking for. A place of one’s own to work, create, read, relax, to dream.

With some ingenuity, though, you can find cozy spaces in surprising places. In window seats, alcoves, room corners, underneath stairways, in attics, and other spots.

Your nook retreat with comfy chair and coffee table or writing desk and computer is waiting for you to discover.

Nook, Nook, I’m Here!

Everyone needs a nook.

A place to read a book,

Curl up warm and snug,

Give the cat a hug,

Have some snacks,

Be creative or just relax,

Listen to music, send a text,

Dream about the adventures you’ll have next.

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Beautiful Beaches, Exotic Adventure Escapes

 Stunning Photography Books Take You Away!

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

If you’re longing for a beach getaway or surfing adventure, the next best thing to being there is seeing these beautiful beaches captured by the camera lens of world-renowned photographers.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti found these stunning coffee table photography books to fulfill your travel dreams. Whether it’s a seaside la dolce vida or remote wilderness trek, you’ll find it in these extraordinary books.

Italy, by Gray Malin, highlights the playfulness of Italy’s colorful coast, putting you in the mood to spread out a beach towel and sip a limoncello. Like his earlier book Beaches, it treats you to dramatic bird’s-eye views taken from a helicopter of this storied beach playground for the glitterati.

The Life and Love of the Sea, by Lewis Blackwell, is a breathtaking tour of the ocean and its inhabitants from manta rays and whales to little-known sea life on the ocean floor.

Coastal California: The Pacific Coast Highway and Beyond, by Jack Rajs, is a pictorial ode to California’s iconic highway where each new twist or turn in the road makes your jaw drop from the visual splendor of this coastal gift from Nature.

Waves, by Steve Hawk, the former editor of Surfer magazine, looks at the beauty and mesmerizing power of waves around the world, combining insights about the poetry and science of waves with memorable imagery.

Harry Gruyaert: Edges, by Harry Gruyaert explores the “edges” or junctions where man connects with the world’s waterways and oceans – from the North Sea of Ireland to Israel’s Dead Sea, bustling coastal towns and idyllic nature preserves.

High Tide: A Surf Odyssey, by Chris Burkhard, lives up to the name “odyssey,” taking you to the most remote and frozen spots imaginable to put your board in the water. An homage to extreme surfing, it’s a journey to the ends of the earth, pitting man against the elements.

And, if you want to bring the beach to you, Surfside Style: Relaxed Living by the Coast, by Fifi O’Neil, is the perfect guide for turning your home into a seaside retreat…no matter how far inland it may be.

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Martha Stewart Living – 30th Anniversary

Magazine Celebrates the Good Life!

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Martha Stewart Living magazine is celebrating its 30th anniversary doing what it does best – reminding us of the joys of home and the things we can do to make our lives prettier, healthier and happier.

SurfWriter Girls think it’s fitting that the magazine’s milestone anniversary comes during the holidays because Martha Stewart is all about celebrating the special bonds that bring family and friends together…even when we are apart.

Even if you don’t grow your own vegetables, get honey straight from the hive, cook from scratch, or have much in the way of homemaking skills, you can still enjoy seeing how the amazing Martha Stewart puts everything together with ease.

An artist of the home, Stewart has turned her domestic skills into a billion-dollar business empire of books, magazines, TV shows, brands, and more.

A former fashion model and stockbroker, who graduated from Barnard College with majors in history and architectural history, there doesn’t seem to be anything that Martha (as everyone calls her) can’t do.

SurfWriter Girl Patti got a chance to talk to her when Patti was writing a business book on entrepreneurship and remembers how energetic and enthusiastic Martha was.

Not one to be idle, Martha always has something on her plate – pun intended! And, when you read her magazine, you feel like she’s your best friend and is talking directly to you.

Now, as Martha Stewart Living magazine enters its next decade, Martha is poised to help us make the best meals, turn our homes into comforting and inviting sanctuaries, and discover the beauty around us that comes from nature and our own efforts.

Following Martha’s example, to make life bloom, we just need to plant the seeds and till the soil.

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Solitary Pursuits

Stimulating Our Creativity

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

With much of the world staying at home now and engaged in solitary pursuits, an artistic renaissance is blooming as we explore the different ways to express ourselves.

People are passing the time developing their creative abilities. Writing, painting, making videos, playing musical instruments, perfecting culinary skills, gardening.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) recognized the value of solitude. He wrote his introspective American classic Walden in 1854 while living alone in a log cabin on Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts.

Thoreau moved into the remote cabin where he spent two years so he could be closer to nature and explore his own thoughts: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach.”

Reflecting on the benefits of solitude and the healing powers of nature, he wrote, “The only medicine I need is a draught of morning air.”

Many others have channeled solitude into creativity, from poet Emily Dickinson to scientists Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein – who literally changed the world with their theories of gravity and relativity.

– Albert Einstein

Dickinson (1830-1886), an avid gardener, spent much of her life alone tending her plants…and writing poems – close to 1,800 in all, making her one of America’s premiere poets.

Now, while spending time at home, people are nurturing creative talents they didn’t even know they had…and opening themselves to new discoveries each day.

Even everyone’s favorite dog Snoopy is unleashing his inner artist!

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Audubon 2020 Photography Awards

Photographs “Display the Magic of Avian Life”

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

It’s the eleventh year for the National Audubon Society’s Annual Photography Competition. In announcing the winners, the Society said the photographs were “spectacular, artistic and playful” and that they “display the magic of avian life.”

Including both amateur and professional photographers, there were more than 6,000 submissions from across the United States and Canada.

