Grizedale Arts

Seven Samurai

Thursday 26 April '07
(from Seven Samurai)

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14 12 13 16


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Monday 23 April '07
(from Seven Samurai)

雨の中での作業

今日はロウソンパークでの作業の日。折角いいお天気が続いていたのに、昨日から雨。聞くと4月の湖水地方は雨が多いらしい。普段は霧雨のグライスデールも、今日は本格的に降った。しかしそれでもやるのがイギリス流。森の木を切り、片付けの作業を峠村の男性陣で行った。グライスデールはロウソンパークに棚田風の畑を作ろうと計画している。峠村の男性陣にアドバイスをもらい、ユンボで掘り起こす。湖水地方では、塀、羊の柵など石を重ねて作られている。それはこの地域一帯、掘り起こせばすぐにゴロゴロとたくさんの石が出てくるからという理由。去年の11月に私はこのロウソンパークの石垣作りのお手伝いをした。本当に掘ればすぐに石。その石を使い立体パズルを組み立てるように石を重ねていった。

棚田畑を作ろうとしている場所も、20センチも掘ればゴロゴロの石。山岸前区長さんのアドバイスで、表面の土の部分を別の場所によけておき、石部分を掘って平らにし、平らになったら表面の土を戻すことになった。

13時頃作業が終了。私も含め、皆さん防水のジャンパーなどは持参しなかったため、皆ずぶぬれだった。皆着替えも持ってきていなかったので、アダムのズボンを借りた(私も借りた)皆でチェックのズボンを履き、記念撮影。

光子さん、コミさん、純子さんが用意してくれたランチを食べ、ホテルへ戻った。その後、皆さん明日の外の作業の為にレインコートを買いに行った。

Ame


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Monday 23 April '07
(from Seven Samurai)

Dressed up



After the day everyone sat around the fire warming up and talking, Kimio-san commented on a Christopher Dresser teapot on the mantel piece, surprised that I owned a Japanese wedding sake jug. The design was an exact copy of a relatively rare object. I explained it was designed in the 1870’s and was considered a cornerstone in the development of modernism (these teapots fetch in the 200k region at auction – not the one I have it’s a unsigned copy).

Checks_and_tartan


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Wednesday 27 September '06
(from Seven Samurai)

A Letter From Toge


The Seven Samurai recently enjoyed a kind of reunion via performance in Liverpool, as well as appearing with Bedwyr as 'rent-a-tudor' backing, I plugged Toge rice as 'the best in the world' during my Tenantspin interview (quite surreal - I stuck to rice and art but Jesse Rae free ranged around bankruptcy, music, banks, slaves, the claymore and back to banks!).

In with the box of shoes, mountain veg. and rice sent over from the village was a letter ... Aiko translated for us and I was delighted to hear that Komi san and the ladies turned our house in to a cafe for the last weeks of the Triennale, apparently enjoying a huge flow through of visitors. I bet they enjoyed the delights of the Toge kitchen more than the rest of the Triennale art fare. This is the first time we have started a project and been almost unable to communicate with the people we've met remotely. Not only do the majority of Toge not have access to the Internet, without having it translated there is little point in us even sending them a long hand letter. It made the box of rice & note that arrived from them pretty exciting.

Nina

Adam1Adam2Aiko_1BenmarcusBunting



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Wednesday 27 September '06
(from Seven Samurai)

Soba Sadness


It's a long time since I've blogged and it's started to feel like a long time since we came back from Japan ... I'm scared though that I have been permanently scarred buy the experience, and since it's unlikely I will be spending a great deal of time in Japan in the near future I'm not sure it's in a good way!

Ordinarily (as I think I mentioned earlier) I am so pleased to be back in Britain that tears prick up in my eyes as we fly in over London. This trip was no exception and as we approached Heathrow I felt exhilarated to see London spreading out below us, familiar landmarks floating past and changing scale as I imagined myself in amongst them at ground level. There was obviously a slight hiccup in home-coming relief as Karen and I tried to negotiate her onward passage to Madchester airport with our 8 bags and the new hand luggage ban, but I perked up no end at Paddington where a full band of 30 odd musicians were playing on the concourse of the train station. 'Now this IS weird' I thought, as I waited to be collected and relaxed back into the warm embrace of UK eccentric extreme-hobby behaviour (by now I'd gathered this wasn't a one off and they play there every Friday).

