Tag Archives: japan

Riff: Japan, working holiday visa, 1992 (& related circumstances)

the “working holiday visa which started my Japan life in Dec. 1992

Before arriving in Japan, I really knew very little about Japan, I didn’t have an interest in Japan, didn’t care about anime or manga or hadn’t eaten sushi, and had no interest in martial arts, though did have some interest and experience with traditional pottery (raku) techniques, familiarity with Japanese poetry albeit as introduced by *Western* writers, however my older brother had gone to Japan for “proselytizing reasons” and him being in Japan – in a roundabout way – is what brought me to Japan (via the working holiday visa paper of importancy pictured above).

In brief: after a several years of traveling around US & Canada for Grateful Dead concerts, hemp festivals, national park exploits, mountain climbing, canyon hiking, couch crashing, Punk shows, fake IDs, drum corps, university invasions, odd jobs, foolish hitchhikes and “doing my best” with the ladies… And then extending that vibe into Mexico for fish tacos and tequila mistakes and taking my VW bus in even more places it probably shouldn’t have ever gone but did, came an accepted application to Evergreen college which was thwarting by ignominiously *not* winning of any scholarships, not awarded of any bursaries, not accepted into any grants, not allowed any loans so (kind of a shock since i was really accustomed to winning everythings, (you wanna see all my elementary school ribbons, maybe you have?).

So, took the money saved from a summer of building bicycles at Sunrise in Logan, Utah while living in a tent next to the temple & went to Seattle anyway but instead of going south to Olympia to finish off a bachelors degree (with wide eyes of getting a master of fine arts in creative writing and likely a tweed jacket with elbow patches soon there after to go with my smoky pipe and intellectual airs), went North to my “for lack of a better term” hometown of Surrey/Vancouver, bought a one-way ticket to Amsterdam, found some ridiculously-colored hiking boots, obnoxiously-colored trousers and barely usable but very packable sleeping bag & mat on the clear-out table (obviously because of the color) at one of the dozen outdoor good stores in Kitsilano, and with a butane stove (loaded), pocket knife (dull-ish), cut off overalls, a travel sized wok pan, juggling sticks and a jester hat, headed off on a European adventure – not the sort of package tour with giggling youth on a graduation trip, nor the earnest guidebook-toting aficionado, just me, a patched up red wilderness experience backpack and the 1972 “hitchhikers guide to Europe” with vague plans to eventually meet up with my buddy Trevor who had gone a few months earlier (keep reading) and working as a waiter at a seaside something in England and seeing all these bands we loved at big muddy festivals.

At the risk of an extended digression, (& unsurprisingly, documentation of this trip exists in poems, paintings, two photographs, a wine label and at least one but probably more podcasts telling stories about getting deathly ill at Oktoberfest in Munich after hitchhiking from Amsterdam, meeting up with the Bad Yodelers band and being (yet again) a sort of uninvited guest on their band tour being a “roadie who didn’t do anything but smoke hash mixed with tobacco – yech”, then meeting up with Trevor in an idyllic fairytale town, picking grapes, gathering chestnuts for sale, partying in old castle dungeons, carousing with more people than should fit in a Citreön, a wild “new wine” festival [censored], hitchhike back to Amsterdam hostels & coffeshops, a bus to Belgium, a hazy ferry to England, rainy expensive London with Hare Krishnas and bad decisions and couch surfing (again) with New Zealanders (and an Australian who was convinced he was going to carry on a dozen beer steins for his flight home) after watching red dwarf… We ended up in Miami after hurricane Andrew on a cheap Virgin Atlantic flight – where we drank more than our airfare of fancy liquor & bought a bottle of scotch for a friend Who (yes, again) would be hosting us on his couch – on a fraudulent credit card. Then came all night Denny’s nursing coffees, Halloween hilarity, caught in thunderstorms, meeting sketchy friends of a sort, trying to exchange a Canadian hundred dollar bill which had been hidden in my boot for months, soggy and unvaluable, adventure down to Key West meeting neither Jimmy Buffett or Hemingway but eating some conch fritters, then a drive-away car delivery towards Dallas with at least three police incidents including a very thorough search on alligator alley none of which were nowhere near as frightening as dropping off the car to the very large, very agitated (and wearing very short shorts) recipient who was ummm concerned & confused about why the trunk wasn’t filled with a certain white powder and “who are we?” and why we were demanding he gave us $300… Somehow we ended up at the Greyhound station, scammed a scammer into a two-for-one ticket for a bus ride to Salt Lake City, i’ll never ride a greyhound again I said as I sat in the loser seat next to the toilet but still I remember every bus station was playing a different Neil Diamond song.)

