mojosmom: (travel)
Honestly, I'd never even heard of Hillwood Estate before today. Thanks to this New York Times article, another destination has been added to my list. I don't know how I'm going to squeeze in everything I want to do!

Further note to self: remember this eBay auction - 3/24

mojosmom: (Default)
March 22

By train to Kyoto. Regular train first, then we changed to the shinkansen (bullet train). Both very clean and comfortable. Kayoko had bought sandwiches to eat, as well as a yummy peach-topped, cream-filled pastry. Arriving at Kyoto Station, I checked out the signs to locate the airport bus. (Unlike in Kochi, most of the signage is in English as well as in Japanese, the difference between a big tourist destination and a non-tourist destination!)

We cabbed it to Usami Shokakudo, a conservation company specializing in scroll-mounting. The company is 220 years old. I’m beginning to learn that it is very common in Japan for companies to be not just old, but in the same family for many generations. We first gathered in a conference room and learned something about the process, the paper and adhesives used here. We received samples of each paper, along with information about their different uses. And, yes, they use aged paste.

Three types of paper are used in scroll-mounting. Minogami is used as a backing for the silk painting, with a second backing of misugami to adjust thickness and for flexibility. The last layer is udagami. The company buys their paper directly from the papermakers, to ensure the quality of the materials used. We then went into their studios, and saw work in progress.

Right across the street is the Nishi-Honganji Temple. Should you be touring temples, castles, etc., I highly recommend having as your guide someone who is doing the restoration work there! Naoharu Usami, the younger son of the business, joined us, and told us to ignore the “No Photography” signs! We walked on a nightingale floor (though not the famous one), and it really does sound like birdsong. The Noh stage there is the oldest in the country. One of my favorite things here was the ceiling in one hallway that was painted with a design of books.

Later, Usami took out a key, and we went into the area where the Flying Cloud Pavilion and its grounds are being restored. It’s so beautiful. Normally, there is a large pond with a bridge over it, though the pond is now drained (all the rocks are numbered!). The shogun used it for rest and relaxation, tea, poems, moon-viewing, and the only way to get to it from the main building is by water. There is a dock under the pavilion for the boats.

I bought a disposable camera at the gift shop - nearly $18.00!

The archival box maker has been cancelled, and we went to Mr. Nishimura, the brushmaker, instead. He is the most famous brushmaker in Japan. He showed us how he separates the different length hairs by holding them in his hand and combing them. He bands them with persimmon-dyed paper, clamps them, glues them up with a very hard adhesive. He must take care that he allows it to completely dry, or the hair will be uneven - he showed us one of his mistakes. The handles are sewn on with silk thread, koto strings or samisen strings, depending on the size brush, and there is only one person in Kyoto who makes them. The handles are made in Gifu prefecture, from the hinoki tree, the same wood that papermaking screens are made from. His family has been making brushes since the Meiji era, though he studied with a brushmaker in Nara. He doesn’t make calligraphy brushes, just paste brushes and brushes for sweets (to brush the syrup on).

Dinner was at an Italian (!) restaurant. Not bad, and the tiramisu was delish.

Now we are at a ryokan, Shima-ya, for the rest of our stay. It’s delightful. Sigrid and I are sharing a large room, with a garden outside (all the rooms, at least on the first floor, seem to face a garden). And here’s a treat - the low table has a built-in heating element, and there are blankets between the table and the glass that drape down, so it was cozy toes. On top of which, each futon has an electric foot-warmer tucked under the quilt! Hot water, and a pot with green tea leaves, along with a treat, are on the table when you come in, such a pleasant thing.

March 23

Breakfast here is a bit western - hardboiled egg, a roll, yogurt, and a bit of fruit.

Rob appeared today in a sport coat and tie! It’s his birthday (he’s 52 here, but still 51 in London).

I think we must have hit the longest running business so far - 11 generations of karakami makers. The papers are made from carved blocks, each pattern made so that it can be repeated for a continuous design. Every block used here (all 650) is 200 years old; they’d be older except that there was a fire 200 years ago that destroyed everything. The wood is called ho, it is fairly soft, but it wears evenly. They are trying to find someone who can carve new blocks, but so far without success.
The pigment is mixed with water and fumori, and applied to the surface of the block with a sieve-like screen called a furu-i, first used 500 years ago. (Allegedly, the idea came from a similar sieve used in cooking.)

The papers are used in restoration. We were shown a piece that is for Nijo Castle, along with the original. The colors look completely different, but the original is faded and tarnished. They know the colors from a bit that was protected under the shoji frame.

Another shopping opportunity. I bought some cards and a large sheet of paper (the size of four blocks). The paper was a tad extravagant, but well worth it; it’s beautiful. I also bought a book with reproductions of many of their papers.

