Try going via the Koganecho Bazaar instead.
Try going via the Koganecho Bazaar instead.
There’s nothing quite like hosting friends from another country for honing your observation skills.
As it happens, I didn’t take many photos during the few days we were together: we were probably too busy or something! Here are a few highlights from the visit and associated doings.
We moseyed around bits of the Flatpack Festival and were very taken by the Floodgate Kino space. We stayed for the Knitflicks shorts and, having moved to stand at the back so as to be able to see the screen, I was suddenly struck by the realisation that I was sat in a warehouse with a hundred or so other folk watching films about thread. Excellent! The cake was nice too.
The exchange rate is very much in favour of my Japanese friends right now, so I was witness to a lot of shopping. I’m not saying I was bored or anything, but… I did notice this:
The Diwan was rammed [that's right Mum, not crammed, but rammed. Same but different.], so we went to Ladypool Road and took pot luck. I can’t remember what it was called, (possibly a green frontage, just down from Dawat) but it got a big thumbs up for the curry and for the sweets. My favourite part was the restaurant version of the boogie-ing coke can.
We opted out of Stratford-upon-Avon for reasons of cost-effectiveness, deciding instead to spend a few hours in Oxford on the way down South.
I love the moment when you push open the heavy front door to The Oxford University Museum of Natural History and find yourself in the large, daylight-lit main exhibition hall. This time around (Red Nose Day) the central area was given over to slightly less terrifying beasties than usual.
I like the way the one third back on the right is peering round to see how much longer he’s got to wait in line for.
Elephant bones. Dumbstruck by how well they fit together.
Having achieved down-south-ness we went to Lymington: fish and chips, a lot of time spent mooching in a chandlers and I also took the opportunity to introduce my friends to the way of the charity shop. I suspect we had a better time than the local pigeon population:
We parked at Keyhaven then walked along to Hurst Spit.
Climbing the spit to find ourselves next to the sea seemed to go down quite well:
Bricks are a thing of wonder if you’ve grown up surrounded by prefab and concrete. Realising now I forgot to present one as a souvenir. Damn.
A two-hour walk at Deerleap with the part-time wild ponies. I spent a lot of time here doing my GSCE Geography coursework, but haven’t been back to for at least a decade. First time I’ve ever seen Bailey swim (admittedly it was only for about a foot, but that’s still progress)
Taking part has raised all sorts of interesting questions: not least about my own lack of political awareness of what’s going on in my own country. I haven’t got anywhere close to answering those, but in the meantime I wanted to note down a few thoughts about my photographic contribution.
In the introductory post I challenged you, dear reader, to take some images of the 4649 stickers that would stimulate a chat. Having already challenged myself to do likewise I had previously gone into Birmingham’s city centre and headed straight for two obviously very charged locations: the Hall of Memory and the Peace Gardens.
Yikes! Red poppies everywhere! Giant red poppies. hmmmm, not sure what I feel about that, think it’s possibly crossed a line somewhere…. (Oh, and by the way, Happy Christmas Birmingham)
Heading off somewhere equally disturbing in the opposite direction, I also suddenly became aware of how noble and, well, perfect the statues around the Hall of Memory are.
What exactly are we saying here?
… and how do I want to use the stickers to respond to it?
After a fairly predictable set of images involving statues and red telephone boxes I headed off down past the Mailbox towards the Peace Gardens – a distant memory from first-uni days and the number 44 bus up from the Vale.
This is when I started getting a bit more creative and started incorporating parts of existing signage into my images. Sod possible language barriers, this was much more interesting. I also loved the ambiguity that came from me not actually knowing what the text on the stickers says, or in what tone it says it.
What happens to 九条死守夜露四苦 when you put it next to a sign that says “For how long?”?
Anyway, I felt using the stickers to react to more subtle details in the city landscape was a lot more interesting.
I probably spent about an hour and a half taking photos and have whittled the results down to 39 which I’ve uploaded to a Flicker set.
Which ones are most successful and why? (How do you judge success for something like this?)
I just want to say a big thankyou to everyone who responded to the mailout and have requested stickers either from myself or directly from Hanare.
There’s not much time left before the Monday-night event, but you can still print off a few if you’d like to contribute.
Of the original batch of stickers Hanare gave me I’ve given away 11 to people who wanted to join in and I’m now left with just one. Where should I put it? Should I go for a good photo, should I stick it somewhere it’ll get left up for a while, or should I seek out somewhere where it’s likely to be seen by people who can read the text?
Every Monday (but not holidays, they don’t like to work on holidays!) Naho, Yufuko and Sakiko transform a Kyōto living-room into Kissa Hanare – something I like to think of as Café Independence (…but I’m now told the detached-ness I was inferring from dictionary searches is just an architectural reference). Not only does Hanare provide a menu of, where possible, locally-sourced, organic food, but they also work hard to create an atmosphere in which they and their guests can freely address a range of pertinent social and political issues.
