Tag Archives: kurashiki

Field notes: Kurashiki Jazz Street day-out snaps

Field Notes (brief) Kurashiki day-out during the “Jazz Street“ event (first in-person since 2019) with little pop-up concerts happening in all sorts of venues from tatami rooms to kissatens. Possibly more to follow.

Bikan Historical Quarter is just everything is so fcking cute with canals (complete with sort of gondola boats), rickshaws, coffee shops, cafés and restaurants of all kinds, craft shops, and some spectacular museums.

Ichiro was a great respectful supporter of the bands & especially like players rolling double basses down the lane

Everyone looking extra sharp with dapper hats, sometimes kimonos, musicians rolling double basses down the cobbly road.

Also tourists (mostly domestic but also some internationals… First time seen “in the wild“ for a very long time) heck we even chatted with a Belgian couple briefly. “Good Timing” i said.

Importantly, the tree with wooden supports was a spontaneous emergency repair by wife at a friend’s cafe (it was falling down and she went to work with saw – standing on a restaurant chair – and we pounded the support sticks in with a chunk of wood and tied up with rope. Not “perfect“ but a bit safer… The planter box is too small for the roots yet the tree was very healthy)
One thing about Japan, a lot of the attractions and “things to see and explore” require a lot of stairs which I have limited ability with. I can walk upstairs but just not a lot of them or else I use up all my batteries for the day. But anyway, you can see the branches cut down from the emergency tree surgery
peeked at an art installation, or is it a sculpture? no matter (same artist was the “space cat” from Osaka… the name slips me, hold on, i’ll figure it out)

Moving on… a few more (really didn’t capture any of the actual music or musicians we were there to see , but these just “field notes” after all, not a documentary.

this is me sitting in the breezeway, listing to tunes and goofing with the camera – just so lovely
another stack of stairs to gaze at, ramble to clamber up

{note: these photos come straight off this little ruggedized Olympus camera that I found in the wife’s office while tidying up and I really like it, lots of onboard effects / settings ++ and allows me not to be handling my phone as a camera – on which the cameras don’t work anymore so well, works out extra well}

and back towards our sweet ride, Agnes like we live in a Ghibli film

Kurashiki corner with postbox, phone booth + several bonus items

I love it when you find an “double“ with postbox and phone booth (with phone book) side-by-side / in this case in historic Bikan district in Kurashiki, Okayama, Japan.

For bonus is the logo of the fantastic “black cat“ Yamato courier service and an official post office mark + safety cone, duo-lingual stop sign, resto menu board, electrical box & weary potted plant.

Its all happening, here, now. Wait. Stop. Go anywhere!

(And yes, I have folders filled with post office and postbox and payphone photos just waiting for more purposes, meanwhile working on poetry projects)

Outing: Somen day out in Kurashiki

We were recently (mid July 2022) invited by our friend Hatsumi (you may know her as the flutist in the Mae Maes) for a special lunch at her friends in the historic town of Kurashiki. This lovely town is often quite busy in the Edo-era style Bikan quarter and also noted for its fantastic museums which I’d likely blabbed on about.

dude, looking sharp, enjoying his noodles and the water

There was also the 200th anniversary (or was it the 400th anniversary?) of a shrine we passed on the endless staircase up to our hosts. Of course, I purchased a commemorative calligraphy card.

In our case, the quest was to enjoy cold somen noodles from a special bamboo water plume chute. This is a sort of a usual tradition in Japan but, because of “everything” hasn’t been publicly done in the last couple years.

The lovely couple put on a really nice spread for us with the water running down the bamboo course and then you catch the noodles with your chopsticks along the way and mix in with a broth, plus tomatoes, eggs, green onions etc.

The husband was quite handy and had some interesting artefacts and projects going around the house.

After the noodles and a bit of a rest for me and Ichiro in a lovely tatami room, we enjoyed fresh shaved ice with a magnificent beast of a machine with ume syrup.

Must remember to send them a gift package of pickles or other treats as thanks.

#daveo50 ~ 2018 / 50 years > days > photos

#daveo50 ~ 2018 / for passport, visa, or other ID, Vegas (photo Andrew Olson)

Project: Upon turning 50 years old on August 16, 2020, Dave Olson (me, hello) is posting a photo (or maybe photos) a day / per year – starting with 1970 with intent of chronicling existence through various primary evidence sourced from studio portraits, class photos, ID / passport photos, or occasionally other “casual/group/random” shots when the above don’t exist in my archive (note: not “artificial intelligence,” really me, pulled from shoeboxes, journals, wallets and whatnot – diligently scanned and dated via glasses and haircuts, lightly annotated).

Continue reading #daveo50 ~ 2018 / 50 years > days > photos

Artifact: Sony Radio and friends (in a coffee shop in Kurashiki, Japan)

Artifact: Sony Radio and other music playing device (Kurashiki, Japan)

In a coffee and toast shop…

Diary: Autumn Miscellany, scenes of “regular life” in Okayama

made a little photo book for gift and sale featuring postboxes of the world, post offices here and there, and letter writing “still lifes” scenes with stationery and bevvies (note to self: post a link or something to purchase this book)

A few years ago (or less), each day was quite tough. Now, each day i deal with pain and confusion but enough joy and interestingness to compensate. My brain fires but i have to throttle as i get headaches and eye strain very easily, i remain very sensitive to light and sounds so use dark glasses and ear plugs when out and about.

