September 14, 2010, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Youkobo/Tokyo/ Japan

This is an image of my fellow artist and great friend, Dimple, who was at Youkobo during the time that I was.  Dimple is an Indian.  She was born in Oman and has lived in Australia for the past 19 years.  I love to say that we got along beautifully (which is true) because of our similar backgrounds (which isn’t!).   She was a real treasure to be with during my time in Japan — very smart, sensitive and generous.  She makes important work and I will look forward to following her in the years ahead.

The additional images below are of Dimple and me (after she’d been up for 36 hours de-installing her work that’s behind us) and Dimple and Hiroko (the co-director of Youkobo).

turtle egg shells
August 23, 2010, 10:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized, Youkobo/Tokyo/ Japan

two of the three turtle egg shells….the third was not as photogenic!

(The story behind this photograph started with my first entry on this site

…if you’re interested… if you’ve missed it.)

Turtle news!
August 23, 2010, 12:33 am
Filed under: Youkobo/Tokyo/ Japan

I continue to stop by the turtle site daily and I continue to see these wet marks, each day in a different spot, each day about the same size. I continue to takes photos. Here are a couple from yesterday and today.

Today, I bent down to push aside some leaves, dead flowers, etc. to get a better shot, and one of the dead flowers looked kind of rubbery and odd.  On closer inspection….I found three turtle egg shells!!!!!

I can’t believe it, finally, BINGO!

I’m going to be gone on another  trip, so can’t check back again until Friday morning…but they might even be apparent in some of the earlier images with the wet marks, and I can definitely see one in this recent image.  Wow…it really happened!

I’m thrilled.

The Trip to Naoshima….
August 20, 2010, 3:38 pm
Filed under: Youkobo/Tokyo/ Japan

This week I left on Tuesday and traveled by bus, train, bullet train, and ferry to the island of Naoshima, where there is the Setouchi International Art Festival with installations by some really great artists. The art is exhibited over several islands and I had a short trip planned to just get a taste of it.  Hiroko-san at Youkobo had made reservations for me to stay at a ryokan (japanese traditional inn) in Naoshima.  Mr. Nishimura didn’t speak any English, but I wasn’t too concerned.  I had his cell phone number and was to call him when I arrived at the port and he would come and pick me up.  I got to Uno, the town across the harbor from Naoshima, and found the welcome tent for the art festival and a very nice English speaking Japanese man working there.  He was extremely helpful and agreed to talk with Mr. Nishimura when I dialed him on my cell phone, to tell him when the ferry would get in and he could pick me up.

After quite a bit of Japanese conversation, it turns out that Mr. Nishimura had thought I was coming on September 17 and 18!  But would be glad to pick me up and somehow he had a room for me.  I took the ferry, got to Naoshima and Mr. Nishimura picked me up… very nice, filled with energy, zipping around, speaking Japanese.  He took me to the ryokan and showed me into a really nice Japanese style private room with tatami mats and beautiful light. He had picked me up so quickly at the harbor that I hadn’t had a chance to go to the information center to find out about the Setouchi festival, so I started thinking I wanted to go for a walk, or figure out how to get back to the info center to plan the next day.  It was about 5:00.  I heard a bit of talking and stepped into the hall and saw Mr. Nishimura with two young women in their 25-32’s talking, talking, talking.  One turned to me, and speaking English, said…there was a mix up because Mr. N thought I was coming in September and he has two more people coming tonight and there are no rooms.  So, he was wondering if I would stay in the room with these two Japanese girls….they had a big room upstairs, and, because it was his mistake, we could all stay free.  I said fine, if that was ok with them, it was ok with me. Fine, but, they said, it would still be a problem tomorrow night, because they were leaving, but two more people were coming, and I was scheduled to stay another night.  I said perhaps he could find a place for me to stay tomorrow night somewhere else.  He agreed.

I asked the girls about the info center and they said, come with us, we’re going there now.  Great, we all headed out on bicycles.  I have no idea how far it was –maybe 3-4 miles–we left these windy, narrow streets (think of the pix of China that you’ve seen) and headed onto a bigger road, up and down hills into town.  It was a lovely evening, we got to the info center, got the info (in Japanese, of course) and then we parted.  That was good for all of us, they didn’t want to hang out with me, and I was ready to figure some things out on my own.  We agreed that we all sort of new how to get back on the bikes.

