Tag Archives: nippon

Scrapjournal: Gabriola > Australia > Japan / ephemera + annotations, 2015

Journal: Gabriola > Japan > Australia, 2015 / ephemera (leather bound from Pete Word)
Scrapbook: Gabriola > Japan > Australia, 2015 / ephemera (leather bound, gift from Pete Word many years previous)

This leather-bound beauty was a gift, long waiting for the right time to come into service. Finally, after lingering for too long, this mighty handmade (just not by me, obv) was pressed into purpose to gather and curate travel annotations and ephemera (tickets, snippets, stickers, postcards, brochure clipping, bits of maps and the like) on a long ramble from Gabriola Island BC, to Adelaide Australia, to Japan (Kyoto, Okayama, Sakura), and then into a suitcase in storage in Victoria, Canada, awaiting another chance to share secrets.

In the meanwhile, a few sample pages for your perusal… my lil nieces helped me snap the pics.

Scrapbook: Gabriola > Japan > Australia, 2015 / Okayama + Adelaide ephemera (page detail)
Scrapbook: Gabriola > Japan > Australia, 2015 / Okayama + Adelaide ephemera (page detail)

Continue reading Scrapjournal: Gabriola > Australia > Japan / ephemera + annotations, 2015

Rural Postbox (Okayama) / acrylic

Rural Postbox, Okayama
Rural Postbox, Okayama

Rural Postbox (Okayama)
acrylic on stretched canvas
2018

Rural Caprine Farm and Market (Okayama) / acrylic

Rural Caprine Farm and Market, Okayama
Rural Caprine Farm and Market, Okayama

Rural Caprine Farm and Market (Okayama)
acrylic on stretched canvas
2018

Longform Jouralism: Hiroshima via The New Yorker (originally published 1946)

Hiroshima

A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb. Survivors wonder why they lived when so many others died. Photograph from Rolls Press / Popperfoto / Getty (Note: shared here for educational purposes)

Note: exceptional piece of longform writing, crafted in the aftermath of the Hiroshima / Nagasaki 1945 and published a year afterwards. hyber-personal character storytelling in the wake of calamity.

Originally published By now available in full in The New Yorker

Mementos: Japan Hitch-hiking journey flashback

Japan hitch-hiking: holding a sign for Muroto in the southern tip of Shikoku
Japan hitch-hiking: holding a sign for Muroto in the southern tip of Shikoku

In 1993-4, I worked as a mushroom farmhand in Tottori-ken (prefecture), a rather remote area of Japan (southwestern-ish Honshu). The work was long and arduous and the boss was a jerk so, I eventually split unannounced one day.

Determined to explore some of the country before my visa ran out, I stuck my thumb-out seeking a “bouken” (adventure) after making destination signs by copying place name kanji characters onto 100 yes store notebooks with crayon and decorating with some lucky words and stamps (not sure if this helped).

Hitch-hiking isn’t very common in Japan but by sticking to rural areas – including the traditional “o henrosan dori” (the pilgrim’s path) on Shikoku (the smallest of the 4 main islands of the Japanese archipelago) which has seen many wandering poets, seekers and prayers over centuries – I skidded along alright.

Getting rides in the country areas was usually rather quick but often times, the ride would insist of showing “hospitality” in form of taking to their hometown to show off “the thing their town is famous for” (of which every town has one thing). Not ideal for fast moving but well… the take the ride, you go where it goes. Getting between big cities along the expressways was much less enjoyable and relied on waiting around rest/service areas in these cases.

I pitched my small tent most anywhere (beaches, shrines, parks etc) much the chagrin of caretakers and so on who would scold aloud in the early hours. In these situations, I poked my shaggy head out of the tent flap and yammered confused apologies in my farmer Japanese – this tactic would usually confuse the situation into submission.

Some of the time I was accompanied by a mysterious and intrepid Japanese surfer girl who thought my ridiculous plan was worth trying. I liked this part.

What follows are a few pieces of photographic evidence from these journeys, snapped with an early generation panorama camera – but developed “normal aspect” hence black framing bars on some shots.

