Sunday, June 9, 2013

Narita/Tokyo/Ginza galleries and artworks

Yes, Toto - we are at Narita!!! and about to take the fast train in to Tokyo, thanks to our fabulous friend Cathy who met us at the airport and guided us to our ryokan on the outskirts of Tokyo - a 3 hour, several train trip. We got wise this time and bought our Suica cards [train travel cards] straight up. Pity about the sim card and the Wifi coverage - Japanese telcos seem to have the market sewn up for Japan only. International travellers- too bad, unless you want to pay big bucks to hire a phone.
On the bright side, the dollar was at parity with the yen, so the whole trip was comparitively inexpensive. Pity about my birthday present mini ipad, and my useless mobile phone and charger which I carried everywhere - I guess the ipad was useful for downloading photos!
Cathy, Merv and I, looking good after a 9 hour flight...
 Christine, Cathy and bento box to share,
Our beautiful traditional ryokan for 2 nights, futons on the tatami mats,
 Mama san saying goodbye,
breakfast on the run - delicious fruit, $1 and $2 a stick

amazing what you find in Ginza,

and we DID manage to find a few very small contemporary galleries - up a couple of flights of stairs and in tiny but impressive spaces. From what I gathered, the deal is the same as in OZ - artist hires the space [but for only a week or so], and if the exhibition is a success, the gallery keeps some work 'in stock'. The prices of works were reasonable - comparable to here. It seems that the artists have 'other jobs' to keep food on the table, just like here.
3 levels of small Masako Izaki paintings,

View of/from the gallery rooftop,
another gallery exhibiting wonderful glass sculpture by Hikari Ibuki Ihari,
 [a serious follower and collector of this artist was in there making his choice]...

alongside the exquisite composite mixed metal sculptures of Yusuke Maruyama,

[I was VERY tempted by the cloud brooches],
...then we stumbled across another lovely small gallery, all dimmed out and mysterious, showing wonderful suspended, painted and mixed media and very quirky, working clock sculptural thingies... some had no hands, others went backwards, others had cookoo type workings.
The artist was a shy and gorgeous young man, Kimio Muraoka.

Next time we will know where to go and we will plan a full day in Ginza to see the contemporary galleries.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

TOTO - we're not in Kansas anymore

......we are in Japan,
...where the primary manufacturer of plumbing equipment is branded 'Toto'. 

Well, actually we are not in Japan anymore - we have been home a week now after a whirlwind 3 weeks of connecting with old friends, making new ones, seeing new sights and engaging in 2 full day community arts events which were a huge success and brought us to tears. More on that later, or go to Fiona's blog. The 'us' constituted myself, Christine Elcoate, Fiona Dempster, Barry Smith and Merv Jefferson, a talented local artist who has Sister City connections. The first 2 weeks were independent of Sister Cities, the last was based in Tatebayashi, the Sunshine Coast Council's Sister City in Japan, an hour N of Tokyo.

Where do I start? This past week has been crazy and I am all over the place on all levels, so I am enjoying a bit of 'time out' going through my photos and savouring the wonderful recent memories of Japan.

Maybe I'll start with the incredible sense of design that is throughout Japan, permeating things old, new, man made, created by nature [often with a bit of help from well practiced secateurs] and even in the worn and tattered remnants of days gone by. A wabi sabi lover's dream destination!!

1. Some of the contemporary man made elements as seen in the street [graphic design envy]...

2.  Designs focusing on natural materials...

3.  Mother Nature has her own Degree in Design...

4....and things decay in the most elegant of ways...

5.  Maybe the street maintenance crew are also educated with a sense of good design???...

6...and my dear friend Natsuko honours the life cycle of the dandelion as much as that of the azaelea...
7.  Lastly check out the latest 'inventions' helping to save the planet, make wrapping bunches of flowers easier and more beautiful, and encouraging women to have kids by putting baby holders in public toilets.

...yes, gotta hand it to the Japanese.