Three important book, of various kinds and origins.
1) Taisho/early Showa era commercial art about which I am quite fascinated – plus, the cover reminds me of my wife // this era of Japan before militarism took over and there was for a brief golden time with a burgeoning international mindset, a “jazz age” of sorts, s3xual opennesses and class conventions dissolving. Curious to peruse the book further
2) “Confidential” one of the many journals, scrapbooks, scribble books, diaries etc. I filled up this year with words of course, but also items, dried flowers, artifacts and memos… Reminding myself that I didn’t “publish” a lot beyond my own channels, yet I created a lot of material, it’s just confidential for now // ps seen behind is the Shawn Parkinson designed print issue of Narwhal from Vancouver
3) 70 from my dear sensei Larry Harper who introduced a 17-year-old high school dropout at the community college that creative writing is a noble endeavor and life pursuit. This is his book “70” with appropriately, 70 different components including short plays, poems (long and short), stories of various lengths, and lists – it’s very punk rock as there is no ISBN, UPC barcode, not available on that major international book reseller. And yes, there’s shades of me in here, including a blurb, a riff and an inscription
13 more postcards out into the world (14 if you count the one with Juicebox UPC codes taped to it to enter an Anpanman contest promotion) // really doing my best to keep from spiraling down while really struggling with this stupid illness.
Where do you go to my lovelies? So many countries, so many roads, so many hands
Dispatch (again choosing from my special stash of ones that sometimes I can hardly let go of but that’s the whole point) includes: vintage train, Grand Canyon crossings, Japanese fireworks, Yumeji Taisho-era ladies, cats, kimonos and one guitar…
Each card, carefully selected from a red velvet box with some connection to recipient whether it be a vague inside joke, a half degrees step from their own artwork, a story we shared or an experience maybe they remember.
I’m particularly excited when the cards not only have a wonderful design but also elegant paper stock which gives good purchase on the pen making a pleasure to write as it holds the ink and has the tactility i so savour. Plus, white space and ink stamps already included in the design so I can remix with my own stamps. Some of the above were additionally decorated before finally dropping into the postbox. Diligently assisted by Ichiro Stanley who loves the process with me.
Hope the cards bring joy to recipients, I sure do like crafting each one, choosing the card, the stamps, the message and then adding some more fun inkstamps to make truly unique.
Digression: While most of this batch are not my original creations, yet for a special significance of a friend heading on an adventure for a milestone birthday, I dug out a couple of snapshots of crossing the Grand Canyon in 1988, and noting that while many technical advancements have happened in the intervening years (for example: Internet, pocket robots, medical imaging blah blah blah) in this case, “technical outdoor adventure clothing” is the most relevant as here I am wearing two different cotton tie-dyed T-shirts in blistering heat, in fact everything was soaked soggy cotton except maybe for a bit of nylon (likely teal) on the boots (could be leather, I can’t see in the photo in which I am yes, peeing into the Grand Canyon out of anger at walking up the north rim being run down by tourists riding mules who would vacate their bowels in majestic piles around the switch backs – no this is not recommended are acceptable behavior) Because this was the late 80s. Gore-Tex, fleece, polypropylene and whatnot we’re only for the bourgeois skiers at the time. Funny what becomes a time capsule. & Yes, bandannas were appropriate for head covering and dog collars. No gang significance implied despite the era.
You know i love a family photo of Postcards as they all head off on their separate adventures
Dropped a letter in the mail on the way home from our unexpected seaside journey.
First one going out with my new ink stamp + Taisho-era artist Yumeji Takahisa washi tape.
Ahoy the okayama <> metchosin wormhole
Next: this story worked out really interesting… Dropped a postcard to India last year September, 2022 and finally found its recipient >> then the recipient tracked down the sender (me obv) via a social media channel (guess he didn’t realize that my name was also in the postcard fine print”credit” for the painting of an Indian train station) anyhow, embeds tell the story
4 views: full view, wide view, close-up and me nonchalantly leaning up against it like that’s something people normally do
For #postboxsaturday comes 4 views of Japan pillar style at (one of several) museums for famed artist (painter, print maker, poet, writer, bookbinder and illustrator) Yumeji Takehisa (1884-1934).