(Camera-curse update: dropped the camera and smashed the skylight filter as we were getting into the cab!!)

From there to the reprography studio at Nijo-jo (Nijo Castle). They are making reproductions which will replace endangered originals in situ. We saw some work in progress on ceiling panels, using paint made in exactly the same way as that used in the original work. In making the reproductions, they do not copy later additions, but reproduce the work as originally designed. For example, one wall painting they were copying had had gold added to it, which they left off. We saw the original later and it was NOT improved by the addition!

We then toured Ninomaru Castle (part of the Nijo-jo complex). This is where the famous Nightingale floor is. The gardens are gorgeous, too. One odd looking object, several legths of what appeared to be straw, capped with a “thatch”, turned out to be protecting a tree from the cold weather.

Then to Kintaka, a shop for ikebana tools. There were some great vases, but too heavy and/or large to take home. However, there were some small ones in glass and pottery, good for one or two blooms. I bought a few of the small pottery ones, being worried about transporting glass. Also got a frog, and a tool for spreading and cleaning the prongs. The shop had some gorgeous small scalpels - wooden-handled tied with colored cord. It was hard to choose. Later, Nancy told us that these knives are unique to Kintaka. The handles are either red cedar or smoked bamboo, and they use the best steel. (It’s probably a good thing she didn’t tell us earlier, or I’d have bought more!)

Dinner at an Irish pub (!) to celebrate Rob’s birthday. Further camera-curse: somewhere I dropped the disposable! When we got ready to go out, I realized it was in my coat pocket. I thought briefly about going back to the room and leaving it, but didn’t. DUMB! When we got left the restaurant, I realized I didn’t have it. Couldn’t find it there, so I probably dropped in either in the cab or on the street.

March 24

Wazome and chiyogami makers (graphic repeat patterns).
Mr. Kuriyama showed us around. They make lovely, lovely papers. We got to try our hand! The papers are made by using stencils, and applying a resist of rice paste. After the colors are applied, thinned with soybean juice (which also acts as an adhesive to stick the colors to the paper), they are dried and the resist in then washed off. The same method is used is kimono fabric dying, though Mr. Kuriyama is the first to apply it to decorative papers. The stencils are all cut by hand.

We had lunch at Sho-jin ryori at the Myoshin-ji Temple, a vegetarian lunch as it is a Buddhist temple. So many ways to make tofu! But very good, and very elegantly served.

We then had a tour, led by the head monk, who is also a doctor of agriculture. The temple makes a silk paper called san-ken-shi. Normally, silkworms die in the silk-making process, because their cocoons are destroyed, but they have developed a type of worm that spins on a flat surface. It’s beautiful, delicate paper.

The sermon hall has a very famous ceiling painting of a dragon, which appears to be looking at you wherever you stand. From one side it appears to be ascending to heaven, from the other, descending from it. The oldest bell in Japan is here, cast in 605 A.D., though only a reproduction is on display. (The original has a crack in it, and cannot be rung.) The monks also had a very nice looking steam bath!

Then to the Gion district, which is one of the most famous geisha districts (though they are called geiko in Kyoto. The cherry trees are just starting to come out, and there was one in full bloom just by the river that runs next to the main street, splendid photo op! We walked around there for a bit, and then Nancy and I went to Takashimaya to see the exhibition of 20th-century works from the Adachi Museum. Towards the end we ran into Kayoko and Usami, and Usami was able to tell us about how the framing elements for the scrolls are chosen, the importance of varying pattern size, different choices for Japanese-style and Chinese-style paintings, etc. There was one screen in the exhibit that his firm had restored.

After dinner, had a lovely Japanese-style bath at Shima-ya. These are incredibly relaxing. You soap up and shower off outside the bath, and then luxuriate in steaming hot water. Wonderful after a long day with a lot of walking around.

March 25

Long last day. Morning at the market at Kitano Tenmangu. This market is held on the 25th of each month, and the trip had been planned around it. We could have spent the whole day here, though we might have been broke at the end. Quite a variety of things, but I spent most of the time looking at the textiles. Many stalls had pieces of fabric, perfect for turning into book cloth, so I bought a bunch. Some real finds in obi and kimono. I bought a black and silver obi, with a small, overall geometric pattern for the equivalent of $3.00, as well as a black kimono with silver cranes embroidered at the hem and a purple summer sha (gauze) kimono with a scattered geometric design in metallic threads. I also found a wonderful painting on washi (of books); it’s had a repair but it’s not terribly noticeable. We had lunch at the market stalls, steamed bun stuffed with a meat paste for me.

