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Saturday, February 05, 2011

For an Ephemerist

An old incense company branches out with new fragrances but keeps its precious product close to home.


The counter at LISN, Kyoto’s designer incense shop, October 2010

Photo: Bill Bishop

The best souvenir we ever brought home is going up in smoke.

We’re one day more distant from a fall trip to Japan and now one stick of incense closer to emptiness. “Flutter,” three-inches of powdered lavender, is sending its calm but lively coil up in the winter light.

This is one of the 150 varieties of incense sold through LISN in Kyoto. The business is a specialty branch of Shoyeido, a company more than three centuries old. We read about LISN in the New York Times before leaving home and tracked the small, elegant shop down on a rainy afternoon.

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Posted by Julie on 02/05 at 03:25 PM
Art & MediaTravelPermalink

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Wake Up Call of Candlemas

We’re halfway between the solstice and the equinox. Notice anything? Light a candle and notice everything!


Candlemas, February 2: also known as “The Presentation”

Image: Illuminated Leaves

February 2 is a moment of arousal and it doesn’t just go for groundhogs. This day falls halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox: time to stir, look around, dare to be hopeful, move forward.

In the old Christian calendar this is known as Candlemas. According to Judaic custom, a woman who’d given birth to a boy-child was “unclean” for 40 days (twice as long for mothers of baby girls). So on February 2, falling 39 days after Christmas, the church celebrates Mary’s purification and the Presentation of Jesus at the temple. According to Luke’s gospel (4:22-40), this is when the priests woke up to Christ’s divinity.

Waverly Fitzgerald explores this and other customs of Candlemas on her fine School of the Seasons.

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Posted by Julie on 02/02 at 12:46 PM
Religious RitualsPermalink
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