Category Archives: Film

Four Seasons in Kyoto and The Makanai



Dolce Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge is well under way, and I am really enjoying my reading and film watching for this challenge! I’m always fascinated by the connections that happen when you start reading about a particular topic or theme. The more I immerse myself in the literature and culture of Japan, the more interconnections I run into. But that’s what “immersion” is all about, so I am enjoying this year’s dive back into all things Japanese. Here is a part of my winding path of connections so far:

I started the month by reading Snow Country, by Yasunari Kawabata, and watched a beautiful film made of the book. In that book and film, I learned about the day to day life of a geisha living in a small rural village. The geishas, however, were trained in the city. This week, I found a new Japanese nine-part series on Netflix, The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House. It is a lovely story of two teenage girls, best friends all their lives, who move to Kyoto to become apprentice geishas. They move into the school, the “maiko house,” and start their training. One of the girls excels in all the classes with obvious talent in the art. The other girl is slow and somewhat clumsy in her attempts to learn the art form, but reveals a passion for cooking, so she instead becomes the cook for the school. It was so interesting to see the traditional training of these young women, and to see what life is like in Kyoto with the combination of tradition and modern life.

At the same time, I had started reading another book by Pico Iyer. This one was about Japanese culture, and in particular about a year he spent in Kyoto with the intention of learning about Zen Buddhism. It was called The Lady and The Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto, and was a very interesting deep dive into the Japanese culture. So as I continued reading that book, and watching this new series, it created a visual experience that connected the stories of Pico Iyer’s year in Kyoto with the beautifully filmed story of two young apprentice geishas. The connection enriched both stories!


A Busy Week

It’s been a busy week even though we are spending most of our time at home these days. We are trying to avoid exposure to Omicron because of Byron’s impaired immune system, and earlier in the week I found myself feeling quite blue about being so housebound. But then I started looking at how we are spending our at-home time and decided that we are actually spending our time very well and I have nothing to complain about! The photos above are of this busy week:

First of all, I read three books this week. Love in an English Garden, by Victoria Connelly, was a gentle read, a light romance with garden at the heart. Then, The 1619 Project: Born on the Water, by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson, was a powerful and beautifully written and illustrated story about the first slaves brought to America in 1619. I highly recommend it!  And then, I listened to an audiobook of the first book in a new-to-me mystery series, Murder is Binding (a Booktown Mystery), by Lorna Barrett. It was fun.

We watched Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. It was an awesome production, and I thought it was very much like a film by Ingmar Bergman. That’s a high compliment!

I have been working each morning on my Spanish, using the app/program, Duolingo. I’m really enjoying the challenge, and am hoping to regain some of the Spanish I have lost over the years by not speaking it often enough.

And one last activity…Byron and I trapped and relocated a pesky squirrel that moved into our attic recently. This seems to happen almost every winter so we’ve become quite skilled at using our trap and taking these squirrels to a decent relocation spot.

Overall, a pretty interesting week. Feeling blue can definitely be part of this ongoing pandemic, but I am trying to make positive choices about how to spend my time  and emotional energy.


A New Fascination: Korea

Seoul, South Korea

During this long year of quarantine for the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband, Byron, and I discovered the pleasurable “escape” of watching South Korean dramas. Our 14-year-old Grandson is a great BTS fan, and is interested in learning the language, so we were on alert for all things Korean. I don’t remember exactly how we found it, but we watched our first K-drama, enjoyed it immensely, and then continued on from there. For us, it has been a refreshing change of pace from the things we had been watching, a fun connection with our Grandson’s interests, and the discovery of a new interest in Korean culture and history.

That interest lead us both to expand our “escape” by starting to read and learn more about the history and culture of Korea, about which we knew next to nothing. It’s been a lot of fun for us, so I wanted to set up this page on my blog so I can keep track of our Korean learning journey.

Please check back here occasionally to see what we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to. The list keeps expanding!



  1. South Korea 101, by Mancho Soto
  2. Korea, by Simon Winchester
  3. Korea: A Very Short Introduction, by Michael J. Seth
  4. The Birth of Korean Cool, by Euny Hong
  5. Hanok, The Korean House, by Nani Park and Robert J. Fouser
  6. Stone House on Jeju Island, by Brenda Paik Sunoo
  7. A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park
  8. The Kite Fighters, by Linda Sue Park
  9. The Seesaw Girl, by Linda Sue Park
  10. The Firekeeper’s Son, by Linda Sue Park
  11. The Island of Sea Women, by Lisa See
  12. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner
  13. The Living Reed, by Pearl S. Buck

K-DRAMAS we have watched:

  1. Crash Landing On You
  2. Misaeng
  3. Stranger
  4. Stranger 2
  5. My Mister
  6. Run On
  7. Hospital Playlist
  8. Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung
  9. The Good Detective
  10. Signal
  11. Mr. Sunshine
  12. Prison Playbook
  13. Designated Survivor: 60 Days
  14. Sisyphus: The Myth
  15. Live Up to Your Name
  16. The Legend of the Blue Sea
  17. My Country: The New Age
  18. Man to Man
  19. Let’s Eat
  20. Guardian: The Great and Lonely God (Goblin) (Hubby’s favorite so far, although we both loved this one!)
  21. Hotel Del Luna
  22. Move To Heaven
  23. Laipeu (Life)
  24. The King: Eternal Monarch
  25. Touch Your Heart
  26. Descendants of the Sun
  27. Bossam: Steal the Fate
  28. Tale of the Nine-Tailed
  29. Tunnel
  30. Hospital Playlist, Season 2
  31. Racket Boys
  32. 100 Days My Prince
  33. My Holo Love
  34. Personal Taste
  35. Vagabond
  36. Yumi’s Cells
  37. My Unfamiliar Family
  38. The Silent Sea
  39. The Red Sleeve
  40. Jirisan
  41. Hello, Me!
  42. Mystic Pop-Up Bar
  43. Itaewon Class
  44. The King’s Affection
  45. Twelve Nights
  46. Lovers of the Red Sky
  47. Vincenzo
  48. Tomorrow
  49. Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth
  50. Our Blues


