Tag Archives: japan life

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

Ramen (with yuzu and spring vegetables)

I don’t have any cat pictures on hand but I did photograph today’s Ramen with spring vegetables, yuzu peel and extra pork.

At Gakucho Menya – best place ever (in Okayama and beyond).

See…, I do know how to Internet.

Diary: (trying) to bounce up with various pleasing tasks

Various notes before heading off on a lil roadie to Shimane prefecture (across-ish on Sea of Japan side). Ichiro’s 1st time outta Okayama-ken. Packing light, hitting a children’s museum & aquarium, staying at a ryokan (pyjamas provided). Minimal dispatches, maybe. (by car but saw this train last time)

– carry on

March 24: Trying to bounce up. Did some shoes maintenance, a bit of creative stuff in the barn, bath with the kiddo, eating healthy and taking my supplements but still… dragging :( just saying this out loud to get it out of my head before sleep. No big deal, should be used to it.

Just trying to be 32% as cool as these guys. You know who they are right?

Plan to do some shoes maintenance today. At least one pair anyway, to get ready for our little road trip this weekend. But really, still foggy and in bed.

Or I might sew another curtain. Possibly test some microphones and a little mini PA we got.

Curious if anyone’s moved into the birdhouse. None of this will happen unless I can get out of bed.

OK, general updates

* doesn’t seem anyone’s moved in to the birdhouse yet

* set up mini PA and tested (& taped) 3 diff dynamic microphones

* gonna try fixing up some shoes but do it outside

[update to update: Of course I did a little photo essay of doing shoes maintenance but it may have crossed the street threshold into “completely trivial matters” which means of course, I’ll get to it eventually. Anyhow, my shoes are ready for a road trip tomorrow.]

My brain is so fogged

Photo: family band vibes, impending

Continue reading Diary: (trying) to bounce up with various pleasing tasks

Diary: Shrine, Peace & Bevvies

Shrine visit for peace & health (& wild boar).

We wrote a little message on ¥500 wooden prayer tile, each row hung it up, we dropped coins, did the clapping, and explored the nooks and crannies of the compound. Plus Ryoko collected some tea plant seeds.

Then tasty bevvies at a wonderful lil coffee roasters with a large room, sit on the floor amongst aromatic burlap bags. Outside with a fancy temporary food stand selling quite gourmet food to eat at a picnic table or take to go.

Of course this glorious little dude is getting more and more strong & active and wants places to romp around which are in a little bit short supply.

The trickiness of being a great active parent are evident with various things inaccessible and general lack of grassy fields to romp. One of the reasons were “improving the campsite“ here at Tsuchida Station.

Epilogue: i’m so proud to be part of this tradition – tending to graves of the ancestors, writing our prayers on a little wooden tile and hanging for the wind to carry away. And oh my goodness, specialty coffee in a specialty ceramic cup, sitting on mats on the floor… All of it

Items: record shop stop (feat. BTO Japan Tour)

yesterday, report / diary:

Finished medical appt and somehow a magnetic impulse pulled me into a tiny record store – now I’m waiting for ride with a blue bag full of “just a few vinyls really, well… several” David Bowie, BTO Live in Japan, Levon Helm RCO all stars, Echo and the Bunnymen, McCoy Tyner, The Pretenders +++

Admittedly, my powers of resistance are (deliberately?) very weak… Recently most of my record purchases are online but there’s real satisfaction to flipping through bins.

Yeah bookstores and record stores, especially small, well curated and possibly a cat wandering around, I’m very content. (There’s even a poem somewhere around here about almost being locked in a bookstore overnight)

Note: Japanese packaging is so often different and so interesting (with Obi – extra paper stripe around with the information in Japanese – too)

For what it’s worth, ranged between ¥1200 and ¥1800 – including some double albums, all in great condition – the proprietor inspected each one as he packed it into a vinyl sleeve.

Not that it really really matters but we’re living pretty thrifty these days / months so remind myself that not spending money on restaurants, travel, booze etc. so a little bit of cash splashed on vinyl is alrighhhht.

Listening to Wilco as im waiting for kei-truck pick-up, in front of piano bar / friendly master Ren san brought me yesterday cup of black coffee

Here: Power Plant Records
086-803-2608

Improving the Campsite (odds and ends diary)

+ Improving the Campsite, odds and ends from Tsuchida Cottage +

A little bit lost – &/or found – of late, but the dishes are finished, laundry started and the rabbits ointment is applied so saying “Hello. How are you?”

Plus a few other life annotation about *improving the campsite*, curbing ambition with gardening, wild boars, geolocated signpost, illnesses, funeral, taxes – goodtimes!

