Tag Archives: japan

A Return to Nippon – Postcard #70

Postcards from Gravelly Beach – Return to Nippon, onsen

Returning to Japan for the first time since working as a mushroom farmer in the Tottori-ken mountains decades previous, Dave rambles on about the circumstance – then and now – while wandering near his pal’s goat farm. Riffs include: arriving in the snow and getting settled, bailing on job, hitch-hiking around islands, falling in love(ish), eating okonomiyaki, soaking in hot springs and living simultaneously in the future and past. Also persimmons and goats, pigs, cows et al.

Take a soak in: A Return to Nippon – Postcard #70
(44MB, 29:31, mp3, stereo)

Continue reading A Return to Nippon – Postcard #70

Personal Archeology of Diligent Creative Endeavours

The things we make in the rapid pace of creativity, often fall judgement to our own perfectionism and subjectivity at the time,… But, one stashed away and preserved, they can become artefacts that show us how we became ourselves. Additionally, by preserving output made by our co-conspirators and collaborators, we can help fill in the gap’s of their stories.

In this case, videos made by my dear pals:

Brandon G Kiggins (Formerly of Utah, now of Brooklyn/NYU) “the environmentalist” (award-winning)

Eiji Masuda #RIP Japan who was my collaborator on the pioneering digital doc Hempen Road (20 years old this year) “Mistaking the shadow” #Experimental

A documentary about the Russian revolution “The beginning of our troubles” made by my Uncle Mark Bannatyne while at USU doing graduate studies

A film by my Mom Lauralee Elliott #RIP with significant assistance from the aforementioned Brandon Kiggins, while at #UVCC “Tattoo”, note: long before everyone had a tattoo :-)

A public TV show which broadcast clips from the previously mentioned Hempen Road on “Master Weed theater”

The one labelled “Giggling Piglet Co-op” features me and the Japanese girl on the island of Guam demonstrating flower sticks and talking about the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia who had recently died on a show called “Buenas”, and might… also contain a similar juggling stick performance from Tottori, Japan which appeared on the nationally broadcast morning show “Zoom in Asa”.

In some cases, these might be the only remaining evidence of these diligent creative endeavors. Eventually they will be digitized and shared an archived so the hours that one into them and the inspiration which comes out of them, can pass on to others.

What do you have in your closet or shoe box which Will surprise and inspire your friends and strangers?

Drug unit busts 22 members of alleged Nagano ‘pot communities’ | The Japan Times

The alleged marijuana smokers chose sparsely populated parts of Nagano to host music events and get high, a special narcotics unit says.

Source: Drug unit busts 22 members of alleged Nagano ‘pot communities’ | The Japan Times

Rabbit Holes of History: Norsemen, Dark Ages, Great War, War in Pacific etc.

*** Study Notes from Rabbit Holes including Norsemen, Dark Ages, Great War, and War in Pacific etc ***

Over the past while, whilst dealing with this illness, I’ve gone down deep into “rabbit holes” about various segments of history.

Went deep into Norse history from early viking expeditions to Orkneys and Hebredies in search of (literally) greener pastures, to invasions of Northumbria, East Anglia, Mercia, Francia and expeditions to Russia including trading with Middle East – Also their steel forging skills – All through to the Norman invasion with William the Conquero. Then Viking voyages to North Atlantic away from Europe and to North America. Also learned about new satellite archaeology techniques used for finding settlement sites in eastern Canada. There will be remarkable discoveries in the next decade which will rewrite books.

Then went deep into “dark” ages to the founding of what is now modern western Europe – roughly from post-Roman to Charlemange. I was specifically interested in how a culture grows up around the ruins of a much greater culture. Like you’re a dirt farmer in what is now England and you look around at lovely aqueduct and empty baths while you try to figure out how to get clean water. Makes me wonder if we’re living in a “dark ages” or we’re the Romans.

Then deep into the “Great war” and the unrest and revolutions which happened in the aftermath which broke down monarchies and gave rise to nationstates… But also produced situations which led to what we now call World War II through rise of fascism, totalitarianism, communism and showed the falls of capitalism through the depression. Each of these flavors contributed in away to the events that transpired. (Also Hitler’s home movies and i’ve already absorbed everything about art theft during this era).