Japan hitch-hiking: this ride insisted on a side trip to his hometown which featured a natural water source hot enough to boil eggs (in a mesh pouch) - also made said eggs rather smelly
Japan hitch-hiking: this ride insisted on a side trip to his hometown which featured a natural water source hot enough to boil eggs (in a mesh pouch) – also made said eggs rather smelly

Continue reading Mementos: Japan Hitch-hiking journey flashback

Mementos: Japan Misasa Onsen town

Misasa, Pétanque tournament, with Mayor, circa 1993
Misasa, Pétanque tournament, with Mayor, circa 1993

“You can’t go home again” says Thomas Wolfe, and i’m cool with that as i don’t have a “home” however, there a few spots in the world that i always yearn to return to – one of which is Misasa Onsen, a small mountain town in Tottori-ken (prefecture) Japan(note: pop. approx 6500) which boasts hotsprings with exceptionally high levels of Radon/Radium (is this good for you? i dunno, not a chemist – note: radon is the gas-form).

They folklore says (as per the town’s name which translates to “Three Mornings”) that staying and bathing here for three days will cure you of all your ills. As Radium was discovered by French scientist Marie Curie, the town celebrates all things France with a statue, festival and park dedicated to the wise lady, and other Franco-accruements.

Misasa, Kawara rotenburo with Bob, circa 1993
Misasa, Kawara rotenburo with Bob, circa 1993

Continue reading Mementos: Japan Misasa Onsen town

Trainspotting: Riding the Rails in Japan

Riding the Rails in Japan: Various trains (including shinkansen and futsu-densha) from KIX (Kansai Airport) to Shin-Osaka to Okayama to Zyoto (Joto) – stitched together as-is for your meditative enjoyment.

Collection: Hitchhiking signs (variety, Japan)

Hitch-hiking signs from travels in Japan, 1993, created by copying street signs and maps, and drawn with crayon and marker in a school notebook or various papers (from 100 yen store).

Hitch-hiking signs, Japan: Kochi (ken/prefecture) with
Hitch-hiking signs, Japan: Kochi (ken/prefecture) with “O Kudsai” (humbly please)
Hitch-hiking signs, Japan: Kansai, Onegaishimasu (please-is)
Hitch-hiking signs, Japan: Kansai, with “Onegaishimasu” (humbly please)

Continue reading Collection: Hitchhiking signs (variety, 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

Tips for Travelling to and around Japan

Q & A Interview for a web mag (reference lost):

-Did you know anybody in Japan when you went?

Nope, didn’t know anyone or speak a word when i arrived. My older brother had lived in Japan and heard from a friend about a mushroom farm looking for a foreign worker. At the time, I was hitchhiking through the southern US after traveling Europe when i called my Mom to check in. She told me about that he’d pay the airfare. So, 2 weeks later i was standing on the side of road with my backpack, late at night with snow up to my knees waiting for a van to pick me up. The next day i started a 6 day a week, 10 hours a day job growing enoki and shiitake mushrooms.

-How did you survive the communication barrier?

First, humility – you have realize you will sound like a child or a caveman saying “I need food” “where is toilet” and basic tasks become tricky and people will try not to snicker

Second, smiling – i had a long hair and big beard and wore worker’s overalls and rubber boots so people didn’t quite know what to make of me in the rural area where i lived so smiling helped ease the surprise and awkwardness

Third – if you learn a dozen “special” words, you can totally act like you know it all ;-) Domo, dozo, so desu ne, so desu ka, hai hai, itsu, doko, suimasen …

-Any tips to people going to Japan?

Be prepared to simultaneously step 100 years into the future and 100 years into the past. Stay away from everything familiar (restaurants, hotels) and embrace the weirdness. Soak in hotsprings, eat octopus, get lost, head into the mountains and stay in a hut with strangers. For me, hitchhiking the country roads was totally safe and fun – folks picked me up and often invited me to their fave restaurant, tourist attraction, house, bar or temple. I stayed almost entirely away from the cities and found countryside somewhat unexpectedly wild and full of old agricultural and spiritual traditions. I also grew to savour the classic and modern literature of Japan – read these rather than guidebooks before going to better appreciate Japan.