Thursday, September 9, 2010

Matruschka Furin

I covet this furin bell shaped like a matruschka doll -- two of my favorite things merged into one. A few years ago, matruschka frenzy struck Japan and suddenly the cheerful doll motifs were everywhere: on lunch boxes, paper products, wash cloths, etc. While I am fairly indifferent to the actual dolls, I quite like them as a graphic design element. But surely some other figure has taken her place by now, considering Japan's insatiable appetite for the new.

By contrast, furin have a long history and are definitely here to stay. When temperatures start to soar, out come these delightful bells: little domes of clear glass typically decorated with an image that evokes coolness, such as swimming goldfish, shaved ice confections, refreshing water melons etc. Not sure where matruschkas fit in.

Typically, a furin bell is suspended from a roof eave or balcony rail in summer. When the wind catches the paper strip suspended from its ringer, the bell chimes quietly. This gentle sound is a lovely reminder that the air is actually moving, even if it feels like 500 degrees out there. One year the girls took furin to camp. Not sure they had the same impact out in the wilds of Vermont. Back in Tokyo, I usually forget to hang up my elegant, hand blown version. Unfortunately this year was no exception. And now it is too late.

Though the heat still persists, the furin season is fast drawing to a close thanks, in part, to the mini-typhoon that blew through the city earlier this week. For a steady stretch, sheets of rain came down za-za (the Japanese equivalent of "cats and dogs"). I quite like a good rain, providing I am cozy inside.

Those few hours of watershed seem to have washed away much of the humidity that has plagued the city for weeks. The morning after the storm, when Pippi and I went out for our first walk, we got an inkling that fall is right around the corner. While I am always a little sad to see summer go, fall connotes fresh starts and new beginnings.

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