Then deep into the relationship between Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchhill and Josef Stalin and how they had to jockey amongst themselves to convince the others of the importance of their different priorities… Also deep into the north African campaigns through the desert – especially the desert expeditionary unit (mostly New Zealanders) who lived for months at a time in uncharted areas in difficult conditions to gather intelligence. They did receive a rum ration though.

And also I am continually unpacking my knowledge of the war in the Pacific… Most recently started with “Fall of Japan” a massive tome which chronicles – in great nuanced detail – the events in Japan from the day after Nagasaki bombing to the signing on Missouri (Aug. 6-30 1945).

As you might expect, lots of efforts to raid the palace, people convinced the emperor was a body double or coerced, dozens of ritual suicide by high-ranking officials, people going into hiding, renegade bands of soldiers holding tough, and back channel diplomacy actions trying to smooth things over for an inevitable fate. Including all the secret communication machinations used to finally get messages back-and-forth between the right people to effectuate the surrender and peace and landing etc.

Then watched film called Emperor – this began as MacArthur and his crew were landing at Atsugi after the signing and follows the story of a General Bonner Fellows who was tasked with determining whether Emperor Hirohito would be held to trial or not. Of course he had to wrangle between Tojo (who just had tried to kill himself but was “saved” in time to be tried and executed, and Kanabe (?), the previous prime minister, and all the militarists and hard core zealots who insisted on vague answers and didn’t understand that really they didn’t *really* want to try Hito but they needed an legitimate excuse not to do so.

Also Tommy Lee Jones as MacArthur wasn’t too bad actually, and they dramatized the famous meeting between the Emperor and The Supreme Commander with only one dedicated translator between them. And they re-created the famous photograph.

Then, I’m onto a book called “Supreme Commander: MacArthur’s Triumph in Japan” which doubles back over the previous bit and starts with the planning of the signature ceremony on the USS Missouri and into his landing at Atsugi and motorcade (with thousands of Japanese soldiers turning their backs in respect) and starting to issue his edicts to manage the situation and deal with a starving population.

Still working on this one.

A few notes include (from a civilian peacenik perspective):

The rivalry between Army and Navy is far more vast than I realized. We civilians think of the Armed Forces as fairly unified and not completely discrete, or/and even rival, units. Of course this is most evident in the rivalry between MacArthur and Nimitz but also amongst the rank and file – especially jr officers seeking to climb the ladder.

The Tokyo firebombings must’ve been even more miserable way to go then the Atomic bombs further south. Both suck. Also glad Eleanor Roosevelt pushed so hard to spare Kyoto from the bombs.

The Russians joining the war against Japan the day after Nagasaki and still expecting a seat at the negotiation table so to speak. Funny Russians.

The Chinese Reds filling the power vacuum left by Chinese army instantly after the bombs – even while the news was still travelling to POW camps around Asia. The commandants of the camps did not know quite what to think when Allied forces started parachuting in to demand release.

The two-men chosen by Japan to sign the surrender document: the diplomat with the wooden leg who had to get from the US Destroyer to a launch via a bosun’s chair, and then try to maintain dignity wall climbing up a ladder on the side of the Missouri while wearing a cutaway coat and a top hat.

MacArthur’s choice of guests to be on board at the signing was very specific and included the Canadian doctor (who signed on Canada’s behalf) who had done the surgery on the affirmation Japanese diplomat’s leg.

He also made sure to invite a bunch of generals who got their ass kicked in the war including the poor bastard who was left on the Philippines (Wainwright whom MacArthur greeted with a “Hey Skinny!”) when MacArther split to Australia, plus the British general who had to surrender Singapore when they were caught unaware.

As per above: Didn’t realize MacArthur had fcked up and ignored orders after Pearl Harbor. Stationed in the Philippines, he didntorder a full alert and, as a result, the Philippines was destroyed quickly by the Japanese who were well ready for the invasion.

