A Rainbow at the River's Edge




Cool light summer breeze

All the season's colors flow;

The river dances


My Life, in Transit

Train from Shikoku to Okayama

Trees rush past windows;
Olden houses stand sadly;
My life, in transit.

(Okayama. April, 2008)

A Fish In And Out Of Water


Gray crane spreads his wings;
Children laugh and feed the fish;
I now feel at home.

(Sanuki. April, 2008)


Tomo ni Naru (友になる)



Spring at Ritsurin.
Shall we have some tea, she glanced,
And we became friends.
(Sanuki. April, 2008)

The tea house at Ritsurin Park

Flowers in Sanuki

Nihon de ha
Boku no itoshiki
Sakura kana

(Sanuki. April, 2008)

Today was a day of flowers. I went to Ritsurin Park and had matcha (green tea) in a traditional tea house. In keeping with tradition, the people seated next to me spoke amiably and we exchanged contact information. I hope that we can become friends. I then went to Jardin (from the French, "garden") to see floral designs. I have posted some of my photographs from Jardin. I went with a close friend who invited me to her house, and I was able to meet and talk with her mother, who is a calligrapher. She brushed the calligraphy above, based on a haiku we wrote together. I felt very warm and welcome. What a wonderful way to start Golden Week.


Poll (投票)

What would you like to see on this blog? Please comment. English and Japanese are both OK.



Naoshima (Art Island) 2

I took a ferry from Sunport Takamatsu to Naoshima (Art Island) today. It is far and above one of the best experiences I have had in Japan so far. The island is awash with museums, galleries, architecture, and culture. Let me share some of my photographs, videos, and experiences with you. I arrived at the ferry from Takamatsu at 9:45 in the morning, and the boat is pictured on the left. The ride was a pleasure. It takes about one hour and you can sit on the upper deck and watch as the boat passes many beautiful islands on the way to Naoshima.

On arrival, I took this bus (left) to Chichu Art Museum. But before boarding the bus, don't forget to go into the station and pick up the bus schedule as well as maps of the island and an English guide if you need one. The bus costs only 100 yen ($1) for each ride. It is possible to walk or bicycle to the various desinations, but the bus is simply more convenient. You'll want to maximize your time looking at the art! Inside Chichu Art Museum you'll find dreamlike rooms by Walter de Maria (Time / Timeless / No Time); fantastical spaces by James Turrell (particularly Open Field). Open Field starts as a blue square on the wall, rather uncompelling. Until you realize that you can walk up a set of stairs, and it is not a blue square, but rather an entrance that you can walk into (!) only to discover that you have entered a minimalist painting. I'm not kidding. It is one of the most psychedelic works of art I have ever experienced. Once inside the painting, turn around for a surprise about the entrace in to which you walked. There are also four works by Claude Monet. The building is a masterwork by Tadao Ando, itself pure art. Photographs are strictly forbidden, hence no images. But you really need to experience these works with your own eyes and body in order to appreciate them anyway.

Among myriad smaller galleries, this one features ink paintings. They use classical techniques to express modern images of sakura blossoms and coastal scenes. There is also the Art House Project, comprising six buildings. It costs 1,000 yen ($10) for access to all six buildings. One in particular, again by Tadao Ando, starts with pitch darkness so disorienting that it is nearly intoxicating. But as you sit in the dark for about five minutes, your eyes adjust and you can see lights in the distance. You then stand and walk toward the light, putting you hand into it, with surprising effects.

Fish flags wave outside of a traditional-style building. In addition to all of this architecture, Naoshima also features beautiful beaches with pristine, clear water. Birds call from overhead and the wind gently blows as you immerse yourself in nature and art. As you continue to walk the island, your mind reels with what you have already seen, and with the anticipation of what is to come. It is a place for discovery, for intrigue, and for life experience. No matter what your views on art, it's worth the trip.

See if you can spot these cute metallic signs.

The new meets the old as a digital mosaic flashes inside a traditional building.

Stone etchings near a shrine with a sacred staircase made of ice that will not melt under the blazing sun and descends into infinity for your viewing pleasure.

Light streaming into a narrow stone passage.

Wind moves metal at the beaches of Naoshima.


Shikoku Mura (Shikoku Village)

I visited Shikoku Mura (Shikoku Village), which is an open-air, walk-through museum of sorts. It is a preservation of traditional Japan and Shikoku. It for me brought up the feeling of the Japan I had always seen in films. Its attractions include a bine bridge; Shodoshima Farmers Kabuki Theater; Yamashita family house; Kohno family house; Sugar cane press; Shikoku-mura Gallery; Nanyo tea hall; Bamboo grove; Lighthouse from Okunoshima; Light house from Cape Esaki (and others); Bark-steaming hut; Shimoki family house; Water-powered rice mill; more family residences; an arched bridge; an old fire station; a soy sauce malthouse; and other similarly folksy attractions. This face of Japan is somewhat lost in the city, although elements remain throughout Japan. And, this is preserved. It's not far, and you can get there by public transportation. Here are some of my photographs from my first visit.

Cross this bridge, suspended by vines, to enter

A Kabuki theater that still hosts performances

An old-fashioned residence

Inside the residence

A sugar mill with sakura

Inside the sugar mill

Walkway into the bamboo grove

Water glide outside a small art gallery


O-Hanami in Takamatsu

There was a huge o-hanami (flower viewing) party at Ritsurin Park yesterday. It was great to sit under the trees with friends and chat all day, with blazing sunlight and beautiful nature all around. In America, there is a similar party in Washington DC, but it is not quite the same as in Japan. The American version is a bit toned down, and it is often cold at that time. The Japanese version is extremely festive and warm, and it is steeped in centuries-old tradition. If you find yourself in the Takamatsu area, definitely check out Ritusrin Park.

How Many Roads?

At Ritsurin Park, Takamatsu. O-hanami (flower viewing) party.
A group from the Philippines had come and played music.