Still life with a vase, garlic and soy sauce

I have written before about the beauty of a Kikkoman soy sauce bottle. If you are unfamiliar with the history of these, I recommend you google it: it is a diverting rabbit hole to go down. A simple sketch of one of these bottles next to a garlic (now eaten) and a glass vase. Yes, the vase really is that shape; it is terrible at holding flowers, but a pretty thing in its own right.

The vase is that shape – really.

Himeji castle from below

I mostly associate Himeji with two things: our axolotl (now dead) would only eat a brand of fish food made there; and it produces 20 percent or so of the world’s supply of the super-absorbent polymer used in disposable nappies. There was a world-wide shortage of nappies after a fire in the factory.

One rainy evening in Canberra I watched the water dripping from the ceiling in old Parliament. It was leaking at the join between the old part and the even older part of the building. The water was dripping … into a bucket of nappies from Himeji. It turns out super-absorbent nappies are a friend to the building conservator.

As millions of tourists know, Himeji also has a castle from the 1600s. Judging from some photos I saw there, the whole thing was taken apart in the 1950s, spruced up, and put back together exactly as it had been. This is what it looks like from below. It is magnificent.

Himeji – it is not just about super-absorbent polymer and fish food.

Octopus balls!

I have been listening to ASMR audio of rain falling and streams tinkling. It does relax me, but it also makes me want to go to the toilet a lot.

It is also supremely absorbing and relaxing to watch someone grilling octopus balls over a brazier, constantly and rhythmically turning them with a toothpick. A person who is good at this is a wonder to watch. I recommend it and the grilled balls too.

Watching two people pounding machi dough with a huge mallet is also hypnotic: one hits, the other turns the dough between hits. It is difficult, however, to completely relax for fear the person turning the dough will have their hand reduced to a pulp by an ill-timed strike of the mallet.

I opted for a high key palette to paint this cheery side view of an octopus ball delivery van. It is based on a toy version of such a van, but they are a pretty common sight. Judging from what is written on the side, I think this van ferries balls around Osaka.

Octopus ball? Our octopus friend does not look happy.