In the gift shop or a wide assortment of postcards and postal stamps design from the artists work. What kind of dream is this right?!
This dapper gent is noted for his modern approaches and expanding traditional techniques and representing – especially women & cats – through the “rather enlightened romantic“ Taisho era – which was sandwiched between the massive industrialization of Meiji era and the militarization build-up of early Showa era.
Note: Fascinated with era of Japan (forgotten in between the epic Meiji Restoration and industrialization and the militaristic/imperial period leading up to the Asian/Pacific etc. war / working on finding more books and films exploring this “forgotten” time (started with Naomi by Tanazaki)
The Taisho Era: When modernity ruled Japan’s masses via The Japan Times, July 29, 2012, by Michael Hoffman
One hundred years ago this week — on July 30, 1912 — Emperor Meiji passed away and Japan, traveling blind and hardly knowing where it was going, entered a new age.
The Taisho Era (1912-26), sandwiched between the boldly modernizing Meiji Era (1867-1912) and the militarist tide of early Showa (1926-1989), deserves more recognition than it gets.
Taisho is Japan’s Jazz Age. Can it be summed up in a phrase? It often is: ero-guro-nansensu — eroticism, grotesquerie, nonsense.
All three filled the air. Was Taisho, then, mere frivolity? To cite only the plainest evidence to the contrary: World War I; the 1918 Rice Riots; “Taisho Democracy;” the founding in 1922 of the Japan Communist Party; the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923; the granting of universal manhood suffrage in 1925; and the repressive Peace Preservation Law passed barely two months later.
Maybe you noticed my affinity towards dropping in Japan imperial era names in reference to “Showa this” or “Taisho that” – In brief, while modern Japan also uses BCE/AD year dating system, also uses imperial eras to count years… in a somewhat confusing manner.
Each Emperor has a name while living (example Hirohito) but their era name also becomes the posthumous name (in Hirohito’s case Showa). When a new imperial reign begins, the numbers start from one.
Birth years and other important dates are generally referenced from this system. I.e. i was born in Showa 45 or 1970.
2019 was an extra anomaly as Emperor Akihito abdicated and his era “Heisei” (which will also be his posthumous name) in his 31st year of reign, and a new era “Reiwa” began on May 1 2019 when his son/heir Naruhito took the throne. So 2019 was both Heisei 31 and Reiwa 1. 2020 is Reiwa 2.
So blah blah blah. I came to tell you that Taisho era is my current topic of interest. This was about 100 years ago and the “jazz age” in Japan as well as west. The previous era “Meiji” was when Japan started opening up to the outside world (a topic in itself) with a charismatic emperor.
Taisho era was different and relatively short and squeezed between the impending militarism which came with Showa and the fundamental societal changes of Meiji.
Taisho saw rise of *western* clothes/styles, dancing, woman’s role expanding with jobs and relative “freedom” of being.
A seminal literary work from this time is Tanizaki’s Naomi which tells the story of a young woman seizing her liberation in all aspects of her life.
Anyhow, here’s an article meaning to share with more about above now that i laid a foundation.
Artifact: Camera, and stuffed animals (Maniwa, Japan)
Note: Heavy, apparently expensive. Seemed functional and in good condition when spotted at a coffee shop/café/gallery outside of a little small logging town (Maniwa) like some sort of strange oasis: the front door was rather hidden, they spent 30 minutes preparing a magnificent cup of tea, which came with black pepper. The table was hewn from a massive single log (“massive” trees aren’t really “massive” in Japan by Canadian standards but anyway…) And so many Interesting and cute objects scattered around. Its this sort of randomness that I love love love about living in Japan.