Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Cynthia said, "I remember sitting upstairs with him and his sculpture of Jonah and the Whale. He was explaining it to us." Andy: "Do you remember what he said?" Cynthia: "Not exactly, but it was weird." We both laughed. Gufu's love for the odd was tremendous.
Black clay sculpture of Jonah and the whale.
Both the top and the little statuette of Jonah are removable.
Cynthia also said, "I loved being in the room with you Andy when you were interviewing him. You brought out so much of what he thought."
Atsuko, his wife, said to me after he died, "You were a rikaishi for him." I asked her what that meant. She said, "You were one of the few people who really understood him."
If you would like, please read the chapter about him, Chapter 8, in the next few weeks. Even better if you want to read parts aloud to a friend.
Those of you who got to meet him, please send me any memories, and I will put them on this blog. If you did not meet him, but were moved by anything in the chapter, feel free to email me with those at email@example.com.
And then, be sure to live your own "different kind of luxury" and pass it along to the next generation.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
A short talk with Abbot Shucho Takaoka on his work during funerals. I had just seen the movie Departures, which I recommend very strongly, and it deals with this topic. I asked him about it.
(Takaoka was mentioned in many chapter of A Different Kind of Luxury. He inspired many of the people in the book. Please read about him in the book to find out more.)
|This drawing is by Hideo Ito of Akira Ito, |
who passed away some years ago.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
The studio is relatively small so most people may have to sit on the floor, although we do have some chairs. PLEASE RSVP so I know you are coming. firstname.lastname@example.org Please bring your own popcorn or snacks if you want them, or just come as you are.
(Do you have a copy of the book yet? Please buy it so that it remains in print)
|Marvin Fishman and Masanori Oe filmakers in the 1960s|
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Another one is by the steadfast Ted Taylor called "Notes from the Nog." Ted and I have been in contact for several years and I invited him to submit a guest blog post. It's great. You can read it below. Ted is a contributing editor at Kyoto Journal. He is currently at work on a series of books about walking Japan's ancient highways.
It was alternative culture that led me to Japan. In my final couple years as a university student, I found myself ducking classes more and more in order to read the works of those whose viewpoints didn't necessarily align themselves with the conservative mainstream 1980's microcosm that was my school. Despite this, their words were available on the shelves of the campus library, and it is from this berth that my imagination began to sail in directions at odds with what I was learning in the classroom.
The "radical" ideals of many of these writers had been honed in the temples of Asia, so it was only natural that I would gravitate there. When I arrived in the Japanese countryside in the very-much-analogue year of 1994, I found myself in an environment similar to the University I'd left a few years before, an environment of materialism and conformity. I learned quite early that even the people on the street who looked to be counterculture were most often merely dressing the part, and that eventually they too would be absorbed back into the greater society at large. I did eventually find a few artist-types or those who "aspired to" a simpler way of life (and there were also rumors of interesting happenings down in Kyoto), but for the most part I settled into this cultural outback of the countryside.
Little did I know that this was exactly where where the kindred spirits dwell. In the late '90's, an article began appearing in The Japan Times, an article called "Alternative Luxuries." I would read Andy Couturier's pieces with great relish. I had found over the years that in Japan, people are allowed to have dreams, but it is only the brave few who actually act on them. Yet here in print were people who had not only followed their dreams, but had let those dreams shape their very way of existing.
A handful of years later, I once again came across Andy's articles in this very blog. Not only had the articles been fleshed out further, but so had my own relation to them and to Japan itself. Some of the inspiration had rubbed off to the extent that I too had crafted my own semi-alternative life here (Not being Japanese in the first place, this isn't terribly difficult.). Like Andy, I had built my own friendships with people to whom a simple life is simply common sense. Though a few are based in cities, most live deep in the countryside, and share with the men and women in Andy's book not only the ordinariness in how they live, but the complexity in how they view their lives and their interconnectedness.
I had a glimpse of the latter one autumn night, a few weeks before I was leaving Japan, a departure that had I assumed at the time was to be final. The night that my wife and I finished the Shikoku 88 Temple pilgrimage, we were put up by a few young people living in a valley in deep Tokushima. As the evening went on, my hosts and I found that we had many friends in common, and I began to sink into a certain melancholy, saddened to be leaving this country in which I had built strong friendships over 15 years. But then it dawned on me that I wasn't stepping away from the circle. In moving back to the States, I was helping that circle to expand.
And there, upon arrival, I found Andy's book, a book I'd been waiting all of those 15 years to see published. And in rereading those familiar voices, and in reading the comments of those who praise this book, the circle continues to expand.
Based in Kyoto, Ted's work has appeared in The Japan Times, Kyoto Journal, Kansai Time Out, Skyward:JAL's Inflight Magazine, Outdoor Japan and Elephant Journal, as well as in various print and online publications. A Contributing Editor at Kyoto Journal, he won the top prize in the Kyoto International Cultural Association Essay Contest. He is currently at work on a series of books about walking Japan's ancient highways.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
|Woodcutting chisel with illustration of|
how to make a forge for iron (I saw many of these in India just 3 years ago)
drawing by Osamu Nakamura (chapter 2)
|Left side, a water-powered wheat grinding wheel, drawing|
by Osamu Nakamura (chapter 2)
|Butter churns sketches by Gufu Watanabe (chapter 8)|
|Carrying bundles of handmade paper woodcut by Akira Ito (chapter 6)|
|Akira Ito working a wooden tea press that he had built.|
|Nepali rocket stove from Kathmandu, by Gufu Watanabe|
|Paper making tools. Drawing by Akira Ito.|