Tag Archives: tottori

Japan Renegade Travel Musings (specifically *not* Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka)

Oh look, adventure Ted is having a beer, sashimi and plotting good times…

Adventure Tour Guide Ted Taylor and DaveO riff in a historic Kura barn in Tsuchida, Okayama, Japan talking about exploring… well off-the-beathen-ish-path Japan – specifically not Tokyo, Kyoto, & Osaka (sure those places are great or whatever but plenty of info) so let’s explore elsewhere with places, tactics, tips and musings. Alas, no “b-roll”, links, edits, but plenty of digressions and pretty great hats.

Despite what dashing Ted Taylor tells ya, you can/should hire him for adventure tours (seriously) plus dig his most excellent journals at: Notes from the Nog blog

Continue reading Japan Renegade Travel Musings (specifically *not* Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka)

Riff: Japan, working holiday visa, 1992 (& related circumstances)

the “working holiday visa which started my Japan life in Dec. 1992

Before arriving in Japan, I really knew very little about Japan, I didn’t have an interest in Japan, didn’t care about anime or manga or hadn’t eaten sushi, and had no interest in martial arts, though did have some interest and experience with traditional pottery (raku) techniques, familiarity with Japanese poetry albeit as introduced by *Western* writers, however my older brother had gone to Japan for “proselytizing reasons” and him being in Japan – in a roundabout way – is what brought me to Japan (via the working holiday visa paper of importancy pictured above).

In brief: after a several years of traveling around US & Canada for Grateful Dead concerts, hemp festivals, national park exploits, mountain climbing, canyon hiking, couch crashing, Punk shows, fake IDs, drum corps, university invasions, odd jobs, foolish hitchhikes and “doing my best” with the ladies… And then extending that vibe into Mexico for fish tacos and tequila mistakes and taking my VW bus in even more places it probably shouldn’t have ever gone but did, came an accepted application to Evergreen college which was thwarting by ignominiously *not* winning of any scholarships, not awarded of any bursaries, not accepted into any grants, not allowed any loans so (kind of a shock since i was really accustomed to winning everythings, (you wanna see all my elementary school ribbons, maybe you have?).

So, took the money saved from a summer of building bicycles at Sunrise in Logan, Utah while living in a tent next to the temple & went to Seattle anyway but instead of going south to Olympia to finish off a bachelors degree (with wide eyes of getting a master of fine arts in creative writing and likely a tweed jacket with elbow patches soon there after to go with my smoky pipe and intellectual airs), went North to my “for lack of a better term” hometown of Surrey/Vancouver, bought a one-way ticket to Amsterdam, found some ridiculously-colored hiking boots, obnoxiously-colored trousers and barely usable but very packable sleeping bag & mat on the clear-out table (obviously because of the color) at one of the dozen outdoor good stores in Kitsilano, and with a butane stove (loaded), pocket knife (dull-ish), cut off overalls, a travel sized wok pan, juggling sticks and a jester hat, headed off on a European adventure – not the sort of package tour with giggling youth on a graduation trip, nor the earnest guidebook-toting aficionado, just me, a patched up red wilderness experience backpack and the 1972 “hitchhikers guide to Europe” with vague plans to eventually meet up with my buddy Trevor who had gone a few months earlier (keep reading) and working as a waiter at a seaside something in England and seeing all these bands we loved at big muddy festivals.

