Tag Archives: cottage

Outing: Tsuchida (mini) Matsuri

young ladies making best of the scene

With the public health conundrum is the last few years, the usual neighbourhood festivals have been cancelled including our small Tsuchida area event, which is usually a wee bit bigger and held at the elementary school. It’s significant to us as this is where I first met Ryoko’s parents who were helping out selling yakitori. Ryoko bought me my own yukata summer kimono for the event.

Your 3 pals on location

Of course, in Japan there are many sizes and traditions with the summertime festivals from small neighbourhood gatherings to epic shrine carrying and fire burning and fireworks.

In this case, in mid-July, 2022, at a small community centre right by our house, the neighbours did their best efforts to do a small and safe gathering which is especially geared towards the kiddos.

There was a sudden rain storm, a band which were doing their best (arena rock and the obligatory country roads”), some young ladies in kimono, fellas in their cool t-shirts, an energetic ballon-making lady, some older gents happy to see me settling into the neighborhood, many people remarking about Ichiro’s adorableness.

balloon lady working the crowd

Yes, temp checks and masks and you pay a ticket price with then gives you credit at each of the stands so we came home with a buncha extra popcorn we didn’t need/want but ya gotta use your chits.

you think Burning Man is weird? check out this
Continue reading Outing: Tsuchida (mini) Matsuri

Diary: visitors see new life & family + trip to Teshima w/ Ichiro annotations

A mysterious brilliant visitor from overseas – first in three years – captured me, at home, in my new life. This is my family, this is our home.

my adorable family with whom Xo Ryoko, Ichiro (thanks Amber Sensei)

I wandered far and endured plenty to find this life, and immensely grateful for it all. I’m so happy to show someone from my “old life“ what i found & and she understood very well.

and now with remarkable in-laws/grandparents

With out guests coming, we pulled out the special stash of saké, some fermented carrot pickles, housemade miso, and a few other fermented treats. Also started to soak in soy beans to make soy milk; prepared the Bizen yaki ceramic cups & small dishes for sashimi; also have bamboo shoots from our forest. (thanks M-i-L and F-i-L)

garden vegetables and bamboo shoots right out the door

Ryoko also prepared matcha tea in an abbreviated tea ceremony with tea bowls from her great-grandparents and made anpan (anko sweet bean paste in lil pancakes) to go with.

tea bowls and accessories, freshly washed

I should add that, “no, Japan is not open to tourists at this time” – Our recent particular international guest was on a publishing-company-sponsored book tour / meaning the company supported a business visa requiring a detailed itinerary and accepting of various risks / responsibilities etc. visit with issued by Japan consulate in USA before departure and required 10+ various forms, letters, etc.

Out n About to Teshima

the hilltop minimalist cafe where fig farmers served curry and you can chop your own green onions

Briefly: The many islands of the Seto inland sea (nestled between our home prefecture of Okayama and neighbour pref. Kagawa and the 4th of the main island of Japan Shikoku) host a triennialle art festival – not shockingly unheld for a few years – more to say about the economic goodness and reinvention and volunteer spirit but for now, i’ll say:

We went with our guests rather spontaneously (they had planned and reserved museum access) by our groovy “Esquire” van, then walked onto ferry and used various busses around the island of Teshima, ate curry, drank coffee/tea, more curry, postcards, then a walk-on ferry back to Uno port, more art and drive to Okayama station – the busiest day i’ve had in forever but was buoyed by conversation, views and friendship. Further annotations follow:

whilst friends went to museum, r, i and i went to a hilltop sorta café (really some fig farmers putting out a shingle for a few hours a day) and enjoyed views of Inushima (Isles of Dogs) and back to Okayama #panorama

Ichiro, postcards, ships (all sizes) etc

After our day out, in the bath he explained over and over again all the different modes of transportation and conveyance (big ferry boat, small ferry boat, two buses, baby car/stroller, our usual van etc.) he used during that day, using new sentence construction skills with conjunctions and verb conjugations. His magnificent brain spinning – even working out the names of our friends.

this obv was not our ferry but Ichi loved checking out all the fune

Lil dude got a bit of a fat lip running down the hill too fast and tripping but still was able to chill out at a café and enjoy his beverage.

dude knows how to lounge at a quirky curry cafe with Suzuki and Ota san

Papa wrote postcards and drank chai, sitting on cushions and sending geo-coordinates to pals who found us at カレー喫茶 異邦人 near Ieura port across the island from Kubota where we originally disembarked.

Ichiro mailed my postcards for me. “Choose the right portal for postcards Ichiro” i said {update: he did, what a smart fella} Inventory: 2 cards from Teshima to Gifu and Kyoto.

2 are decoys but one whisks secrets anywhere

Ichiro has now learned how to use the coffee bean grinder and insists on being the coffee captain in the morning, two scoops of the right beans, puts on the lid, covers with his hand, inspects to see if it’s the right grind for French press or Moka pot, all very serious & perfect.

And my darlings auditioned for a role in the next Wes Anderson movie (so to speak) with a pose by this blue truck.

blue, red, yellow – the day was my fave sort of weather, warm, breezy and overcast

Back to the port – love the salty smell, rusty metal and reinvention from industrial manufacturing and process to artistic tourism.

Ieura port – like most of Pacific coast of Japan, lots of factories in various states of use or decay, boats/ships of all kinds including container ships and now ferries, all sizes

Dozen+ of these islands with art, more to say but time to head home with my snappy shoes, happy. Thanks family and friends.

