Showing posts from October, 2010

Japanese Days - Arrival in Tokyo

10/11/2007 Arrived yesterday in Tokyo. Still warm and a little humid even at this time of the year. Settled quickly into our apartment which is in the Nihonbashi area of Tokyo. Some dissappointments. The furniture in the photographs does not correspond to the furniture in the apartment. In particular there is no divan so literally there is nowhere to sit apart from the chairs around an enormous round table which dominates the entire apartment. No amount of discussion or remonstration will get the furniture we wanted. The only answer we get is "that furniture is too big for the apartment". The question arises why was it advertised with those pieces of furniture. I have been informed that it is not entirely uncommon. Lisa, the Japanese woman who works in the real estate office and speaks English with a perfect American accent, just smiles and tells me we will be very comfortable there. As I organised everything over the internet there was no way of checking anything before han

Japanese days - Following in the footsteps of Basho ?

11/11/2007  Sun Received answers to our e-mails form Akira Suzuki and Paul Cunningham. Akira san lives about 15 minutes walk away from where we are living in Suitengumae. I was just looking at the map and we are right in the area where  Basho  lived during the 17th century across the river from us almost directly opposite. Last time we were here Akira san took us all around the area and I remember looking across the river at a row of cherry trees which were about to start blossoming and thinking how good it would be to live around this area. By accident that is exactly where we have ended up, following in Basho's footsteps so to speak. Basho was a poet who made journeys all over Japan writing about what he saw and felt on the way in the form of Haiku (three lined verse).Basho was interested in the spirit of place. He visited various places to commune  with the memory of those with whom he shared the same attitude to life. Though they were dead the surroundings were infused with t

Japanese days - Tokyo Exhibitions and meeting with Akira suzuki

12/11/2007 Monday Settling in a bit more although its still difficult to aclimitise. Its not like we are here on holiday. There is a lot to organise: finding places to buy food, places to eat and organising our schedule. Went to the second part of the Sogetsu exhibition at Takashimaya Department store. Natasha took more photographs. Earlier we were at the Sogetsu headquarters on Asakusa where Natasha had some business to complete for herself and for her students. We went into the cafe there and had lunch. Brilliantly designed building. Very contemporary even though it was built at the end of the fifties. The 12 or 15 stories high the design  is as modern now as it was then. I like the exhibition hall in the lobby with its exhibition space and "waterfall".The building serves as the international headquarters for the Sogetsu organisation. The adminstration of the branches from all over the world is dealt with here. This evening met up with Akira san and he took us to a restaur

Japanese days - Getting ready for Kyoto

16/11/2007 Friday Gradually getting some kind of rhythm into our stay here and settling into the rhythm of life in Tokyo. Already visited the National Museum of Japan in Ueno Park. Excellent  exhibition of art from the Tokugawa period - special exhibition. The whole place was packed with long queues to get in. Splendid exhibits from this period. Yesterday we met with Paul Cunningham at the Dubliners Pub in Ikibukara and had a meal together. Not very Japanese but good company. We met Paul on my first visit to Japan. We were travelling to Ogasawara, the island 1000 kiliomtres south of Tokyo out into the Pacific. I was making a film about Burliuk and we got to know him on the island itself. Before that walked around the Imperial Palace Garden complex in stunning  autumn sunlit weather. Incredible garden laid out in between the fortifications and moats which make up the perimeter of the Palace. Finding our way around the metro much easier now. Today met with Madam Fujimoto who took us to

Japanese days - In Kyoto

20/11/2007 Monday,   Arrived in Kyoto  on Saturday in the afternoon by train. Saw mount Fuji in the distance from the train window, although it looked quite close due to its immense size and height.   Yesterday kept the day fairly simple and went around the nearby museums not far from the hotel.  The Kyoto National Museum and the Museum of contemporary Art . Also we visited the Heian Shrine , the huge Shinto shrine. Behind it and attached to the shrine is a widespread garden with long walks and a bridge with balconies which along each of its sections is framed unique views of the gardens as if framed in a picture or painting. Another example of how Japanese use nature to create art ie using the materials of nature itself to create art.   Finding our way around the restaurants and cafes so that we can eat relatively economically.   Today we went to the the temples and shrines close to our hotel. Nanzenji Temple and the nearby Garden, Eikando Temple complex and the Silver Pavilion. Beau

Japanese days - Nijo Castle - Early Warning Squeaky Floorboards

Yesterday was a long day. Started early in the morning at Nijo Castle . Large complex with palace inside the castle perimeter and gardens. Inside the palace is a large building which has walkways inside which squeak like birds singing or geese honking. This is apparently was a security warning. However it occured to me that it also had an artistic dimension in that it completely complimented the pictures of geese and other birds on the walls and doors which adorned the palace. Reminded me of some of the things that Eisenstein said about Japanese theatre and cinema. Also Mazurik talks about this as well, the idea that japanese art was cinematic.   Had  tea ceremony in a raised building overlooking one of the zen gardens which we looked at for about half an hour mediating on its beauty and refinement. The Russian tour group who arrived at the same time as us and even travelled on the metro with us by coincidence looked at us with envy. In the far distance a swan glided along the side of

Japanese days - Temple Songs

22/11/2007 Thurs   Terribly cold today but all the same we braved the weather and visited several temples.  At one temple the Abbott was on duty and he signed a copy of the guide book we bought. Lovely middle aged man with a totally unaggressive nature. He would find out what nationality you were and sing a song from that country. For me he sang its A long way to Tipperary. Even for his age he had the most youthful of hands, like a youth of 15 or 16. He couldn't` remember his Russian but as we were going out the door  he came out after us to say "spasibo". Such a gentle and genuinely kind man.  Managed to film a bit and got some quite good footage which also may prove useful. Spent a long time riding on buses to get there but we managed to figure out the system. Also we booked a visit at the Imperial villa which Natasha says is well worth a visit.   Yesterday we visited Movie World - the Japanese film studio entertainment complex. There is a complete Japanese town from t