The Wakatakeya Brewery annual o-sake gathering featuring late night nabe, ten kinds of sake to taste, wonderfully meandering conversation, cold futon, warm warm welcomes, sunrise strolls, 7am hairnets, morning koji massaging, rubber boots, a shirtless septuagenarian, a sleepy long lunch, a station sprint, brewed-stored memories.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Acquisition - USA.
Back in May 2014, I was thrilled that a copy of 'Letters of Triangles' (the boxed work and the letterpress printed letter) became part of the Special Collections at MIT, USA. - 2014.
MIT researcher Jana Dambrogio made a series of films about letter locking which you can view here:
MI-LAB Mokuhanga Innovation Laboratory 2015.
Located at the foot of Mount Fuji, in peaceful rural surroundings, MI-LAB is a dedicated space for artists to learn and develop skills in Mokuhanga (Japanese Woodblock printing). Residencies are awarded to around 6 artists each year for a period of 35 days in April to May. Workshops are led by professional Mokuhanga artists, master carvers and printers; enabling participant artists from differing cultural backgrounds to explore their practices through the traditional techniques of Mokuhanga. I will be taking part in this years residency from April 20th until May 25th.
'Founded in 2011, MI-LAB is an artist-in-residence programme designed to provide extensive knowledge of Mokuhanga (water-based woodblock printmaking) and its techniques to international artists, printmakers and teachers of printmaking, as well as to enable them to make use of traditional tools and materials.'
For more details visit their site.
Early Autumn in Fukuoka
Perfect Autumn in Taketa
The most magical days in Japan happen between late September and late November. I am on a weekly koyo watch charting the leaves' transformation. When it's time, then I go hunting. I fly through the mountains, arms stretched, catching colours, drinking them all down to line the pit of my being for the l o n g cold winter ahead.
Autumn crept around the corner and suddenly the days felt as crisp as the fallen leaves. It was still warm enough to swim in the Japan Sea in late October and a stream of wonderful visitors felt genki enough to don bathing suits to the disbelieving gaze of locals. Visitors en route from Korea and to New Zealand joined in karaoke marathons, puri kura flirtation, flea market dwelling, sashimi devouring. Octobers soundtrack featured Japanese rap in the grounds of our local shrine, a Japanese Speech Contest for a bouquets of international talents, Bulgarian yodelling at Oktoberfest and Yatai ordering above the sound of Friday night traffic.
Early October is the time for rice harvesting. I had missed the opportunity to plant rice earlier on in the Summer due to the long wet rainy season here. So when the opportunity came to help harvest sake rice we took a train to Tanushimaru, where we joined a team of around 30 specialists and enthusiasts in o-sake to up tools and gather the rice. The sky threatened rain but gave us long enough to harvest a long strip of the crop, bind it with grasses and hang it out to dry on bamboo racks. We caught a lift in the back of a truck to the nearby Kyoho winery, a perfect setting for a sake tasting afternoon and oishii BBQ prepared by Torikura 鳥蔵 . As the sake flowed it became more challenging to identify the subtle taste differences of each brew, yet the last one I tasted was always my favourite! The sake was complimented perfectly with the ninon no ryouri and by all of the knowledgable company whom heartily loved and respected o-sake.
In early September we drove to Hasami to visit the wonderful Monne-porte collection of unique pottery galleries. A beautiful place where you can see a wide selection of locally made ceramics. Stopping for lunch at Gallery Arita (ギャラリー有田) we had the opportunity to view Imari ware and chose any cup from their extensive gallery to drink coffee from. A little further on, tucked in the hills was the farm of Inou san, a kind and generous farmer, managing a family run grape farm cultivating over twenty varieties of grapes. They were giant, absolutely delicious, sweet, moorish and plentiful. Up in the vineyards the bunches were shrouded in paper bags to help the ripening or to protect from the rain. Multiple radios played loudly and simultaneously to scare away the birds, by far the best cared for fruit I'd ever encountered.