Tag Archives: kyoto

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)

Japan “opens up”* / A few things about #Okayama

* to tourism (not everywhere, not everyone blah blah blah)

Not my photo, source unknown, but it’s so great isn’t it?

If you are curious, Japan is reopening to independent tourism starting October 11 with visa waivers for people from approximately 68 countries/jurisdictions (previously required sponsored business, tour group or onedegree relative visa with a daily limit on total arrivals) still some requirements for proof of 3x vax /negative tests etc. and yes you gotta wear a mask #Airborne but blah blah blah

The gates are creaking open

So here are a few videos (my others) bundled together to share the wonders of my home area of Okayama / Plus usual other ramblings, ergo:

Situation Basics:

Ref: Nikkei Asia “Starting on Oct. 11, short-term visitors will no longer be required to apply for tourist visas. Before the pandemic, Japan allowed visa-free short-term travel from people from 68 countries and regions, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the U.S. And with no need to book tours through travel agencies, it will be easier to visit.”

Oh here’s a photo which looks very *Japan* doesn’t it?

Some requirements about proof of three times vaccination and negative test still required and yes to masks (no whining).

Briefly: its “Okayama” not…

I live in Okayama – sorta between Osaka and Hiroshima, close-ish to Kyoto (but you should go to Kanazawa instead) Not close to Tokyo and not to be confused with Okinawa.

We are famous for peaches and grapes, folktales about peaches, the best jeans in the entire world, my buddy’s goat farm, a lively jazz scene, and some great museums, including the incredible “European sampler pack“ at at Ohara museum in Kurashiki (yes, also lots of Japanese art obviously), also the most sunshine of any part of Japan. 

Importantly, the “jumping off point” to go to the inland sea filled with islands of interesting art exhibits and onwards to the fourth of the “main islands” Shikoku with hidden villages, surf beaches and pilgrimages.

Here’s a starting primer (written in 2019 so you know, could use a fresh up):

Here’s everything except the stuff I forgot in 2019

Let’s Go: “Not-To-Be-Missed Okayama Travel Gems You’ve Never Heard Of”

Oh it’s me, self-proclaimed “Okayama super fan“ talking with the effervescent JJ Walsh on her show Seek Sustainable Japan having a casual fun coffee talk about all my favorite things, a great place to start:

JJ makes really fun shows all around Japan talking to interesting people doing work around sustainable agriculture, architecture, tourism and lifestyle

Demin “Jeans Street” Kojima

Among the wonderful things about Okayama prefecture is the town of Kojima with “Jeans Street” featuring dozens of smallish factory/shops making and selling artisan and/or bespoke denim jeans.

sneakers on powerlines are boring, hang jeans instead

The area was originally known for making school uniforms which still happens but overshadowed by very enthusiastic international following for jeans.

Often hand indigo dyed, various weaves & cuts, endless nuanced options, and superior craftsmanship. Not cheap but these are generational-quality clothing items.

Anyhow, this video is an interview and tour with one of the originals called Betty Smith going back to the 1960s. They specialize in ladies jeans in heritage (1970s!) styles, made by Japanese women in a fantastically interesting factory, with a museum and other supporting attractions/tours etc.

Make sure to turn the CC on for English translation.

Record shops: a enthusiast’s stroll

Onwards! this time record shops:

You know I love records, quirky shops and dig “grassroots” creative productions, as such, this fellow named Michael, who also lives in the same prefecture (I don’t know him), started up a channel to share stuff about records and shops and rice fields and here’s him coming into my erstwhile hometown of Okayama.

Unrelated to the video *but* a great example of the “Obi” paper wrapper and Japanese liner notes you’re find with records here
He seems like a nice guy, give his videos some click

He rides the cool streetcar, checks out a few local record stores – several i’ve visited, several are closed on Wednesday he made his outing – so you can see some of my under-appreciated city and where to score some legendary Japanese pressing/packaging vinyl.