MacArthur’s move of exiting the plane with no weapons was a powerful move. Oh also, MacArthur had Admiral Perry’s US flag expedited from the Smithsonian to have on display on the Missouri. Nice nuanced touch which was noted by the Japanese who, after the ceremony, discussed amongst themselves they would have treated their vanquished enemy so kindly and respectfully. They concurred that they would not have and that convinced them to cooperate with the victorious allies.

I’m interested to continue on with this work and to see how MacArthurs “Republican” views were instrumental in outline things like brewing and hemp production in Japan.

Memory Photo Book for Senpai Mac Kobayashi

From Mac Kobayashi, Okayama, Japan

今日、Daveより嬉しい手紙と贈り物が届きました。23年前に、ここで一緒に過ごした時の写真がなく、記憶だけの思い出だと思っていたけれど、彼が古いBOXの中から見つけたくれた。そしてアルバムにして送ってくれました。ありがとう、Dave。若かりし頃の僕達、亡き妻と1歳前の娘。はぁ~、泣けてくるじゃないか(T_T)

Just arrived a wonderful letter & gift from Dave. Maybe I think I lost or wasn’t taken the photos of our good old days that we having time together 23 years ago. But he found it in his old box. Thank you Dave. You and me, my wife and daughter 1-year-old before. So nostalgic feeling.

Continue reading Memory Photo Book for Senpai Mac Kobayashi

Japan’s First Lady Touts Revival of Hemp Culture via WSJ

Source: Japan’s First Lady Touts Revival of Hemp Culture – Japan Real Time – WSJ

Dave Notes:

“Very glad to see this article discussing a very fascinating aspect of Japan culture. I worked as a mushroom farmer and hitchhiked throughout remote rural areas in Japan and saw cannabis culture of all sorts — from traditional handicrafts and religious artifacts to folks harvesting wild cultivars for smoking and extracting.

A few annotations if i may:

1) My 1996/8 research essay traces the history of hemp in Japan and various uses and appeared in Cannabis Culture, Journal of International Hemp Association and Hemp Horizons

2) JapanHemp.org has gathered a massive repository of hemp artifacts and information in English and Japanese.

3) Note the wandering warrior poets Basho and Kobayashi Issa wrote about hemp on their journeys and hemp in mentioned in other literary classics.

4) The National History Museum in Sakura has many garments with unmarked cloth which are clearly not silk, cotton or mulberry, but not labelled as hemp – in fact the characters do not appear anywhere in the museum though the movement and trade form Korea and India was discussed as was the advent of silk production.

5) A commenter below mentioned wild Hokkaido cannabis and i can concur that these tall, robust, wild and THC-laden plants indeed do exist on roadsides and country areas.”

##

Japan’s first lady raised eyebrows after telling a Japanese magazine that she has considered becoming a hemp farmer to help revive the traditional culture.

There seem to be few dull moments in the life of first lady Akie Abe, who sometimes spends her time hosting a web-based talk show, harvesting honey from a bee farm and even paying occasional visits to the contentious Yasukuni Shrine.

Most recently, Ms. Abe raised eyebrows after telling a Japanese magazine that she has considered becoming a hemp farmer to help revive the traditional culture.

In an interview with Spa!, Ms. Abe was quoted as saying that she had become interested in hemp cultivation and considered applying for a permit to grow the plant after studying its history.

“Hemp is a plant of which all of its parts can be used effectively,” Ms. Abe is quoted as saying. “While it is not yet permitted in Japan, I think it can be put into great practical use for medical purposes as well.”

Of course, hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, and Japan maintains a hard line on marijuana. The Cannabis Control Law enacted in 1948 bans the import, export, cultivation and purchase of marijuana. But prior to that, hemp was widely grown in Japan and used to make fabric and for use in imperial ceremonies. There are legal hemp farms in Japan, but they are rare and require a special permit.

Ms. Abe said in the article that she’d like to revive Japan’s tradition of growing hemp. “I’ve even considered myself to apply for a permit to grow hemp,” she was quoted as saying.

The article included a photo of the first lady visiting a legal hemp farm in western Japan in August and posing for a photo in the middle of the plants.

Ms. Abe has promoted the article on her personal Facebook page, encouraging those interested in the topic to pick up a copy.

