Tag Archives: history

Field Notes: Mayne Island (B.C.) Japanese Memorial Garden, 2008

torii gate separates the super & natural

Map: Japanese Memorial Gardens (on Mayne Island)

Note: further reading and resources at bottom

On a snowy day in Dec. 2008, i (along with the dear traveling companion) visited a Japanese Garden on Mayne Island, one of the Gulf Islands between the mainland and Vancouver Island in the Salish sea.

The garden is absolutely charming, a remix of traditional style and Pacific northwest flair with blown glass “balls/baubles/lanterns” intertwined with the trees and Torii gate, and we had the place to ourselves on a short and stormy day.

The garden was made by locals in tribute to their dear Japanese neighbours who were hauled away to internment camps and never returned.

As it goes, this island was settled with Japanese largely from Tottori-ken, the province across Honshu from my home in Okayama over on the Sea of Japan side where i toiled as a mushroom farmer in early 1990s.

I should know more about this topic but as I understand it: once Japan “opened up” to the west during the Meiji restoration, many farmers & fishers who now somewhat freed from the feudal system migrated to the North American West Coast, in this instance, the Salish Sea area, and set up homesteads on Islands on in which are both/either in BC or Washington state {which may have felt geographically familiar to the “Seto naikai/ inland sea” islands}, as well as mainland BC/Washington (and on down to Oregon and California), started businesses and worked as farmers and fishers before the tragedy of internment camps, (which occurred in both USA and Canada).

For a while, I worked in an office in what was once Japantown (now colloquially called Railtown) and often walked by the former Japanese community school where I understand they still conduct Japanese lessons. {Note to self: dig up the pictures of the Japantown exhibit from the museum of Vancouver which are stashed in some hard drive somewhere.} There is also remnants of the Japanese entrepreneurship and diaspora in the fishing port area of Richmond called Steveston.

There’s also a Japanese summer Matsuri festival held in the area oh, I should also mention the legendary Asahis baseball team… so much to say but onwards with the garden right.

The garden is centred round a pond and lanterns, stones and artfully arranged trees placed intentionally.

…and with it being the festive winter season, the trees were festooned with various glass globes, balls, and bulbs adding a touch of whimsy to an otherwise rather-solemn (in this weather and with the backstory) atmosphere.

Continue reading Field Notes: Mayne Island (B.C.) Japanese Memorial Garden, 2008

The Taisho Era: When modernity ruled Japan’s masses via The Japan Times

Note: Fascinated with era of Japan (forgotten in between the epic Meiji Restoration and industrialization and the militaristic/imperial period leading up to the Asian/Pacific etc. war / working on finding more books and films exploring this “forgotten” time (started with Naomi by Tanazaki)

The Taisho Era: When modernity ruled Japan’s masses via The Japan Times, July 29, 2012, by Michael Hoffman

One hundred years ago this week — on July 30, 1912 — Emperor Meiji passed away and Japan, traveling blind and hardly knowing where it was going, entered a new age.

The Taisho Era (1912-26), sandwiched between the boldly modernizing Meiji Era (1867-1912) and the militarist tide of early Showa (1926-1989), deserves more recognition than it gets.

Taisho is Japan’s Jazz Age. Can it be summed up in a phrase? It often is: ero-guro-nansensu — eroticism, grotesquerie, nonsense.

All three filled the air. Was Taisho, then, mere frivolity? To cite only the plainest evidence to the contrary: World War I; the 1918 Rice Riots; “Taisho Democracy;” the founding in 1922 of the Japan Communist Party; the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923; the granting of universal manhood suffrage in 1925; and the repressive Peace Preservation Law passed barely two months later.

Source: The Taisho Era: When modernity ruled Japan’s masses | The Japan Times (may be paywalled)

Exhibit: contributions to “Cannabis Japonica” at Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum, Barcelona

Opening "Cannabis Japonica"
I’ve got this (almost) exact same outfit!

The Hash Marihuana and Hemp Museum in Barcelona (also in Amsterdam) is featuring an exhibit called “Cannabis Japonica – A fashionable journey through Japan’s cultural ties with the cannabis plant” on display until 26/02/2023

I was invited by curator Ferenz Jacobs to contribute some stories and items from my extensive archive and numerous essays to which i readily agreed (though my work/research is not currently active/ambitious though i have a few lines of investigation for *some other time*).

Blurb: The highlight of the Barcelona Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum’s 10th anniversary celebrations will be the exhibition “Cannabis Japonica”. On view from May 12, 2022 to February 26, 2023, the presentation leads visitors on a fashionable and fascinating journey through Japan’s cultural ties with the cannabis plant.