I found a sashimi place that was really delicious, had dinner, and then, decided I was really hot and tired and wanted to go back to the ryokan before night fell on these narrow streets with cars, people and bikes flying by. I headed back the way we came and got pretty far along before there was a fork in the road.  Oh.  I had been following the girls when we first came to town and trying not to get hit by a car, as opposed to making a note of each turn in the road. Neither looked exactly right, but I took the one that would have been the most familiar if it had been familiar at all…and before too long I realized that I had no idea at all how to get to Mr. Nishimura’s. None.

Evening was definitely falling.  The sky had that pretty dark bluish grayish purplish hue right before getting dark, and the moon was visible.  I saw an older woman — maybe 75– working in her garden next to the road. I stopped my bike and she came over to me.  I said ” Nishimura-san?”  and waved my arms around hoping that was the international symbol for “does this person live around here?”

Her response in Japanese seemed to have absolutely no relationship to my question, but, who knew?  She did not seem to be reassuring that I had found the answer I needed.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do. And then, I thought of the cell phone.  Mr. N’s number was in my recent calls from this afternoon when I had called him on my arrival.  I dialed the number, he answered, I said my name, and handed the phone to the woman.  She spoke for a while and she gave me back the phone and all I could understand was “Ok”  “Ok” and somehow I knew that I was to stay where I was.

In about 10 minutes, Mr. Nishimura came pedalling up on his bike.  He was great, I followed him back to the ryokan, along the way, we stopped to look at an art installation, and we got back probably about 8:30  I took a great shower and headed to my room and read for a bit before the girls came in around 10.  I slept fabulously. And the next night I had a reservation in Takamatsu.

Cell phones are amazing.

one more turtle comment, maybe the last unless something happens…
August 20, 2010, 2:33 pm
Filed under: Youkobo/Tokyo/ Japan

I know this turtle story seems very anti-climactic, and I’ve not run into my friend who first put me on the trail of the turtle.

Here’s the picture of the site from this am.  Surely it’s well past the time for these eggs to hatch, but this moisture seepage thing still seems to keep on going with different wet marks every day in the same area, but different spots.  Maybe it’s just dogs warning the hatchlings that they’re waiting on the outside?  Probably this tale is over…but if something more happens, I’ll post it.

latest turtle news….
August 16, 2010, 12:43 pm
Filed under: Youkobo/Tokyo/ Japan

So, I’ve been stopping by the turtle site at Zempukuji Park daily and I’ve seen no sign of change….

until a couple of days ago and I noticed that the turtle site looked significantly raked or scraped over.

I’m sorry to report that I’ve seen no baby turtles…but it definitely looks like something fishy is going on.  For the past two days there have been these wet spots on top of the dirt. What does that mean?  I’m going to be gone for a couple of days and won’t be able to check back until Friday a.m.  But I feel pretty strongly that in the dark of the night, the turtles have hatched and stolen away…and something is making those wet marks…anyone have any ideas?

Tsukiji fish market
August 13, 2010, 1:56 pm
Filed under: Youkobo/Tokyo/ Japan

I got up late at 5:30 and headed out for the Tsukiji fish market, the largest in the world, on Thursday am.  To get the full effect, the word is that you need to be up and over there, on the other side of Tokyo by 4:30…but I considered 5:30 almost 4:30, for me.  I got there by about 7, extremely late in fish market terms, and had a “sushi breakfast” .  Which didn’t sound too appealing at first, but which was actually delicious!  Here’s a picture of my breakfast not including the shark fin soup (which was fabulous) and hot tea.  And here are two other pix… Enjoy Beautiful Life is suspended outside the train station in Harajuku;  and my all time favorite, found on another fish market fancier’s t-shirt…evidence of the imminent flexibility of the English language!

August 11, 2010, 1:06 pm
Filed under: Youkobo/Tokyo/ Japan

Youkobo is in Suginami-ku and Shinjuku is a major shopping

entertainment district  and a huge rail/subway hub not far away.

August 11, 2010, 1:00 pm
Filed under: Youkobo/Tokyo/ Japan

Another studio shot.

my studio
August 11, 2010, 12:59 pm
Filed under: Youkobo/Tokyo/ Japan

Here are two images of the studio, with wonderful walls and windows…and a piano!