Tag Archives: Steve Gruett

Diary: Off to Library + cuppa Joe / good luck, stamps, ovens & social niceties

Note: Some of this riff originally appeared in “real time” via FB social channel to the amusement of many (everyone loves a comically large bootle of hooch!) – shared here for posterity in edited form with several other topics included.

++ Confession ++

pardon me, but does this come in a large?

Well, i am at risk of irreparably damaging my reputation as a good resident of Okayama as it seems some library books are overdue.

I know! Terrible. Shameful breach of trust.

As such, i will finish this coffee (delicious by the way) and hop on the luxurious Uno Bus (seriously wi-fi, power outlets, clean, comfy, pay-per-stop) to restore my status as a decent human.

I’ve really let myself go off the rails – i’ll try to improve.

fondly, dave

PS i will not blame this on this comically huge bottle of saké – seriously, 18 litres and came in a wooden crate. Just when you think Japanese people are all diligent and serious, they pull out this! i mean the logistics of shipping, lifting, holding, pouring alone are baffling

Checkpoint busstop (yes my life does look like a Studio Ghibli movie)

Did i mention the bus has great wi-fi, power outlets, seatback headrest covers, and pay-per-stop system? Uno Bus is truly great.

Also before leaving washed dishes, folded laundry, started rice, composted food scraps, fed rabbit, aerated kobo starter, refilled kerosene heater… and didn’t forget library books(!)

Ryoko’s out of town for 2 nights teaching a tree trimming workshop & stayed in a trad guest house with wooden bath. So cool. And she’s truly incredible (and doing great with pregnancy!)

Continue reading Diary: Off to Library + cuppa Joe / good luck, stamps, ovens & social niceties

Museum Exhibit: Kobayashi Issa (haiku master), museum and grave in Shinano, Nagano

In May 2019, Ryoko and I wandered around Japan on a shinkonryoko (honeymoon) with the aims of riding various trains, visiting some folks, sampling accommodation types and visiting small museums along the way. 

In Shinano, Nagano, we visited my old pal Steve – a former Minnesota US Navy man who has lived in mountain high Nagano mostly on, but sometimes off, for better part of 40 years. With him, we checked out the Issa Memorial Museum dedicated to the haiku poet Kobayashi Issa (who was usually referred to mononymously) and is regarded as 1 of the 4 GREAT classical haiku poets (along with Basho, Shiki and Buson).

Anyhow, not sure if we just got lucky with timing or Issa isn’t a big pilgrimage for others but this was a stop i looked forward to and enjoyed very much. The place was so calm because very few patrons (mid-day, mid-week in May).

Many rooms of scrolls, artifacts from his wanders, and scale models of towns and places. Most everything was only in Japanese so if you don’t read Nihongo, you are kinda outta luck but still worth viewing all the artifacts and figuring bits and pieces out as you see it.

Simply observing the book binding craft, scroll creations and map-making techniques is highly enjoyable. 

Especially enjoyed seeing his travelling clothes, pipes, book bundles , maps and journals as these are the items i have with me whilst traveling (obviously). 

Continue reading Museum Exhibit: Kobayashi Issa (haiku master), museum and grave in Shinano, Nagano

Visiting Friends / Shinkonryoko Ramble

One of our objectives on the honeymoon ramble was to visit and pay respectful greetings to various friends including bringing custom bizen-yake saké cups and various paper artifacts from the wedding. 

Here are a few snapshots from these meeting to document and enjoy. 

First off, wise Hongo Sensei in Noto, Ishikawa. Ichiro was Ryoko’s professor and mentor at Nihon University including a few international trips to Indonesia and Russia. 

In Noto (at the end of a peninsula jutting into the Sea of Japan), we stayed at his home in a refurbished fishing boat / fish processing building right on the port (required extensive fixing up after an earthquake/tsunami in 2011 iirc). He took us for a beach picnic and small museums about fisheries and Jomon-period life. 

Continue reading Visiting Friends / Shinkonryoko Ramble