Saturday, October 29, 2016

Postcard from Japan: Monday, October 24, 2016, Part Two

I arrive at the Shizuoka Train Station at 5:37pm, haul my suitcase, shoulder bags and myself off the train, and wonder where I'm going to find my friend, Hara Akiko-san.  Everyone is walking in one direction so I decide to follow the crowd but find the elevator which is so much easier with a heavy suitcase.  The escalator works well, too, but the elevator comes first so I use it.  I get through the ticket turn-style (ticket in and now I'm officially off the Shinkansen).  I'm standing in the open area near the front door and within a few minutes Akiko-san arrives and is surprised that I'm already downstairs (the Shinkansen is never early and never late).  We hug and are amazed, of course, that we both look the same (probably not since it's been 10 years).  Her car is close by and her house is not too far away since she lives in the city.

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see Akiko-san and be at her studio/gallery.  We are kindred spirits, both artists and both textile lovers and love unusual and unconventional work.  Long discussions ensue on the meaning of abstract art and how a particular artist works and how they do what they do.  Akiko and her family used to live in Grand Rapids as her former husband worked for Yamaha (music division) and my former husband knew all of the Japanese community in Grand Rapids.  Akiko had started making dolls while there and so it was a natural affinity for each other and our work.  She returned to GR in 2006 when the Handweavers Guild of American had Convergence (sponsored by the Michigan League of Handweavers) to attend the conference with me.

Ceramic hanging pieces.
Each month she has an invited artist exhibit and sell their work at the Pop Up Studio.  (The name implies the same spirit of fun and adventure that Akiko is in real life.)  On Friday when I leave, she'll prepare for the next show of wood furniture.
My favorite cup!

Her studio is open, wood floored, with high industrial ceilings painted white.  Everywhere is the unique work of her friends.  She doesn't just display it, she uses it constantly.  Rice is cooked on the gas burner stove in a handmade ceramic pot, green tea (Ocha) is poured from a close friend's unusual small pot.

Hashi-oki:  small flat pieces on which to rest chopsticks.
Ceramic plate with transferred printing and added squares
of glazed and ceramic collaged pieces.
I sleep on futon in the open studio that night.  (She sleeps upstairs in the apartment where her mother and brother live.)  There are huge floor to ceiling glass windows and a big glass door in front of which even huger white metal doors are pulled in front as security  "curtains."  Usually futon (a 3"-4" thick padded mat the size of a twin bed) is set on tatami, very closely woven (rep weave) rice straw rectangle, to form a firm base.  Here it's on a wood floor so Akiko-san brings another cotton covered foam mat.  Two layers of duvet type covers are on top and a pillow with a towel over it.  (The towel over the pillow is always hard for me to handle.  As you turn in the night, the towel moves and comes off since it's not a slip cover but just wrapped around the pillow. Oh well. I sleep really well anyway.)  I've mentioned to Akiko-san that I'd love to take a walk in the morning when I get up and she shows me how to light her burner to make hot water for Ocha, where there's something to eat if I'm hungry, and I promise I won't get lost and will return.  She sleeps until about 7 or 7:30 and I'm up at 6am.

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