Tag Archives: okayama

Slow Life on “Seeking Sustainability” talk-show storytime with JJ Walsh

I was guest on JJ Walsh’s live video streaming show (which transmits via YT, FB and several other channels using Happs.tv) from Hiroshima. Noticed so many interesting guests on her show so raised my hand and sent an “audition reel” and voila… 

JJ’s introduction: “Poems and Postcards from Okayama to the World by DaveOStory Dave Olson – looking forward to chatting about life in rural Japan, finding a creative way to connect with people across the world during Covid, his background in journalism and career as a Canadian hockey commentator and more…”

Was fun to riff on so many different topics and stories.
Noting that the effervescent Ms. Walsh rocks out one or two of these shows *every weekday* (buy her a coffee). Huge commitment to building community and boundless energy. She really does her preparation as well #Respect PS there is also an audio podcast version of Seeking Sustainability for your aural convenience. 

Pulled out a lot of stories that I’ve kept it hidden for sometime. Thanks for the space to riff out the long jams. Topics around building a holistic life in Japan, i.e. our generational house project, story making as a biz, living cheap and cheerful, possibly fermenting, and yeah my arborist/jazz singer wife Ryoko and my exceptionally adorable almost 1-year-old Ichiro Stanley. 

Even a pitch for my DaveOShop at Buy Me a Coffee and mentions of loads of other creative output you’ll find in this very archive.

DaveO on Seeking Sustainability in Japan Live with JJ Walsh

Note: had planned to set-up outside but just before noticed the workers are pulling into the yard with tile / brick saws (loud!) and a rain is falling (i don’t mind but the camera do) so gonna adjust my planned set up. 

Post’d: wax seals and inky stamps help expedite (pro tip)

i find the letters find homes faster when augmented with wax seals and inky stamps

Of course, post boxes are only useful if you have letters to go inside or somehow magically the world is connected by pneumatic tubes (its the only explanation I can think of).

Not absolutely required but I find letters find destinations better with liberal use of wax seals and a variety of inky stamps.

Post’d: into mysterious and magical international postal delivery chute

into the magical postal system in which nation-states cooperate with diligence and earnestness

16 dispatches into the mysterious and magical international postal delivery chute >> this worldwide system is really a living organism and efficient network (hold your cynicism) which still boggles my mind.

*Really*, countries can get together without a lot of drama and get things delivered. There’s a metaphor in here somewhere but really, just came here to say:

I mailed a lot of pretty (i think) postcards (including oil pastel paintings of sherbet-coloured houses in India, a few mysterious B&W Lomo snaps, fake telegrams from Kuala Lumpur, the usual Nepal and haiku postboxes, a bouquet of flowers, a few dossiers stuffed with a variety of “everything“ including some Kerouac in Kobe treats) to folks in several countries – not surprisingly – resplendent with inky stamps, scribbly fountain pen writing, and tender sentiments.

Hopefully one is for you.

Memo: Still-life at visit to Mac’s Farm

The Story of Ichiro and his mother (of invention) with stamps and hats

“Over the wall” for a visit with farmer Mac / the cafe & market operation is affected by the current emergency status (can’t sell beer/sake or have meals despite the exclusively outdoor socially distance seating) but you can purchase goat cheese and other select gourmet items.

Anyhow, figured we better check on the goats, deliver some Kerouac in Kobe brochures, listen to some records & see the ongoing artifact collection of our life.

Ichiro enjoyed some goat milk yogurt and we came home with some organic rhubarb jam and goat cheese.

While there: spotted in situ, Still Life with Olsons & Zappa

Post’d: anything in your post box recently?

At Hip Inn in Phitsanulok, Thailand

Anyone get anything interesting on their postbox recently? Always sending treats out into the world. We’re on a pretty good run here with miraculous packages, lovely cards, purchased records and beloved letters from:

  • Germany
  • Massachusetts
  • Russian federation
  • Israel
  • Romania
  • Vancouver
  • Victoria
  • Singapore
  • possibly Albania
  • California
  • New Mexico
  • Poland
  • Malaysia
  • Birmingham UK
  • Etc etc {ive forgotten some} + Japan of course

… And if I wasn’t on enough international watchlists, i definitely am now (especially because of all the expired passport arriving & another project i won’t discuss publicly) 

Everything so gratefully received >> if I haven’t done a little “round-up thank you” &/or review post, it’s not due to lack of love, it’s because busy enjoying your dispatch and making so many new things right now.

As always, keep an eye in your postbox (and you can sign up for Postcard Subscription plan #hint for expedited service).

Also at Hip Inn in Phitsanulok Thailand

Japan Generational farm house and cottage story

+ Introducing our compound in Tsuchida, Okayama +

I joined a Kominka (trad Japanese country home) renovation, acquisition & enjoyment group and made a video introduction – sharing here in case you are curious.

‘Tis a little intimidating cause a load of people are doing incredible detailed projects in remote locations with all sorts of hand-tools and techniques but hey, i am adding to the generation story of our land – its all about the cycles.

Riff includes parents’ renovated farm house and our “cottage” under construction.

In brief: Both of these homes were empty from the 1990s until about 7 years ago when my (arborist/jazz singer) wife re-opened the cottage, the parents followed and the dilapidated old farm house was reno’d keeping all the beams, much character and details.
Now the cottage (which sits where other buildings did in the past) is getting a big new room plus a load of other upgrades to add to the story. A mix of trad joinery and materials and a few touches from the parent’s reno (genkon doors etc) and also insulation, woodstove, tea ceremony area, and big doors out to the carport as i hope our place becomes the local hangout for our son Ichiro’s pals in years to come.

