By spotogspindel | October 23, 2016
It´s move-in day for “The Black Comedy”, which opens this coming Friday. Bømlo Teater is staging it in the culture house. Tomorrow the actors start rehearsals in the set. I haven´t seen a single rehearsal, and am looking forward to seeing how the farce is mastered 🙂
By spotogspindel | October 22, 2016
A dark, cold night at the Visnes copper-mines. Wendy, Peter Pan, Captain Hook and two of the lost children are fighting. A film-team with aggregate-driven lamps and a director guiding them through one scene after another. Sword-fights by candle-light. It´s scary! And you thought Peter Pan was a children´s story!?!
By spotogspindel | October 22, 2016
So much beauty and so much memories of terror in one day! My last day in Japan, I took a day-trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima, a small island right outside Hiroshima. Despite it´s small size, you can find several Unesco world heritage sites here. Starting with the great Torii gate. It is a symbol of the boundary between the spirit and the human worlds. It was first built in 1168 about 200 meters from land, but on low tide you can walk out to it.
It lies in front of the Itsukushima shrine. At high tide, it looks like it is floating on the water, as you can see below. The main shrine was built in 593. So, so beautiful, even though I couldn´t enter because of the tide.
Another beauty is the red 5-storied pagoda of Goju-no-to, built in 1407. I´ve seen a couple of these pagodas, and this is just breath-taking!
Right next to the pagoda is the Senjokaku Shrine. A huge wooden building nick-named “the shrine of a thousand straw mats”. There are no walls and a large, airy ceiling, so it´s a nice place to cool down in warm days. Under the ceiling there are dozens of paintings, old and some new, with scenes from traditional Japanese history and mythology, like the one below of a warrior riding his horse.
I could have spent two days here, there was so much to see, but since I only had one day, I also wanted to visit Hiroshima itself and the memorial park there. Hiroshima is undoubtedly most known for being the target of the world´s first atomic bomb used in warfare. August 6th, 1945, 8:15 AM. In the photo below you can see the remains of the only building left standing after the attack, now the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Thousands were killed instantly. Near the epicenter of the explosions, everything was instantly turned to ash, so no-one knows exactly how many people died. But it is assumed that between 90 000 – 146 000 people died during the first 4 months after the bomb, half of them the first day .
When I visited, the were hoards of Japanese school-children on field-trips, coming from all over Japan, in additions to visitors from all over the world. This is, without a doubt, a very important site to visit, to contemplate over mankind´s common history. It may not be a comfortable experience, but the more important.
Inside the museum, there were photos of Hiroshima before and after the bomb, and a gathering of things, remains found around the epicenter. A watch, a sandal, a bicycle…
Outside was a collection of origami paper-cranes. Thousands and thousands. Inspired by a young girl, sick from leukemia, who thought if she only could finish folding 1000 paper-cranes, she would get well again. She only made 667 before she died. But her classmates finished her task, and later she has inspired thousands of other children to make a thousand cranes. They are sent from all over the world, and gathered here at the Children´s peace monument. Later, they are recycled into postcards with the printed text “Never forget”, given to visitors, encouraging to send them and pass on the message.
I had mentally prepared myself for the experience this day, with defenses high to handle the emotional impact. I kept thinking about two things: Donald Trump should visit this place, with his haphazard thoughts of nuclear weapons. And a news-story I´d read earlier in the week, where Brian Cox´s explanation for why we´d never met aliens even thought there most likely is life out there: advanced civilizations usually kill themselves off.
But at the same time… all these young people who make an effort to change the world for the better. Be it by folding paper-cranes to abolish nuclear weapons, or by participating in global collaborations like the Global Science Opera.
I´m sorry to end on such a sad note. Japan was absolutely fantastic, and I can recommend it whole-heartedly! It has the best of all things: a long and interesting history and culture, a rich aesthetic in every aspect of life, modern day comfort and innovative technology. And the most important: a kind, welcoming and warm people.
By spotogspindel | October 17, 2016
Today I visited the Nishijin textile centre & museum. They had their own kimono-fashion-show, a weavery and a big museum-shop. The best part however, was the dress-up-like-a-Japanese photo-shoot. I choose the more-is-more version of the 12 layered wedding-kimono! Full on with wig and makeup and the works. 12 layers of heavy silk over a pair of wide trousers that are 2 meters long… it does´t make it easy to move.
From now on, this will be my official portrait! Ha, ha, ha… no, I´m just kidding. But it is nonetheless probably the closest I´ll get to my 5-year-old self of becoming a princess.
I had two women doing my makeup and dressing me. I thought it was interesting to see how the inner clothing was, and how everything was arranged as they added layers.
Dressed as a bride for her adding, or even resembling an imperial princess. But not a geisha. So when the photo-session was over, I visited an indigo weavers atelier. No geishas, but hand-dyed silk yarn.
