Simplify The Knights

Hi Everyone,

Happy January!!  Like so many people here in the Northern Hemisphere I find January a tricky month. We are nearly at the end though and the days are significantly longer already. My garden is alive with the green shoots of Spring and it won't be long before I have some colour in the garden again. Happy days ahead indeed...

I haven't been that productive photographically. My studio is not easy to heat but that's a convenient excuse. Quite a bit of time has however been spent lounging around on the sofa with my laptop on my knees photo-editing. Whether that's been time well spent is open to debate, Time will tell.

I am still enjoying the challenge of illustrating my chosen Japanese Fairy Tale, The Bamboo Cutter, which I will talk more about in a moment. If you have been following my blog you will also know that I have been deciding on a word for the year. Scroll to the end for my final decision.

Monsters and Magic (continued...)

In my last blog, The Bamboo Cutter, I spoke about the difficulties I was having producing complete abstracts from my trip to Japan. Telling more of a story with these images felt important, finally settling on the challenge of illustrating a Japanese Fairy Tale. The story is however quite a bit longer and far more involved than I originally suggested, so I decided to go back and fill in some (by no means all) of the gaps. Here goes...

The Bamboo Cutter - The story of the Five Knights

Prior to the beauty of Princess Moonlight reaching the ears of the Emperor, it reached a large number of suitors. These suitors set up camp outside the house and stayed for many months hoping to catch a glimpse. All bar five Knights eventually gave up hope and returned home. The Bamboo Cutter became concerned that if something happened to him and his wife there would be no-one to look after her. He therefore implored her to have mercy on these knights and to agree to meet them.

Despite their vigil lasting through many Autumn, Winter and Spring months the Princess required further proof of their love for her prior to agreeing to a meeting, so she set each of them a challenge..

The First Knight

The Challenge: To bring her the stone bowl which had belonged to Buddha in India.

Lacking the courage to travel all the way to India the Knight went to one of the temples in Kyoto and took a stone bowl from one of the alters there, paying the priest a large sum of money in return. He then wrapped it in a cloth of gold and waited 3 years before returning to the old man.

The princess took the bowl from its' gold wrapping and expected it to fill the room with light. When it did not shine she knew it was a sham. The knight threw the bowl away and returned home.

The Second Knight

The Challenge: To go the the Mountain of Horai thought to be found in the Eastern Sea and to bring her a branch of the wonderful tree that grew on its summit. The roots of this tree were of silver, the trunk of gold and the branches bore fruit as white jewels.

The second knight set off but after a few days sent his servants back home. He then sailed alone in a small boat and when he reached a shore he employed carpenters to build him a house that no one could get access to. He then employed six skilled jewelers to make such a branch which would satisfy the princess. Once finished the branch was placed into a lacquer box and carried to the bamboo cutter for him to present to the Princess.

The Princess took the branch but questioned how it had been obtained so quickly and easily. The Knight made up a story which involved a long sea journey during which a great storm arose which tossed him around for many days. He was then blown ashore at a place where demons threatened to kill him. After some time he set sail again and five hundred days later he spotted land. He then saw a shining being coming towards him who confirmed that he had landed on the island of Mount Horai.

At this moment in the story the six unpaid jewellers arrived at the house and demanded to be paid for their labour. The Knight's deception was thus revealed. The Princess paid the jewellers and the Knight returned home in despair.

So that's it for this month in terms of images.  The story gets tricky now, the Third Knight is asked to bring the Princess the shed skin of a Chinese Fire-Rat which has me somewhat floored...!!  Maybe a good plan would be an abstract image edit while I mull over how to represent the Third Knight. Can't bring myself to look at the Fourth and Fifth Knights yet...

It's such fun creating these illustrations though, it really has given me a focus and a direction which is completely different and really quite challenging. I have a book of Japanese Fairy Tales now so I may do some further reading and imagining... this might be a vein that I can run alongside my project abstracts which could be fun and will certainly keep me busy. Hopefully I will have enough to put together a stand-alone talk rather than just adding a few of the images in at the end of the current one.

And now for my Word

After far more deliberation than it deserved I have finally settled on my word for 2023. I have chosen 'SIMPLIFY" as my guiding light for this year.

