Saturday 29 November 2008

Gardens and India

Having returned to the UK all was well. Memories of the garden near the coffee shop shop were still vibrant and will form the basis of a book.

Water and ducks, moments of peace.

Having started work almost immediately upon landing there has not been much time to get over the jet lag, but with students and studio members with projects that have to be completed by the 30th of November there was little choice.
The next teaching trip was meant to have begun this Thursday, however events have overtaken us all. My next assignment was in Anandwan, India. Nothing wrong with that... but the flight was to land in Mumbai ( Bombay ) with a couple of days spent researching leather suppliers and the like, then another flight to the center of India to catch a four wheel drive to complete the final stage of the journey to Anandwan.
It is obvious that in light of recent events this may not happen. We will have to wait and see how the situation develops ....

Sunday 16 November 2008

Books, Boxes and Coffee Shops.

A little more on books and boxes in the Tokugawa Art Museum.

Often the bindings of the individual books would be very simple, practical and elegant, with the boxes or containers receiving lavish and rich decoration.
Though the books had title strips many of the boxes did not have any reference to their contents (as far as I could tell) Having said that, I am sure that the boxes, each as individual as a contemporary designed binding, would leave the owner or librarian with no doubts.

Though the entrance fee was a touch on the high side at 1200.00 Yen, I felt that the display of the books alone was worth it. The catalogue is illustrated with good quality images. The exhibits were captioned in Japanese and English being informative without making one feel ignorant. The museum also boasts a number of national treasures including the world-famous, 12th C Illustrated Tales of Genji. Due to the fragile state of this scroll it is open to the public rarely, however there are good facsimiles to view along with videos and a number of books are available in the museum shop.

The main collection of books and related material is kept at the nearby Hosa Library City of Nagoya. The Hosa Library is a short distance from the museum, both of which are built on the old family estate and are next to the Tokugawaen (the Tokugawa's Garden)

Time for a coffee before the garden walk.

And what a coffee shop. A walled garden, timeless.

Delicate, I was charmed. The coffee was good, the jazz better and the atmosphere, well you have to visit to really appreciate it.

After a few moments of true relaxation on-wards to the garden, passing a modern pathway with water feature. So cool, and perfect.

Nagoya and beyond.

After a busy and rewarding two days of work shops in Osaka and the visit to Himeji Castle it was on to Nagoya.

Thinking of the castle, one of the vast number of weapon slits.

The Hotel was good, with a train station over the road. I could not resist taking this image, very re-assuring when waiting for the train to take us to the work shop venue.

Some of the students hard at work. It always surprises me, the amount of passion and fun the students work with. For the main the students have no experience of making books, however the work they produce is always good, they have a respect for the materials and the tools, they take copious notes with charming and informative diagrams.

After a very pleasant day we were invited to join the organisers and assistants for an evening meal. The perfect ending to a wonderful day.
The following day was a transit day. Shinkansen to Tokyo for the final two work shops. Time for some more culture.

The Tokugawa Art Museum. The museum was first opened in 1935 to exhibit the family treasures of the inheritance of the 19th Owari Tokugawa Marquis Yoshichika. The items had passed through the generations of the Tokugawa family, elements of which the Shogun was chosen during the Edo period (1603-1867)
The museum houses an incredible array of artifacts, arms and armour, clothes, house hold goods to name only a few areas of interest. The nine exhibition rooms include a Daimyo's Tea Room, formal chambers and a Noh Theater.
One area of particular note, the museum also exhibits elements of the family library, boasting books from China, Korea and Japan, with subjects as diverse as manner and modes of conduct to warfare and the study of the heavens. Unfortunately I was not allowed to take any images, you will just have to make do with a few from the catalogue (a very reasonable Y750)

Not only was my interest focused on the books, the illustrations, the print, colour and construction but also the furniture or the boxes associated with them.

Thursday 13 November 2008

Studio 5 in Japan, the tour continues.

After a couple of days rest an other train journey to Osaka.
Two days of work shops with students making some four books. Lots work in keeping the pace up, making sure that everyone understands and is able to complete the work. A few of the students from Tokyo have joined the work shop as the books made are different. It is welcoming to see familiar faces but a little strange to have them with us. By that I mean that they must have had enough of me in Tokyo, it may be something else and I may be missing something of course.

The evenings are spent walking around and eating (no change there then)

A Korean restaurant, a table top, charcoal pot with marinaded meats gently burning. The perfect antidote to a cold Autumn night.

The damp evening and a side street, well away from the garish tourist drag, illuminated by a plethora of street signs. Well, what could I could not resist the charms of a small, local eatery.

From Osaka it is a short train journey to Nagoya, the next city on the Studio 5 tour. However, never let it be said that I am completely blind to culture.
An even shorter, local train jolly from Osaka and I found myself at one of the most famous World Heritage sites..

... Himeji Castle.

As I am sure you can imagine, I took a lot of images and will do my best to slip a few more in when time permits.

Back to the train station and train spotters.

Friday 7 November 2008

Signs and Arcades.

There are many sights in our shopping areas, some of the every day. Others, well perhaps I will let you make up your own mind.

Bond, shopping Bond.

Not all of my spare time has been spent shopping. No, some of it has been spent just looking at stuff. From the balcony of the hotel room this morning lots of movement in the bay.

The ferry that docked just out side the room. The fog horn became my alarm clock, both in the morning and at 11.30 at night. Ah, the romance of the sea.

A Tall Ship. If you look closely you may be able to see lots of small white specks on the rigging, masts and yards. Sea Scouts, I would imagine that the average age would be 15. Instead of children playing on a computer, these young men are a live.

Um, well, a crane of sorts. Not the sort of thing to argue with.

Thursday 6 November 2008

The joy of being a tourist.

A chance to do nothing in particular, take photos of places and things that catch the eye. Happy memories for the long, dark nights in the U K. An alley way to the artisans quarter perhaps ?

With the colours and unfamiliar architecture, the Med or some sleepy village in the south of France.

Wrong, this series of buildings are just a facade on the end of one of a series of very long shopping arcades in the port city of Kobe in Japan.

Shopping arcades around the world are funny places. Local shops competing with the chain stores, people just being there, meeting places for the young and old and a boon for the person with not much to do for a day or two (like me)

Much to my surprise I quite like doing nothing once in a while.

Monday 3 November 2008

Time to relax for while at least.

The work shops are going well. The students are as keen as mustard, intelligent questions, all take notes and all listen. The schedule is PUNISHING. Full concentration for the whole day, remembering that though some of the students have a very good understanding of the English language, the language of book binding is not in common use. Also that many of the terms and language used is either foreign, antiquated or just plain barmy. Every thing I say has to be translated thus adding time to the overall time. To be centre stage for six to seven hours a day is not as much fun as some would imagine.

But and it is a big BUT, I enjoy the work, enjoy being able to share with others what I little I know and in turn always to have the chance to learn from others.

Time to unwind, without having to mind my P's and Q's is important. Moments of solitude, of inner relaxation give me the chance to clear the mind. To refresh and replenish. I suppose it is what everyone needs from time to time.

The eye never rests, I am beginning to work on ideas for my next book. I really must get out more.

Saturday 1 November 2008

The mini studio 5 work shops begin.

Tokyo, great place to be and a great place to have work shops.

Hard work but good fun, the students work hard and produce some excellent work.