It started though the next weekend ... we travelled up to Scotland for Jamie and Aiko's wedding party and driving up the A1 took so long that instead of camping somewhere gorgeous on the coast as I'd anticipated, we ended up in Thirsk - not, as advertised, on this occasion beautiful James Herriot country but actually a bog standard UK town symptomatic of all that is depressing at times about Britiain. Now usually I can rise to an odd B&B situation and squeeze enjoyment out of the bad decor and eccentric service. Here though I found myself intensely irritated by the over friendly man running the B&B, despite the many photos of his recently deceased Alsatian, I just felt horror rather than intrigue at his obvious desire to 'share' for any amount of time I'd like to chat. Things got worse when we went in search of food, ordinarily a rural curry - no matter how ropey - is a sure fire way to cheer me (or in fact Karen) up ... and a cheap prawn dhansak has been the saving grace of many a disastrous day's filming/travelling. Not so in Thirsk ... I felt irritated by the people around us and slightly depressed rather than cheered by the food.

As they bought me a wilted rose and dish of After Eights with that white christmas-chocolate mildew look, something in me snapped. I realised that since my return every mediocre dining experience I'd clocked up (and let's face it it quite easy to pack them in here) has been haunted by the vision of the soba noodle trays served at our favorite roadside cafe near Toge. Somehow this tray with a neat basket of noodles, bowl of dipping sauce, walnut and soya snacks and best of all mountain vegetable tempura is all I can now dream about in the way of 'modest' food.

I have tried to recreate this exact meal in my own kitchen with some limited success (the lack of mountain vegetables in Hackney being an obvious problem) but I really think it's made me turn a corner in food appreciation that there maybe no way back from. The accommodation, hospitality and food we experienced in rural Japan may not be fancy but it's I think the best I've ever enjoyed. Thirsk is probably not the only UK small town that won't seem the same again for a long time.

Nina

LandingImage063Image066_1Img_4497_1



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Saturday 19 August '06
(from Seven Samurai)

presents from japan

Jimmys_favourite_pokemon

Lauries_pokemon_display_box

Shoes_for_the_baby

Strange_jellies_for_shizuka

Suit_for_my_cousins_baby

Jimmy_and_his_pokemon

Bathpowders_for_my_nieces


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Sunday 13 August '06
(from Seven Samurai)

Tokyo for me - Lucienne Cole

Watashi Wa bejetarian desu

It don’t mean a thing. If you are vegetarian and going to Japan be prepared that you may starve. Unless you are with someone who speaks fluent Japanese. You might be able to say the phrase but the concept of being veggie doesn’t really seem to exist.

Toku Hands Could Take Over

Ah The inspiration of Toku Hands. Honest, if they opened a Toku Hands store in London, John Lewis would be out of business for starters. There is a floor for every conceivable anything and more, stuff you’ve no idea what it can possibly be for.

‘Grooming” is a very big deal in Japan. And the weirdest part of the store was all these contraptions for women to loose weight and look slimmer; Many Strange girdle things, eyebrow things, tortuous looking mouth devices and a range of items, with a cute cartoon pig on the front.

called FAT PIG !!!!!!

There also seems to be a fondness for magnets? Hundreds of them all different sizes and shapes and characters, and key chain nik- knack thingys for your mobile, I’m not kidding thousands of collectible weird characters including these odd devilish creatures that look like balls of string?

Panic Attack

Both myself and Bedwyr had similar shopping centre attacks. Though Bed found out that panic attack means a different thing in japan. Apparently some guy had gone ape recently in the aforementioned Tokyu Hands with a machete and killed several people! This is known as a panic attack. And it best not to use these words.

We just both thought we were experiencing earth tremors, but I think it was just jet lag and not enough veggie sushi on my part.



