Category Archives: Japan Life/Travel

Dossiers of Kerouac in Kobe (& me in Okayama) to global beats

Finally going to sneak up to Kobe just before the end of the Jack Kerouac exhibit (aug 3/4/5).

This one went to a dude in Scarborough

Was hoping things would be chiller and I would be healthier and could bounce up to Kyoto for a couple of days while generally absent in overseas tourists but it just doesn’t seem to ever lineup… Seems every time I leave the house, I “crash“ again #mecfs #digression

Anyhow, this is a little round up of dossiers I’ve mailed out to various Kerouac/beat enthusiast, collectors, archivists and generally-kind folks so that professor Matt Theado & colleagues work is amplified to other corners of other continents.

This to a collector and architect in Germany

Of course I love it when folks send me “static montage“ snapshots of the dossiers. As you will notice, along with the Jack Kerouac stuff, also added in different combinations Of my paintings, postcards, various snapshots, occasional goat farm brochures or museum catalogs and as usual, resplendent with stamps, both inky and postal.

Seen here is last year is canceled catalog and this year‘s phoenix

Shared here in slightly obstificated versions to pretend I’m protecting anyone’s privacy or whatever I don’t know.

Look at that, he already has it framed next to some other lovely pieces

If you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say “Kerouac in Kobe“ or variations thereof, the short version is: this year, like everything else, it’s complicated 🙂

Here is a stash which went to a painter in eastern USA (included some postcards of paintings)

Was scheduled for last year with the original s/croll and a bunch of workshops (including mine) and ancillary exhibits but, due to quarantine etc., the “keeper of the scroll” (cool job!) couldn’t come… so this year it’s a painstakingly reproduced digital version of the scroll + there was a symposium a couple of weeks back and a nice collection of books and artifacts and typewriters in display.

Bringing it all back home to the goat farm as a reminder that there’s more information elsewhere in this archive

Loads more about elsewhere in this archive >> worth checking it out and giving them some support if you’re in the area. Runs until August 8.

Anyhow, today is father-in-law‘s birthday and think I’m gonna wear my new Fluevog shoes in celebration and we’ll eat curry & new secret hideout. Big moves all around. Ha ha

Oh and that painter I mentioned above also received one of my paintings from a numbered print run of “Gravelly Beach no. 4, Sakura“ I’ve now shared around the world

(are you an) Okayama Farmer or Gardener seeking compost?

Are you a Gardener &/or Farmer in Okayama area seeking Compost?

Goats making compost at Rural Caprine Farm

Good news! My pal Mac Kobayashi at Rural Caprine farm has literally heaps of goat-based compost in Higashi-ku outside Okayama city.

Stop by, have a fancy lunch or top-notch espresso and fill up a few bags – seriously. My mother-in-law can attest to the positive impact on her garden.

Putting a photo of a pile of compost isn’t very appealing so here are some goats, cute!

From Creative Social Media to Postcards Stories on “Seeking Sustainability” audio

Look at me! A postbox in the forest, thanks JJ!

I was guest on JJ Walsh’sSeeking Sustainability in Japan live video streaming show (which transmits via YT, FB and several other channels using Happs.tv) from Hiroshima. And now, there is also an audio podcast version of Seeking Sustainability for your aural convenience.

ergo: “New podcast now UP from my talk last week with Dave Olson about his career as a social media visionary for Hoostsuite in Vancouver, and his current projects with house remodel and designing scrapbook style postcards to create social connections during Covid. Look forward to a future chat (when it’s not rainy) more on his house remodel project + look forward to a future chat with his arborist partner about her interesting passion for trees.”

You can listen on any podcast player you like (Episode 259) or on InboundAmbassador.com/ssl-podcasts/

&/or

Pulled out a lot of stories that I’ve kept it hidden for sometime. Thanks for the space to riff out the long jams. Topics around building a holistic life in Japan, i.e. our generational house project, story making as a biz, living cheap and cheerful, possibly fermenting, and yeah my arborist/jazz singer wife Ryoko and my exceptionally adorable almost 1-year-old Ichiro Stanley.

Even a pitch for my DaveOShop at Buy Me a Coffee and mentions of loads of other creative output you’ll find in this very archive. 