Excerpt: 

A well-known Japanese children’s adventure story tells of a technique used by ninjas to improve their jumping skills. The student ninja plants a batch of hemp when he begins training and endeavours to leap over it every day. At first, this is no challenge, but every day the hemp grows quickly – and so must the ninja’s jumping ability. By the end of the growing season, the warrior can clear the 3 to 4-metre high hemp.

Continue reading Exhibit: contributions to “Cannabis Japonica” at Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum, Barcelona

Musing: Painted into corner (of a blank canvas) #video

Spontaneous riff with usual lousy video and dodgy audio but solid stories

Diary musings including: brain fog; trips to Shimane and Kyoto (Minka Summit); pals Ted and Ed and a big dog; recent books (Alex Kerr, Robert Whiting, Miles Copeland, Dave Bidini) + classic Japonica books; ++ sorting out my head about “what comes next” (answer equals anything; seitai treatment; MECFS awareness (and other awarenesses month); sortganzing ephemera; new records, old records; how are you? etc – all from kura barn a spontaneous rambling blur on another sunny day in Okayama.

Accidentally features Leonard Cohen and Mxmtoon.

Did you notice my sweet black globe and green ship lantern?

“HempenRoad: Activism in OlyWa” Uncle Weed Storytime for Cannaverse Club

Blurb: In the historic kura barn studio in provincial Japan, digging into the archive from 1996/7 documentary film “HempenRoad”, Uncle Weed shares the backstories of the project with a binder full of artifacts, reviews, plans, scripts, etc

Then plays a “producer’s cut” of a segment from Olympia, Washington featured Dennis Peron on the road promoting ground-breaking California Prop 215 at the Capitol Dome – along with diligent activists out the rain and Lt Governor candidate Bob Owen of WHEN. 

Next a visit to a pioneering Internet Service Provider (OlyWa) for a peek at a (now vintage) data center with modems(!) and remarks about the importance of the (new) word wide web for disseminating information about cannabis.

Finally, riffs about how the film was produced with analog and digital tools, the importance of “showing up” and working with all parties to effectuate positive change and a personal manifesto of sorts about UW’s objectives and edicts when becoming a dedicated activist in 1990. 

Questions welcome about the film – segments from Vancouver, Victoria, Portland, Eugene and more to come – as well as logistical inquiries about making creative projects.

Gist: I’m collaborating with some pals on a new Cannabis Community project – its all metavers-y and NFTs and such as and while that’s not my forte, sharing stories from rambles, campaigns, and creative riffs is (fer sure) so here’s the firestarter video to spark the project series. Links below to get in on the hi-jinks. So happy to be getting studio barn set-up with all the wires, dongles, adapters, extenders, lights and mics. Catch all the topics in the riff below and come on along!

Join in the hijinks at the #uncle-weed-storytime on the Cannaverse Club discord server and/or https://Cannaverseclub.com & Cannaverse Club Youtube

#AlwaysBeKind

Tree Measures Time (with patience & art)

so much history right here for me and all of it witnessed by this glorious gingko tree – photo by Ryoko Olson, painting by me

A journey of 30 years starts with a single act quitting a terrible mushroom farmer job and hitchhiking to a cow farm to shakedown gear & head into eveywhere. 

Years later, you meet a remarkable girl, throw a raging party with international renegades, goats are swapped for the cows, the espresso is top shelf and the gingko tree measures the changes.

Postcards available on site (at Rural Caprine Farm, Mac Kobayashi, farmer)

PS in reply to a comment, keeping here for keeping:

Yeah travel gets complicated and strangely enough, amongst all the “public health conundrums” and just been in one place for a long time, I’ve had the most incredible 18 months of my life, I almost just accidentally. But Japan is a wonderful place to visit, it’s easy to get around and such a variety of geography and culture and everything from ultra-modern to old-timey coexisting next to each other.By the way, in my endless folder of “almost finished but not quite” essays to put up on my website is a practical guide to traveling while dealing with chronic/complex illness… A few airport/airplane/travel hacks (for lack of a better word) I’ve used to skate around the world while dealing with #MECFS etc

My world switches rapidly between black and white and Technicolor depending on the hour. Do you have this one in your collection yet? Do you know anytime you see something of mine you’d like, I’ll make you a postcard of it. I’d like to imagine I’m on your refrigerator

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.