Also noting that i’m putting “Postcard as a Service” shop on hiatus, cancelling everything, tidying up here and there and attempting to find a little bit of peace in my aching head with yard, garden and barn projects.

Peace to all of us.

Note: Japan and (my) Amusement

Worth noting that Japan is loaded with great stationery, so many trains, a fantastic Postal Service with post boxes everywhere (plus diligent courier services, hooray kuro-neko, most anything delivered (so much more imported foods than my first time around in 1992-4), well-maintained but never used payphones, fruits and vegetables I don’t recognize, appreciation for poetry, and a constant struggle between minimalism and maximalism… In other words, seems custom-made for my amusement.

This is all.

Diary: Seeking Brussel(l) Sprouts, Finding Lobster (+ other festive prep)

Memo: Today, i am *braving* the wilds of Okayama (our minor provincial city) in search of brussel sprouts, yams (not sweet potatoes, *yams*), celery etc for festive goodtimes.

As you will notice in the dispatch i sneak a mention about Ichiro’s Christmas present and yes, discuss my magnificent Santa Claus beard as i am clearly *A Method Actor*.

clearly a method actor

Updates:

The Japan Agricultural outlet was almost bloodsport of grandmothers jockeying for produce. Survived.

Somehow I came home with celery that’s over a meter long, a daikon radish almost the size of my leg, and a whole lobster + intended brussel sprouts & variety of potato/tubers.

tubers, various – and squash

One note, 95% of our groceries come in a weekly delivery service from the co-op (not a cute little neighborhood co-op but like a national co-op) but some more obscure/specialty things required a little bit more adventuring. I really don’t leave the house aside from the post office, hospitals and nursery school.

Festive times impending at Tsuchida Cottage / arborist wife perks equals Christmas tree, cut yesterday (from private land by Oka-san) – its sappy and prickly (and rare!)

Feeling really grateful for a well -timed, well-received – very welcome and unexpected gift that is sparking up the Festive season with Transit goodness. Beside the sweet Translink sweater came a scarf and toques

PS will get a picture with the 3 of us in matching @TransLink toques soon.

Finally:

daikon and celery measured upon request (90+cm)

and tree “installed” with wooden braces, heavy rocks/stones in a crockery vessel (which recently held umeboshi)

Bailey’s Irish Cream arrived by courier, Kahlua acquired, cutlery ordered, various schemes considered. Bill Janovitz’s Christmas shuffle playlist tested. Carry on.

Post’d: Japan Post (and magic little motorbikes)

One of very best parts of Japan Life is the stellar Postal Service >> Japan Post always impresses with diligence & flair here at Tsuchida Cottage. {Postal mark emoji goes here}

[It’s so fun as they come here and little red scooters or in cute Tonka looking trucks, or a friendly human with striped trousers and hat in a little red van]

semi-related note to a friend who mailed me something special

“I love my life here but it’s easy to get a little melancholy around the holidays as it’s just really not really much of a thing here, everything builds up till New Year’s but it’s just, all very different. My family and friends and “old life” you’re really far away right now so this brought me right home to riding the Seabus every day.”

Diary: Catch-up with Mochi, Scrapbooks, Postcards, Framing and usual tasks

new postcard series, “Global Postboxes (mostly), Red (usually)” for the postcards club members

Quick hits from last week or so – have a load of things *want* to do before end of the year (as always) but trying to prioritize gracefully and accept the days as they roll in.

What follows are reminders of various unrelated to “big creative projects ™” from last lil stretch, here to remind me (and future me) of all wrangled through during the ups and downs.

Father in law checks the steamers as neighbours pound mochi rice behind

Mochi making day in Tsuchida neighbourhood (at the little community center where their late grandfather Ichiro used to perform with his accordion… We still have the accordion but it needs some repairs). Steam rice, pound rice, each eat with sweet beans.

Took some snaps of the community agricultural processing sorta warehouse i’ll maybe curate eventually.

Besides the usual dishes, laundry, and tea… Finished epic Beat hero video & prepped some rather gorgeous “Postcards from Gravelly Beach” for some kindly (and lucky :-)) supporters/customers.

Of course, I’m really the lucky one. PS You can get in on the fun by ordering postcard sets & art dossiers or sign up for my monthly “postcard as a service” for $5+/mo.

Note: On my list for next year is to think about how to step this project up (or not)… do i stay the course? add WP “coffee” button? add woocommerce? (finally) start etsy store? start shop!fy store? i dunno. want easy, low stress all the money is distributed to various charities and causes {+ paper, ink & stamps} – advice?

2021 correspondence scrapbook, cover

Also did a wee bit of scrapbooking… Specifically properly archiving all of this year’s general correspondence.

Continue reading Diary: Catch-up with Mochi, Scrapbooks, Postcards, Framing and usual tasks