Tuesday, September 30, 2008

day 273 - pistachio 55g!

On Sunday we were invited to the 5th Anniversary Celebration and CD launch by the very funky jazz outfit pistachio 55g. It was a crazy launch in the century-old Guggenheim Building in Shioya, just out of Kobe. Jill (from Shirasagi) joined us for great food, drinks and a murder-mystery which really was a complete mystery to us! Thanks to the bass player Tetsuya Amano (I taught with him at Sanyo), Shigel Fujita (trumpet), Shinsuke Hamada (guitar) and Nobuaki Hoshinaga (drums) for the great entertainment and the invitation!

Monday, September 29, 2008

day 272 - Ken Iwata

Just one of the hundreds of prints we saw by this prolific artist.

The gallery is recent, but finished in the traditional style of un-whitewashed mud and straw.

Ken's wife Miki-san explains some of the philosophy behind his work.

Ken-san wasn't available on Saturday, so we had to be satisfied with this plywood facsimile in his studio!

The tradition of ukiyo-e is alive and well in modern Japan. 
You don't have to walk far in Himeji without seeing the contemporary work of woodblock artist Ken Iwata. We were invited to an exhibition of Ken-san's work on Saturday. What I really like about his work is its simplicity and  his love of the city which comes through so clearly in his work. He loves traditional buildings of the old Japan (Himeji-jo often features), but he also includes buses, trains and the stuff of urban Japan. Miki-san also pointed out that Ken often likes to include people at work and at play in his prints. 
Thanks, Miki-san for the personalised tour!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

day 271 - Takeno

Takeno is a port near Kinosaki on the Sea of Japan. As summer's officially over, all the resort accommodation was empty, which made it feel like we had the sleepy town to ourselves for the day...

Japanese Pampas grass on a cliff at Takeno.

Rice straw drying with the Sea of Japan behind.

Nets drying.

Some of the beautiful old wooden houses on the coast and the river.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

day 270 - chutzpah footspa

There's even a foot-onsen by the train station where weary travellers can soak their tootsies in a very hot natural spring sprouting from the mouth of a frog...

Ehhhhh?! A shrine to crabs on the mountain-top...

Kinosaki from the lookout. (The ryokan hotel we stayed is in the white building, centre.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

day 269 - spied her

We keep seeing these giant long-legged spiders here. In Kinosaki we were able to get shots of the critter and her huge web.

The Spider.

Spider in The Web.

The Web.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

day 268 - more Kinosaki

Crab is pretty big in Kinosaki. This was the biggest.

Fortunately there were no earthquakes or typhoons in Kinosaki on the evening of the 23rd, so weren't forced to seek out out the pocket in the roof...

On the way to the bath houses we posed next to the smiling jizo in the shrine.

Goshonoyu - The best one we went to. Sadly, no photos to be taken inside...

Such a chilled-out town... There's a lot to be said for a place where you're encouraged to wander around town in your dressing-gown and chat to naked people in the bath that you've never met before...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

day 267 - Kinosaki and Takeno

Finding our way around Kinosaki.

Along the canal.

This nice lady told us she was "hachi ju nana sai" (87 years old.) She gave Lyn an origami crane (but insisted she take off her shopkeeper's apron before allowing "shasin" - a photo!).

Yesterday and today we travelled north from Himeji to the opposite coast of Honshu on the Sea of Japan. The beautiful onsen town of Kinosaki is on a canal, with 7  public onsen all within walking distance of each other.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

day 266 - The Great Pyramids

Some amazing athleticism from Lyn's school Joken's Sports Day.
Note the surface is compacted sand with no mats or nets!

Monday, September 22, 2008

day 265 - cute Jap cars

Mitsubishi's Minica Town Bee.

Another Town Bee.

Nissan's space-saving  "The Cube".

We've kinda got used to seeing all kinds of cars which seem to only be available here in Japan (at least I've never seen them in Australia.) Here are a few...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

day 264 - shakuhachi

The foot of the shakuhachi retains the roots at the base of the single piece of bamboo from which it's made.

The very temperamental utaguchi ("blowing edge").

Just a beginner on a very long road...


The Maker?

I've been learning the shakuhachi for a couple of months now from a lovely man by the name of Harada-sensei. He doesn't speak English! My friend and former work-colleague Shima comes to lessons and helps to translate. I haven't bought my own instrument yet, but Harada-san has been generous enough to lend me a very old and beautiful instrument that was given to him by his teacher. He has no idea how old the instrument is, but he says it's of a thickness and tone that is hard to find today. I'll be satisfied if I can just play well one traditional Japanese song before I have to return to Australia...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

day 263 - sport and kimono...

Today we spent our Saturday morning at our schools rehearsing for Sports Day! In the afternoon the local people from the Okamachi area invited us to the Shirononishi Community Centre where we were treated to Tea Ceremony, then dressed up in beautiful kimono. Afterwards we were told the kimono were gifts!

Judy gets close and personal wrapping Lyn's obi.

Thanks once again to the local community for your friendliness and generosity.

Friday, September 19, 2008

263 - Engrish (continued)

More evidence in the Case For English in Japan.
Carrefour, Amagasaki.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

day 262 - Shiroyama Sports!

My (Rob's) new school is Shiroyama Junior High. It sits at the base of the wonderfully granite-volcanic-looking Shiro-Yama. The past two weeks have seen intensive practice for the annual Sports Day (which is held on Sunday, typhoons permitting, so that all the parents can watch and cheer.) You can see it's a beautiful setting for a school...

The school logo in gold atop the school flag.

Nothing is left to chance. Even the warm-ups are practised to the nth degree! 
Notice the playing-fields are graded sand. They drain fast in the wet season and don't waste water in the dry.