At the risk of an extended digression, (& unsurprisingly, documentation of this trip exists in poems, paintings, two photographs, a wine label and at least one but probably more podcasts telling stories about getting deathly ill at Oktoberfest in Munich after hitchhiking from Amsterdam, meeting up with the Bad Yodelers band and being (yet again) a sort of uninvited guest on their band tour being a “roadie who didn’t do anything but smoke hash mixed with tobacco – yech”, then meeting up with Trevor in an idyllic fairytale town, picking grapes, gathering chestnuts for sale, partying in old castle dungeons, carousing with more people than should fit in a Citreön, a wild “new wine” festival [censored], hitchhike back to Amsterdam hostels & coffeshops, a bus to Belgium, a hazy ferry to England, rainy expensive London with Hare Krishnas and bad decisions and couch surfing (again) with New Zealanders (and an Australian who was convinced he was going to carry on a dozen beer steins for his flight home) after watching red dwarf… We ended up in Miami after hurricane Andrew on a cheap Virgin Atlantic flight – where we drank more than our airfare of fancy liquor & bought a bottle of scotch for a friend Who (yes, again) would be hosting us on his couch – on a fraudulent credit card. Then came all night Denny’s nursing coffees, Halloween hilarity, caught in thunderstorms, meeting sketchy friends of a sort, trying to exchange a Canadian hundred dollar bill which had been hidden in my boot for months, soggy and unvaluable, adventure down to Key West meeting neither Jimmy Buffett or Hemingway but eating some conch fritters, then a drive-away car delivery towards Dallas with at least three police incidents including a very thorough search on alligator alley none of which were nowhere near as frightening as dropping off the car to the very large, very agitated (and wearing very short shorts) recipient who was ummm concerned & confused about why the trunk wasn’t filled with a certain white powder and “who are we?” and why we were demanding he gave us $300… Somehow we ended up at the Greyhound station, scammed a scammer into a two-for-one ticket for a bus ride to Salt Lake City, i’ll never ride a greyhound again I said as I sat in the loser seat next to the toilet but still I remember every bus station was playing a different Neil Diamond song.)

Continue reading Riff: Japan, working holiday visa, 1992 (& related circumstances)

Field Notes: Mayne Island (B.C.) Japanese Memorial Garden, 2008

torii gate separates the super & natural

Map: Japanese Memorial Gardens (on Mayne Island)

Note: further reading and resources at bottom

On a snowy day in Dec. 2008, i (along with the dear traveling companion) visited a Japanese Garden on Mayne Island, one of the Gulf Islands between the mainland and Vancouver Island in the Salish sea.

The garden is absolutely charming, a remix of traditional style and Pacific northwest flair with blown glass “balls/baubles/lanterns” intertwined with the trees and Torii gate, and we had the place to ourselves on a short and stormy day.

The garden was made by locals in tribute to their dear Japanese neighbours who were hauled away to internment camps and never returned.

As it goes, this island was settled with Japanese largely from Tottori-ken, the province across Honshu from my home in Okayama over on the Sea of Japan side where i toiled as a mushroom farmer in early 1990s.

I should know more about this topic but as I understand it: once Japan “opened up” to the west during the Meiji restoration, many farmers & fishers who now somewhat freed from the feudal system migrated to the North American West Coast, in this instance, the Salish Sea area, and set up homesteads on Islands on in which are both/either in BC or Washington state {which may have felt geographically familiar to the “Seto naikai/ inland sea” islands}, as well as mainland BC/Washington (and on down to Oregon and California), started businesses and worked as farmers and fishers before the tragedy of internment camps, (which occurred in both USA and Canada).

For a while, I worked in an office in what was once Japantown (now colloquially called Railtown) and often walked by the former Japanese community school where I understand they still conduct Japanese lessons. {Note to self: dig up the pictures of the Japantown exhibit from the museum of Vancouver which are stashed in some hard drive somewhere.} There is also remnants of the Japanese entrepreneurship and diaspora in the fishing port area of Richmond called Steveston.

There’s also a Japanese summer Matsuri festival held in the area oh, I should also mention the legendary Asahis baseball team… so much to say but onwards with the garden right.

The garden is centred round a pond and lanterns, stones and artfully arranged trees placed intentionally.

…and with it being the festive winter season, the trees were festooned with various glass globes, balls, and bulbs adding a touch of whimsy to an otherwise rather-solemn (in this weather and with the backstory) atmosphere.

Continue reading Field Notes: Mayne Island (B.C.) Japanese Memorial Garden, 2008

Mementos: Hamamura / Tottori Life, 5+ views, 1994

Tottori, 1994: Dave in apartment in Hamamura, learning simple life in Japan (its like camping indoors)

In 1994, back in Japan for the second time (after the mushroom farm incident), I made a go out of living the “back to land, hustling crafts and gigs along the way” lifestyle.

This meant selling flower sticks (more to come on this project eventually), hemp bags (ditto), imported Bob Marley T-shirts (so good!) and the like.