Regarding Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver – Letter to Cause + Affect

Dave at Cascade Room for Pecha Kucha Japan with Gary Snyder on screen

Hello Cause + Affect / Steven Cox and Jane Cox,

Speaking to smart audiences is a thrill for some, a terror for others, and a wee bit of an addiction for me. Over the past several years, I excitedly and anxiously seized the chance to present at your Pecha Kucha Vancouver events *3* times (a record?):

my first foray stepping onto the 20×20 stage – still an bit of an unknown wildcard – was to share my “Fuck Stats, Make Art” spiel in which i share almost everything i’ve learned about creativity with purpose in 6:40; then called into action to support my beloved Japan with stories id really never shared (and really want to share again) and, as it turns out, you asked me without realizing i spent years wandering the backs roads, and hidden villages of ancient Japan (which showed great confidence in what i bring to the stage despite being terribly hungover); finally, “batting cleanup” at the 20th instalment – the All-Star edition- which (frankly featured some comically underprepared speakers), was a public speaking pinnacle for me equalled only by SXSW.
 
 
The legendary stage at the Vogue, an engaged audience, a gracious introduction welcoming me with a busted foot and resultant cane, a blue curling sweater and a brand new hat, to share “Lost Vancouver Stories” was truly a night i’ll fondly remember, despite the seemingly endless wait sipping tallcan beer, before my slot.
 
For all of your generosity of skill and the spirit you put forth, i offer my sincere thanks and congratulations for a fine job which you can reflect upon with pride (and exhaustion no doubt) – not sure what becomes of the series now but you’ve set a high bar and created a magnificent historical record for a city in transition who is honestly trying to figure out who “we” are and what “it” is.
 
I fondly shared the stage with some remarkable folks who are genuinely effectuating positive change in the world (as well as a few true oddballs) which all added to the ragged and nuanced majesty of the events. Now as my life situation has changed with a weird health conundrum, i am especially grateful you threw down the gauntlet as i am not sure when or if i’ll be up for such a performance again as i try to patch myself back together. Vancouver (and me) are better for your risk and dedication. Sit back and enjoy a tasty beverage and hugging kids. Fondly, daveo/uncleweed (from elsewhere)
 

## For Reference ##

Dear friends of PechaKucha Night,

We started PechaKucha Night in Vancouver in 2008 to bring people together. At the time, Vancouver lacked a vehicle for self discovery. There was just not enough awareness of the amazing people doing creative things in and for our city.

Now, almost 8 years on, we have produced 38 Volumes and put almost 500 different speakers on the stage in front of over 35,000 people. To our surprise, the series has grown a committed following that verges on cultish. 

As PechaKucha Night grew, dozens of new community events sprouted throughout Vancouver. There is now no shortage of places to go to hear about the wonderful things happening in our incredible city.

Given our long run and the new cultural landscape of the city, it is time to pass on the PechaKucha torch and give someone else a chance to bring fresh new people and ideas to the stage.

We’re not done creating experiences that catalyze our city’s creativity and culture. That’s what we do. That’s who we are. But we started PechaKucha to fill a need that is now well served and it is time for us to focus on something new.

To be the first to know about it, sign up for the Cause+Affect newsletter.

We have informed PechaKucha headquarters in Tokyo of our decision and offered our help in selecting our successor. If you’re interested in taking the reins, please contact Johnny at PechaKucha HQ.

We look forward to watching this event evolve here and around the world, and will continue to support the many other great community events that surround us. 

It has been an incredible ride and we cannot communicate how much it has meant to us and how touched we are by those of you who enjoyed it along with us. 

Thank you to all our speakers. Thank you to all our musical guests. Thank you to all our partners, venues and volunteers. And most of all, thank you. This event became what it was due to the love and support of our community.

From Steven and Jane and everyone at Cause+Affect, this isn’t goodbye. This is ‘see you later.’

It has been our pleasure. We filmed many of the more recent events. If you want to relive the magic, check out our Vimeo page.