Goat farm, my fave place

This is my favorite place in all of Japan, Mac Kobayashi’s goat farm, cafe, market and music lounge (plus my accidental art gallery :))

goats, not doing yoga, listening to music… Seriously, they love listening to the music

Please watch the video below for more about the goat farm and my pal Mac Kobayashi in this exhibit related video (5:34 mark) and of course my postbox haiku paintings :)

Goat farm starts at 5:34 but watch it all

Memo: The painting was “just the postbox”, then i found a matching mailbox and installed at the farm, wrote the haiku onto the postbox, and then added to the painting to complete the meta circle. oh then made postcard prints and a book and mailed postcard of the postbox to the postbox…

Also (of course there is more):

Throughout this archive, you can find videos about the best way to get from the airport (KIX/Kansai) to here, how to get around this area, a language primer plus all kinds of “field notes” about museums in Okayama and other cities (including faves like Nagasaki, Kanazawa & Toyama + Tottori & Shimane aka Japan’s hidden gems.

I probably have miscellaneous archives of trains, in fact I definitely have lots of ambient videos of riding trains around Japan, and maybe some posts about the fantastic nearby city of Kurashiki &/or the local jazz scene. If I don’t let me know cause I can address these topics. All other topics, probably not, I don’t get out much.

Give me a call, we’ll talk about Japan / video by Trevor Williams (oh, I should share his video about Bizen pottery… really though this deserves more discussion

I have nothing to share about Tokyo or Osaka and a few minor unhelpful things about Kyoto. Fortunately, the Internet is jampacked with stuff about those places which frankly, you should just skip for best experience. I mean, they’re great and everything I guess but that’s where everyone goes and don’t you wanna do something unique and interesting? Sure you do.

Your humble correspondent awaits your correspondence

For the most part, you can rely on the posts being rather sloppy, definitely quirky, rather unedited and only marginally useful.

Field Notes: Kyoto’s Gingaku-ji (6 instax-views)

Japan is a land of photographers and places to be photographed. Truly, there’s an endless variety of both the photographers (and of course their equipments) and the places to be photographed.

Among them are the sites of The noted “old capital” Kyoto, usually overrun, quite literally, with photograph-snapping holiday-makers going from Shinto shrine to Zen Buddhist temple to Imperial Palace to endless Torii gates to the Gion district seeking kimono wearing ladies and contemplating water business restaurants gingerly tilted on stilts over river since forever.

This is all to say that you will see much finer photos of the Ginkaku-ji aka “silver pavilion” which, isn’t really very silver unlike it’s cousin the “golden pavilion” which is very gold.

No matter, the buildings are inspiring, the grounds filled with nuanced detail and various stations to write prayers on wooden tiles, have monks inscribe books (or in my case a Cascadian passport) sit for a while on a bench, spot the leaves grass and possibly fish.

And yes, I took some photos both with a Fuji Instamax pictured below as well as a few others with a pocket robot which really should be retired (not really, i’ll use it until it totally stops).

I added the results (commingled with other ephemera, tickets, brochures, cards, scribbles etc.) into a scrapbook – and in my usual recursive documentation, filmed the making of the analog scrapbook, with the luscious sounds of cutting paper and the silence of glue along with punk rock records in the kura barn studio.

But for now, here are six views of Ginkaku-ji. Poorly lit, off-center and perfect. ^^

Llama & Legend discuss Kominka & Akiya #video

Minka Storytime video with Jaya Thursfield (Tokyo Llama) & Alex Kerr (Chiiori etc).

please settle in with a bevvie and enjoy this video slowly

Both speakers at the recent Minka Summit in Hanase, Kyoto-fu, Tokyo Llama (Jaya Thursfield) visited writer/collector/ visionary Alex Kerr (Chiiori Ltd etc) at Chiiori house in Iya Valley (Shikoku island).