Tottori, 1994: Dave (and Tantan resting) in apartment making Flower Sticks and other crafts to sell

Made a little catalogue, got some media exposure, had friends ship vintage goods from Canada and USA and rambled around to various craft fairs, flea markets in the lake in a Mazda Bongo van.

Tottori, 1994: Dave and Tantan in the mountains around Daisen

For some of this time I lived in, Hamamura, Tottori and later worked way to Nagano where the van broke down and started a whole other part of this adventure.

Anyhow, in that stretch of time in almost-forgotten Tottori-prefecture, i lived in a small apartment with no bath so took bath at the natural hot spring “sento” public baths nightly, rambled mountains (around glorious Daisen) sometimes with a Shiba-inu dog named Tantan, played music (including a psychedelic jam sessions in a farm hut in a pear orchard), swam in the warm Sea of Japan, cook-outs on beach. There were some hardships in this time which won’t be discussed at this time.

Instead, a few slices of evidence (note: the photos were snapped with early generation “panorama” camera but developed/printed conventionally hence with the black letter box style):

Tottori, 1994: Dave (beardless) by a sign in the mountains around Daisen
Tottori, 1994: Dave (drum) and Tim (guitar) he was a Englis teacher at a local Women’s University, at a gig of some kind

Bonus: in scavenging artefacts from this summer, found this from brother Andrew who came to stay and worked making prefab log houses with a bunch of grown man while he was a young teen. He wrote this lovely memory of this glorious stretch of coast which, I hope to visit again soon, and a hazy snapshot which sums up the feeling of humid summers snorkelling and eating cold ramen so well. 

“After work, we would go swimming until dusk and watch the squid boats out in the distance. Afterwards, we would go to this nice place for a bowl of fresh ramen and then go soak in the sento (public bath)”

Tottori, 1994: Uradome/San-in coast near Hamamura (photo Andrew Olson)

Artifacts: DIY cassette goodness

 

To me, there is importance in preserving the efforts of “small time“ artists putting their goodness out into the world in a true DIY style.

This stash includes:

* “Houseboat” and “Filterland” /4 track recorded cassettes (with a lot of doubling up and bouncing… really fantastic) by Chris Jacobson (who I met in Guam but he’s from Rhode Island and I’ve lost track of him)

* Chris Sullivan / who I played in a band with in Salt Lake City, he’s in Kentucky (i think) after going to Alaska to catch crabs (the kind from the ocean) or something like that… Fantastically versatile musician and charismatic front man

* “ARCO Hotel” by Joe Williamson who I knew in North Burnaby, BC years ago. He’s a deep jazz and classical (mostly) upright bass player with training at McGill. Cassette was recorded on New Year’s Day (I think) at eponymously named hotel in Amsterdam. Every once in while I see him pop up in European jazz circles doing important, eccentric things

* JahWah (demo), my pals from BC playing some funky punky reggae goodness / Chris Gee and renegades (Rob T & Merlin)

* Metal Planet and Scandoll, a couple of metal bands – who shared members – from my first go around in Tottori, Japan in 1993

* Francisco Fernandez’s band “the ferocious few “ / purchased from him busking on the streets of Austin at SXSW. He’s still out there doing his thing, give him some support

* Stony Curtis and the pipe dreams, one of many submissions when I was making Hempen Road documentary film… This one didn’t get used but I appreciated the effort.

* Another radio show on which I talked about hemp cannabis somewhere someplace somehow, have a lots of these sort of things
… and worth noting a lot of these tunes were used in my documentary films, various podcasts and pop up here and there, or sometimes not. 

Most of these, I suspect there’s very few original/organic/analog versions floating around, maybe a few others stashed in forgotten shoeboxes in various basements, attics and closets. Proud to be a curator.

And yes, I’ve course I have more, a whole box of cassettes and CDs labeled “dude, you got to hear my band…”

Making Friends with Renegade Ted (and various topics)

I spent an afternoon with a remarkably interesting new friend who *lives* in Kyoto but rambles widely.

he’s a dapper gent so easy photo / looks like a tv newscaster gone rogue

Please meet Ted Taylor – raconteur, mountain guide, writer, renegade, global rambler etc. etc.