Slow Life on “Seeking Sustainability” talk-show storytime with JJ Walsh

I was guest on JJ Walsh’s live video streaming show (which transmits via YT, FB and several other channels using Happs.tv) from Hiroshima. Noticed so many interesting guests on her show so raised my hand and sent an “audition reel” and voila… 

JJ’s introduction: “Poems and Postcards from Okayama to the World by DaveOStory Dave Olson – looking forward to chatting about life in rural Japan, finding a creative way to connect with people across the world during Covid, his background in journalism and career as a Canadian hockey commentator and more…”

Was fun to riff on so many different topics and stories.
Noting that the effervescent Ms. Walsh rocks out one or two of these shows *every weekday* (buy her a coffee). Huge commitment to building community and boundless energy. She really does her preparation as well #Respect PS there is also an audio podcast version of Seeking Sustainability for your aural convenience. 

Pulled out a lot of stories that I’ve kept it hidden for sometime. Thanks for the space to riff out the long jams. Topics around building a holistic life in Japan, i.e. our generational house project, story making as a biz, living cheap and cheerful, possibly fermenting, and yeah my arborist/jazz singer wife Ryoko and my exceptionally adorable almost 1-year-old Ichiro Stanley. 

Even a pitch for my DaveOShop at Buy Me a Coffee and mentions of loads of other creative output you’ll find in this very archive.

DaveO on Seeking Sustainability in Japan Live with JJ Walsh

Note: had planned to set-up outside but just before noticed the workers are pulling into the yard with tile / brick saws (loud!) and a rain is falling (i don’t mind but the camera do) so gonna adjust my planned set up. 

Memo: Generational Home in Okayama

Posted as a comment on an article about someone’s kominka (trad Japanese house) project, sharing here so don’t lose it… ya know “the record” or posterity or amusement (with mild edits).

Hello from Sunny Okayama where my wife Ryoko and our new baby live on ancestral land in a “cottage” (kinda shotgun house slapped together) next to the parents who renovated Grandma/Grandpa’s kominka about 4 years ago keeping all the original touches but doing some practical and comfortable upgrades.

We are staying in a big tatami room while doing some changes to the cottage – lovely sliding doors, changed form original but maintaining aesthetics, engawas (where i sit now) now have thermal glass windows but also open fully for the fresh breeze.

We’re now bringing this full circle as we use the old sliding doors to the cottage reno, plus re-wrap the tatami mats rather than tossing out, plus adding an efficient wood stove (my wife is an arborist so always has wood gathered) – don’t get much snow but does get chilly and summer’s of course are hot and humid – plus adding a new room, moving kitchen into a more open location and whatnot. Also added a new ofuro bath so the 3 of us can bathe together #heaven.

Unlike the parents’ house, the cottage is sorta slapped together but we resisted a tear down and start again and making incremental changes. (Funny the parents said “you will just live in our house when we pass away” to which i replied, “you are 65 year old healthy Japanese so that means 30 years from now!”

Anyhow, the property also has a magnificent 150+ year old “kura” grain barn with massive wood beams, mud walls and 3 thick doors with cast iron puzzle keys. This has turned into my art studio and music lounge (needs a few little upgrades for safety and power/lighting) and a “naya” tool shed for wife’s business which also has loads of Grandpa’s heavy duty pre-war farm tools (including probably 6 pick axes!).

Documenting loads of this life (amongst other projects) if curious. Not a plug, just me saying “right on with your awesome project”.

##

See Hannah Kirshner’s Lessons in Sustainable Living From My 100-Year-Old Japanese Farmhouse also aded to Akiya Resource round-up dossier

Dossier: Okayama Air Raid, 1945

+ Okayama Air Raid Overview +

A delicate topic to ask people about but I finally found an English language dossier about the incidents of June 29, 1945 in Okayama so I can learn more about the effects in my/our community.

Details & Annotations follow (via dossier pictured above, obtained to local library):

(If you have credible information or thoughtful opinion to add, please do)

  • June 29 1945 – 2:43-4:07am
  • 138 B-29s (1 aircraft lost reason unspecified)
  • Launched from Tinian (Northern Marianas Island, just north of Guam)
  • Incendiary bombs (12,602 M47, 83,106, M74, 2,187 E-48 cluster + photoflash 10 bombs)
  • Attack Elevation 3000-4000m
  • 1700-2000 dead
  • 63% of city destroyed by fire via Detailed maps made the day of bombing

Notes:

Original bombing strategy attempted precision bombing from 10,000m elevation (out of range of anti-aircraft gun/planes) with military ammunitions ammunition /factory targets.

Due to poor results, strategy was changed to night bombing at low elevation with fire bombs starting March 10 with aim of comprehensive destruction of metropolitan centers.

After initial large cities (Tokyo, Kawasaki, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe) were hit, a list was made of 180 medium-to-small cities as potential targets, of which Okayama was 31st.

