My darling Ryoko studies Japanese tea ceremony with a group of others from Okayama and Kurashiki. Recently i was invited along to a special tea-drinking session at her sensei Ms. Matsuke’s house (she’s moving house so wanted to do one last one shindig at her home).
We gather around, have some snacks and chat while setting up and then convene in a room to go through the process. As a new-un to the routine, i sketched a variety of quick scribbles to remind myself the process and find the moment of stillness (not always easy for this eager fella). Brief notes accompany the sketches.
As it goes… I’m riding the Uno Bus heading to Uno to stay at Uno Port Inn near where magical wife is teaching a tree trimming workshop. Though to be clear, in Okayama, i switch to the Ryobi bus.
Agenda includes: local Hot Spring bath; giant wild boar made of used plastic trash; fancy coffee and card writing; and reading Grant Lawrence’s Dirty Windshields (about time rambling with rock n rollers: The Smugglers).
First though, a stop at post office to mail more wedding thank-you cards & dropping off 35mm film shot at goat farm (supervised by Kris Krüg).
Update: on the bus ride, I listened to BC Hall of Famer Nardwuar interview Eve Lazarus including a Vancouver history/culture name check explosion including Aaron Chapman, Colleen Hardwick, the Beatles, Chuck Davies and more more more. Esp enjoyed AC’s Tom Waits-esque spoken-song.
Also enjoyed recollections of “beatnik“ coffee/jazz lounge scene – Worth noting that Allen Ginsberg performed at at least one of these places and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee recorded a legendary blues album at the Bunkhouse (which apparently “featured” topless waitresses).
Also, the post office mission was successful (including super sharp stamps) and letters are en route to several countries, the film developing project failed for the time being.
Now enjoying a matcha and jazz in a cool room.
Note: one great thing about rambling in Japan is hotels is pyjamas are provided. #handy Alas, smoking jackets usually aren’t (so packing Nepali red velvet vest).
Update: Stayed at Uno Port Inn which was a treat. Not fancy but they run a accommodation is a pleasant, comfy and unpretentious manner. My review (added to Tripadvisor and Google Maps):
Fantastic Location, Great Coffee, Excellent Staff
Location is fantastic with mere steps to ferry terminals and train station and bus stops plus lots of local art around. So handy for jumping off to art islands and/or getting to and from Okayama.
The staff was welcoming and very helpful. The lobby was chill and cozy and the patio was a treat.
The coffee is remarkable and the breakfast was very well prepared (especially nice on the patio).
Was just a quick one-night getaway (we live rather nearby) but made for a fun time. Note: The rooms are rather small but very functional and clean plus feature very nice sheets and pillows and Dr. Bronner’s soap in the bathroom!
Oh!: The folks at UNO Port Inn sent me a couple of snaps they took of yer ole pal me and asked for feedback and the ok to share on socials. Solid marketing / community building. Voila, snap!
Also: While we went out in search of dinner using the map provided by UNO, we found places either booked or closed… this worked out great as we wandered down an un-inviting arcade corridor and found the smallest okonomiyaki place run by an enjoyable old gal who loves dogs.
Finally: Uno and nearby islands Naoshima and neighbours are laden with public art and run a continuous bienalle of some sort. While i traveled across by ferry to Naoshima for a coffee, art walk and a hot springs soak, i won’t delay the click by foisting the relevant documentation now but rather share this remarkable fish made from sadly disposed of polluting nonsense plastic crap sitting on Uno port park area. There is often/usually a wild boar as well / or but seems the inoshishi had the week off.
Refuse plastic (and recycle if you can’t refuse but really refuse/avoid/replace as its such garbage!)
While me and Ryoko’s wedding will be a litttlllle bit unique, there are some very traditional aspects to our 3-day event, notably the Shinto ceremony at Munetada Jinjya (shrine).
This shrine is in the neighbourhood where Ryoko grew up and it is a day-to-day working shrine meaning its not a tourist attraction, rather they are active participants in the community and the usual place where folks go to ask for blessings on the birth of babies, safe travel, scholastic success and secret dreams.
I’ve studied the ceremony overview from the shrine with great interest (albeit with machine translation):
PS of particular interest is part 4 of the ceremony which includes a purification rite, which says and uses the proper kanji character for cannabis 大麻 – not totally sure what this means but the wedding is on 4/20 so appropriate in a manner:
4. Aoi-no-gi (Cannabis) (Hai no Toi) Ui no Uta (Cannabis) I will ask you before the ceremony. We will treat the bride and groom and all the guests with cannabis. During this time, keep your head down.