Fluevogs, since 1970 (like me) now with new aglets – getting very worn in

3 years since forever, “Japan 3.0” annotations

Hearth & Home (& Hot Pot)

Hey 3 years here today(ish) arrived from Indonesia to build Japan,?part 3.0

Annotations:

  • DIY Wedding – 3+ events – with international & domestic renegades
  • Honeymoon ramble, many places & various trains
  • Hooray we’re pregnant!
  • Pandemic times, injections, precautions whatnot
  • Kura barn studio stuff arrived by ship
  • Ryoko’s concert(s)
  • Welcome a wonderful baby boy (+ he starts pre-school, later)
  • House renovations (our design is so good)
  • Continued pandemic times, ongoing
  • Apparently, an Olympics (related media)
  • Ordered a dump truck
  • Many doctors and hospitals, repeat
  • Seemingly endless dossiers of paperwork for various cards, clearances, filings and what not
  • A few funerals, many grave and shrine visits
  • Gardens, trees, rocks
  • Hundreds/thousands of letters and postcards, also diaries & scrapbooks
  • Wonderful in-laws, not near enough time with friends &/or festivals

We/i carry on (usually in pajamas), Improving The Campsite, grateful for my forever home

Grandpa and Grandma‘s grave stone. Close to our house and has been kind of our nature hang out walk and clean the graves, fresh of the flowers, burn incense etc. especially during “safety precaution times“. Many generations of wife’s family are here. Proud to be part of this tradition.

Memo; Japan 1.0 was 1992-94, 2.0 was a few stops 2015-18

Questions accepted within reason

Diary: Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing in Okayama, 2019

Christmas isn’t really an “event” in Japan, more of a marketing campaign and a prelude to New Year’s Eve which is laden with tradition, nostalgia and routine. It’s kinda my speed as i am def turned off by rampant commercialism quasi-religious sabre-rattling which comes around. 

Regardless, with new family (and more family arriving in 2020) i wanted to wrangle a bit of festiveness – also acknowledging been a long while since i had vaguely “regular” christmas and while this was atypical, established some new routines, scratched an itch… after all, with the turmoil in my life the last years, there is admittedly some misgivings and rather tough emotions which come around during all this hoolpa. Most importantly, got to show love and respect for wife and in-laws. 

PS You can see a bit of building up for Christmas and read a riff between a friend and i about this holiday in Japan in: Diary: Christmas Forthcoming / out n about and at home in Okayama, 2019

What follows are a few poorly-photographed artifact of activities from Dec. 24 – 26 JST. Carry On!

First off, Dec. 24 (christmas eve) we made dinner of grilled mackeral, squash, pickled cucumbers and tsukemono carrots, greens, miso soup, tea, rice, lotus root, and whatnot. Yup, not off to a very traditional start – ha!

Christmas morn, we opened our stockings (pictured above) purchased from a 100yen store ($1), nothing but the best! and enjoyed toast with cream cheese and my kaki (persimmon) jam which i am always talking about, and nashi (pear). My sock had snacks, Ryoko’s had expired 35mm film and a necklace and snacks. 

Then we went to post office (one of my fave activities of course) and i wore a Santa cap (borrowed from Ryoko who wore at Mae Maes Christmas concert) to the amusement of the post office staff and the kids at the grocery store which was our next stop. Folks are stocking up for New Years time during which many stores are closed or scaled back hours and folks generally wanna hunker down. 

Then we picked up a pre-made feast from a great lil cafe called Sakura-mi we had ordered a while back when we went on a little lunch date. Here’s the café’s post box.

And i got to make a fire in the wood stove. So yeah, post office and fire making in the same day! Pleased. 

Took the grub home and set up at parent’s house (next door).

Continue reading Diary: Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing in Okayama, 2019

Diary: Christmas Forthcoming / out n about and at home in Okayama, 2019

Some kind of phone… possibly from a battlefield or remote office

We headed out on some errands to return the felt sheets used in the tea ceremony at assassinated Prime minster Inukai Tsuyoshi’s home to a strange little office in a corridor with the cigarette smell cemented into the cracked linoleum floors which all evoked the lost Showa times.

Along the way, a saw some shops, ate ramen, developed film, checked out cameras and whatnot. 

First though, along one of these covered shopping arcades which i totally dig (how does Vancouver not have these everywhere?), continued my rather absurd documentation of phone boxes.

I would call you but haven’t figured out where to buy a phone card. Also noting these “midori denwa” (green phones) are abundant and in beautiful condition but i (not shockingly) never see one in use. 

PS Did someone call a doctor? #joke My friend in Adelaide Australia made the snap into a fun cartoon-y image. I might do this with all photos in future. 

Continue reading Diary: Christmas Forthcoming / out n about and at home in Okayama, 2019

Diary: Autumn Miscellany, scenes of “regular life” in Okayama

made a little photo book for gift and sale featuring postboxes of the world, post offices here and there, and letter writing “still lifes” scenes with stationery and bevvies (note to self: post a link or something to purchase this book)

A few years ago (or less), each day was quite tough. Now, each day i deal with pain and confusion but enough joy and interestingness to compensate. My brain fires but i have to throttle as i get headaches and eye strain very easily, i remain very sensitive to light and sounds so use dark glasses and ear plugs when out and about.

Anyhow, there are several recent “standalone” dispatches of activities and outings (Mae Maes concerts, tea ceremony, museums, tours…) but this post simply gathers up miscellaneous whatnots which don’t really chronicle anything but normal day-to-day tasks and action with brief annotations.

coffee and cake date with the amazing Ryoko who amazes me daily with her tenacity, honesty, grace and endless interests

Continue reading Diary: Autumn Miscellany, scenes of “regular life” in Okayama

coffee on porch (last of the year)