“Modernity and magical realism in rural Japan” / my photo in The Japan Times

Bob Olson writes, on Sept. 15, 2015:

This photo shows a mushroom farm in Tottori, Japan, where I worked a few days in 1991 with Tyler Smith and Jared Scott; and where my brother Dave Olson toiled for almost a year. Dave took the picture sometime in 1993, scanned it about 10 years ago, and stuck on his Flickr stream under creative commons license. Now it has recently shown up in a Japan Times article. You’d think the Japan Times would have a gazillion stock photos of the Japanese countryside, but they chose Dave‘s evocative image of a stark, cold winter along the Sea of Japan.

Modernity and magical realism in rural Japan

Shape-shifting: This village in Yazu District, Tottori Prefecture, is much like the fictional one in ‘Red Girls,’ which suffers from an aging population and changing customs. | FLICKR / CC BY-SA 2.0

Source: Modernity and magical realism in rural Japan | The Japan Times — Modernity and magical realism in rural Japan
BY JAMES HADFIELD SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES

i added in a comment:

This is Saji-san, Yazu-gun, Tottori. The boss was a collossal jerk and made my life miserable (his wife had just split, he had hemmoroids (which he talked about endlessly) and had been a foreign exchange student in Yakima WA and Couer d’lene Idaho in the 70/80s so think he was using me to exact revenge for the treatment he likely received.

I am hard worker and got paid shit (especially after rent in my bunker-like apartment) but man, this was repetitive, redundant and entirely un-fun after a couple of days.

I drove k-truck to market in Tottori down windy snowy roads and then figured out a way to feed myself and stay warm and do it all again and again. 6 days/week. I finally borrowed a bike, put in back of k-truck, and told him i was leaving. He shouted, “you have no visa, no return ticket and dont speak language!” – he was correct on all accounts but i stuck out my left thumb and had mighty adventures through Shikoku and as far up as Nagano where i found Japanese (and one ex-American Navy man) hippie squatters living in abandoned villages way up in mountains. Lived old timey. Hot springs, gathering mountain vegetables, harvesting rice and wandering high in the hills with my notebooks.

 

January in the Hot Springs ~ Free haiku + paint

January in the Hotspring

Free haiku and paintings on variety of paper. Made in Tottori, Japan, 1993/4. Read publicly at my older brother’s wedding in Okizaki, Japan.

I’d recently rambled Europe and feasted on Van Gogh and Mattisse and combining their bold lines and bright colours with the efficiency and conciseness of Japanese aesthetic, these emerged.

Produced into a very limited run series (maybe 30?) of chapbooks printed on hemp + cereal straw paper and sewn (top binding) with hemp thread in Guam in 1995/6 and mailed to friends. I don’t have one of these bound copies, only the delicate originals in a file.

Still Life of Motion: Haibun in Grey

Room close dark
dark, listening
white noise and windchimes

From my perch, survey the still life before me – a didgeridoo leaning against a worm wood bookcase, 4 thick shelves made from free form curly maple looking like slabs of bacon, books stacked horizontally for easy reading of titles on spines; Ulysses, Siddhartha, Tolstoy, Salinger, Dr. Seuss, a stack about Everest, old Edmund Hillary grinning under shaggy beard and leather edged goggles. BhagavadGita, with dead, bald smiling, reincarnated onto the dust leaf resting, leaning next to Don Quixote, heavy in four volumes with hand-cut pages, raised ink, tissue protects the engravings. A collection (complete) of TinTin the intrepid reporter (Belgian I think), his dog Snowy and ornery ole Cap’n Haddock. More adventure than John McPhee, him traipsing from Alaska to Bangladesh – lonely freighter pulling out of dark harbors, a thousand iron feet long tended by six – maybe eight scattered souls. A Russian Matryoshka doll endless stream of smaller beings, a lighter from Belikin – the state brewery of Belize, a metal Sierra Club cup, engraved with highest peak in Nevada and a date so long ago that I look at a photo to remember me, head in clouds, wearing a sweater I forgot I ever wore. Picture is snowy, the tin cup stained with heat, left holding coins from here and there, a yo-yo, and buttons fallen off of trousers.

Room collecting stories
To tell you
Some other time