From there I went on to the Shibori museum. Shibori is a 1300 hundred years old tradition of dyeing. By tying tiny knots on the silk cloth with fine thread, you make a resist the dye won´t penetrate when the fabric is lowered into the dye-pan. You can make amazing patterns, but it requires a vast amount of work. The picture below is showing half of a picture it took 40 people 2 years to make (on their free-time) Oh, and I got to try on a shibori/embroidered silk kimono. But still no geishas…
So in the evening I joined a geisha-spotting-tour, which sounds a bit silly, but we learned a lot of history and tradition. And got to walk around in the Gion-district, which houses some of the oldest, well-known tea-houses in Japan.
And guess what?! We finally spotted a real life geisha! Coming out from a theatre after her performance, rushing past everyone at an impressive speed on her 5 inch (12 cm) high wooden sandals. On her way to a private party at a tea-house. With at least 5 years of training, this tradition has seen a small upswing in recruitment the past years, after years of decline.
Now there are around 200 geishas in Kyoto, and 80 maikos (apprentices). They start their training at 15, and after 5 years become a geisha. They can stay a geisha as long as they don´t marry, and the oldest one is over 90 years old!
Oh, and if you thought that a geisha was a prostitute, you are wrong! It is forbidden to touch them. They are great entertainers who sing and dance and make great conversation-partners.
By spotogspindel | October 16, 2016
Kyoto – the cultural and historical capital of Japan. 1,5 million citizens. And so many World Heritage Cutural sites! There is so much to see in this city, everywhere you turn, it seems.
When I arrived, I walked to the Kyoto Museum of Modern Art. And right next to it, the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts. The first one was good, the second was great! It had working craftsmen there, showing techniques in pottery and jewelry. And in the story above I stumbled across a crafts-fair, with lots of artists selling their own things.
This is the Heianjingu shrine, right next to the museums. There is a fall festival going on, there are celebrations going on everywhere, drums and theatre-performances.
The Heianjingu shrine had a sacred garden, and it was such a delight! In the middle of the city, such peace, and such beauty!
A procession was about to take place, with hundreds of ladies dressed in the same cotton kimonos…
But some are celebrating independently of the fall festivals. Like this 3-year old boy, who is having his first formal visit to the temple. All dressed up and posing for the photographer.
Today I was really lucky: I had a guide with me all day, and boy, did we see a lot!
The Fushini Inari shrine is actually a mountain, 260 meters high in the middle of the city. Over 10 000 of these orange portals are framing the pathways all the way up to the top of the mountain. We only walked about half-way up, but got a great view of the city. The main thing though, was not the view, but the amazing “hallways” of portals. (Apparently made well-known after the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha”)
Arriving at the Tenryuji temple, we were met with another procession, this time reenacting when an imperial princess visited the temples shrine 700 years ago. A big parade with musicians, drummers, priests and of course the princess herself.
Moving swiftly on, we visited the bamboo forrest. And the days second wow-I-wanna-be-here-forever-place. Even with all the other tourists, it was such a serene place. (Sorry, I just had to post one of those been-there-done-that-photos)
Next we went to the Ninnaji temple, one of the three 5-stories high pagodas in Kyoto. We didn´t even get in the gate before we were in the middle of yet another procession. Here are a couple of the monks waiting to welcome the visiting deity.
Finally, the pagoda. This was built in the 17th century, and was so impressive! Even though some of the other temples we´d seen were older, as old as a thousand years old. Others were rebuilt after fires.
And finally, we visited the Kinkakuji temple with the golden pavilion. Golden as in covered with real gold-leaf. It used to be a guest-house for the shogun living here, but was later turned into a temple.
And this is just a bit of what I´ve seen the past days. It´s just too much to tell in one post. I am still processing all the impressions myself. Thank you Leiko, for showing me so much of this beautiful city!
Stay tuned for part 2!
By spotogspindel | October 14, 2016
Naoshima – the little art island of Japan. Recommended by Tanja Beer, the pioneer of eco-scenography. And when I come, I land in the middle of an art-festival! The Setouchi Triennale. As you can see on the map below, it includes some island-hopping to reach over everything. But I´vé stayed here in Naoshima for two days now, and it´s been lovely! So much to see, so much to ponder over.
Originally this art-project started 20 years ago. So many young people moved away from the smaller places to go to the cities, and they didn´t come back. So as a counterweight, the Benesse Group hose Naoshima as their main art-site for the biggest on-site art project in Japan.
The island is relatively small, you can walk across in 45 minutes or so. And theres been a lot of walking. The different art-sites are spread out over the whole island.
Unfortunately, many of the places I´ve seen these days, were no photos allowed. But you know you´re in the right place when you see a big, yellow polka-dotted Yayoi Kusama pumpkin on the quay.
