Tag Archives: okayama

Outing: bus to passport snaps, jazz & tea

The three of us, on the road by wonderful, air conditioned, Wi-Fi enabled, Uno bus service into Okayama city for passport snaps for Ichiro. His first time on the bus and he’s really into it, waved to the driver, of course, (yup, like his papa).

Evidence of the journey as he looks at the windows to endless possibilities

Lots of fun at the photo studio, serious face and a sailor suit for two passports, two countries, two sizes… Then and outfit change (jimbei & barefeet) for a bit of a commemorative studio photo / just like my Mom used to do for us boys.

After photo studio, caught street jazz / sort of informal part “Okayama Jazz Street weekend” (Including a tenor sax, followed a car and upright bass combo, the bass played by the chief of “Live House Bird” where we hosted our “foreigner welcome party” before the wedding.

Melodica, Tenor Sax, Bass combo afternoon in Omotecho shotengai

We’d never had a chance to thank him in real life – he was grateful for all the snapshots and awareness of our pals brewed up.

Stopped for tea at a place filled with older gents playing Shogi & Go + bought Ichiro a puzzle at one of those dusty forgotten stationery shop so I dig.

You can *barely tell* that we’re even related I’m sure

Oh, also bumped into several people we know, or wife knows… Starting to be a lot more action around the city, was also a sake festival and saw a gaggle of obvious foreigners, first time in a long long time, seem to be maybe a sports team?

[update: done-ish] All above unpictured for now, mebbe i’ll grab something from R‘s phone as my camera is broken but i did take the instax for 3 snaps.

Home now in the cool dark room with the little guy snoozing next to me.

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.

Exhibit: Shimizu Hian Shodo Calligraphy in Ukan, Okayama, 2021

In April 2021, we visited a shodo calligraphy exhibition at a saké distillery with special floral arrangements made by Ryoko’s frequent collaborator in arboristing & other natural arts, Oka-san (true salt of the earth tough guy with a deep gravel voice, leathered by perpetual smoking with a heart of gold and an artistic sense of nuance and splendour), who showed us around – along with his wonderful young daughter Momoka.

In a previous dispatch, shared some pleasureable scenes of everyday life at the distillery, the deserted street outside, and a tucked-away-in-mountain coffee shop.

This dossier is a round-up of shodo art pieces on display by Shimizu Hian for my (and possibly your) memory, inspiration and edification.

A few notes about the artist: {actually not finding much of anything in English aside from archival auction sites and living years of 1883-1975, i'll work on this} Here's another one of his works listed at Japanese Modernism and another out-of-date auction listing. 

I enjoyed his “less formal and more whimsical than usually seen” style and mixing of words and images seamlessly. Form is meaning and meaning has form.

Also variety of techniques moving beyond the “usual” few bold kanji on white.

The exhibit was on display at his historic sake distillery where we purchased a couple of bottles to go – as is the custom – after enjoying tea with the family.

Takeaway: here is a collection of most of the pieces, in a handy collage to keep close to your heart.

If you know more about this artist, please drop a comment and thanks to exceptional shodo master Yoshiko Yoshida for assistance getting this far. And take a moment to explore the area with us.

Postboxes + Post Office: Katsuyama, Okayama, Japan (for #postboxsaturday)

“Just hanging out by a beautiful pillar #Postbox with a fantastic noren curtain in historic Katsuyama, Okayama, Japan for #PostboxSaturday #PostBoxesOfTheWorld

yes i am cheesing out, with a jaunty pose but i mean, look how great it all is!

More: same cheesy pose, same town, same different box, different day along Katsuyama historic “preserved” street

Even More: same town, 2 snaps of another pillar at Katsuyama Station and another cheesy pose by a standard issue box by the actual post office in Yubara, Katsuyama

Continue reading Postboxes + Post Office: Katsuyama, Okayama, Japan (for #postboxsaturday)

Healing Ramble: Brief notes from Okayama Uni. Research Hospital #MECFS clinic

Brief notes from #MECFS specialty clinic at Okayama University Hospital Sept. 2, 2022. (Originally published via @uncleweed Twitter) – intro in this video mostly about poetry in slender books and this preview “Healing note: new MECFS Clinic at Okayama University Hospital“. PS Referral took about 7 to 10 days (much less than the 18 month long wait times I was dealing with in BC)

Very brief version: long day, spun me out but “felt heard” & respected and have some new approaches.