Memento: Canucks and related hockey artifacts

Memento: Canucks and related hockey artifacts

Various hockey ephemera (cards, calendars, tickets, clippings), made into a shadowbox once upon a time, broken, harvested and laid in situ.

Primarily Vancouver Canucks related including: Captain Marcus Naslund, goaltenders variety  of Gary Bromley, Kirk McLean, Dan Cloutier plus tickets stubs from Vancouver Canucks, Seattle Thunderbirds, schedule from Vancouver Giants, plus Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky to rub off some greatness, and a list of Stanley Cup champions torn from a newspaper. Plus, Vancouver Canucks puck #inventory

Of such items, many many more exist in boxes, this just appeared behind broken glass.

UW 3>s Peace / Alternatives are Unworthy (Remembering Nagasaki)

Peace. Try > Be > Do. Alternatives not worthy.

a replica of the plutonium bomb “Fat man“ dropped on Nagasaki on Aug 9, 1945, 11:02 AM  (as seen at the museum in Nagasaki)

UW <3s Peace

Remembering “all“ (I mean *all*) victims of war. It’s not worth it, let’s talk/respect/listen/find another way.

Fck hubris, imperialism, fascism, totalitarianism, feudalism, false divinity, insecure bullies, tyrants, despots, inherited monarchy plus liars, dictators & deceit in general.

I live up road from Hiroshima (bomb coulda been here instead) & visited (wonderful) Nagasaki in Feb (early C19 daze) > hard to go to those places without understanding the horrific costs, as well as the resilience of recovery in the horrendous aftermath.

Worth noting I also went to Tinian where Enola Gay took off, lived in Guam and landed on the runway on Peleliu Palau (Bloody Nose Ridge). Explored all the points of view by reading dozens of historical accounts, every documentary can find, fictional movies, historical podcasts.

Everywhere I think of the ridiculous cost of humans and opportunity and resources and endless heartbreak resulting from conceit, imperialism and hubris.

We ask the wrong questions & the results are horrid for so many, beyond “they did so we should…”

For more about how Japan tangled itself all up in a mess, listen to “Dan Carlin‘s Hardcore history“ podcast fantastic series “supernova in the east” each segment about 4 hours(!) but he’s a great storyteller and unpacks in great detail while not getting overtly “political“.

More rabbit holes (my pardons for lack of a proper copy edit / just annotations, notes etc via a various sources) re: war in Pacific + characters, forgotten-ish storylines, further reading…

Also, on various Netflix (or use VPN to skip around country), series called “Tokyo Trail” a joint Japanese /Dutch production going into war crimes trials in Japan… Judges from all the different Allied countries, trial stretched on for seemingly forever, endless conundrums

Yet another Netflix somewhere, a movie called “Yamamoto” something something, Japanese production telling story of Navy Admiral who was (mostly) against *trying* to attack the US but was put in charge nevertheless… Explores tension between Army’s aggressive goals and gluttony

Hard to get my head around how people can be so decent and kind in these times, yet 2 generations before were ruthless killers / turns out it just takes a few maniacs in power, rhetoric, brainwashing about exceptionalism + public pressure to send culture off rails

John Hershey’s long form essay in the New Yorker about Hiroshima is an absolutely fantastic piece of writing about most dreadful of topics. Thinking about #Hiroshima and #Nagasaki so much / as well all the cities that “might have have been” / so many broken dreams and lies #peace.

Another riff with with several more deep tome historical readings about war in the Pacific, breaking it down “play-by-play“ day by day, hour by hour in some cases. Post includes digressions, annotations & asides, read anyhow ;)

HempenRoad / promo postcard, 1996-7

HempenRoad: promo postcard, 1996

A promotional postcard for the HempenRoad film project Made while we were still in production, printed on 100% hemp cardstock paper (from Ecosource in Victoria ,BC) and mailed all over to wrangle up support and excitement about the project.

HempenRoad: promo postcard, 1996

Note: the toll-free 888-UNC-WEED phone number and the Olywa.net/Uncleweed web address (before there was a domain).

The card itself was laid out from various mixed-media elements (including Eiji (rip) and I snapped by Ben Livingston i think) using an early version of Photoshop on a pirate mission at a Kinko’s (prob with Pete Word).

There is another glorious postcard and duplex paper made after the film was released which eventually (hopefully) will turn up (and possibly a higher-res scan of this one).

Also: recently resurrected the film as ” chapters” + made an IMDb page and surfacing artefacts as I find them… including poster art and other items – and there are production journals for your perusal to meet pioneers and unique products.