With so many North American birds at risk of extinction from climate change and other environmental hazards, the Society hopes that the contest draws attention to the different bird species and the need to protect them.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel salute all the photographers who waited, watched, and clicked the shutter at just the right moment to showcase each bird.

Taking viewers into the birds’ domains and everyday lives, each photograph truly captures the wonder and magic of the birds.

Joanna Lentini won the Grand Prize with her underwater photograph of a Double-crested Cormorant diving beneath the sea.

It was taken in Los Islotes, Mexico. Lentini, who was in the Bay of La Paz observing “playful sea lions,” redirected her attention to the nearby cormorants. She says, “I watched in awe as the cormorants plunged beak first into the sea to snap at the sardines swimming by.”

Now, at a time when people are looking for something to cheer about, it’s uplifting to see these magnificent birds take flight.

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Rock it to me!

Spreading Joy in the Neighborhood

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

In neighborhoods all around us “The game is afoot,” as Sherlock Holmes would say, to find hidden treasures. Not gold or diamonds, but rocks of a different sort – painted rocks hidden by neighbors to bring smiles to the people who find them.

In a movement that has spread throughout the U.S. and other countries, people are decorating rocks with uplifting messages, ladybugs, flowers, butterflies, and other images and leaving them along pathways for their neighbors to find, keep, or re-hide for someone else to find.

At a time when we all need cheering up, it’s a safe, social-distancing way to share a smile with someone you don’t even know.

Kids, families, seniors – anyone out walking – are finding these special, handmade treasures and knowing that someone went to the effort to leave them there.

SurfWriter Girl Patti even found a rock – this blue bug that was looking up at her from the base of a bush. Written on the back of it is the word “Joy.”

Maybe there’s a rock waiting for you to find. Or why not channel your artistic abilities and leave a magical rock (or a few) for your neighbors to find?

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Pan American Airways

It Expanded Our Horizons

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Today, when we’re all staying close to home and airlines are struggling, it’s hard to imagine the early 1930s when the airlines were just beginning to circle the globe and travel opportunities seemed endless.

Prior to the dawn of commercial air travel, it took weeks to travel across the Atlantic from New York to Europe by ocean liner. That all changed when Pan American Airways came on the scene, reducing the travel time to hours.

From 1927 – 1991 Pan American Airways was America’s largest air carrier, taking travelers on around the world adventures to far-flung, exotic spots.

It started out delivering mail between Key West, Florida, and Havana, Cuba.

The airline soon began offering passenger service and expanded its route to include destinations in Central and South America, Europe, Asia, and points beyond.

Propelled with backing from shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney and Union Pacific Railroad heir and governor of New York Averell Harriman, the sky was the limit. Famed aviator Charles Lindbergh helped negotiate foreign landing rights.

In the early years its Pan Am Clipper planes – borrowing their name from 19th century clipper sailing ships – were the only passenger planes capable of intercontinental travel…and tickets cost up to $20,000.  World leaders, businesspeople, and adventurers alike would come aboard and put themselves into the hands of “the world’s most experienced airline.”

With colorful ads and billboards showing exotic locales, eventually the entire world was just a flight away and everyday travelers could go.

SurfWriter Girl Sunny Magdaug knew Brad Dressler, Pan Am’s top public relations executive, who was her mentor, and learned how he helped shape the iconic airline’s image from the 1960s – 1980s with stories and ads conveying glamor and adventure.

Even though Pan Am ceased operations, it paved the way for the airlines who now face today’s challenges. When times are better, SurfWriter Girls hope that airlines can connect the world again and soar to new heights.

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Cooking The Washoku Way

Japanese Honor Nature and Harmony

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 With hearth and home so important now, this is a good time to explore the Japanese cooking style of “washoku.”

This traditional method of Japanese cooking gets its name from the Japanese kanji character 和食 (wa), which means Japan and harmony, and 食 (shoku), the word for food.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel were drawn to washoku because of its harmonious approach to cooking that satisfies all the senses. The food is beautiful to look at and delicious to eat, in tune with the seasons.

Included on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, washoku is a study in contrasts with food that is both simple and sophisticated.

A key aspect of washoku is its respect for nature and the four seasons. Food is prepared during its peak season (its “shun”) and cooked in a way that best showcases its flavors.

Spring is the time for asparagus, cabbage, eggplant, snow peas, shitake mushrooms and sanshou (prickly, green berries). Bonito tuna, cuttlefish and rock fish are plentiful then.

Summertime is the shun for edamame soybean pods, kyuri cucumber, and Japanese ginger. Fruits include cherries, peaches and watermelon (often blended into Kakigori, a shaved ice concoction). Eel, flounder, sea urchin and sea bass are in season.

In autumn, during harvest season, some of the fruits and vegetables in their shun include the Asian pear, Matsutake mushroom, persimmon, sweet potato, Japanese pumpkin, sudachi citrus fruit, and kuri chestnut.

The first rice of the harvest, shinmai (or “new rice”), is a softer and sweeter rice that’s greatly anticipated and only available from September to December.

In winter, yuzu, a citrus fruit like an orange, and strawberries come into their own, along with daikon, a winter radish. This is also the season for fugu, the Japanese blowfish that’s both highly desirable and potentially deadly, if improperly prepared.

Wagashi, Japanese traditional sweets often served with green tea, utilize seasonal ingredients, too, especially sweet bean paste.

Whatever the season or the dish, washoku always strives to embody the concept of “omotenashi” – hospitality – making friends and family feel warm and welcome. Things that are more important than ever now.

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