Sasebo, Moji, Nobeoka bombed same night as Okayama.

Including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 66 cities were bombed/burned to the ground.

No military or industrial targets targeted in Okayama.

Okayama residents held air raid drills, carried air raid hoods and had a citizen fire brigade. Some people’s possessions had been evacuated the country in preparation.

Government office buildings were destroyed so citizen “disaster certificates” were rapidly made on carbon paper to give access to rations and emergency transportation and help.

Also: 

Where we live (Tsuchida, Higashi Okayama), still plenty of prewar houses but as we drive into downtown (:20 mins or so), you can almost distinguish the line where the bombs reached.

And:

Peace.

Japanese Cinema etc: quick hits/notes

Shintaro Katsu as Zatoichi, wanders – blind with cane-sword, ready for massage

Consider this a sloppy and not complete by any means roundup for Japanese and Japan-related cinema and other visual entertainment. 

Just quick hits, a few links, please take the time to add to it if you have something to say.

First, buddy Banghi puts forth:

a quick and dirty list focusing on directors highlights or favs rather than spamming a list of Kurosawa…

* Tokyo Story
* Tampopo
* High and low
* Castle of Cagliastro
* In the realm of the senses
* Kwaidan
* Akira
* Any/all Zatoichi
* Ballad of Narayama
* Rodan
* The Burmese harp
* Battle royale

Next, I made a little list of Japanese and related for folks coming to wedding as a primer – a few ideas to load up on your device for plane viewing to get ya in the spirit: Continue reading Japanese Cinema etc: quick hits/notes

Diary: Off to Library + cuppa Joe / good luck, stamps, ovens & social niceties

Note: Some of this riff originally appeared in “real time” via FB social channel to the amusement of many (everyone loves a comically large bootle of hooch!) – shared here for posterity in edited form with several other topics included.

++ Confession ++

pardon me, but does this come in a large?

Well, i am at risk of irreparably damaging my reputation as a good resident of Okayama as it seems some library books are overdue.

I know! Terrible. Shameful breach of trust.

As such, i will finish this coffee (delicious by the way) and hop on the luxurious Uno Bus (seriously wi-fi, power outlets, clean, comfy, pay-per-stop) to restore my status as a decent human.

I’ve really let myself go off the rails – i’ll try to improve.

fondly, dave

PS i will not blame this on this comically huge bottle of saké – seriously, 18 litres and came in a wooden crate. Just when you think Japanese people are all diligent and serious, they pull out this! i mean the logistics of shipping, lifting, holding, pouring alone are baffling

Checkpoint busstop (yes my life does look like a Studio Ghibli movie)

Did i mention the bus has great wi-fi, power outlets, seatback headrest covers, and pay-per-stop system? Uno Bus is truly great.

Also before leaving washed dishes, folded laundry, started rice, composted food scraps, fed rabbit, aerated kobo starter, refilled kerosene heater… and didn’t forget library books(!)

Ryoko’s out of town for 2 nights teaching a tree trimming workshop & stayed in a trad guest house with wooden bath. So cool. And she’s truly incredible (and doing great with pregnancy!)

Continue reading Diary: Off to Library + cuppa Joe / good luck, stamps, ovens & social niceties

Meta Notes: Japan Travel organized + upcoming *almost finished really* riffs

If you’re curious, I put together a category in my web archive for “Japan life/travel” to round up all the various riffs, transport videos, train rolls, diaries and museum galleries i gleefully assemble. It’s an ongoing process but hey, I’m not going anywhere.

Still have a lot more museums and train stuff to share (not surprisingly) but really limit my screen time too short sessions of productivity.

So much to share with you though! Especially some sorta olden stuff about:

  • Galleries, exhibits & museums in Japan, SF, & Nepal + a visit to Subpop HQ in 2010 (not to be confused with visit in 1999 ish)
  • Ayurveda treatment in India, Lanka & Pokhara
  • Artifacts from Palau, Yap and Guam which have been on my mind again recently
  • Tour with The Matinee in Ontario, 2017 (or was that 2018?)… 

Oh, I’ve also been tidying up an archive of Vancouver Olympic “meta coverage” meaning coverage about the coverage and media about media if you know what I mean… More to say about this in True North Media and Olympics category including a live twitter coverage of an interesting CBC panel #NoteToSelf

Also tuned up a section called Transit Chronicles which consists mostly of twitter riffs while rolling around Vancouver 2008-2012 ish.