Then to the Kuriyama Dyeing Studio. Mr. Kuriyama (from the paper studio) joined us; this studio is owned by relatives of his, and uses the same method for the cloth that he uses for paper. Quite an interesting visit. All is done the “old-fashioned” way, stencils cut by hand, resist, paint, all hand-done. We saw some stencils from the Edo period where fine threads were used in the pattern (so that a circle within a square was attached by threads); today a very fine mesh is used.

After that, another shopping opportunity at an art supply store. I confined myself to a couple of paste brushes.

On the way back to Shima-ya, we stopped at a washi store, the Morita Paper Company, and I found the perfect souvenir: five small trays with prints of the hand paper-making process. The display sample was the only one, and I got it for 40% off. Bought some paper, too.

Dinner was shabu-shabu, not to mention several other courses, and green tea ice cream to finish.

After dinner, we gathered in Rob and Colin’s room to view a slide show that Rob set up on his laptop. Also a “quiz”, which was basically a way to have fun while Rob divested himself of his left-over Great Omar posters that he had brought as gifts - we each ended up with one. (And a great deal of fun it was indeed, especially as the sake was being passed around!) Colin gave us aprons from his bindery - very thoughtful of him.

March 26

Up very early, cabbed to Kyoto Station to catch the airport bus. All went smoothly at all airports, and I got home the same day thanks to the International Date Line. It was a lovely trip, but it was nice to get home and see the cats again. I did miss them.

Final Thoughts

Japan is a fascinating country, and our tour was filled with striking contrasts between old and new (like the Starbucks a couple of streets away from our ryokan), or the television set in the takonome in the hotel room!

The people are unfailingly helpful and polite. I would very much like to import some Kyoto taxi drivers - picture getting your change back in a plastic ziplock bag, or a cabbie running after you down the street because you forgot your change!

I have always loved the Japanese aesthetic of making even the simplest household object or function beautiful. This was so evident every place we stayed and visited. After a while, we became used to a lovely, simple floral arrangement in the public washrooms. The food presentation everywhere was elegant, and respectful of the character of the food.

We were all, of course, interested in the traditional methods of papermaking and using handmade papers, but to maintain that tradition there must be new uses and markets found. Karacho is finding a niche by using the designs for postcards, stationery and the like. Nancy has found a market in the Inuit printmakers. But there are so many possibilities for the use of fine paper, especially in the world of interior design. The real problem is that young people like Akari Osaki and the Yoshiokas, who want to do this work despite its difficult lifestyle, are the exception, rather than the rule. This is not an easy problem to solve. I certainly don't know the answer.

A wonderful, enlightening trip. I'd go back in a heartbeat.
mojosmom: (Default)
March 16 - 17 (same day, really!)

Left at 4:00 a.m.! Barely 1/2 hour to O’Hare, and the driver wasn’t even speeding. That must be a first. Bags were checked through to Narita. The flight from Dulles to Narita was very long, but there was a vacant seat next to me so I could spread out a bit, which helped. I completely forgot to take the homeopathic jet lag pills (though as it turned out, I didn’t have a problem). The food on the flight was decent, and they came around several times with beverages. I also had my huge bottle of water. The transfer from Narita to Haneda was easy, but Haneda was a bit more complicated as, being a local airport, there were few signs in English. However, I managed all right. Nancy and Kayoko met us at Kochi; “us”, because it turned out that everyone but Rob (who arrived later that day) and Sigrid (who had arrived with Nancy) was on the same flight. We all managed to get in the van, which will be our transport here. The hotel room (western-style) was fairly plain, but we weren’t in them much anyway, and the bed was comfortable. We went next door for dinner to an izakaya, a place where we ordered a variety of things to share (actually, we let Kayoko and Nancy order). Then to bed.

March 18

I slept well, and was up early to a buffet breakfast, both Japanese and western food available. Not being a big breakfast eater to begin with, I basically had fruit and miso soup. We had the day free, so I hooked up with Susan and Barbara and we went exploring. First to the “Thursday Market” . It’s mostly fruits, vegetables and flowers, but also some fish vendors, and one person selling knives. Barbara bought one in the shape of a whale for her daughter who is a marine biologist, and with whom she went whale-watching.

We then went to Kochi Castle. It’s on an eminence, naturally, and you can really see from there how Kochi is surrounded by mountains. The Castle is on several levels, and as you proceed up, you can tell how it was designed to protect against attack. The stairs to the upper levels are steep and tall, with low beams over them. The doors are heavy and off-set, so an enemy entering one door would have to move to the side to enter the next. The gardens are lovely, and were being readied for the Cherry Blossom Festival, lanterns being put in place, etc.

Nancy had suggested a textile shop, which we found, but which was very expensive, so we passed on buying anything. We did, however, go to a 100-yen store, similar to our dollar stores. I found some adorable little wooden kitchen gadgets (a “dressing muddler”, a butter knife, and a tea scoop, as well as a large bamboo chopstick rest) and pink, “Hello Kitty” chopsticks for Stacey.