Also a peek at wife’s Naya toolshed and glance at garden. Oh yeah, i also ramble on about my “origin story” of coming to Japan in early 1990s and working as a mushroom farmer in Tottori before running away and hitchhiking from Shikoku to Nagano where i first experience renegade inaka living.

Very pleased to add to my local community and respect the work of the ancestors.

the “Sistine Chapel” of kura granary barns

PS If curious i have time-lapse video of the roof raising and other artifacts from the kura which is now my arts and crafts studio and music lounge.

panorama of the backyard with garden, kura barn and bamboo grove

 

 

Abode: Tsuchida Cottage (*old* street view)

Regarding Tsuchida cottage / house: as mentioned in previous “Japan cottage musings” videos (Tsuchida Yard & Garden & Generational Home), from the 1990s up until a few years ago, the “big house” was vacant and had fallen into disrepair as evidenced by this screenshot from Google Street view.

You can notice Ryoko’s tool shed with its charcoaled yakisugi walls in the foreground, as well as directional traffic mirrors and way-finding/ distance signs to no place in particular.

The Garden too looks rather forlorn.

Ryoko and Father with Shinto priest performing ceremony on the land before house renovation

The house was completely renovated keeping original character, “bones” and many details but upgrading well… everything else / work by our family friend Morioka-san and his company AC studios (more about this in the “kura introduction” dossier). 

So much has changed, so much more will evolve.

Diary: Bubble Family, making steps…

Fujita Olson bubble gang, each cuter than the last as seen in Yubara onsen

Big moves in our lil bubble compound: My wonderful in-laws Junko & Takushi are getting Pfizerized on Sunday here in Okayama (finally).

They are an incredible support to us with our lil baby who arrived amidst *all of this* and help keep us safe, well fed & amused. Super grateful for them & glad shots are picking up momentum. Of course, they ate a “young 65” – are both fantastically healthy & laden with energy but now we can worry a little less when they need to go “over the wall” into the big weird world.

Im next in line i guess (no timeline) but im the most hermity of our squad as well as extra delicate – no big deal, im well experienced about being in chill home mode with 8 years of #MeCFS – i have hobbies, projects & need lots of bedtime.

Keeping a candle for (arborist)!wifu’s turn as she is often in the outside places hanging out with trees more than humans.

Looking forward to her being able to singing in clubs and community events – Heck eventually will be able to have a little open house when our home construction is finished, invite folks over for tea & jazz. 

Anyhow, that’s the obligatory report with a cute picture of my bubble buddies. Yup awesome each one. Say hello.

PS Ryoko is wearing my sweet handmade Mavili “Catcher in the Rye” hat

Artifacts: Commemorative item-making devices at Korakuen

Stamping documentation at Korakuen Garden here in Goldilocks Okayama Japan. Tip: Always have a notebook with you (and/or buy postcards) and stamp to remember your times.

Sure there’s lots of nature and plants and trees and bridges and gardens and tea houses and turtles and cranes and flowers going back to the Edo period here at Korakuen Gardens… but also machines of various mechanical, electronic and analog persuasion to commemorate your visit to Korakuen (1 of 3 “top official super official great special” gardens in Japan) in pleasant Okayama, the “Goldilocks“ of Japan. Also postcards and tea (naturally).

Examples, lightly annotated below:

* Stamp your notebook with a commemorative stamp and an extra stamp with today’s date (checkmarko)

* Buy a Okayama Momotaro pin (check mark)

* Buy a coin to commemorate your visit (checkmark)

* Engrave the coin you just bought with a special message (checkmark) {note: this machine was so interesting with mix of digital and mechanical-ness, and clackety-clackety sounds]

Diary: 3 wooden stick projects (sign post, postbox, wind phone)

Mounted three pieces of raw wood into Tsuchida tsuchi (soil) with concrete (or is it cement? – which do you mix with sand and water to make the other?) for 3 different, but vaguely-related, projects:

* sign post with arrows pointing distances to favourite/special places (there is a list but…  need to re-earn my orienteering compass badge so I can point the signs in the right direction. Resisting the urge to be really obsessive about this but worried more engineering-minded friends will come double check my work and you know, if it’s not within 2° of accuracy you know I’m going to hear about it  – I can hear the “well actually…” in my head already. And then any US people who come will be confused by the KMs as well – sigh!)

* post box for (un)secret messages the kura barn >> atelier, lounge & Cascadia consulate

* phone to the wind as a shrine & refuge for conversations with those passed or possibly lost {further evidence}

PS Transplanted two trees today. Super fun being arborist Ryoko’s assistant and father-in-law’s “co-worker”. Yeah, used a shovel and a wheelbarrow and *everything*.

Yes, it seems I’m really “nesting” and getting ready to live here forever.

Diary: Rocking out (buying stones)

Note solar array and tile roof kominka house in background of snap {past / present / future}

 Wife (arborist/ trad landscape designer) let me tag along on some rock shopping expedition. I am amused at logistics of this supply chain as stones from from around Japan and world here to Okayama.

Also for your amusement, 3 types/varieties of stones observed (& sampled) for use at our home project and Ryoko’s work projects

Snaps: Korakuen Gardens (Mother’s Day out)

4 (more) views at Korakuen Gardens, Okayama  – One of three “great, official, significant/something“ gardens in Japan built during the feudal Edo period. Saw turtles in cranes amongst the tea houses, bridges and trees.

Went to hear some old-timey music (recorded some audio “bootleg”) and celebrate Ryoko and Junko (m-in-l) with a pleasant stroll around the park. Stopped for tea and postcards (of course) and Ichiro was the star (of course). {oh i’ll add some snaps of him…}

Anyhow, ergo:


* trad rock zen space

* bridge over placid water


* “crow” castle yonder


* detail of temple roof