Japan Email #9 Hokusai and Kurashiki

Dear Friends and Family,

Seems that many people enjoyed those Miyajima posts. Miyajima is considered to be one of the 3 most scenic sights /sites in Japan. Certainly, it was one of our visual highlights. We loved it. A little like time travel / other dimensional travel. I referred in my last blog to some of the temples on Mt. Misen being hundreds of years old. Sacred Sites web page says: Long before Buddhism came to Japan in the 5th century AD, Shinto sages lived as hermits in the mountain's forested hills. So that's over 1500 years ago.

As mentioned, we are back. Pretty jet-lagged; slept from 8 pm to 11 pm, then up until around 5:00 am, then another sleep until around 9 am. A full day of work, playing catch up, and here we are. 

Thought I would add here some responses from some of our readers. One is a lovely poem, or part of his poem, from our friend, sculptor (amongst other talents) Mark Wholey, and the other are further comments and some corrections about Hokusai from Kaoru, our guide at the Edo-Tokyo Museum. As you will see, she is very well-informed and her English is very good. As so many of you are artists and interested in the arts, I thought you would find it engaging. Also, I am jet-lagged and don't really have that much to say about Kurashiki, which was lovely, but was a little too touristic, reminded us of a Japanese Carmel.

Kurashiki, the old part of the city has older buildings, formerly owned by merchants, fronting canals

I am the setting sun. Glass of sunset in hand. Walking with you two down Miyajima, fresh colors out of a crayon box.

Getting to look around half a world away. Feel the temperature in autumn. Taste the air from the sea. Sense the crunch under foot. The serene beauty of pagodas and shrines along the way. Torii blessing on you: Farnsie and Era. And us by proxy. Thank you. 

Excerpted from an email written by Mark Wholey.

Mark's a good friend and forgiving, so I wrote this before specifically getting his permission. We did get it this morning. Also got an okay from Kaoru.

Hello Era and Don,

I had a real fun time with you in the museum.
Reading your blog, I thought I should add a little comment.
But I didn't know very well how to put my comment on your blog.
So I am e-mailing you.
The number of Hokusai's house-moving was more than 90...accurate number was 93.
Maybe my pronunciation was bad.

Don, as an artist, you may be interested in what Hokusai said when he was 75 years old.

"My pieces before 70 were all awful. I will reach the pinnacle of my art by the age of 90,
 and they will be superhuman feats by the age of 100,
 furthermore when I become 110, every dot I draw will move as if it were alive."

He died at the age of 88.
He expressed his dying wishes like this ,
"If I could have lived 10 years longer, no at least 5 years,
 I could have created a masterpiece!"

By the way he completed thirty-six views of Mt.Fuji including Big Wave at the age of 72.

I enjoy reading your blog.
I hope you two have a great time and enjoy Japan more!

Well, we certainly had the best time ever in Japan. I don't see how we could have enjoyed it more. Thank you, Kaoru.

Uh-oh, the trouble two Westerners can create. Took a train to Kurashiki, which involved departing from Hiroshima, transferring at Okayama, and continuing along a smaller line to Kurashiki. We were given a series of 3 tickets which we were supposed to put into the machine all at once, but we didn't realize that and Don put his tickets in sequentially. Somehow, the ticket machine malfunctioned (probably unheard of) and Don's tickets were not returned to him. 

At first the ticket booth officials found it a little hard to believe; I think the machine rarely if ever malfunctions. Finally, they took the machine apart and with no little effort eventually did find Don's tickets. The whole spectacle was pretty amusing, was probably embarrassing for the officials (Don loved seeing the inside of the machine) and took maybe 5 minutes. Good thing, as we had another train to catch.

We staggered on our way. We were still almost crippled after our walk down Miyajima, especially when we had to go down stairs or a downward slope. The guidebook I had (The Rough Guide) described it as a pleasant walk over Mt. Misen. Maybe for a young Shinto sage. I think The Rough Guide does cater to the mostly younger set. Or maybe they never actually walked the walk themselves.

A train food cart attendant. Pleasant, attentive, polite, unfailingly courteous, always...How do they do dat? 

She bows when she enters the train compartment and bows when she exits, and bows when she is done with the transaction, along with many "Arigato Gozaimas". All Don purchased was a coffee.

Kurashiki, where people like to dress up in their kimonos and stroll around.

It was fun seeing this newly wed couple

I guess it's customary for wedding guests to wear black.

Sumo wrestler dolls

They have a very cool toy museum, which Craig (Awagami) told us about when he heard we were going to Kurashiki.

Kurashiki also had the beautiful autumn colors. I like the stray strand of green willow. Looks great against the pink.

And I got a couple very cool hats there. Don says I look like I'm wearing a temple on my head.

Altogether, very tame and very safe.

Love from a position hovering somewhere over the Pacific,

Era and Don