We tried to go to the Botanic Gardens to see the textile exhibit, but discovered that there is no public transportation there (there had been a bus, but not any more), and we weren’t ready to contend with a cab, so we went to the MUSEUM OF ART instead. (As it turned out, we made a wise decision; Nancy went and told us that it was very hard to find the building with the exhibit, and she speaks Japanese.) The tram ride was interesting. There was one woman in traditional dress who helped us with our stop, and another young woman was apparently dressed for an event, in a lovely pink silk haori, and what looked like hakame.

The Museum is not near much. The area has what looks like light industry and apartments. The building looks fairly new, and is beautifully designed. You enter through a covered pathway over water (there is an exhibit on one side of panels depicting facial features floated in the water), and inside there is another large pond, surrounded by a colonnade. It has a stone path in it leading to a platform (for performances?). There is a gallery above with artful stone and wood stools to sit on. The whole building is very light and airy.

Unfortunately, most of the galleries were having a calligraphy show installed, so we just saw the permanent Chagall collection. Then we had tea and ice cream in the restaurant. For some reason, the headings of the menu were in English, while the menu itself was, naturally, in Japanese. We asked if anyone spoke English, and a young man came out from the kitchen. (We thought he said he was from Chile, though he looked East Asian). His English wasn’t very good, but he said he also spoke Italian, so I had a conversation in Italian with him! How unexpected!

Dinner at a restaurant called Ginon - well, a banquet! A multitude of courses. The local specialty is a fish called katsuo, a type of bonito. It was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and delicious. We had sushi, sashimi, tempura, rice, etc. We were joined by papermakers, and people from the Paper Technology Center, which we will be visiting tomorrow.

March 19

We first visited the Shiotas, who are materials handlers (kozo, gampi, matsumata). The business was established 130 years ago, and the house is 100 years old. The owner is known as Togemura, in the tradition of the eldest son, or inheritor, inheriting the given name of his predecessor upon becoming the head of the firm.

Then we went to see Mr. Yamamoto, who makes screens for papermaking. His workshop is attached to his home, which I will discover is common. He is very well-known, and has taught in Bhutan, and is shortly to teach Uzbekis. He is a second generation screen-maker, and works in bamboo and reed. He is 75 years old, but says that he enjoys his work and has a good friend for company (his cat, Tamasaburo, named for a famous kabuki actor). He still does everything from going to the mountains to harvest the bamboo, to making his own nails.

Mary was very brave, and at his invitation took a try at weaving the screen.


Another beautiful building, modern, reminding me of Dorothy L. Sayers’ description of her invented Shrewsbury College - “stretching out reconciling hands to past and present”. We were met in a conference room by Mr. Okawa (whom we had met at dinner last night), and he told us a bit about the center, about paper, and gave us some written materials. The center has been in its current building for 8 years, but was founded nearly 100 years ago. We went to his lab, and got to look at things under a microscope, including paper from a 1,250 year-old scroll, and a bit of a print of Hiroshige (and we each could take a tiny piece for a souvenir!). He showed us the rice powder mixed with the paper (Rembrandt used this - must go back to the exhibit!); this makes the paper opaque and whiter, so it shows the colors better. It also prevents shrinking and expanding, which is good for printmaking. But it is important, therefore, not to use water or heat in conservation work.

After a nice bento box lunch, which included a local type of grapefruit from Mr. Ebuchi’s yard (Ebuchi-san was at dinner last night, and we have nicknamed him sake-man, for obvious reasons), we had a tour of the facility.

Next to Kanetoshi Osaki’s, a gampi-tissue maker. Nowadays, he doesn’t make the paper himself, but has an apprentice (a good thing!). Then a visit to Sajio Hamada, a National Living Treasure (or, as it says on his business card, an “Important Intangible Cultural Asset” ); we got to watch him make paper, and a couple tried their hands at it. He makes it look so easy! He gave us some of his paper!! How can I use paper made by him? I have to save it!

Ick - while we were here, I reached the end of a roll of film and it tore while I was rewinding it! ALL my photos of the Technology Center, and some of Mr. Hamada and some of Mr. Yamamoto.

Our last visit of the day was to Kashiki Seishi, a manufacturer of fine machine made paper that is used in conservation. After viewing their facilities, we went up to their showroom. Not only did we see some amazingly beautiful uses of the paper, we saw many things made of shifu, which is woven washi(sometimes all-washi, sometimes woven with cotton or silk), really strong and beautiful. It must be handspun and woven, though I think if someone could develop a way to do it on machine, it would be great for sheers or table linens. Mrs. Kayoko Hamada (no relation), who is the president of the company, joined us for oranges, tea and pastry. (The Japanese are incredibly hospitable; it was a rare home or business that did not offer us at least a cup of tea, and many gave us gifts as well.) She is a very interesting woman, leading a company in a very male-dominated business climate; she told us that she often has problems dealing with banks, for instance.