More notes:

Was at hospital from 9 AM till 3:30 PM… Completely wiped out but felt heard and seen.

It’s a teaching hospital so a couple of young keeners were in on the fun and I asked them questions like they were my interns “back in the day” :)

Primary doctor asked a lot of really good questions ++ she dug into my history with a car accident in 1987 (plus various fainting/concussions) and impact on my spine to investigate whether I am a “spinal leaker”

My bilingual medical summary prepared in advance was a stroke of momentary genius. very helpful as showed I have tried many modalities (done the work), made sure I didn’t forget anything, and showed respect for their time {35 pages condensed to 3 in 2 languages}

We also discussed the mental health side of this whole “living with a chronic complex disease and being disrespected by the medical field” and the work I’ve done with counselling, CBT and the experiences with various psychiatric assessments & importantly, where I’m at now

Did a laundry list of blood test (importantly in my case, thyroid and cortisol) as well as an IV with some new medication – Neurotropin (better impact than orally)

Have two new vitamins, plus one traditional Chinese medicine compound, and one sorta experimental (off label) medication to add to routine

[Update} this is Traditional Chinese Medicine to my #MECFS routine.

补中益气汤 Bu Zhong Yi Qi (BZYQ) decoction is a classic prescription in Chinese history that has an obvious effect on improving fatigue symptoms.”

{Thanks Dr Erikson for link}

I was wheeled around everywhere and it was a hectic busy bright environment but I was also smart enough to bring my eye mask, earplugs and book

As this was the first time at this special (referral only) hospital, had to get a special card, download a special app, fill out specific forms

I go back in three weeks to review progress with kindly Dr (did i mention she was rather comfortable in English so we code-switched a lot?) and have consult with traditional Chinese medicine specialist + discuss referral to specialist in Hiroshima about the aforementioned spinal leakage

Continue reading Healing Ramble: Brief notes from Okayama Uni. Research Hospital #MECFS clinic

Healing: (un-detailed) back to doc (& next steps)

Thanks to each of you again for your kind words and thoughts and thinking about me re: #daveo52 / 8-16

But, ummm, ugh.. it’s the same thing every year, I do a little bit too much on my special happenings (i guess #shrug even tho kept it super mellow) and then go into bad #MECFS “crash mode” (i guess?) which landed me in the hospital in great pain (and i’ll spare ya gory details) with sweet slow IV, plus blood test, stethoscopes inspections, touchy pokey pokey, blood draws, and a bonus C 19 test out the door with the medicine) – The beds are not comfortable (but I was smart enough to bring my own eye mask) regardless, the doctors and nurses are very sweet and thorough.

good thing is, it’s like a small clinic but it has x-ray, ultrasound, small lab, small pharmacy so I can do everything in one place… Even got another C 19 test

so slowly putting it back together, I’m not good at this chronic complex illness yet it’s only been nine fcking years #sheesh admittedly disheartened, tough summer.

Anyhow this is my periodic reminder that while I see all of the request for various little tasks coming in, I will get to each eventually but just nothing in the next few days.

Fondly as usual, dvo at Tsuchida cottage

Next day: Back to doc today / stabilizing but completely wiped out & drained from dehydration and related GI stress & spasms / New sheet of test results (for a translation project). Trying to keep spirits up but *so sick of it all*.

Extended note: visited Dr, got some new blood test results which will be a fun translation project, asked him about causes; *not viral so… allergies? and histamine? thyroid? GI? and if he’s got any ideas about why the fck this happens to me repeatedly even though I’m *totally keeping my pace is slow and gentle, eating good foods*… So much throughout my life, I’ve had conundrums related to G.I. system in general from hernias to aggravated bowel to giardia to worms and even esophagus issues and so I guess when I’m weak, this is where the problems manifest and my goodness, I was rewriting my will while twisting and riding on the stern style Japanese bed with the IV gracefully placed in by a woman who would be retired in any other country. Ice parks please (and add some morphine to the drip :())

No real thoughts or answers but at least he was nice and he actually you know, inspects my body with hands and stethoscope and old-school blood pressure cuff.

