Ryoko has her own small company doing tree trimming, garden planning and various workshops (like tree trimming for seniors) and sometimes does a gig teaching children and their parents about gardening using a couple plots in the parking lot of a grocery store (who sponsor the event).
Anyhow, i tagged along to see her in action, drink coffee and do a bit of grocery shopping at the awesome store (plus take care of our household recycling while we were there).
The magical art city of Kurashiki was holding a Jazz Street event with loads of bands playing at various venues around the historic Bikan area with narrow Edo-period laneways, the magnificent Ohara museum (featuring European post/impressionist art) and lots of little shops selling handmade paper, handicrafts of all sort, plus great coffee shops and kissaten (a sort of Japanese diner/lounge type establishment).
One day in late October, we were invited by a relative to pick up a bag of freshly-harvested rice for a wedding gift. I love rolling around the area as there is such a mix of rice fields, houses, shinkansen tracks, tiny roads, medium hills, various scare crows and whatnot.
Anyhow, we met the nice relative lady, drank tea with her and told some stories about our honeymoon ramble and whatnot (the usual things about my country and experience in Japan), picked up the rice and well… evidence follows:
After all the friends came and went from the wedding festivities in April (including a hospital stay by one intrepid adventurer) and then the Emperor abdicated and new one enthroned, then we rambled through much of May to Toyama, Nagano, Niigata etc. seeing small museums, riding various trains, soaking in a few hot springs, visiting a few pals… oh then of course, doing all the paperwork and procedure for my zairyu card, national insurance and pension programs and setting up our little house with some 2nd hand furniture, a fresh shelf books and hooks and hangers… we set about just “normal life” here.
Note: Indeed, indulged with a very practical maneouver to acquire a stack of books… this pile is primarily from Vancouver and Vancouver-related by Grant Lawrence, Aaron Chapman, Eve Lazarus, plus Marc Zegans and David Willis… i will document these and many others recently added to collection forthwith(ish).
What follows are very mediocre snapshots to chronicle various normal-outings, non-events, day-to-day errands, and other otherwise insignificant actions.
For the record, we live in Tsuchida neighbourhood outside of Okayama city (shi), the capital of Okayama prefecture (ken). A mix of old (pre-war) homes, new homes, rice fields. 20 mins by car or 30 minutes by the fantastic Uno Bus to Okayama Station. Easy to go to Kurashiki or Bizen or the inland sea.
I’ve even tried to plant some garden boxes and various seeds for greens. Okaasan (mother) has a much better technique and diligence with gardening.
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!)
Getting Around Okayama by Streetcar, Bus, Taxi and Bicycle
In prep for a barrage of international renegade diplomats descending upon Okayama comes a few ways of getting around the city, as well as a finding other information about information, ya know for tourists.
Note: This was originally created for guests coming to #DRO420 wedding festivities, another dispatch shares specifics about getting to shrine (ceremony), resto (fancy lunch) and goat farm (party). In the meantime, please accept my humble offering. Ergo:
This dispatch shares wayfinding tips to get from the main train station, down a covered shopping arcade, over a canal, a stop for coffee at Stand (optional) and then to Koraku hotel (conveniently embedded with a post office and convenience store). Then passing statues and bars, to the Okayama View Hotel – located across from the Birkenstock store and ¥100 shop – and over to the Tenmaya shopping area and transit hub as needed.
Note: originally created for guests coming to #DRO420 wedding festivities. Carry on.
Story: Sometime around 1993, I ended up working as a mushroom farmhand (enokitake and shiitake) in a small mountain village called Saji in Tottori-ken (prefecture), Yazu-gun (county) .
A sorta friend of friend of my brother was seeking a foreign worker (at the time, Japan’s economy was in a “bubble” with abundant wealth and no one wanted to do the crappy jobs it turns out). They would pay my airfare and so on, I had just finished a stint hitching and drifting around Europe and before the Grateful Dead tour and thought this would be an interesting adventure.