Continue reading Riff: Japan, working holiday visa, 1992 (& related circumstances)

Collection: (Pay)phones (vol. 11) – assorted Japan hotel/ryokan house phones

operational classic black rotary and laser engraved QR code for wi-fi

As part of on-going documentation of various collections of payphones. this gallery features examples of phones in various states of use, captured “in the wild” around Japan, specifically featuring hotel house phones in Shimane and Ishikawa and related devices, plus a few other phone handsets of different circumstances and origins for your edification, lightly annotated.

the Ryokan’s “control center” with multiple faxes and breaker panels, switch boards…
another hotel “control centre” with phones, faxes, batteries and cc machines(?)
i seem to recall this was once a phone i used but don’t recall. can you remember?
room phone at a Ryokan in Shimane
Continue reading Collection: (Pay)phones (vol. 11) – assorted Japan hotel/ryokan house phones

Collection: Payphones (vol. 10) – assorted varieties / Varley Trail, Hong Kong, Bali, Japan

at Rice Lake cabin along the Varley Trail, Lynn Canyon, BC

Pardon any redundancies, this collection definitely includes several that just haven’t fit into previous archives but maybe one or two they already are out there, there’s too many to count anymore. In this wormhole, we range widely however from the Varley Trail in Lynn Canyon, British Columbia, to Indonesia, to Hong Kong, to points around Japan. Of course, you can find many more in various collections of payphones and related communication tools.

on the streets of Hong Kong

Hello to the people in the future,

What follows are public telephones created in a time when phones did not roam freely and in pockets. To make a call, one would either enter a specially-created booth (or box), or simply stand close by as the receivers were tethered to the phone unit by a short cord, then insert a variety of coins depending on the location called (local, domestic or international) or in some cases, use a purpose-made phone card, or even a credit card (though doing so often exposed one to fraudulent actors).

Perhaps you have already imagined the unsanitary nature of sharing a phone handset (placed next/close to ear and mouth of course) with strangers – though perhaps this increased “herd immunity” despite being rather unpleasant. Note that oftentimes the coin return slots were checked for forgotten change but the miner was surprised to find discarded chewing gum, or even-less-savoury items, instead.

ok ok, this isn’t a telephone, its a utility meter in Indonesia
to make up for my tom-foolery above, here’s a payphone in Indonesia
i see you! a accessible size “office ready” unit at a rest/service area en route to Kyoto
Continue reading Collection: Payphones (vol. 10) – assorted varieties / Varley Trail, Hong Kong, Bali, Japan

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

Collection: (Pay)phones and whatnot (vol. 9) – around Nagasaki & Gunkajima

In the various collections of payphones (as well as hotel house phones and other related analogue communication tools) throughout this archive, the devices are often scattered in variety of locations. However, this installment includes items observed on a visit to Nagasaki in February 2020 and includes payphones, a few phones at restos and inns as well as a few rather destroyed artifacts from “battleship island” (an inland turned mining facility).

as seen at a restaurant, evidently still operational but did not operate
at a Kissaten Café right near the atomic bomb museum
Continue reading Collection: (Pay)phones and whatnot (vol. 9) – around Nagasaki & Gunkajima

Museum / Exhibit: Rodin Wing of Shizuoka Pref MoA / Japan, 2017

Along a travel by ship from California to Hong Kong, came a few stops in Japan including Shizuoka which led to a visit to the “Rodin Wing” of Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art 静岡県立美術館 in Oct 2017.

Was exceptionally calm, peaceful and relaxed feeling, examining the cast bronze and wood statues (mostly) with no one else in the room.

Of course, I felt compelled to go for round with the daunting Dante’s “gates of hell” representation and mugging with the various god-like figures with flowing beards

i mean, who is who anyhow?
Continue reading Museum / Exhibit: Rodin Wing of Shizuoka Pref MoA / Japan, 2017

Museum: Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design, 2019 (a sampler)

welcome to Toyama, i really enjoy showing up to a place i know *nothing* about, like a white sheet of paper, filled with possibilities

Blurb: On our extended skinkonryoko/honeymoon ramble, we had a stop in the city of Toyama (capital of eponymous prefecture) which i really didn’t know anything about but turned out to be very pleasant. Besides being a conveniently-located “midsize city” with good transportation of the sort I really like, there was a castle and lots of public art and pleasant accommodations and of course kissaten coffee shops for making scrapbooks.

its all empty and full

While there was a choice of many museums to see, we headed out to the Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design by bus and wow, what a mighty experience. Almost too much for this guy, anyhow… let’s take a lil ramble:

Ryoko hangs with Pablo and Henri, we had the pace mostly to ourselves (wow!)

Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design (map): https://goo.gl/maps/5sMsynNJzaD2GpTB8

TAD (web): https://tad-toyama.jp/en/

Ride along: Rolling Elsewhere: Kanazawa to Toyama, Japan (ambient, excerpts)

Ryoko hangs with Pablo

Truthfully, I am partial to small/quirky/cozy museums and this was quite different… an expansive modern building with many many halls of exhibits (but only some were photo friendly) including (as i recall):