More: On the 25th, we go to the big city hospital for the neurologist at which point I’m going to attempt to get my records transferred to the university research hospital plus, and (just for my CPO-D pension peace of mind), get a record of all my visits and get some paperwork for my “semi official disability status”.

Didnt have wookies in mind when they designed the slippers

Thanks for the kind words, just showing how good the tiny green slippers and the pink couch go together.

Now: Back in a cool dark room, feeling a little bit discouraged and wiped out but whatever, it’s the routine right?

Postboxes (and related items): mostly in/around Okayama, Japan

postal coin banks, envelope-esque pencil / pen holder, paintings of post boxes in Vaticane and Olympia, Greece as seen at Tsuchida Cottage

As will no doubt be *not shocking* I have quite-literally hundreds of photos of post boxes around the world, as well as other postal type artefacts – from “still lifes” of writing letters, to random global stamps, to paintings of post boxes etc. etc.

postboxes in a magazine seen at, yup, the Shinogoze post office

While I made a book out of some of the artifacts {Post’d: Letters to Elsewhere}, most don’t have a “permanent home” here in this creative life archive and well, it’s a bit of a daunting task to do *all of this all at once* so sometimes a collection just sort of falls together around a theme and says (metaphorically, i hope) “hey, this seems nice” and here is one of those times.

postal code mark as seen painted onto the street

In this case, a few post boxes – both for sending and receiving – in and around my Tsuchida neighbourhood and Okayama at large, and a few other snaps that friends here sent me (i think, sometimes i don’t know if took the photo or someone else did, no offence intended if i mistook).

No doubt this post could go on and on but instead I’ll say, “Here are some postal items, please enjoy (and remix as desired)”.

simple, rustic delivery box in the neighbourhood

Note: i have meant to start participating in #postboxsaturday Twitter activity, maybe this’ll help me start.

Continue reading Postboxes (and related items): mostly in/around Okayama, Japan

Collection: (Pay)phones (vol. 8) – junk shop in Okayama + typewriter

(Pay)phones (vol. 8) – junk shop in Okayama

In the various collections of payphones (as well as hotel house phones and other related analogue communication tools) throughout this archive, generally the devices are in current use and from a variety of locations. However, this installment includes items observed in a single used artifacts shop in my *new home town* of Okayama.

(Pay)phones (vol. 8) – junk shop in Okayama

As for these various phones, most I suppose were used in businesses or public settings, while some maybe were for home use, i dunno. The eras certainly range from early days of telephony, to some classic golden age design, to the rugged utility of 1970s.

(Pay)phones (vol. 8) – junk shop in Okayama

You’ll notice various states of disrepair and jumbled-up-ness of display *and* there’s also a typewriter snuck in here. Carry on as usual, remix as desired.

Continue reading Collection: (Pay)phones (vol. 8) – junk shop in Okayama + typewriter

Accidental Palaeontology (& related accruements)

a palaeontologist, i considered (briefly)

Maybe you’ve seen my variety of elementary school science projects which were more focussed on “social sciences” like anthropology, archeology, and arts and crafts, I mentioned this because as a kid, figured would end up as a scientist/researcher/writer/photographer, contracted by National Geographic to be an “explorer in residence” uncovering civilizations hitherto unknown, remixing the contexts to fit contemporary times – most importantly, having an assortment of interesting and useful practical tools as well as a bunch of cool equipment and accruements.

Dug his tools, his shirt and cap, his liquor bottle, gadgets, good luck charms, some photos of colleagues goofing in the ground with giant dinosaur thighs. He worked out of Okayama University and is celebrated – in a way – for his achievements.

Continue reading Accidental Palaeontology (& related accruements)

Kura barn / storehouse turned studio, consulate and lounge (round-up/catch-all)

Summer 2021: Glorious Kura barn 125+ yrs old got a century retrofit with heat-pump/cooler, electric upgrade with breaker box & a safety railing

For documentary purposes, these snaps show the unscathed (mostly) exterior (note how a/c does not breach the perfect east facing yakisugi wall)

Along the side is a stash of storage flower pots, crocks & roof tiles + bricks (maybe to make a bar-b-q or pizza oven in future).

See below for lousy video clip included to show the summer sort-ganize project.

Continue reading Kura barn / storehouse turned studio, consulate and lounge (round-up/catch-all)