Our hotel is at Kogeimura, or TOSA WASHI VILLAGE. This is an unusual complex. There is a rather classy hotel and restaurant (Cour aux Dons, which means nothing, but sounds impressive), a papermaking school, and a garden center, run by a local agricultural co-operative. The rooms are Japanese-style, with futons, tatami mats, and a viewing area (a small space, separated from the sleeping space by shoji doors, furnished with a small table and chairs, from which one views the outdoors). Also a small balcony. Another amazing dinner at the hotel restaurant. The food is what would be called “fusion” here, Japanese food with a French twist (no, not the hairdo, silly!). Again, a multiplicity of courses (this we’ll find to be the usual way), tasty, with a keen eye for presentation. I had noticed an ice cream vending machine wth Haagen-Dasz green tea ice cream, and intended to try it, but we had way too much to eat at dinner!

Joining us in Kochi is Kayoko’s brother, Takao. His English is really fluent - he spent some time in Canada specifically to learn it. Kayoko’s is excellent as well, and she is acting as our interpreter when necessary. She’s an interesting young woman, herself. Her family has been dealing in paper for some time, and she is very involved in the company (Nancy works with her in finding product for her store). At 35 (she doesn’t look it at all), she is still unmarried, which is unusual for Japan. Very pretty, small like most Japanese women, very much at ease with all of us and those we are dealing with.

March 20

Breakfast was Japanese, very good, though not, of course, what we’re used to. They do not differentiate, in terms of what they eat, between meals.

We visited the Osaki family today, Shigeru, Fumiko and Akari, three generations of papermakers, not to mention the dog, Kenta. They live up a mountain, in Agawa-mura (Agawa village), what a lovely place to work! They use kozo, steaming it, cleaning it, and soaking it in a pool outside. It is the pure, clean water up in the mountains that is paramount in making this fine paper. Fumiko, Akari’s mother, does most of the sheet-formation, though Akari is learning. (Akari has two sisters, neither of whom is interested in papermaking.) They both did some while we were there, and it was interesting to see the different techniques. They can tell who formed which sheets; I’m sure we couldn’t! The paper is dried in a shed further up the mountain, with a steep, winding trail up to it. I wondered, as we walked up, how they got the wet paper up there. It turns out they have a pulley system; the paper is hauled up the mountain on a board! When the girls were young, we were told, they liked to ride up the mountain on the pulley, too.

Here is where I began to think my camera was cursed. The battery died. Later, we tried to find one, but it is the vernal equinox, a national holiday here, so few stores were open and the one we tried didn’t have the right kind.

In the afternoon, we went to a sake manufacturer, another industry that needs good water for a good product. We were too late in the season for a tour (which turned out to be a good thing), but saw a video about the process, and had a “shopping opportunity”, though I didn’t get anything. As we left, they gave each of us a sake cup.

The reason it was a good thing that we didn’t have a tour is that it left us enough time to visit an antique shop recommended by Mr. Okawa (who was accompanying us). Like antique shops all over the world, it was a warren of rooms, with lots of dust, and nooks and crannies filled with junque and treasures. I bought a scroll, a woman in a kimono with a cat lying on the hem (9,000 yen, down from 10,000, thanks to Mr. Okawa).

Then to the PAPER MUSEUM. It’s not huge, but has three rooms devoted to the history and process of papermaking, and a place for kids to try their hand at it. Also a store, where I did some serious shopping. When we were at the Osaki’s, Mr. Osaki showed us a book of photographs taken there; I bought two copies, one for me and one for Bill Drendel. I also found gifts for the XYZingers (small receipt books, all with different papers) , a shifu washcloth (highly recommended by Nancy), and, of course, paper.

Back at Kogeimura, we made paper. The system used in Japan has the screen controlled by a system of bamboo rods and cords which makes controlling it much easier. ( Kind of hard to describe, but there's a picture here. There was also a shop there, though the only thing I bought was directly from the maker, who was working in the studio.

