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Articles by Author Sandra

We All Scream for Ice Cream*

Ice cream and its cousins can be had all year round, but during these Dog Days of Summer when the temperature climbs, frozen deserts are especially welcome. Considering reliable freezers are a 20th century invention, it’s surprising how long frozen desserts have been around. In China during the Tang Dynasty, ice men produced a concoction

Summer Reads: Prominent Women Lost in Shadow

This installment of Summer Reads is a bit on the serious side, because early in the summer I’m still picking through my history reading pile. The first book is historical fiction; the second, narrative non-fiction that is partly biography, and partly a great deal of information on Elizabethan building techniques. Taken in chronological order, let’s

Cultural Japan: Matsue Castle & the Village of Shirakawa-go

Matsue Castle is one of 12 original castles in Japan. I, of course, had to visit it. The castle is, more accurately, the castle keep, a structure built for fighting rather than luxurious living. That took place in a palace, now long gone. Like castles everywhere, Matsue Castle is built at a high elevation. The

Japanese Culture: Land of Geishas

One of the many delightful features of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kyoto is a nightly dance performance by a maiko, or apprentice geisha. Chikasaya in her light green kimono and impeccable make-up performed nightly. Maiko like Chikasaya begin their training at about age fifteen, after completing their manadatory education. Students have many choices to

Japanese Culture: Gardens & Bonsai

A Japanese garden such as Ritsurin Park provides viewers with an idealized view of nature that contains six basic elements: extensive space; a sense of seclusion; water features; natural views; traditional elegance, and human artistry. The gardens in this blog are in the kaiyushiki [strolling] style, so that visitors can easily wander the paths around

Japanese Culture: Buddhist Temples & Shinto Shrines

Although it’s possible to visit Japan without visiting a temple, I think its improbable since shrines can be found everywhere you look. The Torii Gate, one of the most famous symbols of Japan, is part of the Itsukushima-jinja Shinto shrine on the Island of Miyajima. Approaching by sea at high tide, the gate is an

Japanese Culture: Taiko, Kabuki, & Bunraku

I’ve been traveling again, and today’s blog is the first of a series about my visit to Japan. Japan brings many images to mind, from theserenity of a Zen garden to the frenetic pace of traffic in Tokyo. I traveled mostly by ship, beginning my journey in Kyoto and continuing up the western coast of

Luggage Luxury

Packing for a well-deserved holiday can be stressful, depending on the length of the trip and the expected activities. If all you need is a couple swimsuits, shorts, T-shirts, and maybe a long skirt for evening, there’s no problem fitting everything into a carry-on bag. But if the journey requires business casual as well as

Summer Reads: 3 Novels by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

I always associate summer with time for leisure reading, whether it’s a day at the beach, a Saturday afternoon in a hammock under a shady tree, or on an airplane. [Sidebar: I do hope these young women remembered to Slip-Slop-Slap, as well as Wrap their eyes in sun glasses. But I digress.] Today’s blog begins