Tag Archives: tsuchida cottage

Diary: What Comes Next? Shambling along on Summer schemes

What happens next? Summertime schemes…

Siding into slacker summer projects at Tsuchida Station

So, the mysterious “operation turtle” is as wrapped up as gonna get
The “healing ramble” project is nervously, bravely & quietly going out into the world at random intervals

Caught up on the “postcards as a service” supporters and dossier customers – a few friends to return correspondence but easy goodtimes

I’m staying on top of the laundry & i tidy up & sortganize like Japan’s version of Marie Kondo :) Continue reading Diary: What Comes Next? Shambling along on Summer schemes

Japan Generational farm house and cottage story

+ Introducing our compound in Tsuchida, Okayama +

I joined a Kominka (trad Japanese country home) renovation, acquisition & enjoyment group and made a video introduction – sharing here in case you are curious.

‘Tis a little intimidating cause a load of people are doing incredible detailed projects in remote locations with all sorts of hand-tools and techniques but hey, i am adding to the generation story of our land – its all about the cycles.

Riff includes parents’ renovated farm house and our “cottage” under construction.

In brief: Both of these homes were empty from the 1990s until about 7 years ago when my (arborist/jazz singer) wife re-opened the cottage, the parents followed and the dilapidated old farm house was reno’d keeping all the beams, much character and details.
Now the cottage (which sits where other buildings did in the past) is getting a big new room plus a load of other upgrades to add to the story. A mix of trad joinery and materials and a few touches from the parent’s reno (genkon doors etc) and also insulation, woodstove, tea ceremony area, and big doors out to the carport as i hope our place becomes the local hangout for our son Ichiro’s pals in years to come.

Also a peek at wife’s Naya toolshed and glance at garden. Oh yeah, i also ramble on about my “origin story” of coming to Japan in early 1990s and working as a mushroom farmer in Tottori before running away and hitchhiking from Shikoku to Nagano where i first experience renegade inaka living.

Very pleased to add to my local community and respect the work of the ancestors.

the “Sistine Chapel” of kura granary barns

PS If curious i have time-lapse video of the roof raising and other artifacts from the kura which is now my arts and crafts studio and music lounge.

panorama of the backyard with garden, kura barn and bamboo grove

 

 

Abode: Tsuchida Cottage (*old* street view)

Regarding Tsuchida cottage / house: as mentioned in previous “Japan cottage musings” videos (Tsuchida Yard & Garden & Generational Home), from the 1990s up until a few years ago, the “big house” was vacant and had fallen into disrepair as evidenced by this screenshot from Google Street view.

You can notice Ryoko’s tool shed with its charcoaled yakisugi walls in the foreground, as well as directional traffic mirrors and way-finding/ distance signs to no place in particular.

The Garden too looks rather forlorn.

Ryoko and Father with Shinto priest performing ceremony on the land before house renovation

The house was completely renovated keeping original character, “bones” and many details but upgrading well… everything else / work by our family friend Morioka-san and his company AC studios (more about this in the “kura introduction” dossier). 

So much has changed, so much more will evolve.

Diary: 3 wooden stick projects (sign post, postbox, wind phone)

Mounted three pieces of raw wood into Tsuchida tsuchi (soil) with concrete (or is it cement? – which do you mix with sand and water to make the other?) for 3 different, but vaguely-related, projects:

* sign post with arrows pointing distances to favourite/special places (there is a list but…  need to re-earn my orienteering compass badge so I can point the signs in the right direction. Resisting the urge to be really obsessive about this but worried more engineering-minded friends will come double check my work and you know, if it’s not within 2° of accuracy you know I’m going to hear about it  – I can hear the “well actually…” in my head already. And then any US people who come will be confused by the KMs as well – sigh!)

* post box for (un)secret messages the kura barn >> atelier, lounge & Cascadia consulate

* phone to the wind as a shrine & refuge for conversations with those passed or possibly lost {further evidence}

PS Transplanted two trees today. Super fun being arborist Ryoko’s assistant and father-in-law’s “co-worker”. Yeah, used a shovel and a wheelbarrow and *everything*.

Yes, it seems I’m really “nesting” and getting ready to live here forever.