Miscommunication and Kawaii

Everybody thinks I am Kawaii ! (cute) and everybody wants to have their picture taken with Bed. Each time Rumiko introduces us to anyone, she makes Bedwyr stand next to her, and then they laugh. Bed is very tall and Rumiko is a very small. I wonder if this is wearing a trifle thin, but Bedwyr appears to be taking it fairly graciously.

Before we went to Tokyo I had sent emails to make sure there were dancers ready to meet me when I arrived for rehearsals for the performance. The email I received said, yes, there were 30dancers of mixed age range. Great. What I didn’t know, when I turned up to my Monday morning rehearsal was that mixed age range meant between the ages of 6-7. So, what can you do? Try not to look too completely shocked, remember there is a TV crew here watching you all the way. And we have been told to be ultra polite at all times.

The Interviewer asks me, ‘So what is your concept to work with the children of Ikebukuro?’ What can I say, ‘Well there isn’t one. It’s not supposed to be like this’ ?. I explain to Kazuko and Rumiko, that this is not what I was expecting. Are there other classes of more mixed ages I can work with? After some chatting they assure me, this is fine, all sorted, I am to come on Wednesday at 3ock. So I teach the kids, they like the monkey dance best and I get a nice picture of them holding bananas. At the end, while I being interviewed again, all the kids suddenly appear in front of me holding up their mobile phone cameras to take my picture.

Then I make my boo-boo to the camera, when asked what I think of the children of Ikebukuro by saying, ‘ah Kawai’, which Ben and Aiko later tell me actually means, ‘Spooky’, ‘Kawaii’, (pronounced like a long E on the end), means cute.

The second rehearsal I turn up to on Wednesday, I have a room of older ladies.

Rockin all over the World

I meet my friend Mari at Harujuku station. We see all these great kids in their outfits, hanging out on the bridge, A bit like Camden Town, only its clean, there are no pushers or drunks, or stalls all selling the same tat.

The fake tan weirdness and wigs that we’ve seen in other parts of Tokyo is not so apparent here, this is much more costume orientated, The Victorian maid look is very popular, but I like the teenage twins who pose for me to take their picture , dressed identically in more obviously homemade outfits. Much more creative. I suspect they have spent all week, or maybe months, to wear them this Sunday.

We walk on to Yoygi Park, which I keep calling Yogi Bear park, and there they are- In full glory. A bunch of campish, but hard looking guys, dancing away in their black pants and leather, with emormous quiffs. And who told me they didn’t exist any more?? Apparently these guys have been coming to the park every Sunday for thirty years! Mari asks them for me if they would come to my dance performance but they work on Saturdays, and are at the park every Sunday. We get Ken San’s mobile number and I take some photos. I return next Sunday and actually manage to get something that I wanted the whole time. It takes an hour and a half to get in there, and the guys show me the line dance id seen the weekend before, thinking I could pick it up easily and how similar it is to one of my Mod dances. Mari films for me and some smart arse walks right through the middle us. But I think there is enough there on film. Then I have to rush back to Ikebukuro, pick up my costume, shower, eat and start all over again. For the next performance I decide to wear a different dress, and go a bit more all out to try and get people in the audience to dance with us, because we don’t have the villagers today, or he Beatles to stir things on. Its hard, but some guys join in. Japanese audiences are hard, they put up a mask, I am told by Nariko, the dance teacher, But if they are still in their seats….. well your onto a winner. I don’t know if the Juneaus know this when they have to play, headlining the end of the performance. So wee whoop as much as we can. The cans of Kirin help.



Drinking/Karoke/More funky monkey/ Drinking/ More Karoke/

Dancingperf72dpi_1Fruitstwinscopy72dpiMewithrockerscopy72


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Sunday 6 August '06
(from Seven Samurai)

Dear Samurai - Aiko & boys ...


The news from Toge - It just gets better & better ...

The swallows have left the nest and are making trial flights backwards and forwards in the hallway.

