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Day Trip: Minowa

Life has a funny way of bringing the right people into your life right when you need them.

Somewhere in the craziness that was 2020 I met a group of women, and we all became fast friends. I made onigiri for the homeless with some of them, played mahjong with others, and in between took day trips, hiked mountains, shopped, travelled, dined, and celebrated together. We still do!

Yesterday we took a special excursion to Minowa. Lead by our fearless leader Fumie (aka our cultural sensei) we met in the morning and took a special tram to enjoy the blooming roses.

Umbrellas overhead we walked through parks and took in the various flora, savoring the traditional as well as the more unique blooms along the way. Enjoy some of my favorite snapshots below!

We explored for several hours, the rain never any bother, but eventually we made our way to Kita-Senju to a delightful temari ball cafe.

Temari (手まり) balls are a folk art form and Japanese craft, originating in China and introduced to Japan around the 7th century. Historically, these gorgeous balls were used in handball games. Mothers would make them then hand them to their children to keep them busy.

Can you believe it? Temari used to b constructed from the remnants of old kimono. Pieces of silk fabric would be wadded up to form a ball, and then the wad would be wrapped with strips of fabric. As time passed, traditional temari became an art, with the stitching becoming more decorative and detailed, until the balls displayed intricate embroidery. With the introduction of rubber to Japan, the balls went from toys to art objects, although mothers still make them for their children. Temari became an art and craft of the Japanese upper class and aristocracy, and noble women competed in creating increasingly beautiful and intricate objects.

Today many people take classes to make temari balls-including several of my friends! This made the lunch the extra special. The food was amazing, but it was the crafts-the amazing temari balls made into all sorts of lovely items-that impressed us. As you can see below, we especially appreciated the temari ball headband, an item I jokingly said I was going to bring home to my Kentucky Derby friends to wear.

I was tickled to bits! We all were. As one friend said, she felt like she was a college girl again with all the giggling and cheering. It was such a fun, impromptu photo session. I bet no one expected THAT from temari balls!

Too much fun! But with these ladies...

It's always a ball!

Thank you ladies and thank you Fumie! It's a pleasure to spend any time with y'all, but with several of us preparing to move in the next year I can't help but find each outing a little more precious than the last.

I'm so glad we stopped to smell the roses together.

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