The first I came across was the Art House Project. Abandoned houses were “given” to artists to “artyfy” them. The very first house I came to used to belong to a dentist. The artist spoke directly to my heart, I think, with his blue room. Two stories high, with only natural light. The walls were covered in indigo-dyed fabric, with oil-painting on them.(Indigo was the color they used to dye the fishermen’s clothes with) Against one wall there was part of an old wooden boat.
I adored this room! You could put a couple of actors in here, and you have the complete set and atmosphere in place. There was another room, small but two stories where there was a replica of the Statue of Liberty looking out the window of the second floor!
Another of the Art House Projects was this newly built replica of a Shinto shrine. Under the shrine was a very narrow underground tunnel, which you entered with flashlights. At the bottom, there was a cave, and at the bottom was a little pool of water. From the water, a staircase rose towards the ceiling, the steps made of big glass-blocks. Outside and overground, the steps continued all the way up to the front of the shrine. So beautiful!
There were 7 Art Houses, each one unique.
The Benesse House is a combined gallery/museum and hotel. Tourists can of course visit the exhibitions, but only guests at the hotel can see the art inside the hotel. Everything is designed by architect Tadao Ando. Almost every surface was in clean, polished concrete, raw, with traces of the supporting scaffolding. But with edges so sharp, and angles unheard of! The wall in the photo below is four stories high, the bottom is a triangle filled with white rocks. The black slit in the wall is not a shadow, it´s an open-air window moving along the hallway from the first floor upwards. I´ve never been much for minimalism. But this was taken to a completely new level, and it was awesome! Of all the exhibitions these days at Benesse House, Li Ufan and Chicu Museum today, and trust me, they were GOOD!, I think the one favorite thing was actually Ando´s architecture.
I am still dwelling on so many of the works I´ve seen today. I feel they linger on. Just like good art should do!
And then, in between all this grand art, you walk past an open door and get a peak at the garden inside. And then you realize why there are so many Japanese visitors at these art galleries, they have a genuine interest in art and esthetics. The minimalism is part of their tradition, the attention to detail… such beauty! Who would´t want a Japanese garden?!
I just have to share this too, from the garden outside another temple.
And on the beach, a Shinto-gate, filled with little rocks people had put on there together with a wish.
And finally. After all this grand art, what else to top it off with than a 007-museum?!! One of Ian Flemmings books about James Bond was placed on Naoshima, and there´s been an active attempt to get Bond-film-makers, to film this book here, where it was placed in the first place. Not serious art at all, but what enthusiasm 😀
By spotogspindel | October 13, 2016
A capsule hotel! A real underground, all female capsule-hotel! My plastic cave is just at the end there…
Here: Isn´t it cozy? 😀
So far, my first impression is that it´s quite noisy, with all the air-conditioning going on. We´ll see what it´s like to sleep in.
And keeping it efficient: I bought dinner from this vending-machine. Out pops a little piece of paper that you give to the chef, and a minute later he´s pops the food over to you. This is taking fast-food to another level, of you ask me! And it was really good too, the food!
And talking of innovation…. I´m glad the toilets flush themselves, I would´t know which button to push! Ha,ha,ha…
The busy streets outside. This part of Osaka is the youthful alternative-fashion-in-the-daytime-all-blinking-colors-night-life part of town.
I visited the Osaka Human Rights Museum. A very good, informative museum, with a broad perspective.
By spotogspindel | October 13, 2016
I admit, I hadn´t heard of Kanazawa before, but now it´s a favorite city! So much culture, tradition and art, old and modern, in one place! Wow! If you´re ever going to Japan, try to make a stop in Kanazawa! Here are just a very few photos of what I experienced in one day in Kanazawa:
First thing on my agenda, actually the only thing that was planned, was a kimono silk-painting class. Above is the result, which I think turned out amazingly bad. The pattern was already drawn on, so all I had to do was fill in the colors. And I call myself an artist… ayayay! Oh well. You can´t win them all.
The kimono-silk place was in the middle of the samurai-district, so looking at a map, walking in the general direction of the castle-park, I walked through the entire samurai-district and made a stop at an old samurai-house. Above is a close-up of the armor he wore. It´s made from metal, bamboo, rope and textile.
The garden was a sight for sore eyes. Such serene beauty and tranquil peace.
Moving on, I made it to the castle, which had been rebuilt (after the war, I think) Here´s a photo on how to build an earthquake-proof wall with natural materials. The new-build was quite astonishing, I was impressed with the skills and craftsmanship gone into it! It didn´t look too bad either 😉
From the castle I walked on to the neighboring park, ranked number three in Japan, if I´m not mistaken. It was needless to say, stunning! If you look at the picture above, you see a ladder and a white helmet at the top. That is one of tow gardeners plucking needles of the tree, to keep it in it´s typical, picturesque Japanese style. There was another army of gardeners not too far away, sweeping the moss under the trees free from needles and other “unwanted, messy” nature… Wow. They were talking and laughing and seems to have a good time.
