17 March 2014

Seasonal Appreciation

Jasmine & Olive Candle // Personal Picture

As the sun shines over Paris and temperatures rise to leather jackets & café en terrasse level, I thought about the pleasure of changing seasons and how to appreciate and contemplate the unique rituals of each moment of the year. (Not that we had a proper winter here this year. So jealous of Canadian pictures of snow.)

The appreciation of nature and seasons is omnipresent in traditional Japanese culture. Not only do they contemplate specific seasonal beauties - such as cherry blossoms in spring - they also integrate these little moments of the year in a lot of their art, from poetry to floral arrangement, ceramics, literature, paintings...

Among all these little traditions I learned about during my Japanese studies, and witnessed in Tôkyô, my favourite one was the decoration of the Tokonoma. The Tokonoma is a sort of alcove, present within the wall of the "Japanese" room of most appartments (the room with the tatami on the floor). In this small space, the inhabitants put forward a piece of art - calligraphy, painting, floral arrangement... often in accordance with seasonal events.

For example, leading to March 3, which is "girls day", there would be girls dolls in the tokonoma. Then, there would be a painting, or poem, or floral arrangement featuring cherry blossoms for the beginning of Spring season, and so on. Although I don't know how many modern families still follow this tradition, it is my understanding that they usually display items of high value - made by craftsmen or artists.

Scatttering green candles around // Personal Picture

I like this idea of celebrating the key moments of the year with a special item, a special space at home. I don't know if that's the Tokonoma's purpose, but I see it as a way to be mindful, and grateful, for seasons and rituals of the year. A way to contemplate the beauty of the ordinary moments of life, to create a harmony between nature and our home.

Ever since I came back from Japan, I have my own seasonal items - most of which are not pieces of art unfortunately, as I was a student back then. I don't have a Tokonoma, or anything assimilated to it, in my mini-palace, but I do scatter seasonal items around the house.

The Plant Corner // Personal Picture

Here are some examples of my Spring Appreciation items:
  • A bunch of fresh flowers every week
  • Colourful candles: lime green, pink, purple & red...
  • Incense holders & ceramics with cloves or cherry blossom decorations
  • Chocolate easter eggs in a bowl
  • Flower scented candles, incense sticks and essential oil
  • Postcards of nature, flowers and greenery on the wall or on shelves

It may sound like a lot, but it is really replacing one little thing here and there in an otherwise simple interior. It puts me in the mood for the season, makes me appreciate the moments I spend at home better (even if I tend to get outside more often when the sun comes out). Even though it is only a set of material items, it represents my appreciation of the season, creates a subtle air of change and makes ordinary moments of life more joyful and special.

Sunbathing violin & Fresh flowers // Personal pictures

What about you? Do you mark the various moments of the year in any way at home?


  1. what a beautiful concept! i love that this is an evolving space. may be inspired to do something similar in our apartment...

    also - meant to ask you Kali - my bf and i are going to japan next month, would you have any travel/food/shopping tips? (we'll be mostly in tokyo & kyoto).


    many thanks!

    1. Thanks, I'd love to hear about it if you do something similar in your appartment :)

      Tips for Japan, good question! I have seen your blog post and I've been thinking about it. I don't think I can suggest specific restaurants or similar as I noticed they change a lot over the years so they may not exist anymore, but I can certainly suggest places to visit, neighborhoods to pass by and types of food to try. Or anything else you may be interested in. I'll give it a thought and pop a comment on your blog :)

    2. that would be lovely, Kali! i'm more interested in places and neighborhoods, or maybe hidden gem/things to do in both cities that wouldn't necessarily be on every tourist's radar :)