March 21

Even further up the mountains, to visit the Yoshioka’s, Futoshi and Noriko and their two little kids. He is a papermaker and she is a dyer, who met at Kogeimura. They are living in the traditional way, in a rented 100-year-old home that was not in very good shape when they first moved there, but which they are fixing up, doing all the work themselves. They have a central hearth, called an irori, with a wood stove. Like the Osaki’s, they are basically self-sufficient, growing their own food and buying only meat and fish. Futoshi showed us the piece of land that he is going to turn into a rice field (they gave us a packet of their rice, beautifully wrapped in their own paper, I may not be able to bear opening it; perhaps use it as a light weight?). They also grow their own tea; we had some, along with a dumpling filled with mountain potato and sticky rice, served on a camellia leaf (functional as well as decorative, the camellia leaves prevent the dumpling from sticking to the steamer) and some of the most delicious strawberries. They use only natural materials for their dyes. While we were there, Futoshi was boiling up some cedar shavings, and they also use clay from the mountain for dye. They use different formation aids depending on the growing season, so as to avoid the use of preservatives. (Purchased some of their paper. A long piece of persimmon-dyed, shibori paper, which I may wear as a scarf, as well as some clay-dyed paper (intended for my holiday party invitations) and another piece with rice inclusions.

The family joined us for lunch at a place called Hana’s. There it is, a little building next to a mountain road in Japan, serving pizza, pasta and curry! Good, too. Those who ordered coffee had it served in very elegant fine china, what we westerners would call tea cups. Then to the Sunday market in Kochi, which was fun, though I was restrained and only bought some indigo coasters as a birthday gift for Cheryl. While we were shopping, Takao tried to find a battery for me. Three strikes - apparently it’s because it’s an old kind (well, the camera is around 25 years old). I decided to buy a disposable in Kyoto and hunt there for a battery (of which, more anon).

After that we went to the home/studio of Sachi Yokoyama, a momigami maker. She’s an utterly charming young woman, with an infectious smile, who lives in a beautiful, traditional Japanese home. She taught herself the techniques, and invented a few of her own. There are seven different ways to crease the paper for different patterns. Her base is kozo paper, to which she applies pigments (she generally uses earth pigments, sometimes adding a bit of sumi ink, to “calm” the colors) mixed with fumori (seaweed paste). Traditionally, momigami would have one color of pigment on the paper; however, after drying the paper one or two days, she applies a second color, and often does so unevenly. When the paper is wrinkled, the next level of color appears. The first color is applied with the paper grain, the second against the grain.

Because the momigami is used for scroll mounting, she ages the paste in order to obtain a high acidity level, to prevent mold. This seems counter to what we always learn! But in fact the paper used has a high clay content, and therefore a high alkaline level, thus balancing the acidity. To age the paste, she cooks it at the coldest time of year, covers with water, then a lid and stores it (under the tatami). After one year, she takes it out, removes the layer of mold that has formed, changes the water, and puts it back in storage. This process is repeated every year. She is currently using 10-year-old paste.

We were at a new hotel in Kochi, the Kichiman. Again, Japanese style rooms. Even though we are in the middle of the city, hard by Kochi railroad station, there was a small balcony with a garden. Lovely. Couldn’t believe dinner (excuse me, banquet)! Piles of sushi and tempura, the usual miso, rice, soup, udon with fish and shrimp, fish steamed at the table, and on and on. We were entertained by a hostess in an “almost-but-not-quite” geisha fashion, though it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that she had trained as a geisha. She had changed into a lovely pale green kimono with a pattern of reeds or grasses at the hem, and the obi had large, stylized flowers. There was laughing, singing and dancing (joined in by the two servers, and a couple of our group). The Japanese toast is “kampai!”, but beware of “Hempai!”. This is a drinking game. The hostess pours you a drink, which you knock back, you pour her one, etc., etc. (Our hostess must have an extremely good head!) She dubbed Susan a “strong drinker”, which apparently came as a surprise to Susan.

After we ate, Kayoko joined us, along with Michael Kahn, an American who lives here and his friend who is a charcoal maker. Kahn had made a documentary of the Osaki’s visit to the Inuit (who use their paper in printmaking), called “Threads that Connect Us”. It’s 90 minutes, so we didn’t watch the whole thing, just selections. It was fascinating, especially the striking physical resemblance between the Osaki’s and the Inuit, and their similar diets (each enjoyed the others traditional foods). It’s a good film, but needs some editing. If he can get it down to under an hour, there’s a better chance at getting it on CBC (maybe PBS, too?). He then showed us a 3 minute film he made about his house, centering on the irori, as both a literal and figurative gathering place for telling and listening to stories. He is collecting oral histories of the older people in the village where he lives (very traditionally), called Mirror Village, after the river on which it is situated.

mojosmom: (Default)
All packed, and trying to decide if I should take a nap before the limo picks me up at 4:00 A.M! Why do I always feel like I'm forgetting something, checklists notwithstanding? Ah, well. I've got some books to read, and shed, along the way.
mojosmom: (Default)
Last minute dash to The Savvy Traveller. One of the TSA certified locks I bought was defective. Good thing I discovered it now! Unfortunately (?), I stopped to look at the 50% off book shelf on my way out of the store, and then wandered down the street to the Architecture Foundation shop. That turned out to be a good plan, because they had Gold Guides to Chicago in Japanese - so I bought a couple for gifts. And another architectural abecedarium - this begins to look like becoming its own genre!