Kitchen: making Miso from scratch (ready in New Year)

Pretty sure I earned a Japanese merit badge today. Made our own Miso from scratch! Will sit in this old crock (found in the tool shed & same one used for umeboshi last year) for 8 months.

Summary: Soybeans, Salt, Koji & no air.

Here’s how it went down (lousy photos with annotations): 

Soaked for 24 hours and simmered for 4 hours and cooled down

Oh, this is what the salt and koji (culture) looks like

Mince up the beans with a, ummm mincer

Yup mix it all (salt, koji, miso) up

Squish out the air whilst making tennis ball sized chunks

Squish squish squish into the crock, no air remember

Fill a bag with salt to weigh it down and seal off the edges from air

Put on a label and wait for 8 months (cool place please, in our case, the kura barn) check in later to tell ya how it turned out

Suez Panoramas, Global Postcards & Fungible Shiba Inu stamp

Arts and crafts update from the Kura barn with  recent dossiers of various mixed media projects including: Suez Canal panoramas, more Kerala India spy photos & sherbet-coloured houses in oil pastels, poetry & travelogues on hotel stationæry, and the circular story of a postcard series from Cascadia, also a fun-gible Shiba Eno stamp. 

Get in on the fun. #hint https://daveostory.com/shop

PS happy to be “at home” at Tsuchida Cottage 

Let’s enjoy global ephemera and postal goodtimes #daveoshop

Tsuchida Cottage Construction Roof Raising (time lapse + snaps)

After a 3+ weeks of digging out and laying foundation, connecting to various systems and preparing all the timbers with specific joints, as well as removing walls, clearing out eaves of giant beehives and adding insulation, on an auspicious day, a crew came and assembled the main structure (walls and roof) of the house addition.

Basically a new room where previous was a car park which now sorta connects the existing house with a carport and naya (tool shed). Overall, there will be a new genkon (formal entrance), a woodstove, handwash station, the piano and desks will move in here too along with a heavy big table. Skylight and windows including a “patio door” etc anyhow… T

here was a small ceremony involved (salt purification) and the architect Morioka-san chief builder Ishii-san and others were on site with a variety pack of workers. I (daveo) did a “coffee ceremony” with 3 types (both beans and preparation method) for the crew which was very pleasant.

We (the family) also went to tell Grandfather Ichiro and Grandmother Tomiko about the action at their ohaka (grave).

So…. during all this “Amish Barn Raising” event, i put an olden PhoneRobot on a tripod with extension cord – being careful to stay out of the way of workers and equipment – and ran a time lapse for various parts of 2 days.

The aim is/was to commemorate the happening and show the different construction tools and methods utilized. Nothing fancy… oh i’ll tack on a few still frames snaps at the end with minimal annotations. Possibly some of the lil trucks coming and going, i don’t know, i’m not at that part yet, we’ll see when we get there…

this snap is well-after the video above but was handy to add to the post…

 

Riff: about Tsuchida Cottage construction + vids

A few notes originally written to a friend as a letter in Feb 2021 riffing about the “Tsuchida Cottage” (soon to be “Station”) construction project.

Sharing here for my own posterity and remembrance, along with this video of the “wall raising” day (which also included the roof which you can see in this amusing time lapse video).

^ Above: quick video of workers pounding the wall joints together, March 2021

Riff: Notes from Tsuchida Cottage (soon to be “Station” as  the house is long and narrow and feels like a train so this is new “working title”)

Our construction project has started, 2 diligent sturdy men who are much older than you and I (likely), doing incredibly efficient rapid hard work with vigour and precision.

We set up a tea/coffee/snack station inside the house and another one outside, we took gifts to the neighbours in advance of the noise. We insisted, they refused, we pleaded, back and forth… 

The workers, fuelled by french press, gladly did an extra job since they had their adorably sized front loader & moved a bunch of boulders to fill in a retaining wall/drainage ditch without any complaint. A huge help as doing it with a tripod, pulley and a hand wheel dolly means three rocks is a hard afternoon. We gave them extra cakes for this. (there is a time lapse of doing a session last year with my tiny mother in law and pregoo wife, not a sturdy crew). 