Topics included:
* drive-away cars
* Grateful Dead shows
* Punk rock fanzines / Gilman st SF
* Various locations in Tottori / Kyushu & ohenrosan dori in Shikoku
* Lafcadio Hearn’s great great grandson playing piano
* poets including: Gary Synder, Nanao Sakaki, Kenneth Rexroth
* macro demographic changes in Japan
* visa run options
* shipping containers
* south of France / German rheinphlatz
* Smoke Blanchard / Uchida Bob
* Singapore lady & drs
* coffee in Japan (then & now), craft beers, wagyu beef burgers, tacos
* riding the ‘Hound & ‘Trak
* life in Kyoto / inland sea islands to explore / villages / not-Tokyo-Japan
* others things to be recalled at some point… this was all in a short afternoon in which we rode streetcars

More Ted at: http://notesfromthenog.blogspot.com/

+ a fella named Bob said: Dave, actually my friend Ted went easy on you if these were the only topics you covered in an afternoon…

To which i replied: my brain needed an off switch afterwards but really i am wired the same way so was like a Mcenroe v Connors 1970s tennis match of topics back and forth

Ted grabbed a snap of me in my native habitat on a tram, “Kris Krüg’s scarf / The rest is Japanese second hand or uniqlo except for the Stetson brand hat… Because you know, I know everyone was wondering”

 

Japan: Travel primer / places to go, getting around, accomms, culture, etiquette and geography

A rather rough overview originally compiled in advance of friends coming to Okayama for wedding. Re-purposed in slightly more general terms for logistical convenience as needed.

See also: “Travelling to and Around Okayama, Japan,” “Japanese Culture and Language Primer” and other resources in this archive including video guides. 

Japan Ramble Primer

Japan can be intimidating, even for seasoned travellers. You arrive to massive sticker shock, tiny octopi in soup, and 30 kinds of hot canned coffee (which all taste moreorless the same) in ubiquitous vending machines. 

Japan is a long country with 80% mountains – covering several climates, from frosty Hokkaido in the north, to tropical Kyushu giving adventurous folks much opportunity to head to the outer provinces for exploration of the heady scenery of this varied archipelago. With some planning, politeness and persistence, combined with a little zen, you can find big adventures.

Indeed, it is easy to get lost in the big cities of Tokyo and Osaka – crowded with skyscrapers and twisted alleys, piled high with screaming neon clubs pumping techno, reggae or karaoke and shops piled with futuristic technological gadgets that won’t make it to North America for another decade – but, far away from the expensive hotels and talking toilets of the huge Pacific metropolis, you may find yourself soaking in alpine hot springs on a starry night, drinking sake with strangers crammed into a mountain hut after a backcountry dinner of rice, seaweed, miso and green tea.

Continue reading Japan: Travel primer / places to go, getting around, accomms, culture, etiquette and geography

Mementos: Tottori Japan Life at Enokitake (mushroom) Farm etc

Mementos: Japan Enokitake farm: view entering the farm compound in Saji - note this photo was used in Japan Times in an article about changes in rural Japan Mementos: Japan Enokitake farm: view entering the farm compound in Saji, Tottoria

Note: Above photo published in Japan Times article: Modernity and magical realism in rural Japan By JAMES HADFIELD

Story: Sometime around 1993, I ended up working as a mushroom farmhand (enokitake and shiitake) in a small mountain village called Saji in Tottori-ken (prefecture), Yazu-gun (county) .

Sometimes, i’d haul soggy Shittake logs around in the forest. The culture is injected as plugs into the wood and then grows from one log to another into meandering perpetuity

A sorta friend of friend of my brother was seeking a foreign worker (at the time, Japan’s economy was in a “bubble” with abundant wealth and no one wanted to do the crappy jobs it turns out). They would pay my airfare and so on, I had just finished a stint hitching and drifting around Europe and before the Grateful Dead tour and thought this would be an interesting adventure.

The turn off to the farm which was a warehouse sorta structure with a variety of indoor/outdoor-ish rooms and shelters with various equipments, storage, supplies etc.

Continue reading Mementos: Tottori Japan Life at Enokitake (mushroom) Farm etc