I went to Japan, to Tokyo and Kyoto. It was unbelievable. Everything there is opposite. They walk and drive on the other side of the street. Nothing will ever be the same for me now that I have been there. Enough with the platitudes here are the photographs.
This is the subway in Kyoto. The subway is tidy and orderly. I loved the green velour benches and the plastic rings hanging everywhere. As a New Yorker, my immediate thought was "How do they get people not to piss all over everything?" It's cultural, is the answer.
This is in Kyoto, at the Ginkaku-ji, "The Temple Of The Silver Pavilion," in the pouring rain. There is a very mystical garden with perfection in landscaping. Ancient stones make up the path. In the rain, water ran down everything in an epicly well-engineered way. There is a 10 foot tall cone of sand that has been sliced in half along the Y-axis. There is a mystical sea of sand. There are little bridges with different views of the complex and of Kyoto beyond. It seems cheesy to say it was peaceful but that was the major meaning that I got from it.
Just down the road from the Ginkaku-ji, Nami did another studio visit. I enjoyed these ceramics, this one reminded me of the Millenium Falcon. There was something very modern and interesting about them especially inside of this tatami room after seeing the temple wearing borrowed clothes because my others all soaked through. I got the feeling that I was viewing truly important artwork.
We went to the ukiyo-e shop to look at woodblock prints. This was an amazing place. We looked at portfolio after portfolio of beautiful prints from the 17th to 20th centuries. The prints are woodcuts printed on rice paper. The colors are amazingly bright and the prints are impressively detailed with intricate technical features.
Nami looking at prints. This one had an iridescent pattern printed on the black of the man's kimono. The man in the print is a kabuki actor.
This is what I had for dessert in Kyoto. We went to a small restaurant, down a hall down another hall in an arcade off of the river. The menu was written in Japanese so we couldn't read it. "Omakase," is what we ordered. That means, we leave it up to you. There was grilled fish, rice, seaweed, pickles, many things. It was good, everything was made in-house. This was the dessert. The big green thing in the middle is a green tea sorbet or granita. The green jelly is green tea jelly. The white blob is a sticky chewy kind of jelly. There were beans in a sweet syrup. As we left, the lone chef offered us an umbrella. "Somebody left it here," he said. It was a big traditional-looking wooden umbrella. We said we didn't need it. He insisted. He was dressed in kimono, in traditional robes and sandals. He was a big man. "You can pretend to be a geisha," he said, as he twirled the umbrella, coyly shuffling and fluttering his eyes hilariously.
This is my homey Yakata, back in Tokyo. We brought gifts, including baseball cards. In Japan you give gifts to people whenever you are calling on them, especially when you first meet them. In addition to the cards, we also brought hats from NYC. We brought a Brooklyn Dodgers hat, a Yankees hat, and a Knicks hat, all with snap backs. Originally I had been shopping for fitted caps, which have solid backs and are not adjustable. In my opinion, fitted hats are more authentic. The salesman was a Korean, and he told me, "If you bring the hats and they don't fit, they will be useless. If you bring a snap back hat, it will fit and the person will be happy." Upon hearing this bit of occidental wisdom, conveyed as it was with complete certitude, I ditched the fitteds and I went with snap backs. We were drinking sweet potato sochu with beer chasers. The girls are upstairs at this point, and me and him are just going nuts, drunkenly speaking the most crazy broken non-language to communicate. Laughing. Nami said we could be heard before you got into the driveway. I really liked the guy. On the table is lotus root renkon, lotus root and carrot sauteed with sweet rice wine. In the background is a 20-year-old cat named "Grandpa."
At a cafe in Tokyo. I ordered an ice coffee. It came with the little syrup container with the silver lid. Yoko ordered toast, big slices of briochey white bread served with butter and marmalade. There was an old man with all silver teeth smoking cigarettes and talking crazily to himself. I asked what was up with him. "He's old," said Yoko.