Tag Archives: Payphone

Scenes of life: spiral staircase, library signs, basket of balls + pink door

While out and about on various expeditions, snap snap’d the usual days and the glimpses of regular life.

{With generally unrelated diary notes which happened to happen the same day}

Up early, by my standards, to see classic movie “the sound of music” at some community something something place.

First, a stop at a rusty strip of shops which houses an exquisite French style bakery: fluffy cakes, croissants, croque monsieur, brie / prosciutto sandos + uniforms. Swoon!

Made it as far as the intermission in the exceptional epic “sound of music” – Each time, notice the fantastic use of light and shadows, and pacing (+ of course stellar stoic Christopher Plummer as well as the effervescent Julie Andrews) – was kind of my speed, maybe a total of 8 people at the screening, the 3 of us were by far the youngest / I forgot my “pro tip” of always bringing my own slippers… but anyway, now ramen w/ evidence:

Then, nearby our not-so-secret-anymore Ramen place, went to check out the dinosaurs in the shopping arcade, spotting a few bits of *normal* along the way: a basket of balls, a pink door, a streetscape sign – all very pleasing in their normalness…

…and were fortunate to catch the “Okayama University woodwind orchestra” (or something like that) rocking through the final bit of their set. Especially enjoyed seeing the percussion section of course:

Bonus:

Was a Sunday of a three day weekend and coming out of the winter doldrums or whatever but a lot of people out and about, which meant that after my usual limit of 1.5 activities, we should’ve run for home but a library visit was on the agenda.

I tried to find a quiet corner to scribble postcards with limited success. Ichiro checked out a massive – both quantity and size (quite literally as included an oversize book with a spine approximately a meter which was packed in a giant padded satchel), and join me for scribbling postcards, including one to himself, another to a cousin, and of course he did much stamping.

I noticed that “technically” no photos are allowed in the library (of course, taking photos of patrons/humans is totally offside) and also “no self study without using library materials” which may have made my postcard writing an inappropriate act.

But, spotting books such as “start up 101 “”what is sound art?” and “end of life” required documentation – as did a lovely construction paper collage of a train station.

Usually, libraries are calm and chill but again, at no fault of the other patrons, a little bit too much going on for me. We did make a stop at the embedded coffee shop for a tasty beverage and refresh before…

Yet another stop on the way home to a shopping plaza to dump off some plastic recycling and purchase a few items, during which I hung out on a bench outside, mailed postcards, and spotted “cake box” – which I can only imagine is a service for ordering a cake which is placed in this box, then magically opened so you can pick up (obviously), a cake, and I’m sure it’s quite wonderful.

Asides:

I would like to thank Taylor Swift & her conundrum of getting from Tokyo to Las Vegas for football by going backwards across the international dateline for helping my friends in the USA understand that yes, I live in tomorrow in Japan (also yesterday but that’s another story)

And, at the risk of being Cliff Claven, I like to explain to people that:

* The international dateline is not straight

* And yes, I have crossed the international dateline by ship

* But no, I have not passed the exact point of the international dateline and equator simultaneously #shellback

Finally, enjoyed a few “old-time style” phone calls with pals recently… It took me years to get over my phone phobia from a terrible job in Utah, 1987 but now find it quite pleasant to sit in my dark room with a beverage yapping away to someone, in this case, back in Utah. {Note: not using the phone pictured}

Nagasaki Ramble, Feb. 2020, part 1 (trains, trams, food & rumours of a…)

Unnecessary Preamble:

The trip was meant as a little adventure and to visit relatives and also get away from the house while a few construction tasks were happening (new bathtub! etc.) but…

roll on to Nagasaki

As it goes, this was the “last trip” – at the time the (now infamous) Diamond Princess cruise ship was quarantined – shrouded in mystery – in Yokohama, the city was a bit tense and confused, and indeed, a week later another cruise ship was quarantined in Nagasaki.

Since we were well along the pregnancy, we stayed safe and busy despite my – ugh –usual health challenges, and so very much enjoyed Nagasaki: riding trams, olden Dutch settlements, bomb memorials :(, friendly folks, quirky kissaten cafes unchanged for decades, plus hospital visits for a young relative, and an abacus tournament (really) – Some new friends, strange islands, impossible alleys, hills & plants.

Of course didn’t realize it would be years until our next time out of Okayama prefecture // 2 years feels like 2 weeks or 20 years depending on the day.

Contemporaneous notes follow (there is also a fantastic analog scrapbook somewhere):

Feb 13, 2020: Nagasaki ramble officially underway at Okayama station at best lil coffee stand called Life & Coffee / ordered up a Bizen special cup

#protip there is a piece of Bizen ceramic put in the coffee which infuses with magic powers &/or imbues with extra tastiness

Feb 14: Nagasaki miscellanea diary (not to be confused with the Ryoko’s botanical diary)

Post box (obviously) at station

With a combination of low pressure weather systems, overstimulation of fast trains, and a bit too much activity of late, had a real rough flareup with my mostly-beloved but somewhat-battered body. It’s hard to explain all the pain but when it suddenly comes on, it’s quite scary.