In my limited experience, I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of Japanese culture, but I have a small sense of how difficult it must be to create this type of space. (Hell, I can’t even really imagine it happening here!) What’s more, judging by the blog, I believe they’ve managed to make it sustainable to the extent that the project’s been running for at least 18 months now. Impressive!
Regular café nights are interspersed with lectures, workshops and larger projects.
4649 (representing “yoroshiku” – a Japanese term I’m not even going to begin to try and translate, let alone the significance here) is Hanare’s latest project and they’d like to ask you for your support.
Since 1947, Japan has had a pacifist constitution arising from Article 9.
Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized. wikipedia
Its exact origin is disputed, as has been its interpretation by successive governments. As you can imagine, there has recently been increasing talk from various Japanese politicians of revising this article.
I’m not going to start passing judgement here based on a few articles I found on the internet, however what I do feel strongly about is that there should be a space for Article 9 and the potential consequences of amending it to be highlighted and discussed freely amongst people who are not politicians.
I’ve exchanged emails a few times with Sakiko recently. Here’s how she introduced me to the 4649 project (slightly edited, my emphasis):
…we are planning to have a t-shirt silk-screening party on November 12th, in which we will print images of a Japanese gangster with the statement written also in the gangster style font that opposes amendment of the Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, which prohibits Japan from possessing any military force and use it to solve international conflicts.
Article 9 is, in a way, an apology for neighbouring countries for what Japan did before and during WWII, as well as a promise that we will never become a militaristic country. The Japanese government has been attempting to transform the beautiful part of this constitution for a long time, yet have met huge opposition from Japanese people. Since Koizumi, though, the danger of the article being amended has been greater than ever, and we want to do something about it.
Here is what we are planning to do for the party. Prior to the party, we will print tons of stickers with the same image and send to those of you living abroad and outside of Kyoto. And I want you to put the stickers out on the street and take pictures of them and send to us, which we will project as a slideshow at the party and upload to a Flicker site. People attending the event are able to see the image in other parts of the world, and hopefully feel that we are not alone. Showing the photos is really critical because based on my experiences in Japan, we are so isolated from the rest of the world, physically, and mentally.
By showing the pictures, I want people to have a sense that what we are fighting matters, and is supported by people abroad, NY, SF, BCN, Pula, London, etc. plus, Japanese people living abroad might see the image too!
Here is an idea behind the image. In contrast to the States and Europe where there is a very sophisticated visual resistance culture, Japan lacks it so badly that young people here have a hard time getting involved with political activity. By taking the aesthetic of Japan’s gangster culture and twisting its violent and rather nationalistic representation, and saying goodbye to the conventional peace movement images like the dove, we are hoping to encourage Japanese young people that there are many creative ways to express their opinions.
Here is the image she’s talking about:
There’s a nice quote I came across whilst Googling stuff earlier:
To reach consensus in democracy, it is necessary to guarantee a free space where even the oppressed can express their opinion without concern for logical consistency and truth. The fact that chats have been neglected as the fundamental element of democracy shows that past democracy has been only for the few who could speak logically and consistently.Polylog
It doesn’t bear close scrutiny, but there’s a few nuggets in there that resonate strongly with how I perceive Hanare. My challenge to you is to use that graphic above to make an image that stimulates a chat at Hanare (or beyond).
Remember the aims are a) to have the sticker on the street and preferably somewhere that is obviously not Japan and/or b) to demonstrate the potential of creative techniques to express an opinion.
You could be provocative:
You could be subtle:
You could be surreal:
You could be terribly, terribly British (or whatever):
Here are some suggestions for some low-energy ways of showing some support for Hanare:
I’m sure you can think of others – be creative!
update: I wrote a little about the photos I took in this later post.
For the last few days I’ve been staying in a ryokan in Asakusa: somewhere my friends tell me is very old style Japan.
I don’t think much of the view from my room.
However, on the plus side I’m about 20 seconds’ walk from Kaminari dori and Sensoji temple. I battled the crowds on Sunday morning, but by far prefer the place at night when it has room to breathe.
Every so often I get a little kick up the pants that reminds me where I am.
(Click on the image below for a decent size version.)
click on images for lager versions…
Exodus of obasan from the jinja:
A stroll around the park:
The biggest koi carp you have ever seen:
A 400 year old castle complete with concrete stairs and air conditioning throughout:
Collecting fresh spring water:
…and fresh fruit:
Weather forecasting courtesy of 4-stick mountain:
Relaxing walks around the village (mosquitoes not withstanding):
An early morning drive to see Aso-san:
And the volcano up close:
A Noh performance in front of the floodlit castle:
Former residence of Hosokawa Gyobu (and when the current owners are finished with it, I’ll have it!)
Many thanks to everyone in the zoo for their hospitality:
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