  1. Space Sweepers
  2. Minari
  3. The PIrates
  4. Sori: Voice From the Heart
  5. Welcome to Dongmakgol (A very moving film about being human, during war.)
  6. Tiger Spirit, (a documentary about reunification of North and South Korea, by Min Sook Lee)
  7. North Korea, Michael Palin’s Journey (documentary tv series)
  8. Train to Busan
  9. The Suspect
  10. Midnight Run

Music and Musicians I am enjoying listening to:

  1. Park Hyo shin  “Goodbye” (link to YouTube)
  2. Taeyeon  “Rain”  (link to YouTube)
  3. Jung Seung Hwan  “We, From the First” (link to YouTube)
  4. Crush  “Beautiful”  (link to YouTube)
  5. Sam Kim  “The Juice”  (link to YouTube)
  6. SWJA  “Serenade: Run With You”  (link to YouTube)
  7. Onew  “Blue”
  8. BTS  “Permission to Dance” (link to YouTube)
  9. Jung Seung Hwan  “Love Letter” (link to YouTube)

Virtual Walks in South Korea:


An Agatha Christie Film Festival

…photo I took at The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake CIty.

I wish there was an actual go-to-the-movies “Agatha Christie Film Festival” in town, but since there isn’t, we are having our own right here at home. As part of the Readers Imbibing Peril XIV reading celebration of mysteries and all things spooky in September and October, Byron and I will be watching as many old movies of Agatha Christie stories as possible. My parents used to love the old Agatha Christie movies, starring Margaret Rutherford, and would take our whole family to the movies every time one would come to town. So of course I am including some of those in this film festival, along with the TV series of Miss Marple and of Poirot. We are definitely going to enjoy our evening TV times for the next two months!

I invite you to check back every once in a while to visit my page for keeping track of the books I read and the movies I watch for this fun reading challenge.  Click here or on the little RIP-XIV symbol on my sidebar to see my growing list.


Watching these old films is part of my “PERIL on the SCREEN” in the Readers Imbibing Peril XIV.

It’s Time for R.I.P. XIV

It’s THAT time of year again! Time for the annual Readers Imbibing Peril book challenge celebrating all things spooky and mysterious! This is the 14th year for this Fall festival of fun reading, and I’m so excited to participate again.

Here’s how it works:

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:

  • Mystery.
  • Suspense.
  • Thriller.
  • Dark Fantasy.
  • Gothic.
  • Horror.
  • Supernatural.
The emphasis is never on the word challenge, instead it is about coming together as a community and embracing the autumnal mood, whether the weather is cooperative where you live or not.

The goals are simple.  

1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.

There are different ways to participate by choosing which “PERIL” you want.  You can choose PERIL the First;  PERIL the Second;  PERIL the Third;  PERIL of the Short Story;  PERIL on the Screen;  PERIL of the Review.   Click here to see the descriptions of each of these PERILS.


This year, I am choosing both PERIL the First, and PERIL on the Screen. That means I will be reading a minimum of 4 books and watching some movies. Because I love this genre, I have an endless list of books on my bookshelves that will fit nicely for the PERIL I have chosen. And Byron and I love a good film festival, so for my PERIL on the Screen, we will be watching as many Agatha Christie movies/TV series as we can.

So check back here from time to time in September and October to see what I have added to my list of books read and movies watched!

Have fun everybody!



  1. The Lost One, by Mary Stewart
  2. The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler
  3. Christmas in Absaroka County, by Craig Johnson
  4. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  5. The Religious Body, by Catherine Aird
  6. An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good, by Helene Tursten
  7. The Case of the Famished Parson, by George Bellairs
  8. Rose Cottage, by Mary Stewart
  9. The House on the Strand, by Daphne du Maurier
  10. Trouble in Nuala, by Harriet Steel
  11. Whiteout, by Ken Follett


  1. 4:50 From Paddington, (1987) starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple. Hubby and I watched it as a welcome to the beginning of my R.I.P.-XIV Peril on the Screen. It was very good and quite true to the book. I love Joan Hickson as Miss Marple!
  2. Murder at the Gallop, (1963) starring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. When I was growing up, my parents took us to see all the old Agatha Christie movies that came to town. I remember Margaret Rutherford from way back when!
  3. The Mirror Crack’d, (1980) starring Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple. I liked Angela Lansbury in this film, and it was fun to see so many Hollywood greats in the cast — Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Kim Novak, Geraldine Chaplin. However, it was so Hollywood-ish that it put me off a bit. Definitely not my favorite Agatha Christie movie!
  4. Murder Most Foul, (1964) starring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. Another fun mystery with a lot of humor.

…Arthur Rackham