Anyway, sweet wife tracked down some help for me this morning with acupuncture needles connected to electricity and some ice got the immediate pain calmed down.

Then, immediately following whilst on a little walk, we happened across a mysterious tiny café, ate some local dishes & met a new friend, the proprietor – or son of the family or something something. Regardless, he loves fishing and was cheerful and affable. Koba-san!

the famous champon noodles of the area

He knocked off the job and loaded us up in his car for a coastal drive to gaze the remnants of a coal factory mining island (noted in various films).

Plus the related museum displaying the challenges of life on an industrial enclave which was for a while a “fully functioning” city and the most densely populated place on earth.

While every day is a romantic interlude with my Darling wife, appropriately today we viewed the battleship island from “wedding“ rocks complete with a Torii gate, and much fun conversation.

Now a rest, then perhaps a walk to explore the Dutch outposts from long-ago days before the “black ships “ obliged Japan to open up.

Overall everything going well except for my crushing head / end of dispatch #valentinesday

I offer a few photos as evidence. Really the usual: postbox, trains, street cars, telephone, plus a few of the aforementioned items.

Trams

Trains

Trams & Trains video

A montage of trams and trains featuring music by Dan Mangan and Ryoko Olson… It turns out there are literally hundreds of similar videos on YouTube but I’m pretty sure this one is the very best of all of them :-)

Pyjamas

Pajamas provided by the hotel, in this case, button-up long night shirt style. Really fantastic. I’m really trying not to steal these and further ruin my reputation in Japan (and for all other foreigners too). But if no one knows it was me…

Canals & Vibes

Canals, old customs houses, small alleys, mix of Western and Japanese style houses… All in the little area around our hotel. Dreamy // and keep in mind, none of this existed after August 1945

Food, for starters

Harbour Stroll

Due to the (at that time) recent announcement of a mysterious illness entering Japan aboard a cruise ship, the general populous immediately hunkered down – so, when we went on a harborfront stroll seeking splendid sashimi, we had the promenade and the restaurant basically to ourselves.

Ryoko’s Botanical Diary

Chinatown Stroll

While Nagasaki’s interest in history deserves several essays and a miniseries, in brief: as you likely know, for hundreds of years, Japan was basically closed off to international trade with a few exceptions, one being controlled trade with China (who often acted as a middle broker for Japanese wars with other countries) as well as first the Portuguese who were expelled by bringing their religion Against the wishes of the Daimyo (insert story about peasant quasi religious uprising here… Oh actually Melvyn Bragg on the intellectually stimulating “In Our Time” podcast covers The Shimabara Rebelion) so then the trading franchise was transferred to the Dutch who were sequestered on an island // which we will get to later…

So in the meantime, here are a few snapshots of Chinatown – which is Japan’s oldest Chinatown and somehow lent to the feeling of Nagasaki as a miniature San Francisco: a harbor, lots of hills, various cobbled, international vibe, great café culture, trams clattering along – but, as far as I could tell, a lack of Beat poetry and self-aggrandizing tech companies.

More to come

Considering this diary only catches the first barely 2 days of the trip and there’s so much more to share, I invite you back for:

  • Visit to Dejima
  • Abacus tournament
  • Grilled meats
  • Old public bath
  • Quirky coffee shops
  • Atomic bomb museum
  • Experiencing four seasons of weather in three days
  • Of course more trains, post boxes, payphones and so on, probably anyway

Way Home (more trains)

And just so I don’t forget: here are two snaps from the way home on the now decommissioned Kamome train – briefly addressed above at the time but now replaced with a super high speed “new trunk line” a.k.a. Shinkansen a.k.a. bullet train.

I love these “at – grade” class trains as they are wider, have beautiful touches like parquet floors, lounge cars and viewing areas // which you can see in the photo along with the usual photo of my boots, yes these cheap and cheerful chukkas which took me into the Himalayas, along with my stolen suitcase of treasures which earned its stickers.

So we go on.

Diary: always on repeat, bus to seitai, postcards and coffee, ramen with darlings

Rushed to bus to seitai so now posting a “timestamp” photo to show that I’m at seitai (& my fluffy hair is full of static electricity) Dec. 1, 14:20

My favorite flowers in the seitai office entryway, maybe I forgot to mention but my thoughtful wife bought me similar on the anniversary of my mom’s passing.

Continue reading Diary: always on repeat, bus to seitai, postcards and coffee, ramen with darlings

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.