Anyhow, there are several recent “standalone” dispatches of activities and outings (Mae Maes concerts, tea ceremony, museums, tours…) but this post simply gathers up miscellaneous whatnots which don’t really chronicle anything but normal day-to-day tasks and action with brief annotations.

coffee and cake date with the amazing Ryoko who amazes me daily with her tenacity, honesty, grace and endless interests

Continue reading Diary: Autumn Miscellany, scenes of “regular life” in Okayama

Japan: Travel primer / places to go, getting around, accomms, culture, etiquette and geography

A rather rough overview originally compiled in advance of friends coming to Okayama for wedding. Re-purposed in slightly more general terms for logistical convenience as needed.

See also: “Travelling to and Around Okayama, Japan,” “Japanese Culture and Language Primer” and other resources in this archive including video guides. 

Japan Ramble Primer

Japan can be intimidating, even for seasoned travellers. You arrive to massive sticker shock, tiny octopi in soup, and 30 kinds of hot canned coffee (which all taste moreorless the same) in ubiquitous vending machines. 

Japan is a long country with 80% mountains – covering several climates, from frosty Hokkaido in the north, to tropical Kyushu giving adventurous folks much opportunity to head to the outer provinces for exploration of the heady scenery of this varied archipelago. With some planning, politeness and persistence, combined with a little zen, you can find big adventures.

Indeed, it is easy to get lost in the big cities of Tokyo and Osaka – crowded with skyscrapers and twisted alleys, piled high with screaming neon clubs pumping techno, reggae or karaoke and shops piled with futuristic technological gadgets that won’t make it to North America for another decade – but, far away from the expensive hotels and talking toilets of the huge Pacific metropolis, you may find yourself soaking in alpine hot springs on a starry night, drinking sake with strangers crammed into a mountain hut after a backcountry dinner of rice, seaweed, miso and green tea.

Continue reading Japan: Travel primer / places to go, getting around, accomms, culture, etiquette and geography

Japan: Travelling to and Around Okayama, Primer

A rather rough overview originally compiled in advance of friends coming to Okayama for wedding. Re-purposed in slightly more general terms for logistical convenience as needed.

See also: “Primer: Travelling Japan / places to go, getting around, accomms, culture, etiquette and geography“, “Japanese Culture and Language Primer” and other resources in this archive including video guides. 

Getting to Okayama, Japan

Airport

Best to fly to Kansai (KIX) Osaka airport. This schmancy modern airport is located on a human-made island in the middle of the bay and includes 2 hotels, like 100+ restaurants, post office, an airplane viewing platform and importantly, a train station.

The hotels (the full-service Nikko Hotel & business-single-pod-style First Cabin) are super useful if you arrive exhausted from the long flight (usually about 14 hours from N.A. west coast). A short trip from the airport’s island by shuttle bus brings you to loads of other hotels. This airport village also has loads of shopping for buying treats on your way home.

Of course, the are other airports, specifically Tokyo (massive international hub Narita NRT or sometimes Haneda HND which is usually used for domestic flights) and the new Centrail/Chubu/Nagoya (NGO) airport. While you might save a few dollars on the flight, you’ll have a longer (more expensive) train journey to reach Okayama which is the destination for the shindig.

Fly direct to Okayama (OKJ) via the charmingly convenient and cute Momotaro Airport. If you fly to Haneda or Narita (Tokyo) mentioned above, you can transfer and fly right here.  Sometimes this requires an airport shuttle between Narita (mostly international) and Haneda (more domestic).  There is a bus service from Momotaro to downtown Okayama too.

Note: there is a huge service difference for the long-haul flights from North America. My personal experience is to fly an Asian-based airline, i.e.: Japan (ANA *fave, JAL), Korean (Korean or Asiana), Taiwan (EVA), HK (Cathay Pacific) or Singapore if coming from YVR, SFO, LAX, etc. If coming from other Asian destinations, well you are usually all good. I have experienced much less enjoyment from US-based airlines and China mainland airlines often have low prices but check the reviews and adjust against your comfort levels.

Consider tracking flight options/prices with Skyscanner with a price alert or same with Google Flights and try Hopper (app) to see when best time to “pull the trigger” on purchasing flight. Flying from Vancouver? Check out YVRdeals.

Continue reading Japan: Travelling to and Around Okayama, Primer

Diary: Autumn Miscellany / coffee, ramen, sandwiches, Godzilla, peach tree, ikebana…

“rubber chicken” NOT added to ramen

While dispatches and re-caps of various outings and events exist elsewhere in this archive, life is so wonderful right now i don’t want to miss a thing or fail to appreciate the glorious mundane details of just existing.

As such, what follows are bits and pieces which don’t fit elsewhere,  a round-up of miscellany and odds and ends and mild annotations.

Starting with the pleasantness of stopping for a coffee and receiving a free lil sandwich plate (and seeing Ryoko’s adorableness :)). 

The internets instructs food photos be posted with frequency.

Thanks Shiro-Kuma (white bear) cafe.

Continue reading Diary: Autumn Miscellany / coffee, ramen, sandwiches, Godzilla, peach tree, ikebana…

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