ノート … Back to the Front Page, April 5, 2011
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.
My Japanese handwriting is embarrassingly poor. But given that it’s mostly for my own reference, I don’t sweat it too much.
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.
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.