Collection: (Pay)phones (vol. 11) – assorted Japan hotel/ryokan house phones

operational classic black rotary and laser engraved QR code for wi-fi

As part of on-going documentation of various collections of payphones. this gallery features examples of phones in various states of use, captured “in the wild” around Japan, specifically featuring hotel house phones in Shimane and Ishikawa and related devices, plus a few other phone handsets of different circumstances and origins for your edification, lightly annotated.

the Ryokan’s “control center” with multiple faxes and breaker panels, switch boards…
another hotel “control centre” with phones, faxes, batteries and cc machines(?)
i seem to recall this was once a phone i used but don’t recall. can you remember?
room phone at a Ryokan in Shimane
Continue reading Collection: (Pay)phones (vol. 11) – assorted Japan hotel/ryokan house phones

Collection: Payphones (vol. 10) – assorted varieties / Varley Trail, Hong Kong, Bali, Japan

at Rice Lake cabin along the Varley Trail, Lynn Canyon, BC

Pardon any redundancies, this collection definitely includes several that just haven’t fit into previous archives but maybe one or two they already are out there, there’s too many to count anymore. In this wormhole, we range widely however from the Varley Trail in Lynn Canyon, British Columbia, to Indonesia, to Hong Kong, to points around Japan. Of course, you can find many more in various collections of payphones and related communication tools.

on the streets of Hong Kong

Hello to the people in the future,

What follows are public telephones created in a time when phones did not roam freely and in pockets. To make a call, one would either enter a specially-created booth (or box), or simply stand close by as the receivers were tethered to the phone unit by a short cord, then insert a variety of coins depending on the location called (local, domestic or international) or in some cases, use a purpose-made phone card, or even a credit card (though doing so often exposed one to fraudulent actors).

Perhaps you have already imagined the unsanitary nature of sharing a phone handset (placed next/close to ear and mouth of course) with strangers – though perhaps this increased “herd immunity” despite being rather unpleasant. Note that oftentimes the coin return slots were checked for forgotten change but the miner was surprised to find discarded chewing gum, or even-less-savoury items, instead.

ok ok, this isn’t a telephone, its a utility meter in Indonesia
to make up for my tom-foolery above, here’s a payphone in Indonesia
i see you! a accessible size “office ready” unit at a rest/service area en route to Kyoto
Continue reading Collection: Payphones (vol. 10) – assorted varieties / Varley Trail, Hong Kong, Bali, Japan

Collection: (Pay)phones and whatnot (vol. 9) – around Nagasaki & Gunkajima

In the various collections of payphones (as well as hotel house phones and other related analogue communication tools) throughout this archive, the devices are often scattered in variety of locations. However, this installment includes items observed on a visit to Nagasaki in February 2020 and includes payphones, a few phones at restos and inns as well as a few rather destroyed artifacts from “battleship island” (an inland turned mining facility).

as seen at a restaurant, evidently still operational but did not operate
at a Kissaten Café right near the atomic bomb museum
Continue reading Collection: (Pay)phones and whatnot (vol. 9) – around Nagasaki & Gunkajima

Museum & Musings: Lafcadio Hearn (Yakumo Koizumi)’s residence etc. / Matsue, Japan, 2018

In my first era in Japan, 1992-3 in Tottori, I vaguely heard about a “western” writer who had lived in nearby Shimane prefecture, had taken on Japanese name/identity and whatnot in a time that very few foreigners were coming into Japan and those who were diplomats, business people or missionaries and generally centred around Tokyo or other big cities.

I learned more about this character named left Lafcadio Hearn (Patrick Lafcadio Hearn / Πατρίκιος Λευκάδιος Χερν, later Koizumi Yakumo) and was completely intrigued. I couldn’t imagine how he chose this wonderful yet far-flung location, and the logistics of getting out there and getting settled.

Learning more about his life realized his fantastically interesting life with checkpoints in Greece, Ireland, the Caribbean, New Orleans, the American midwest west (with a then-shocking *mixed race* abandoned marriage), coming to Japan on assignment for a magazine, quitting the magazine and going rogue, later teaching at a university where his position was usurped by noted Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki.

So when I returned to Japan in 2018, top of my list (besides hanging out at Mac Kobayashi’s goat farm) was to go to his museum. As it goes, I arrived to treacherous weather, typhoons, rain storms, flooding, landslides follow by a heat wave – all of which made my illness a little bit rough but, along came a girl, the girl.

Ryoko met me in Matsue, (i’ll always remember her walking down the steps of the station with her floppy straw hat and me saying “how about a picnic?”) and indeed, we rolled by bus out to the two museums: one was his former house and the next-door was a museum which was not photo friendly.

But first, a picnic on the banks of the moat around the castle that he would have looked at every day, waving to the tourists going past in boats, taking snapshots of the statues, payphones, and post boxes before going into the house and museum (2 different places).

Lafcadio Hearn Former Residence: https://goo.gl/maps/NSDc1wHnShU3D1Pq5

Lafcadio’s own writing desk! This was a wonderful feeling

First off, the house was very pleasant to explore with his custom made writing desk which was surprisingly on tatami mats, and raised to accommodate his eyesight challenges. Around, the garden was well kept and in splendid bloom along with other pieces of his artwork, calligraphy and artefacts he collected and a friendly staff with a comment box.

Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum, Matsue, Shimane, Japan: https://goo.gl/maps/zu8MZtdP6uXDpMXW7

Continue reading Museum & Musings: Lafcadio Hearn (Yakumo Koizumi)’s residence etc. / Matsue, Japan, 2018

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