When the HVAC man came to discuss the heat pump units (it’s an old house in Japan so no central heating of course and no insulation and a few rooms have these individual heat pumps which are heaters and coolers…) Anyway, told him I want one in my old grain barn which baffled him. {Keep in mind, each of these planning appointments requires all the formalities and tea service with a special cups and the correct “special” snacks etc.} Note: This gentleman has a slightly-dyed red toupee – still trying to hold onto his youthful style.

So I took him out to the barn/studio, up the stairs into the secret lounge and his jaw just about dropped when he saw my Clash London calling poster, stacks of records, 100 pound record player with an iron exoskeleton, a couple of lounge chairs, (he did not grok the exceptional collection of beat literature but that’s coming in handy for a Kerouac exhibition later this year etc. He *then* understood why this is needed/ wanted. But he wanted to put the unit on the wall which outside is the *perfectly preserved unblemished yakisugi wall* (I’ve sent along a photo in the past) but I explained that “the ancestors have somehow passed this barn down to my caretaking and this is aesthetic blunder is unacceptable so we’re going to have to put it here in this corner where no one can see it.”

He told me i have an old Japanese heart and as such, we will attach it to a beam that is prob older than the City of Seattle (colonially speaking) which is joined to the other beams without use of nails and screws so well, it’s not perfect but I will have a humidity control and heat pump and an olden barn to protect a lifetime’s worth of *valuable* books, records and papers.

I then asked him if the heat pump unit comes in something other than white, it turns out they also come in “off-white”. We looked at the catalog of all the different models and it was like the scene and lost in translation with Bill and Scarlet are looking at the menu of all the different kinds of meat and to the untrained eye, they all look the same. The catalog was 30+ pages of air conditioners that looked exactly the same – “The features were different” I was assured. I asked “don’t they come in brown or black?” But alas… not. I also asked if there was one with “a remote control that had less than 35 buttons” on it like maybe five buttons(?) but no, there are so many features but I want an on/off and a temperature control because I am a simple man. But robots win again. 

Anyway, here we are, doing a construction project and it is *completely different* than your construction project where everything picked with intention and care and custom made into a lovely glorious architectural masterpiece. 

In our case, we are adding to the tradition of houses in the generations before, and digging out some old pieces (for example a couple of 1920 era sliding doors for the entranceway), finding a few things at secondhand stores (for example a stainless steel sink/counter which will be the wife’s plant potting station), sourced a potbelly cast-iron stove which brought oooohs & ahhhs from the Japanese architect, scored several furniture pieces including a ultra heavy grand table from secondhand stores and brought down the total price of the project from equivalent of maybe 130,000 to about 90,000 with various resourcefulness (using numbers somewhere between CAD and USD as i can’t get my head around the flucuations). 

Told him we didn’t require television cable outlets, various other knickknacks and accoutrements. The kitchen will be more spacious but simple, not a bunch of fancy cabinets and a three burner stove (an upgrade from our two burner which reminds me of living in my Volkswagen van). Oh and a 2 part sink which was a shocking idea to Japan and required sourcing. I explained i need the space for dishes and space for making pickles – then i seemed brilliant.

Dream is Ichiro will come home with his pals and our house will be the “hangout” – with this in mind, also adding a handwash station right by entrance in a stroke of brilliance and a side access door for muddy kids and their gear. 

Bonus: for enthusiasts, a “slow” version of the time lapse video of wall and roof raising

Noticed: Kei-trucks at the cottage (+ couple more)

Perhaps more rare than Sasquatch, a Kei-truck that is *not* white {or every once in a while silver, or occasionally black…} Look at this earthen brown beauty! And with a little bit of an extended cab as well. Such luxury! Spotted in our front yard in front of the blossoming ume tree in the midst of construction. Want to buy one for Ryoko’s birthday #romantic

Another more standard work horse for comparison and amusement

Same as above but with another carpenter sweet lil Kei-van

its just gorgeous > mossy green/brown, A little bit of a larger cab, obviously extended for a bit of a stash, oddly enough automatic transmission as well.

