Namida no mukō
Ga mieru no
If you prefer kanji to romaji: 泪のムコウが見えるの
If you don't read kanji or romaji, allow me to translate: "Turning away, I saw a glimmer of your tears."
We usually vacation on Cape Cod in August, but this year we went in mid-July -- which is peak hydrangea time on the Cape.
Here's a truly spectacular hydrangea that was growing about half a mile from our house. Both the size and the unusually intense blue color made it remarkable:
Hydrangeas and rosa rugosa (also called rugosa rose or Japanese rose) are the two quintessential Cape Cod flowering shrubs. Both are native to eastern Asia, but both thrive on the Cape.
Fifty years ago, hydrangeas weren't fashionable -- they were considered old-fashioned. Martha Stewart is credited for making hydrangeas popular again, especially in New England.
Hydrangeas (ajisai) are extremely popular in Japan. They are at their best during Japan's rainy season, which usually begins in early June and ends about six weeks later. Many Japanese make pilgrimages to famous ajisai temples to view the hydrangeas.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about hydrangeas is the sensitivity of some hydrangea species to soil acidity. An acidic soil will produce blue flowers, while an alkaline soil will produce pink blossoms. You can actually change the color of the blooms on your hydrangea by applying special fertilizers.
It's not that unusual to see a single hydrangea plant with different-colored blossoms, which indicates that there are variations in the pH of the soil the plant is growing in. Sometimes even a single flower will be bicolored.
I always go shopping for Christmas presents when I go to Cape Cod. I picked up several hydrangea-themed gifts this year. (I haven't decided who's getting these gifts yet. If you play your cards right, it could be you.)
Here's a hydrangea scarf with little pom-pons I found at one local store:
Here's an embroidered hydrangea dish towel:
Here are two prints of hydrangeas by a local artist, C. Barry Hills:
And here's a hydrangea dish from Sydenstricker Galleries, a local maker of kiln-fired glassware.
Here's how the Sydenstricker Galleries website describes the process used to make its glassware:
Two sheets of glass are cut to fit a mold made out of high-fire terra cotta clay. The first sheet is decorated by sifting powdered glass through a stencil. The stencil is then carefully removed, and the second sheet of glass is laid over the decorated first piece. Both are placed on a mold and put into a 1500-degree kiln for five hours. At this point, the two pieces of glass fuse, assuming the shape of the mold and locking in the colored design. The kiln is then turned off until the glass is cooled, about 40 hours later.
Stereopony's "Namida no Mukō" reached #2 on the Japanese pop singles chart in 2009. It was included on the group's debut album, Hydrangea ga Saiteiru ("A Hydrangea Blooms").
Stereopony was an all-girl pop band that formed in Okinawa, Japan in 2007. Its three members were 17, 17, and 18 when their first single was released the next year. The group released three albums and toured extensively in Japan and the U.S. before breaking up in October 2012.
Stereopony is a "J-pop" -- or Japanese pop -- group. J-pop groups dominated the pop music charts in Asia for years, but "K-pop" (Korean pop) is giving it a run for its money in many Asian countries, including Japan itself.
Neither J-pop nor K-pop has become much of a factor in the American market, although K-pop superstar Psy's "Gangnam Style" was an enormous worldwide hit. Psy's "Gangnam Style" video became the first video to be viewed on Youtube a billion times.
Here's "Namida no Mukō":