ノート … Back to the Front Page, April 5, 2011

Notebook.  Sept. '03

Notebook. Sept. '03

Whenever I travel I keep a little notebook.  A log, journal, diary, whatever you wish to call it.  The pages above are typical.  They’re from September 1, 2003.  I wrote-out the north leg of the Karasuma Line of Kyoto’s the only-2-line (Karasuma and Tozai) subway system just to help me memorize the stops and their order.  On the left-hand side I note about a bidding incident at the Ozawa Auction House (just a few-minute walk from Kokusai Kaikan Station, Exit No. 3).  I and my former wife had put in a pre-auction bid of  ¥22,000 on a bronze “koro” (antique incense burner) and, after the live bidding was done (and the silent bids opened), another dealer came away with the koro for ¥21,000.  That’s the only time I recall being screwed-over at any of the auctions I participated in over a 3 year period (and it was the only, and to my recollection last, time I did a “silent” bid).  But small and large nefarious things happen in the world of antiquities, among dealers in both old and contemporary art and antiquities.  About this I am very well aquainted.

Anyway, as I write and publish stories about experiences in Japan I often refer to my notebooks to remember the name of a street, the dish we ordered, or the month that I and another danced at a little bar called “Motown” (now defunct) whose large windows looked down on Kyoto’s Kamo River at the intersections of Sanjo Dori and Kawabata Dori (4th and Kawabata Streets).  I go to my notebooks for general story ideas, too.

So, to let you in on a few, out-of-context glimpes of my reference material, other than the month and year, in the hope that you’ll find it at least mildly interesting and at the most maddeningly tantalizing, I offer you the follow.  Some of it is very personal.  It is what it is.

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Kita-san's little garden.  Yagi Nishiguchi.  Sept 6, '03.

Kita-san's little garden. Yagi Nishiguchi. Sept 6, '03.

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My Japanese handwriting is embarrassingly poor.  But given that it’s mostly for my own reference, I don’t sweat it too much.

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Late Dec, Early Jan 1990-91.

Late Dec, Early Jan 1990-91.

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I’m living in Asago, Hyogo Prefecture when the then-Love of My Life visits for a couple of weeks.  Here one can see me recording mundaneities (I consider this a word, whether or not the reader does), mentioning a spat over “pressure”, archiving bad movie rentals, and admitting to the cliche of cliches:  Shogun while in Japan (along with Brave New World).  And recording our New Year’s kisses for posterity.

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"Something Stupid".  October 29, '03.

"Something Stupid". October 29, '03.

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"Akafuji" from the air.  August 2002.

"Akafuji" from the air. August 2002.

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Here I will provide a little context here, regarding the “Mt. Fuji” sketch immediately above.  Written on a plane as we leave Japan.  The Japanese (in hiragana) says “besou”, which is a mis-spelling of “bessou”, meaning vacation home or summer home.  “Akafuji” mean’s “Red (Mount) Fuji” and is one of famed woodblock artist Hokusai’s oft-reproduced and world renown images of Japan’s sacred Mount Fuji.  See here (from “36 Views of Mount Fuji”):  Akafuji.

    • letsjapan
    • July 24th, 2009

    A little more context re: the last sketch, of Fuji. The page is a continuation from a previous page wherein I write: “…flying up north along the spine of the Japan Alps. View across and down magnificent to behold, with little villages and their tiny lights all nestled in the narrow valleys.”

    So when the page above begins, “Would love to visit there. Maybe a ‘vacation home'” the “there” in my mind is any number of tiny, rather isolated towns in the heart of the Japan Alps. Little towns I’ve not yet visited.

    • letsjapan
    • July 24th, 2009

    In that top one (of the north leg of the Karasuma subway line in Kyoto) you’ll also see some long division and other calculations: the constant voice in a dealer’s head asks, “What’s our budget?”, “What’s it cost?”, “What can we sell it for?”, “How’s this work with the exchange rate?”, “What all — packing, shipping, taxes, ad infinitum — other costs do we need to take into account?”

    There’s also mention of a man beautifully humming “The First Noel”. At an auction house. In Kyoto, Japan. In September. Some of the moments one must treasure. . .

    R

  1. June 15th, 2010

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