They discuss ways to bring classic houses into modern age while retaining traditional charm, the joys of mixing new technologies and ancient art, and examples of how Alex’s 40+ projects since 1970s have come together as “positive public works“.

As well, they check out a city-block-sized Akiya and quick peeks at two other renovated guest houses, a kura turned restaurant, and another reservation-only country restaurant run by former Chiiori foundation staff.

Continue reading Llama & Legend discuss Kominka & Akiya #video

Scrapbook Session: glueing and taping Kyoto stuff (with punk records)

Just hanging out at Giggling Piglet Studios – an historic kura storehouse in provincial Japan – taping and glueing ephemera, snapshots, stamps, postcards etc from a trip to Kyoto for Kominka Summit, plus stops at Gion Post Office and Ginkakuji temple – into an accordion-style scrapbook.

While listening to records by Sonic Youth, Iggy Pop, The Ramones, Husker Du, JFA… maybe something else.

No narration, banter (witty or otherwise) or “action” beyond, playing with papers, scissors, glue, double sided tape and whatnot.

Hang out if you wanna hang out.

Scrapbook Session: snipping and sort-ganzing, Shimane + Kyoto (with troubadour records)

Sorting, cutting and organizing scrapbook items –  snapshots, insta-photos, fliers, brochures, stamps etc – from trips to Shimane and Kyoto in a historic kura storehouse barn (dubbed “Giggling Piglet Studio”) in Tsuchida, Japan.

Sort-ganizing ephemera from Shimane and Kyoto (with records) and cutting snaps.

While listening to records from Dan Mangan, Bob Dylan, and Courtney Barnett.

No chit-chat, narration or blah blah, just hanging out, playing with scissors, paper, scrapbooks, and cheap cutter knife.

Maybe you wanna hang out too? No big deal.

Time traveling to Café Independants (sic), 2015 / 2022

Time traveling to sometime between the wars in a basement bar somewhere in France (or maybe more recently in Kyoto in a former newspaper office).

Or maybe this was the time, time traveling to another time not traveled to (yet).

Either way, creating artifacts for evidence of appearance, secret or otherwise – after all, who’s to say?

Gold & Silver, Silver & Gold / daveo at Kyoto temples (years apart)

daveo / A few years apart Kyoto Temples in Japan Kinkaku-ji Ginkaku-ji

“Stake my future on a hell of a past
Looks like tomorrow is coming on fast
Ain’t complaining ’bout what I got
Seen better times, but who has not?

Silvio
Silver and gold
Won’t buy back the beat of a heart grown cold
Silvio
I gotta go
Find out something only… {snip’d}”

R. Hunter, B. Dylan

Family at Ginkaku-ji, Kyoto

Your Olson pals at Ginkaku-ji, Kyoto (wiki / map / inside kyoto) on a trip in April 2022.

Your Olson pals at Ginkaku-ji 

Blurb: Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺, lit. “Temple of the Silver Pavilion”), officially named Jishō-ji (慈照寺, lit. “Temple of Shining Mercy”), is a Zen temple in the Sakyo ward of Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the constructions that represents the Higashiyama Culture of the Muromachi period.

Idea: I might start making this year’s festive holiday cards just because there is a great photo (taken by a stranger on an iPhone 5) *except i look a little bit chubby, Ichiro just woke up, Ryoko is perfect.

“Do you send postcards to yourself?” asked from Gion post office

Kyoto Gion Post Office, sending postcards (including to myself)

Do you ever send postcards to yourself? It’s a really good idea.

You can remember bits and pieces of your travel along the way and when you return, you have memories ready made for archiving in a scrapbook, shoebox or other collage.

Anyhow, i do. In this instance from Kyoto Gion Post Office, sending several cards – including to myself – as well as buying a few commemorative postcards and special stamps.

Also in this case, ensuring the franking cancellation from this historic location was a curiosity.

Continue reading “Do you send postcards to yourself?” asked from Gion post office