For the international guests coming for the wedding celebrations, we wanted to make travel easy so we produced a Travel Dossier and series of videos to help with all the “macro” logistics of coming to Japan and getting around easily.
Then for the “micro” logistics around Okayama and wedding-related events, we assembled Welcome Packets which were distributed (with some customization) to the guests’ hotels.
The packets in general included maps of the local area, in particular, a great English-language map by “Next-Trip” which included the 2 primary hotels and various coffee shops and fave restaurants along with the popular tourist sites (castle, gardens, museums etc). To top it off was a few business and/or event cards for other useful shops and exhibits.
Additionally, we stashed a “Japanese Basic Vocab” sheet with handy phrases and a transportation sheet which had instructions for taxi drivers in Japanese and English to aid in getting to various venues. Plus an itinerary of the events, times and locations.
Finally, there was Google Map of venues and Whatsapp group chat channel for on-the-go digital updates.
There were a couple of special young ones coming for the shindig so they received a special welcome packet designed to help them make scrap-journals of their trip. As such, included scissors, glue sticks, stickers, pens, letter/note sets, and blank books with hearty paper – all compiled in a vinyl zippered pouch.
As evidenced by sweet Emily Olson upon her return to Canada, the scrapbooks proved to be a handy way to document a journey in “real-time” with paper ephemera and others papery bits.
For the record, the narrative from the itinerary doc is included, more or less intact.
At weddings in Japan – unlike in “western” countries, guests usually bring cash in special envelopes as a gift rather than a household appliance or other oddment from a registry. The cash is often in 2 envelopes – one as a “gift” and other the cover their portion of party expenses. Regardless, the notes as fresh and crisp and in a special envelope with appropriate decorations and minimal written sentiments.
The guests are almost always sent on their way with a gift bag of treats with items which reflect the spouses personality (not always the case), or the region or season of the wedding. Anyhow, we took the gift bag part on with great enthusiasm and vigour as we wanted all the guests to take a piece of our heart reflected in hobbies, interests and whatnot.
As it goes, with all the work assembling the gift bags of disparate objects, we neglected to document the items dutifully. Fortunately our pal Robert Scales did a pretty decent job of capturing the assortment which included the following
Bizen Yakima saké cup – nearby Bizen one of 6 great centres of pottery of Japan, the cups were handmade by master potter Hosokawa-san and fired with no glaze for 2 weeks at 1000 degrees Celsius in a massive kiln
Note: cups were wrapped in newspaper and packed into hemp cloth drawstring bags
Matcha tea – from Kyoto, in a metal tin with bamboo accessories: whisk chasen and scoop chashaku
Gig Poster – the Taisho-era jazz/travel inspired art for the wedding made by Joanna Ambrosio of Ganamo Design (Vancouver/Mexico) and professionally printed (A4) by Fujii Printing
Sakura oil painting print – from Dave’s Gravelly Beach series, printed A4 by Fujii Printing, signed and number (150)
Commemorative postcards (2) – featuring paintings by Dave of Rural Caprine Farm’s noted gingko tree in full yellow splendour and haiku postbox (there is the actual postbox on site) of a poem about letters and peaches. Postcard backs designed with Olympia typewriter. Printed by moo.com
Thank you card – hand-lettered (Japanese and English) by Ryoko, accessorize with stamps from US and Vatican, printed by Fujii Printing
Incense – ceremonial from Bali
Ceningan Divers invitation – a special offer from our friends with a dive resort in Bali
Vendor thank you – round-up of all the vendors who assisted, contributed etc to the wedding, including URLs for thanks and reviews etc.
Gift bag – blue heavy corrugated paper bags with string handles from Usigaya decorated by hand with a special ink stamp (thanks parents) and gold/silver paint marker flag flourish (by Dave)
Finally, a special “typewriter card” paper clipped to each one to make unique and washi tape to close each bag.
All the materials were ordered, delivered etc and then moved to the goat farm’s kitchen table where dear helpful pals (under supervision of lawyer Lindsay and the Jen-eral) assembled and moved down to the goat farm so the area looked like a splendid festive morning. Then, each guest (mostly) received their bag with (hopefully) delight.