  • Impressional/post impressionist/modern art (Picasso, Chagall, Toulouse-Latrec, Klee, Munch et al)
  • Installation of an urban lonely-ish bar street corner complete with sound
  • An exhibit/installation involving various nets and recycled materials
  • Various giant friendly bears
  • A capsule hotel segment
  • Art made from packing/duct tape by (as I understand it a fellow who works as a custodian on site)
  • Another hall of modernist art (Pollock, Dali, Miro…)
  • A few other installation rooms (a rather disorienting as was the purpose)
  • An incredible collection by an art benefactor of her magazines, prints, brochures, books and what not
  • A collection of 20th century chairs and posters (not about chairs), like high design chairs you *must not* sit upon these chairs (they are not comfortable and on display) – showing the great print / industrial design sense of modern Japan
  • And (my favourite) a collection of items given to a Japanese poet, art critic, artist Shuzo Takiguchi by his other artist friends (like a load of big timers and worldwide interesting cats), all “bric a brać” and seemingly simple one-off creations and sorta – at-first-glance – rather “nonsensical except for the source” items (seemed like was going into my head/archive, exhibit was called “Shop of Objects” or “Notes about things”
  • Another permanent collection from a benefactor couple called Goldberg
  • Also a ‘hands-on” Atelier area, a library, and long halls of upcoming and legacy items (including interactive panels)

Exit through the gift shop and the Swallow Café:

As usual, purchased a museum/exhibit guide at the gift shop as well as other postcards and artefacts but really it was quite overwhelming and required some fresh air and a café visit at the end.

buy the book, and the postcards, and the coffee / TAD. not *just* a band

I mean besides mentioned already, in the collection were Henry Moore, Jasper Johns, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol’s Marilyn x4, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp… goes on and on… plus loads of contemporary-ish Japanese artists i wasn’t familiar with so was great to see *not the usual classic Japanese art* styles.

Especially interesting a Japanese-French painter called Tsuguhara Foujita (aka Léonard Foujita) with “Two Nudes” from 1929 made me curious about how he came to be there and who he collaborated with.

Though I have the exhibit guidebook, I am not going to annotate all these photos, just let them flow, gently assembled. [Update: went out to the archive and pulled out the “Selected Works from the Collection”book, so heaven help me, gonna add notes where i can… oh geez, even looked up the exhibits from 2019], on we go:

(probably Bushiro Mori but not sure, can ya give me a hand?)

Aside note: the guide book shows the staff uniforms for Spring 2019 were designed by Issey Miyake (who at this writing in Summer 2022, has recently passed away with a legacy of importancy and acclaim).

Post-Impressionalist Hall (not official name)

Pablo Picasso, Femme dans un fauteuil, 1923
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Portrait of Manzi Panneau, 1901
Marc Chagall, L’homme la chévre, 1924-25
Joan Miro, Testa di fumatóre, 1925
oh my, another i can’t reference… i’ll try harder

Another hall of modern-ists (not official title)

Salvador Dali, Allegory of an American Christmas, 1943
Jackson Pollock, Untitled, 1946
Continue reading Museum: Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design, 2019 (a sampler)

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)

Train Station posters & signs, various and etc / Shinkonryoko Ramble, 2019

Along the way on our shinkonryoko (honeymoon) slow travel ramble, we rode all sorts of trains which are documented in various ways throughout this archive.

While the trains get all the glory, the stations and ticket counters are also interesting – *Just* the day-to-day essential services provided without grandeur or acclaim.

sign board at Okayama station getting ready to hop Shinkansen (bullet train) towards Shin-Osaka – enjoyed the 14:20 time check

What follows are simply a few snaps of posters and signs spotted around train station for amusement, inspirations and recollection with minimal annotations (due to explanatory nature and/or misremembering). Nothing special (except in the sense everything is special).

oh be careful!
besides the commuter & high-volume/speed people-movers, are also tourist/scenic trains
besides the commuter & high-volume/speed people-movers, are also tourist/scenic trains
at Tokamachi station, there was a great gift shop (loaded up) and this regional goods and sights inspired quilt

Note: this collection was well expand as i come across more items which fit this “posters and signs etc from stations” milieu, consider yourself advised :)

Museum / Exhibit: Miwaki Ruins Jomon-era / Noto, Japan, 2019

Blurb: On our meandering adventure of a honeymoon in May-June 2019, we travelled by many means of convenience including a wide variety of trains, rental cars, occasional coach buses and what not. See the whole Shinkonryoko Scrapbook for a mixed-media ephemera overview and a list of places visited for the curious.

As such, while visiting with Hongo-sensei on Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa-ken, amongst the other activities including a fishing/ whaling/Marine Museum, an early morning fish market / auction, the dismembering and preparation of an ankou fish, a picnic on the beach…, we visited Miwakai ruins with well-preserved archeological history from the Jomon period.

While obviously not original, there was a great recreation of Jomon-era housing with fire-pit and various accruements.

Miwaki Ruins (map): https://goo.gl/maps/2kMPynUhoj7by1xX8

Miwaki Ruins (wiki): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mawaki_Site

Museum site (Japanese): http://www.mawakiiseki.jp/

the time in Japanese prehistory, traditionally dated between c. 14,000–300 BCE,[1][2][3] during which Japan was inhabited by a diverse hunter-gatherer and early agriculturalist population united through a common Jōmon culture, which reached a considerable degree of sedentism and cultural complexity

wikipedia

The museum building was very interesting and both shape and contrast to the contents which were rustic pottery, natural building materials and organic art whereas the structure was a brick cylinder with various halls attached.

Continue reading Museum / Exhibit: Miwaki Ruins Jomon-era / Noto, Japan, 2019