Note: of course you can find Ryoko’s Kei-truck documented in this archive as well as the one i drove at the mushroom farm in Tottori decades ago – haven’t changed much i thought until i saw this beauty… 

Oh here’s Ryoko’s Kei-truck now (you can tell by her birthdate number plate) laden with olive tree which needed cut down

Hold on, there are more captured recently… now where’d i put those? {note, I’m really trying not to take pictures of all these  because well they’re hardly rare but, what can I tell you, mildly obsessive when I get a notion}

Lovely Kei-van noticed at medical appointment. Wheels not my style but size and shape is

Ryoko’s arborist colleague, the kindly Yuasa-san comes by sometimes and his rig is always tidy ready

Oh one more glorious organization job noted at a temple/cemetery in Katusyama. retractable roof, bins of tools all in place and ramp for off-loading mower #zen

Nostalgia for a Present Tense – Japan Cottage Musings

Nostalgia for a Present Tense – Japan Cottage Musings

Amidst construction on Tsuchida Cottage, Dave runs-down recent events, both contemporary (seitai treatment, café poetry, CBD shop, family life) and coincidentally historic (regarding, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac, Edward Abbey, Neal Cassady, SxSW, Beez, Cmdr Bob) with usual digressions about postcards, pacifism, creations, inspiration, book collecting, San Francisco, and removing the meta rather than enshrining dinosaurs – also namechecks for Joe Strummer, plus riffs about meditation class, Japanese houselife, wonderful in-laws, adorable wife and baby and current catching-up (trying anyhow) on correspondence, with special regards and affection for pals who are in transition and friends who are flying high.

Fondly, dvo

daveostory – Nostalgia for a Present Tense

Diary: Café Poetry, Street cars, Seitai and Curry

As it goes: “Over the Wall” > Headed by bus for some medical treatment (seitai) trying to stay ahead of the “Crash mode”… Head and heart are Genki, just trying to catch the body up… But as someone once sang “two out of three ain’t…” Staying positive, rolling slow, counting the goodness, always grateful.

yup, waiting on a splendid bus

Baby is with grandma, wife is working, yesterday sent more absurdly and unnecessarily complicated paperwork for various schemes and reasons. But hey the bus is on time, has great Wi-Fi and a power outlet at my seat. It’s the simple pleasures.

Oh and this hat – of course – is made by Mavili, the elder gentleman from Georgia (the country, not the state) from whom I used to purchase loads from at Lonsdale Quay market. Recently his son found a blog post from like 2008 and contacted me to say thanks, & his dad is still making hats from home. I am happy to say I have at least three creations of his here in Japan (& many others lost along the way and/or purchased as gifts for distinguished folks).

If you are curious, scarf from an Istanbul souk (was so surprised to see tartans on offer in markets in Istanbul – the Turkish cotton is absolutely wonderful), jacket Uniqlo, satchel from Thamel, Kathmandu.

Btw, the kanji on the bus stop 土田 is Tsuchida, our neighbourhood & means “dirt/soil-field” more or less.

Note: cute cause its me and intrepid elder ladies on the bus. The *secret power* of Japan are these invincible women. Strength, dignity, kindness & grace abounding.

Steeple-chased and sensory depravation / Poetry and Coffee is Everything.  Pen functional if not exquisite. 

Update: Finished my treatment (seitai, it’s kind of hard to explain but it’s not shiatsu, it’s not acupuncture, it’s not massage, it’s not reiki, it’s not chiropractic but a little bit like all of those things sort of but in a calm tatami room)… then in my post-fog, opened a vaguely random door to what turned out to be a blissful little café… Just me at the counter, jazz playing, skilled master made me curry… feeling so happy to find this place that I’m having another coffee and writing some poetry (lyrical even… as a gift for a musical friend).

i mean ¥900 for this magnificent plate in a chill calm place with a diligent proprietor is like some kind of wow (note notebook in bg)

For the record, this was the café… They have one kind of curry per week which makes ordering easy. Stay up to date via @Grillmori Instagram 

Gri(l)mori Original Lunch / even the sign is evokes nostalgia #Okayama

And here is one of the street cars rolling down the tracks… There’s all kinds of different eras and designs represented from “slick modern” units to classic beauties like this one to the obligatory hello kitty themed one, also Chuggington. I rolled one for just 2 stops cause i love the feel (and really every step saved is a big help).

