Tag Archives: japan life

Portrait: Torii at Amatsu Jinja (天津神社北側参道), Tsuchida

Just your pal Dave taking a rock around the neighbourhood. Stopping for sit by a mighty stone/concrete torii  gate at Amatsu Jinja north entrance (kitagawa sando) (天津神社北側参道)

Diary: Okayama Out n About / castle, samurai, lunch etc

The “back stairs” the Okayama castle aka the “crow castle” due to its black cladding

On Remembrance Day, Nov. 11 2019, as there are no memorial cenotaphs in my home area of Okayama, i set out on a wander to find a calm place to reflect about war and whatnot. 

Along the way, i documented a few slices of every day life, plus visited Okayama castle which was destroyed in WW2 by bombs and rebuilt in 1960-s. I ate lunch, dressed up in a cool outfit, wandered from the top to the bottom of the castle, checked out outbuildings and foundations… then walked to the library to find it closed so rode the bus home. 

Okayama castle approach on a lovely autumn day

These images were captured along the way, with minor annotations added from time to time.

Continue reading Diary: Okayama Out n About / castle, samurai, lunch etc

Diary: Kitchen > Nepali daal, and kaki jam

Made a big batch of (vaguely) Nepali lentil dal.

Ergo: Two colours of lentils, plus some garbanzos just because, onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, ground pepper, Himalayan salt etc

Note: Spices from Indonesia. Knife from Japan. Jar from Russia. Human from elsewhere.

In other news, also made Persimmon jam, not sure how well it will turn out but dang, we have a lot of Kaki to use – what an interesting fruit!

Continue reading Diary: Kitchen > Nepali daal, and kaki jam

Diary: Kinome make gardens for people (in a parking lot)

Gardens are (by) people, friend

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). 

The amazing Ryoko sharing packets of seeds wrapped in origami paper with a group of kids and their parents – Today’s lesson is leafy greens

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). 

tagging along with the gardener for laughs

Continue reading Diary: Kinome make gardens for people (in a parking lot)

Diary: Kurashiki Out n About + Musings about changes, economics and entrepreneurship

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).

Bonus: Check out the Taiko Drums fronting a Jazz band from this event #video

Evidence and annotations follow: 

Continue reading Diary: Kurashiki Out n About + Musings about changes, economics and entrepreneurship

Taiko Drumming Sisters Fronting Jazz Band in Kurashiki (Japan)

Duo sister Taiko drummers fronting jazz band (with drum kit, keys, alto sax) playing outdoors at Kurashiki (Japan) Jazz Street event in historic Bikan district.

Diary: Picking up rice

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. 

rural and urban contexts are sorta fuzzy and blended in Japan #generalization

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: 

Picking up a large sack of Okayama rice from wife’s mom’s cousin’s (or something…) field
Oh and here’s the bag of rice
grown here (or close by)

 

Diary: Okayama Regular Life, spring-ish / ramen, friends, singing, coffees, shrine, farm, graves etc.

Dave visits a Café terrace at Night – at “the Market” for a special event (described below) – photo by Ryoko (van Gogh homage)

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. 

Continue reading Diary: Okayama Regular Life, spring-ish / ramen, friends, singing, coffees, shrine, farm, graves etc.

Diary: Musings towards Uno + Smugglers book, provided Pyjamas, and Vancouver history

Before leaving Uo back to Tsuchida, found a ridiculous burger!

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).

Watched: Andrew McLuhan’s riff from The Inscriptorium (The McLuhan Institute) about Marshall & Eric McLuhan, James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake & Wyndham’s art.

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. 

coincidentally (if there is such a thing), buddy James shared a snap of Aleks (who was featured in True North Media House goodness) with the Hall o Famer (note: check out my coverage of his TEDx Van talk)… James says: It’s as good as getting a photo with the PM. A proud Canadian moment!

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!)

End of dispatch.

Japan: Okayama Local Transportation Options

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:

Okayama Transport primer with specific locations -> is station, x are hotels and o are shrine and resto

Japan: Okayama Station to Hotels, Wayfinding

Wayfinding from Okayama Station to Hotels

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. 

Okayama Station to Koraku Hotel
Koraku Hotel to Okayama View Hotel

 

Mementos: Tottori Japan Life at Enokitake (mushroom) Farm etc

Mementos: Japan Enokitake farm: view entering the farm compound in Saji - note this photo was used in Japan Times in an article about changes in rural Japan
Mementos: Japan Enokitake farm: view entering the farm compound in Saji, Tottoria

Note: Above photo published in Japan Times article: Modernity and magical realism in rural Japan By JAMES HADFIELD

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) .

Sometimes, i’d haul soggy Shittake logs around in the forest. The culture is injected as plugs into the wood and then grows from one log to another into meandering perpetuity

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.

The turn off to the farm which was a warehouse sorta structure with a variety of indoor/outdoor-ish rooms and shelters with various equipments, storage, supplies etc.

Continue reading Mementos: Tottori Japan Life at Enokitake (mushroom) Farm etc