Category Archives: Japan Life/Travel

Event: Kominka Summit, April 2022, Kyoto

To: Friends in (mostly rural areas of) Japan

Re: Minka Summit 2022 (not just for Kominka) in Kyoto-fu

Memo: Folks from a very pleasant FB group called “Kominka Japan – A Resource for Traditional Japanese Residences” are putting on an event in rural Kyoto Prefecture towards end of April with workshops, speakers, presentations and a “mall of vendors“ focused on acquiring, renovating and building/living/community-sparking houses around Japan.

While the group’s main focus is traditional kominka farmhouses, there are members doing a variety of projects ranging from akiya scores to machiya townhouses to general fixer-uppers. Also tours of area houses and food vendors from local farms on the slate.

Three days with various reasonable pricing for one day, three day and/or optional dinner/speaker event + discounts/free for students, elders and kids.Held in mostly outdoor spaces and primarily in English but with various translation arrangements to accommodate. it’s grass roots / volunteer driven event and seems like a great chance to meet other folks homesteading in Japan.

Details and registration: https://kominkajapan.org/

More about Akiya (abandoned / unused houses) and other resources about acquiring and renovating “classic” houses in Japan

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. 

Travel: Trip to Yubara Onsen and Katsuyama hi

[From March 23-25 2020]

Leaving the workers to their work as they switch to more “modern equipment” with nail guns to put down roof panels while we head to historic town of Katsuyama (noted for their handmade Noren door curtains among other things) where I’m going to hit up a noted post office to mail out this new batch of #DaveOStory dispatches. Yes im that obsessive.

Then onwards for a soak and stay at Yubara onsen (hot spring) which has an in-river outdoor public bath which you know i’ll be hitting up.

Gave the workers a “yorushiku” on the way out, key in lockbox, coffee/tea/snacks on standby.

Anyhow, small bags packed (for me old-timey suitcase with socks, talcum powder, fountain pen, stationæry & Gary Snyder’s mtns & rivers w/o end, meds, charger as most everything provided at hotel) ++ snacks & tea for the road, Billie Holliday on the stereo. Ichi loaded up with a giraffe & bear-cub hat. Ryoko at the helm. Sakura blooming.

The road is (part of) life.

Along with my wonderful mother and father-in-law, my adorable wife and remarkable baby, we took a little overnight trip to a nearby onsen (hot springs village) called Yubara, as well as a stop off at a all time trading post town of Katsuyama which still maintains a lot of traditional charm.

We stayed at a groovy old hotel, ate a ridiculous amount of food, sat in the moonlight on a rooftop garden tub and the next day in a communal bath with rock walls (like the actual rocks of the cliff outside) and finally in the outdoor tubs in the river (don’t showff!)

Along the way, we checked out an interesting art exhibit, popped into a variety of shops with handicrafts (Katsuyama is noted for its noren curtains) and of course, various post offices (indeed, moved Katsuyama and Yubara post boxes & office to a post of its own) and cafés, which – unsurprisingly of course – make up the bulk of my documentation: cute cafés, curious machines, amusing signs and sweet post boxes #theusual

Come along (more or less) – noting there are several, so settle in and i’ll remember to break em up somehow:

Part 1: Noren curtains in Katsuyama

Continue reading Travel: Trip to Yubara Onsen and Katsuyama hi

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