Here are a few more articles which provide a bit of background about the routine and background of Shinto weddings:
Note: what follows is the information as was printed upon a sheet which was included in the gift bags as a way to support and thank the various vendors, suppliers, helpers and whatnot for the wedding and build their businesses by fostering community. (pdf attached for your convenience).
For many of these sections (party, giftbag, shrine, pottery etc) there are additional posts and artifacts. As such, this isn’t meant to be comprehensive, just the way the goodness was shared and printed, quite literally the morning of the party with very few modifications in this form.
This dispatch shares wayfinding tips to get from the main train station, down a covered shopping arcade, over a canal, a stop for coffee (optional) and then to Koraku Hotel (conveniently embedded with a post office and convenience store). Then passing statues and bars, to the Okayama View Hotel – located across from the Birkenstock store ¥100 shop – and over to the Tenmaya shopping area and transit hub as needed.
Indeed, I love connecting communities and so very happy 25 people (!) foreign dignitaries are coming to celebrate the wedding festivities in Okayama, Japan. Especially pleased that various times and places of my life are well represented: bearded renegades from Canada, lifesavers from Indonesia, a catch a beauties from Utah, padawans from the Hoot days from scattered places, hot dog couples and various drifting explorers. Oh, and the legendary mountain man from Nagano via Minnesota and the south Indian Ocean.
My hope/expectation is everyone will go home with new best friends and cultures will be intertwined to form relationships to last additional lifetimes. Yes, all will receive #FreeHugs.
PS Also note, we are at the maximum capacity, actually well beyond… for the shrine ceremony and fancy lunch, but the party is at a goat farm in a barn so room for more last-minute add-ons in addition to the 100+ already confirmed. As such, 100 deluxe gift bags are underway but not guaranteed #trying.
Head melted from an incredible gesture of kindness which completely shocked and surprised me yesterday / don’t mean to be vague, but still searching for the right words and manner to say how truly and undeniably moved I am. #owls#tribute#video
Also, met 藤田良子’s grandmother, uncle, aunt, cousins etc. Who were all so fun and funny and kind / My language skills are improving daily which feels really nice as well.
Plus, accompanied new family as they went to do their civic voting duty at the polling place at the local junior high school where these lovely blossoms brightened the walk.
Oh one more thing, received an extraordinary wedding gift all the way from Scotland / said “book” on the customs declaration but it definitely was not a book. A welcome surprise from a lovely couple who befriended me during a really hard time while I was alone and far far away from anything and anywhere.
Going to Osaka for a couple days to do some paperwork at the Canadian consulate, pick up handcrafted rings, buy a few arts and craft supplies and eat takoyaki… We’re getting close to friends arriving! Still several items on the list but making sure to enjoy the process and keep pacing with in the boundaries for my body.
While i started enjoying haircuts when i found a barber shop which also offered libations, good tunes, pinball and the like,… since “the illness” I made a list of things I can do which involves sitting down, but gets me out of the house, and leaves me with a feeling of satisfaction.
These include: making scrapbooks, seeing matinée movies, sitting in parks under a tree, getting my beard professionally trimmed (rather than chopping at it myself) plus trim up the haircut,… as well as pedicures documented elsewhere.
This assortment features a few barbers in Indonesia and Japan.
While rambling, i like to seek out the hole-in-the-wall, no fuss, traditional barbers and enjoy a leisurely visit. Its hit or miss sometimes but ya know, hair grows back right?
Sometimes, not always, i grab a snap with the barber or the shop or me before and after… sometimes i don’t so you won’t see those. Oh sometimes i recall names and/or locations, this is not meant to be comprehensive, just amusing and vaguely documentary.
This dispatch shares the logistics of getting to and fro various important locations for the wedding festivities, specifically: Munetade Shrine, Fuyahei resto and Rural Caprine Farm goat farm by party via train and taxi. Also, the general plan about what to expect, when to show up and how to dress. Plus an overview of activities to do with free time like museums (lots), hot springs, picnics, and day trips to Kurashiki (art and canals, Bizen (pottery and swords), Hiroshima (bombs), and Kyoto (everything). Plus tips on staying in communication with all your new friends – both Japanese folks and the other international renegades.