On the "small world" front
I can't take the regular airport shuttle to O'Hare, because it doesn't run early enough (my flight is at 6:00 a.m.!!), so I called the neighborhood limo service, which I've never taken before. The guy answering the phone says, "Haven't we driven you before?" We figured out it was my mother he was remembering, "the Jewish lady with the Greek last name". Considering that she died nearly seven years ago, that was pretty impressive.
mojosmom: (Default)
# 29
The Leatherman’s Handbook II, Larry Townsend

Gay leathersex, a how-to guide, primarily from the point of view of the top. Townsend’s message can pretty much be boiled down to “know what you’re doing”. “Safe sex” in this context means much more than “use a condom”. In addition to discussing tools and equipment, and how to use them, Townsend delves into the psychology of S/M. He spices up the proceedings with “vignettes” (euphemism for one-handed reading). This has a 1993 publication date, so some of the recommended sources may be outdated.

Dear Calamity . . . Love, Belle, Calamity Wronsky and Belle Bendall

All about cowgirls, their girlfriends, their menfolk, their horses. ”This book’s got advice, wisdom, quizzes, poems, recipes, pie charts, spells, stories, cowgirl karaoke songs, and a lotta other stuff. What more could any contemporary urban, suburban, or Country-Western cowgirl want (other than new boots, a guy that looks like Clink Black, and a palomino pony?” Lots of fun, and a lot of truth.

Other stuff

Went to the Darrow Bridge this morning for the annual memorial service. He didn’t show, as usual. But, not as usual, the weather was decent! The usual suspects were in attendance: former Supreme Court Justice Seymour Simon, former alderman Leon Despres, the current alderman showed, as did retired Judge William Cousins and Larry Marshall from the Northwestern Center on Wrongful Convictions. Much commentary on the resemblance between Darrow’s times and ours, and the need to abolish capital punishment, reform the criminal justice system, and maintain our civil liberties. A typical Hyde Park event!

Then I went to Pearl. Found a great paper tube! It’s 17”, so it fits in my suitcase, but it will extend to 43”! Browsed a bit in the paper department as well, but did not buy anything - have to save my $$ to buy paper in Japan!

After that, I went to the Newberry Library Mystery (and more) Book Fair. How’s this for justifying spending $$? I found a parking spot on the street! With time on the meter! So I only added 50¢, instead of spending the usual $6 on parking. Which means I had an extra $5.50. Of course, I was sad that I waited until the second day of the Fair, since most of the stuff was gone. I only managed to get two bags full. Actually I found several books for the school library that Annulla posted about on BookCrossing, as well as a Jane Langton to send to Ottawabill, and some books for Aris1's Olympic release. And increased the height of my TBR pile. Having registered most of these books, I’m now over the 50 Books Registered Challenge.

Home again, home again, and sewed the text block for my travel journal. It’s going to be a non-adhesive binding; I’ll finish it tomorrow. Also did boring stuff like laundry and bill-paying that I just know you’re dying to hear about!
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I've done my civic duty. I voted today. I guess technically I voted last night, but I dropped the absentee ballot off at the Board of Elections today. There is a tremendous advantage in voting absentee when there are judicial elections. I actually had the time to check out all the various bar association evaluations. The Chicago Council of Lawyers' was the most helpful, as they actually give specific reasons for their ratings, which gives much more insight that a mere "qualified" or "not qualified". Then I did my other civic duty -- I mailed off all my tax stuff to the accountant.

More preparations for the trip. I went to the bank and bought yen. And tonight I started work on my travel journal. I'm doing a non-adhesive binding, and for endsheets I'm using some handmade paper that another bookcrosser, awesomeaud, sent me.

After work, I stopped off at the Center for Book and Paper Arts for the opening of the show, "Structure and Skin". I especially liked Lesley Dill's work, and would have liked to stay for the lecture, but too much to do at home to get ready for the trip. So I had a glass of wine and some nibbles, said "Hi" to various people, saw the show and came home.

Tomorrow more running around. There are about a half-dozen things I want to do, on top of everything I need to do, so we'll see what I can squeeze in. At least the Darrow memorial is just down the street. I must go to Pearl, and the Newberry is too close to pass up their Mystery Book Fair, and then the Historical Society isn't that far away so if I time it right I could get to the film showing . . . I'm getting carried away, aren't I??
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Kudos to the U.S. Department of State! I applied for my new passport exactly 3 weeks ago and it arrived today. Considering that I'd been told 5 - 6 weeks, that's pretty good. And the plane tickets got here, too.