2 street car lines here in Okayama, ¥100 for most on/off rides – enter at the rear, pay, exit from front

Finally, after I got off the street car, right in front of me was a brand new CBD shop/café/lounge. Went in to say hello and all that and great variety of products and displays but wow, a little expensive.  Had nice conversation with the young proprietor (30) told him about my activism at young age and how we eventually changed *everything* in Canada and US west coast. Had some samples (they also have CDB wax and vape device #want) but after treatment, i am bit foggy (like more than usual) so mumbled a bit before making my way back to the bus and back to the stop and home to rest. 

Ready for action (as in riding a bus to do a thing)

Time Travelers ~ art card project dossier & variations

+ Steady on Time Travelers, variations +

Time Traveler Family, v. 1

While doing a photo shoot for Ichiro’s 100 days at Homare Photo Atelier here in Okayama, the photographer Yoshihiro Matsushita-san and i rocked a fun mise en scéne with:

  • typewriter
  • sea trunk
  • Lomo sardine camera (with yellow tiny flash)
  • books, various
  • rocking horse (just ‘cause)
  • my ever-present been-all-around-this-world suitcase

~ in front of a battered green paper (shade of van Gogh’s pool table) and a red rug… to go with Ryoko’s stellar Fluevog shoes & 1964 vintage lace party dress (such details!) and my bespoke-in-Chiang Mai secret agent suit, Stetson fedora & Florsheim Imperial shoes (bartered). Ichiro rocked a sweet blue Japanese onesie – gift from my dude Kitazawa Takaya-san.

Time Traveler Family, v. 2 

Anyhow… (with my foggy self) we worked quickly – imaging ourselves sitting still for a bellows camera before setting sail to steam around a cape or horn – maybe Taisho-era, maybe just back from Venus & teleporter time gauge malfunctioned. There was probably a daguerreotype and/or dirigible involved, if not a phone box at least.

Time Traveler Family, v. 3 

What is displayed here are 7 of the best iterations which were then made into some special cards, ergo: the digital snaps were printed on laid textured paper, then attached to handmade washi paper with rough edges with olden photo corners, annotated with a fountain pen as was custom poetry written on reverse in English and Japanese, various appropriately cancelled postal stamp glued, usual inky stamps for sure (urgent! confidential! air mail – or a suitcase) – some got seal stickers, often slightly more dangerous metallic sealing wax which caused minor fire damage #smouldering!

Further Evidence: Steady On, Time Travelers! {New Year Greetz, 2021 / Reiwa 3 令和3年} + video Time Travelers in a New Year ~ Japan Cottage Musings

Time Traveler Family, v. 4

Then finally some received our family hanko stamp, and Ichiro’s inked finger print – truly collectible. Then… (very) delicately scanned (at this point forgotten how many digital to analog conversions overall in the project) – Just barely in time to get the “pick of the litter” posted to wish greetings on January 1 to you lovelies around this spinning globe.

Steady On Time Travelers – reverse of art card with poem in English and Japanese (plus Ichiro’s fingerprint, family hanko and other details) 

Regardless, we are all the time travelers and must hold steady, be adaptable, be where we are, find the ways to blend in (or gracefully exit) when finding one’s self in an unpredicted situation, eat healthy rations (whether known or not) and ease into comfortable shelter as possible.

Time Traveler Family, v. 5 

While the world spins fast, let’s breathe backwards to slow it down. {noting after I wrote this poem – alluding world is spinning fast *emotionally* and thus causing pandemonium in many ways/souls – i learned physicists also suggest the planetary orbit speed has physically increased. I do not understand their methods but seems agree with their results – albeit primarily aesthetically.}

Time Traveler Family, v. 6 

Finally: the final handmade creations / all slightly different in photo & embellishments went to various thoughtful directions, ergo, 1 to seitai sensei, 1 to forestry sensei in Noto, 1 to tea ceremony teacher, 1 to ephemera master in VicBC,  1 to writing professor (ret’d, Torrey, UT), 1 to artist Noriko Miyake – 2 for archives (for the inevitable retrospective exhibit of cards, letters, visual poetry and invitations).

Time Traveler Family, v. 7

Thanks for coming along on our time travel {paraphrasing Jimmy Buffett’s “Boat Drinks”} you pick the century and we’ll pick the place. Continue reading Time Travelers ~ art card project dossier & variations