We have been for an Onsen with Komi san, Junko , Kucho san, Izuru san & gang. It was a new Onsen to us (& seems even to them as we got lost!) and the ladies were one side of a Bamboo wall and the lads the other - they had been there for some time when we arrived (drinking) and serenaded us with improvised versions of "Hoi saka hoi" apparently with words pertinent to the Onsen - Komi san sang back. All this after they took us out for dinner too ...

We even had ice cream at the end made from rice - it doesn't get much better as a night out.

We have now made friends with the man who runs the swimming pool and he lets us in after hours when we have the whole place to ourselves, it's a bit like Hollywood in the mountains as Karen keeps her sunglasses on.

Our afternoon of bonding with the village ladies over the 'sheilds of Toge' with some marker pens (& Aiko's powers of persuasion!) has bought about a gentle revolution in house life. The door to the village is now even further open, the hallway is a shop (buy rice and you get cucumbers free), we pass hours engaged in communal craft activities & Junko has practically become a Samurai.

Yesterday we all made those material shoes that the village were selling in Tokyo. Karen and I's initial efforts - a pair of small misshaped child's shoes - bought about much hilarity.

Tim your yellow T shirt has been recycled into shoes.

The only thing to interrupt the idyll is the constant stream of visitors, they come by the coach load now & seem to like the chaos of our shoe making etc. later today we're trying to move into communal model painting. I'm not sure if mould making has been quite 'the start of an incredible journey' (to quote Lilliput) but we do have some fairly credible cottages to decorate.

The Toge rice is walking off the low table.

Even the Triennial drumming event was quite a laugh as we went with the Toge gang. Cha Cha Cha man broke away from our rather sedentary party and practically jogged across the middle of a rice field to join the action when a French Samba band came on.

Kondo bought round a TV but there seems to be no way to tune it to the DVD player.

We play the DVD of the Ikebukuro live feed on a loop on the laptop - much to the hilarity of the village ladies, we've spent a lot of time laughing at the shaman routine but also admiring your legs Marcus in those kitten heels.

Lastly attached the light animal porn sourced for Marcus on one of our futile Tokyo mini-house research slogs.

Must go a second shoe workshop seems to be happening spontaneously and Mitsuko san is dismantling the screens between the two rooms main rooms.

VERY hot here, missing you all ...

N & K



Baby_swallowSausagedogs_1Ladies_2



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Sunday 6 August '06
(from Seven Samurai)

Zouri workshopo (that’s sandal workshop to you)

Michigo-san and Komi-san return after lunch to resume the rag flipflop sweatshop in our tatami room. Yesterday 5 of us managed to make 4 pairs, none (even our sensai (teacher) Komi-san) coming close to the ‘model pair’ made by local people with special needs.
The day began with the women unpacking bundles of old clothes to tear into strips, and of course within minutes Nina and I were shrieking “You can’t tear up this gorgeous old kimono!”. Komi-san then proceeded to half dress us with these motheaten but gorgeous things, and then insist on carefully folding them up for us to pack and take home. I wonder if us suggesting tearing up some old British clothes would have the same effect on them “No – you can’t possibly tear up those old Marks & Spencer slacks!”
Back to the flipflops: It’s basically made in a very simple way: woven with rag strips (like those nasty English ragrugs) onto looped rope as the sole – the ‘thong’ bit is rice straw in a sewn ‘sausage’ – and their charm lies in the unique patterns in the woven rags, which seem to have a distinctly Japanese feel.
My 1st attempt had everyone in hysterics – it was squint and too narrow to match Nina’s other of the pair – but I live in hope of finding a 8 year old in need of orthaepedic sandals. My 2nd attempt yielded a jaunty, rather nautical-looking pair in shades of black and blue – if Bergerac was a home-made flipflop, he’d be these.
Karen G
NinakomiBergerac_1


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Sunday 6 August '06
(from Seven Samurai)

Piss-flaps

The drumming soiree is furnished with a row of three Japanese portaloos which I’m forced to use after my can of Kirin. It’s the squat-down variety (still don’t know which is front or back though) and as my piss starts to hit the flap which covers the base of all Japanese toilets, it begins to gape and shut in turns, reminding me of the mouths of the hungry carp in the village ponds.

Karen G

Loo


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