The more I think about it the more I think it's the right decision. There are so many aspects of my life which could do with a bit of streamlining. Tangible things such as Technology and general Clutter, both on view and behind closed doors. There is also the less tangible aspects such as that need to feel 'busy' and 'productive' all the time - every second should count in some way. Spending time resting and finding contentment is hard but so important. This will involve some simplification in my thinking processes which might take a bit of work but I am sure will be worth it in the end.

I could go on...  Finances, Dietary Choices, Relationships, Habits, Communication, Self-Care... etc etc etc...  It suddently feels like a big word!

So that's it for this month. I do hope you get this far. It's a bit of a long one but I am excited about moving forward both with the fairy tales and with the project abstracts which I can feel boiling up in the background, definitely an itch which needs to be scratched...  I also have a cupboard which needs to be sorted out...

Please do leave a comment. I will always respond.

Stay safe and happy

L  xx

Quick Links to Previous Blogs

The Bamboo Cutter

By Linda Bembridge | December 27, 2022

Hi Everyone, Here we are in the no-man’s land between Christmas and New Year otherwise known as ‘Betwixtmas’. I’ve lost track of what day of the week it is and any sort of routine has flown out of the window! I hope you’ve had a lovely couple of days and are psyching yourself up to […]

Turning Japanese

By Linda Bembridge | December 5, 2022

Hi All, A bit late again this time but I have a very good excuse. Nothing to do with my mojo, and everything to do with having just returned from the most fabulous trip to Japan. Back in the days of my corporate life, I was lucky enough to travel to many different countries. My […]

Chemical Extravaganza

By Linda Bembridge | August 28, 2022

Hi Everyone, Where does the time go…? It’s nearly the end of August! Sadly the evenings are drawing in far too quickly… it’s been such a strange summer but I’m not ready to say goodbye to it just yet. I’ve been incredibly busy but as I sit down to write, I struggle to account for […]


  • Loving the fairy story and your images Linda. Would love to hear all about your trip and more about the images you’re working on so let me know if you’re able to meet for lunch sometime. I will come out of hibernation!
    Zara x

    • Hi Zara,

      Really pleased you enjoyed the blog. And yes – where is the time going?? I feel as if I am in deep hibernation too so it would be good to force myself out of the house for lunch. Will ping you separately and lets get something in the diary…

      L xx

  • I really enjoy reading your blog, it always gives me a little push to think about what I want to achieve and where I want my photography to go. I don’t always get very far but at least I feel like I’m doing something!

    • Hi Margaret,

      Thank you is much for taking the time to comment – it makes such a difference. I am pleased you enjoy the blog too. I am not sure where the current obsession with fairy tales is coming from, or will take me, but it’s fun to have boundaries to work within – always pushes you a bit further. And I don’t really think it matters too much about the end game, it’s all about just having fun along the way… that’s the most important aspect in my view.

      Thanks again and take care
      L xx

  • Hi Linda,
    I await your blog posting every month as it’s so inspiring to read and I love your work.
    I’m particularly enjoying the concept of illustrating a book, and your idea of working with a story that I suspect few people in the west have read is both entertaining and fascinating. I’m looking forward to future installments…

    • Hi Fiona,
      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I am aware that the last few months have been spent doing something completely different from my normal abstracts and that’s not going to work for everyone – it’s good to try new things though. I am pleased you like the fairy tale – it really is quite a beautiful tale and I am so pleased I stumbled across it. As I said though, I am a bit puzzled as to how to depict the next Knight but I am hoping that inspiration will come from somewhere…
      Thank you again and take care
      L xx

  • Linda, I have to say that you created some really magical images to complement the fairy tale!. Guess it was a good inspiration. I especially like the 2 with the moon and the 2 images of trees with green backgrounds.

    • Thanks again Jim,

      I am so pleased you enjoyed the images. I had a great time thinking of ways to illustrate the tale, plus it was fun to work with a story which wasn’t my own. Not sure if I will do another but it’s fun to read through other takes from the same time period. Maybe in a month or two I will start another…

      Take care and thank you again.
      L xx


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