Tuesday, December 25, 2012

our daily rice

There is a simple hymn I learned in Sunday School, which we always sang before meals. It is generally known as the Hibi-no-kate song, and it serves as the equivalent of what, in English, is known as "saying grace." Roughly translated, the words mean: Praise to the God of Grace who provides our daily food.

I was recently asked by a childhood friend to illustrate this song in etegami style, so that it could be printed on dishes and place mats to be given as Christmas presents this year for her friends and family. These are the two designs I came up with. They depict the simplest of Japanese meals--the rice ball.

In Japanese tradition and folklore, the rice ball represents some very basic and precious things. Sometimes it represents a mother's love, other times it represents the difference between starving to death and life sustained for another day. It is the food that we carry with us when we travel.  It provides not only for our own need, but can, and often will, be shared with a hungry stranger. To me, it represents God's day-by-day, unfailing provision of what sustains my life. A sandwich wouldn't convey quite the same significance to me, but maybe it would to you. Or, perhaps there is another food that has the same meaning for you?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

illustration friday (glow)

How happy is the little stone
That rambles in the road alone,
And doesn't care about careers,
And exigencies never fears;
Whose coat of elemental brown
A passing universe put on;
And independent as the sun,
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute decree
In casual simplicity.

by Emily Dickinson

merry christmas

From my heart to yours.

Monday, December 17, 2012

a little birdie told me

If you enjoy the etegami images on my blog, you may be interested in purchasing an original work. The originals are hand-painted on thick, fuzzy, washi cards 10 cm x 15 cm (4 " x 6 ") in size, and the colors often have a shimmer that doesn’t show up well in the scanned images. They can be bought at already low prices from my Etsy shop, and until December 31 you can get them even more cheaply by typing in the code YAYYAYYAY15OFF at checkout for a 15% discount. Whether you are interested in a purchase or not, go ahead and take a look. They ship directly from my workshop in Japan.

Friday, December 14, 2012

illustration friday (snow)

It was almost exactly a year ago that I was commissioned to make an etegami to illustrate the name of a newborn child whose parents had named her "Fuuka." This is an alternate reading for the Japanese characters which are usually read kaza-hana or kaza-bana (literally: "wind flowers"), and are a poetic reference to snowflakes that dance in the wind on a sunny day. What a lovely name for a little girl.

Here is another favorite snow-themed etegami of mine. This one is an etegami-collage illustrating a poem by Misuzu Kaneko (1903 – 1930), the author of many delightful poems and songs for children.

And finally, an etegami painted years ago-- my very first attempt to illustrate snow. The scanned image isn't able to catch the very pale blue of snow perched on top of some Mountain Ash berries. Snow has become a frequent model for my etegami since those early days. After all, I live in what is officially rated the snowiest major city on earth, and we are surrounded by the stuff in its many forms for 6 months of every year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

etegami newsletter- january issue

The January 2013 issue of the Etegami Fun Club newsletter will be going out to subscribers in just a few more days. Keep your eyes peeled for it in your e-mailbox and let me know if it doesn't show up. If you haven't yet signed up for it but would like to, it's free and easy-as-pie to do so. Just send your name and email address to dosankodebbie (at) yahoo (dot) co (dot) jp The newsletter is a pdf file, usually only two pages long, but jam-packed with news and creative ideas of interest to etegami fans. The up-coming issue has an extra page to better display the many delightful submissions to the snake-themed etegami call.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

illustration friday (explore)

I cut a head of cabbage right through the center one day and became fascinated by the maze-like interior. I imagined myself as a worm trying to find my way through the maze (never mind that a real worm would just chew a path wherever it wanted to go).  It's an old etegami, and nothing more than a careless scribble, but it's one of those pieces that I will probably always remember, because it holds several layers of meaning for me (no pun intended).

Monday, December 3, 2012


I am constantly burning my mouth and getting mouth blisters from hot food. Don't tell me it's a matter of training my mouth, because I won't believe you. And if you tell me it's an issue of improving my character (i.e. that I need to think before I bite), I will believe you, but it won't make any difference, because I've tried to change, and I know by now that I never will.  The writing on this etegami says "Neko-jita" (cat's tongue). It's a phrase used when describing a person who is extremely sensitive to hot liquids or foods. I guess I'm just a cat person.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

illustration friday (stretch)

Sometimes just one paragraph, or even one line, from a book or poem will inspire an etegami. This etegami collage was inspired by the following lines from the poem In the Home Stretch by Robert Frost. The rest of the poem hasn't grabbed me yet, but maybe it will someday:

When there was no more lantern in the kitchen,
The fire got out through crannies in the stove
And danced in yellow wrigglers on the ceiling,
As much at home as if they’d always danced there.