Note to self: there is a snap somewhere of the guide to assembling gift bags to add here.
In planning for the wedding party at Mr. Mac Kobayashi’s Rural Caprine Farm, we set out to transform his goat barns into a 1920s-ish Taisho-era-esque jazz lounge meets eclectic nature retreat. We needed places for band to set-up to play comfortably, for ceremony with seating and small stage, for a grand table for bride and groom, an area to have guest book and photo booth, stash gift bags, make name tags and choose and decorate custom bamboo cup, plus dancing, chilling, serving food, cooking food (bar–b-que spits), and also 10+ beverage stations including a tea ceremony experience and oh yeah, an area for mothers and babies to chill out.
In all this planning came the following sketches (executed by Ryoko), shared here for posterity and amusement. (Note: possibly more sketches to follow).
Oh and these were used by Oka-sensei who constructed stages and backdrops and other staging in a truly remarkable manner and by friends who set up stations and decorations on the morning of the event.
Note: more evidence of the results are found elsewhere in this archive.
As it goes… I’m riding the Uno Bus heading to Uno to stay at Uno Port Inn near where magical wife is teaching a tree trimming workshop. Though to be clear, in Okayama, i switch to the Ryobi bus.
Agenda includes: local Hot Spring bath; giant wild boar made of used plastic trash; fancy coffee and card writing; and reading Grant Lawrence’s Dirty Windshields (about time rambling with rock n rollers: The Smugglers).
First though, a stop at post office to mail more wedding thank-you cards & dropping off 35mm film shot at goat farm (supervised by Kris Krüg).
Update: on the bus ride, I listened to BC Hall of Famer Nardwuar interview Eve Lazarus including a Vancouver history/culture name check explosion including Aaron Chapman, Colleen Hardwick, the Beatles, Chuck Davies and more more more. Esp enjoyed AC’s Tom Waits-esque spoken-song.
Also enjoyed recollections of “beatnik“ coffee/jazz lounge scene – Worth noting that Allen Ginsberg performed at at least one of these places and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee recorded a legendary blues album at the Bunkhouse (which apparently “featured” topless waitresses).
Also, the post office mission was successful (including super sharp stamps) and letters are en route to several countries, the film developing project failed for the time being.
Now enjoying a matcha and jazz in a cool room.
Note: one great thing about rambling in Japan is hotels is pyjamas are provided. #handy Alas, smoking jackets usually aren’t (so packing Nepali red velvet vest).
Update: Stayed at Uno Port Inn which was a treat. Not fancy but they run a accommodation is a pleasant, comfy and unpretentious manner. My review (added to Tripadvisor and Google Maps):
Fantastic Location, Great Coffee, Excellent Staff
Location is fantastic with mere steps to ferry terminals and train station and bus stops plus lots of local art around. So handy for jumping off to art islands and/or getting to and from Okayama.
The staff was welcoming and very helpful. The lobby was chill and cozy and the patio was a treat.
The coffee is remarkable and the breakfast was very well prepared (especially nice on the patio).
Was just a quick one-night getaway (we live rather nearby) but made for a fun time. Note: The rooms are rather small but very functional and clean plus feature very nice sheets and pillows and Dr. Bronner’s soap in the bathroom!
Oh!: The folks at UNO Port Inn sent me a couple of snaps they took of yer ole pal me and asked for feedback and the ok to share on socials. Solid marketing / community building. Voila, snap!
Also: While we went out in search of dinner using the map provided by UNO, we found places either booked or closed… this worked out great as we wandered down an un-inviting arcade corridor and found the smallest okonomiyaki place run by an enjoyable old gal who loves dogs.
Finally: Uno and nearby islands Naoshima and neighbours are laden with public art and run a continuous bienalle of some sort. While i traveled across by ferry to Naoshima for a coffee, art walk and a hot springs soak, i won’t delay the click by foisting the relevant documentation now but rather share this remarkable fish made from sadly disposed of polluting nonsense plastic crap sitting on Uno port park area. There is often/usually a wild boar as well / or but seems the inoshishi had the week off.
Refuse plastic (and recycle if you can’t refuse but really refuse/avoid/replace as its such garbage!)