In the meantime, here’s stuff about Japan so I have somewhere to point people to want to ask me about “where I am” “what to see” “how to do stuff” etc. etc. – keep in mind, I am a “inaka/country boy” – well really I live near a sort of forgotten provincial capital city which is just perfect in my mind, and don’t really know anything about Tokyo or Osaka and very little about Kyoto… but there are loads of resources about those places.

I know more about small cities, rural/farm experiences, scenic trains, remote hot springs, fermented foods, and post offices #theusual

Diary: Days go by – filled (mostly) with coffee, food and and sundry tasks

You could be forgiven for thinking that my life involves entirely eating delicious food and drinking fantastic coffee as you are somewhat correct… however, there is slightly more going on as i am  into the routine of “regular life” and doing things which I file under “life administration”. As such, some tasks (as much as I delight in the mundanity of everyday activity) doesn’t get documentation.

Not that these things are not interesting – but because in the diligence and action itself, there’s interestingness – but photographs aren’t always timely nor appropriate and in themselves, there’s not often a story to be told. Within this thought is why I enthusiastically and rather comprehensively documented everyday life when first arriving in a new place… As in: when you stay in a place for a while, the uniqueness of every day life fades and it’s easy to think that “I’ll do this another time” or “I’ll wait for something special” or “why bother?”

With this in mind, over the last few months of settling in my new home and life, I’ve remembered to fill up this “new white sheet of paper” with all the spectacular regularness of simple errands, neighbourhood observations, pleasant routines and out n’ abouts. Continue reading Diary: Days go by – filled (mostly) with coffee, food and and sundry tasks

Riff: Japan Imperial Era Names, a brief primer

Maybe you noticed my affinity towards dropping in Japan imperial era names in reference to “Showa this” or “Taisho that” – In brief, while modern Japan also uses BCE/AD year dating system, also uses imperial eras to count years… in a somewhat confusing manner.

Briefly:

Each Emperor has a name while living (example Hirohito) but their era name also becomes the posthumous name (in Hirohito’s case Showa). When a new imperial reign begins, the numbers start from one.

Birth years and other important dates are generally referenced from this system. I.e. i was born in Showa 45 or 1970.

2019 was an extra anomaly as Emperor Akihito abdicated and his era “Heisei” (which will also be his posthumous name) in his 31st year of reign, and a new era “Reiwa” began on May 1 2019 when his son/heir Naruhito took the throne. So 2019 was both Heisei 31 and Reiwa 1. 2020 is Reiwa 2.

So blah blah blah. I came to tell you that Taisho era is my current topic of interest. This was about 100 years ago and the “jazz age” in Japan as well as west. The previous era “Meiji” was when Japan started opening up to the outside world (a topic in itself) with a charismatic emperor.

Taisho era was different and relatively short and squeezed between the impending militarism which came with Showa and the fundamental societal changes of Meiji.

Taisho saw rise of *western* clothes/styles, dancing, woman’s role expanding with jobs and relative “freedom” of being.

A seminal literary work from this time is Tanizaki’s Naomi which tells the story of a young woman seizing her liberation in all aspects of her life.

Anyhow, here’s an article meaning to share with more about above now that i laid a foundation.

Carry on.

The Taisho Era: When modernity ruled Japan’s masses  BY MICHAEL HOFFMAN SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES

Diary: Starting off 2020 with Coffee and Classes etc.

A coffee break at “Tartan something or other” (not actual name) in downtown Okayama

So it goes, the festive season passes yet calendar stays busy with the usual sorts of things. Yesterday included returning books to splendid library, a few letters (Switzerland and Indonesia) to the post office, a stop for the best ramen, and a visit to a chiropractor and then a super good little (i mean little) coffee shop – like just perfect right? 

In amongst, we repaired/re-did a wall in Tsuchida Cottage, attended a parenting class(!), went to opera variety show, hit up Hatsumi-san’s piano recital, moved some brick around outside, printed more flyers for Mae Maes gig, talked to a guy about replaced some drafty windows, recycled plastic items, booked a trip to Nagasaki… 

Here is a variety of snippets collected along the way, with minor annotations as possible. 

we ordered umeboshi by the kilo – i love these pickled plums and nope to make them myself one of these days soon but in the meantime, order up in bulk! salty, sour goodness
one morning i awoke to Ryoko singing snippets of so many songs – realized she was tidying up all her sheet music/scores etc.
tidied up the Kamidama a little bit with fresh items to bring good fortune and happiness more and more

Continue reading Diary: Starting off 2020 with Coffee and Classes etc.