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Happy Year of the Rabbit!

I’m beginning the new year by showing in the Year of the Rabbit group show at Modern Eden in San Francisco, Opening January 14th and running to February 4.

My contribution is the egg tempera painting, MOCHI, 21 x 25 cm. | 8 x 10 in. (altar) A piece inspired by Romanesque stonework and Japanese folklore.

For me, the new year celebration is closely tied to Japanese traditions. In my twenties, even before marrying into a Japanese American family, I’d take an annual trip to Narita-san during the O-shogatsu celebration. The road to the temple is lined with traditional shops and booths selling all kinds of delicacies and trinkets meant to bring good luck.

2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. The rabbit is historically known as the gentlest most tender of the 12 zodiac signs. It is kind, quick and clever, associated with peace, prosperity and longevity and symbolizes energy, elegance, and beauty. Stories with rabbits are popular in Japanese mythology. The “Konjaku Monogatari,” an anthology of tales written during the late Heian Period (794–1185), tells the story of a rabbit, a fox and a monkey who met the Man on the Moon who came down to Earth disguised as a beggar. The fox brought him fish from a stream and the monkey presented fruit from the trees. A grass-eater, the rabbit had nothing to offer him and so threw himself on the fire the man had made for cooking. The man was moved and spared the rabbit before drawing his likeness on the moon as an example of charity. That is supposedly why the shadows on the moon show the image of a rabbit pounding rice cakes with a mortar and pestle. Mochi-tsuki (rice cake-making) is a typical new year activity in Japan as well as in Japanese-American communities of California. Each year my family sets out a Kagami Mochi and its shape has always reminded me of a fat little bunny.

I hope that friends and family in the Bay area have the chance to check out the Year of the Rabbit show in person. Kim and Bradley are good people. If you stop in, please say hi!


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