It seems popular for both tourists and japanese alike to rent a kimono for a few hours and walk around a park or a historic district. This however is the real thing. Above is a newly-wed couple, traditional Japanese-style. (I have a kimono just like hers at home!) Beautiful!
Inside the park was the Museum of traditional arts and crafts. It was so modest, just lying there not saying much. Yet the inside hid such treasures! Explaining the different techniques and materials of old Japanese crafts, while also showing newer versions. There was also a contemporary exhibition of glass-art from all over the world, even a contribution from Norway.
Then I moved down to the 21st Century museum of modern art. Turned out it was closed, but it was still well worth the trip. The architecture was a treat, with it´s HUGE round glass building. Outside there were interactive sculptures. And inside one exhibition was open after all: ART-AQUARIUM. Loads of people, so it seemed to be a famous artist, but I hand´t heard of him. Every singe art-piece was an aquarium with goldfish in them. Loads and loads of goldfish. Aquariums in all shapes and sizes. Like the one below.
And finally I went to the the geisha-district. This old part of the city was very charming, much smaller houses than in the samurai-area.
By spotogspindel | October 12, 2016
Another of the incredible experiences here in Japan, is the main reason for my travel: the Global Science Opera eco-scenography workshop. I have a class of 20 students, and in just 3 days, we will make a scene that will be incorporated into the opera.
This morning when I arrived, this sign was waiting for me and I could´t help but smile. I am so proud to be part of this project. And I am so excited about working with these students. They are so great!
The last half hour, just waiting to begin…
I was working with around 20 students from the drama-club and the brass band-group. Since it was a eco-scenography-workshop more than a normal GSO-workshop, I hand´t really thought we´d make music. The students however really wanted that, so we shifted a little bit around on the schedule, and they worked independently with making a musical film-track for our scene. They were really creative, and found some great sounds to “illustrate” our drama. So the first day we spent mostly working creatively on the scene itself and the music to it.
The drama-club students and their teacher.This is the gang who played the scene, we´d made together in a real, democratic GSO-manner. It´s the very first scene, when Joao meets little Girl for the first time. I think they are a bit proud that they are the national representatives of Japan. 🙂
The second day was the eco-scenography-day. We constructed the set, built with bamboo and tape; we experimented with light and filters to make an atmosphere; Mr Shinohara held a short physics-lecture on light – how light can be both a particle and a wave at the same time; and we worked with costumes. Dividing them into four groups, each group was given a different challenge to solve. I admit it myself: it is difficult to make a costume in just an hour, even for a professional. But they showed both creativity and courage in their creations, and all four turned out very nice!
The workshop lasted 3 days, this is at the end of day three, when we´re filming the scene we rehearsed for the opera. Unfortunately I don´t have many photos at all. Almost everything was filmed, so I´d have documentation for my research.
The final day, we spent filming the scene. And evaluating.
I was warned that the Japanese don´t speak much English. That doesn´t mean they don´t understand. They pretty much understood most of what I was saying, they were just a bit shy to speak at first, afraid of saying something wrong. But we warmed up to each other, and by the end of the workshop, they didn´t bother waiting for the English teacher to translate, they just asked me questions themselves 🙂
Here´s the whole group. Including Mr Shinohara, the physics-teacher and Mr Handa, a physics-professor at Kagoshima university. They were a wonderful group to work with! So interested, so creative, so dedicated. I learned a lot from them. And will learn even more when I get the evaluation translated! 🙂
Two of the lovely girls wanted to take a silly picture with me 🙂
I know this is a silly picture to include, but I just can´t resist: I even got my own locker! A special shoes-locker. Inside the school (and restaurants and some shops and museums) everybody takes of their shoes and walk around in their socks or bare feet. No wonder it´s so clean here everywhere!
By spotogspindel | October 8, 2016
Stargazing at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.
My trip to Japan has some incredible treats! I was invited by professor Agata to give a talk at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. It´s´is connected to my Master-research about eco-scenography within the Global Science Opera.
I´m just a student, yet I am asked to speak here to the colleagues in the information-department. I am so incredibly honored! I am humbled, honored and proud! Such nice people, so warm and welcoming. With so many questions about both eco-scenography and about the Global Science Opera.
And the icing on the cake? A private tour to a working telescope by professor Agata. Twice a month they have a public viewing. Each time, 300 people visit and can look through the telescope. What a wonderful idea! That an observatory is open for the public, not only to look AT but THROUGH the telescopes. Agata-san took me to have a peek ten minutes before the gates opened. Isn´t it beautiful, the telescope?!