I'm going to have to venture out into the cold tomorrow or Sunday to pick up a couple of things for my Eastern Papermaking class. And Karen Hanmer has solo exhibition going on and will be at the gallery Sunday, so I should drop in to see her (and her work).

But I think I'm going to spend as much of the weekend as possible indoors where it's warm!
mojosmom: (Default)
Kudos to the U.S. Department of State! I applied for my new passport exactly 3 weeks ago and it arrived today. Considering that I'd been told 5 - 6 weeks, that's pretty good. And the plane tickets got here, too.

I'm going to have to venture out into the cold tomorrow or Sunday to pick up a couple of things for my Eastern Papermaking class. And Karen Hanmer has solo exhibition going on and will be at the gallery Sunday, so I should drop in to see her (and her work).

But I think I'm going to spend as much of the weekend as possible indoors where it's warm!
mojosmom: (Default)
I went to see the Court Theatre production of Guys and Dolls tonight. They do a nice job of downsizing these big musicals, and making them intimate so that one can really focus on what's happening instead of being distracted by production numbers. The My Fair Lady they did a couple of years ago was a surprising knockout. I didn't think this was as successful. The Sky Masterson/Sarah Brown relationship is so unlikely that the actors have to have tremendous chemistry to make it credible, and these two didn't. On top of which, they didn't have very good singing voices. The Nathan Detroit/Miss Adelaide couple, on the other hand, were really fine. She had a great sense of comic timing, and they worked it together. The smaller roles were well acted, too. So on balance, it's a thumbs up. Worth going out in the cold.

And it was a nasty, frigid day today! I actually wore one of my muffs today, for practicality, not for show. Even with gloves on, a muff helps. Headband AND earmuffs. Scarf. Totally bundled up. It's supposed to be cold again tomorrow, too.

The trip to Japan must be true. Got my flight itinerary yesterday. Weird routing (through D.C!), but it's the least expensive way. And in the mail came a catalog from Travelsmith. They've got some nice stuff, I foresee spending ;-)
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I can't connect to the Bookcrossing site! I can get everywhere else - so I hope it's just that they are "improving" things, as sometimes happens. But it is a bit frustrating, as I came home to find a surprise book from idioteqnician - and I can't journal it. And a wonderful packet of information about Kyoto from fuji, and I can't send her a PM to thank her! I also had to answer a PM sophie100, but fortunately I have her "real" e-mail, so that didn't need to wait.

I suppose I'll have to go read instead ;-)

There was an opening at the Center for Book & Paper Arts, photographs of books (great show, by the way), so of course I stopped by. And discovered I have Bill D. to thank (at least in part) for my trip to Japan! I mentioned I was going, and he said, "I know". They had called the Center to ask about me! I knew Nancy was being picky about who she's taking, but didn't expect this (though it makes sense). So I will have to find something very nice for Bill when I'm there (I did tell him he's on the very short list of people I'll accept orders from!)

My new TV/VCR/DVD is being delivered tomorrow. So when I was at the Center I picked up the order form for the catalog from the Judaica exhibit. I wasn't going to get it because it's a DVD! Though perhaps, subconsciously, that was part of the impetus behind my getting one. It's very weird, though. I already have a couple of catalogs of book shows on CD-ROMs, and now I'm getting one on DVD. Shouldn't book catalogs be books? And yet the CD and DVD technology allows for so much more flexibility in viewing the books - it's possible to get many more views that you could possibly do in a reasonably priced and sized book. But will these still be viewable in 15 years? or 25? What about 50 or 100?
mojosmom: (Default)
This is way depressing. I need a new passport for Japan ( my last one having been issued more than 15 years ago), got out my old ones, and realized I never went anywhere on my last one. I haven't been abroad since 1985! My honeymoon. Better I shouldn't have had one (or at least, the marriage that went with it!). Well, here's hoping my new passport will get a lot of good use!

(On the other hand, my passport photos are surprisingly excellent! HUGE dark eyes in the 1981 photo, but where on earth did that Texas-style big hair come from in 1988? And I looked like such a kid in 1968 - well, I guess I was!)
mojosmom: (Default)
This is way depressing. I need a new passport for Japan ( my last one having been issued more than 15 years ago), got out my old ones, and realized I never went anywhere on my last one. I haven't been abroad since 1985! My honeymoon. Better I shouldn't have had one (or at least, the marriage that went with it!). Well, here's hoping my new passport will get a lot of good use!

(On the other hand, my passport photos are surprisingly excellent! HUGE dark eyes in the 1981 photo, but where on earth did that Texas-style big hair come from in 1988? And I looked like such a kid in 1968 - well, I guess I was!)

June 2017



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