Project Japan 10

Heather has been using the gallery as an open-access workspace for a couple of days: her Pocket Remains project has now been extended to incorporate artefacts from visitors’ pockets. Photos courtesy of Ryotaru Kobayashi:

Project Japan 9

Monday I spent the day slogging over a hot laptop, starting to put together the film for the the live performance in Kyoto on the 24th.

Tuesday Heather and I spent the early part of the day doing all the basic tasks for organising the gallery space. Fortunately Tenjinyama are well equipped and everything went incredibly smoothly:

  • The gallery has lighting on tracks.
  • There are hidden shelf fittings in the wall.
  • Recessed power sockets across the floor.
  • Plinths available.
  • Plenty of AV equipment.
  • Very friendly staff who know what they’re doing!

With the help of Chiami and Moe all the basic elements were put together in about half an hour. Amazing.

Project Japan 8

Sunday. Day off. Baking hot. Heather and I meet Rinako Otsuka downtown:


Destination: Moerunema Park. Designed by Isamu Noguchi, the park is built on a reclaimed waste treatment plant. This is what people imagined the future would look like (only with flying cars):


Back into town for food on Sunday evening. A quick wander round the old part of town and then a delicious Yakitori dinner at Kushidori:

Thank you Rina for an absolutely brilliant day out. Happy days! Ciao!

Project Japan 7

Repeat these behaviour many times:

Project Japan 6

We’ve both been very busy. Creative work started in earnest Friday and continued through until Saturday afternoon. Heather is working on a set of her ‘Pocket Remains’ pieces using Japanese ink and some of the nice paper we bought Thursday. I’ve got two pieces on the go: one a rather half-hearted collage thing, the other the film that Carl Boland and I will be performing live to in Kyoto on the 24 August. Fortunately this has been going very well and I’ve got (an admittedly very rough) 10 minutes of footage edited together as well as the bare bones of a soundtrack. Nice.

It hasn’t all been work. Saturday afternoon at the invitation of Rinako Otsuka we went down to see a “shrine festival” in the middle of town. At the end of the video you’ll see Rina find us amongst the crowd. A nice moment that—I’ll admit—brought a tear to my eye:

Having spoken to Rina since, my understanding of this is that each of the stores have their own shrine which the employees carry on a particular route through the centre of Sapporo each year, the idea being that they ask their ancestors and the relevant (unspecified) gods to ensure good fortune and prosperity throughout the coming year. The shrines themselves can weigh up to 1.5 tons, apparently: Rina’s shoulder was pretty heavily bruised the next day. What the Hell: we enjoyed ourselves!


After a spot of shopping we went to an opening at a gallery called the Contemporary Art Institute 02 (Cai2) for the artist who (as far as I know) has always been called Kio Griffith. We turned up slightly late and the artist “conversation” was already under way. Inevitably, I guess, we sat listening for an hour or so to two people speaking Japanese with the occasional English word like “communication” thrown in: strangely enjoyable actually (if high on entropy). I think what was interesting for me was watching two people talk together and not having the explicit meaning of the language as the main focus: paying attention instead to body language and the tonal aspects of the conversation.

Anyway, it turns out that Kio is half American and half Japanese and actually lives in LA. We had a really good chat afterwards and what a really nice guy. But get this: he has a Welsh grandfather and the roots on his father’s side of the family are in Swansea. Hence Griffith, silly! I think the phrase is: it’s a small world.


So. Having a great time! Just to wrap up here are a few tourist pics:

Project Japan 5


Quite a few noodly fretless bass solos on this one—certainly more than I think is healthy or strictly necessary—but some nice stuff nonetheless:

The Crystal World

This video was part of my submission for 1SSUE 39:

Project Japan 4

After lunch we headed to the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art. What a lovely building!

Artists (from the top): Hanada Kazuhara, Kanda Nissho, Momose Hisashi, Nakae Norihiro, and Richard Anuskiewicz.

What a brilliant day! A very special thank you to Yumiko for her generous gift of time and her invaluable local knowledge. Tomorrow: work.

Project Japan 3

After securing our precious supplies of paper Yumiko, Heather, and myself headed underground: Sapporo has a very well-developed and inter-connected network of tunnels, train stations, and shopping precincts in the centre of town. Part of this has been given over to an art gallery called 500m. It’s run as a regular gallery with new shows every three months: there’s an archive on their website (although non-Japanese readers will need Google translate or similar).

Here’s some images: Heather (L) and Yumiko (R) to start with. Following artists include Nohara Marie, Kasami Yasuhiro, Kobayashi Osami, Takeda Hiroshi, Sato Katsuhisa, and Hisano Shino.

Project Japan 2

This morning we were graced with the presence of textile artist Yumiko Inagaki who Heather had been in contact for several months previously via email. After Yumiko checked out Tenjanyima Art Studios we headed off uptown to check out specialist paper shops where we hoped to source materials: with the stringent limits on airline baggage allowances there was no way we could bring much with us. To the train station:

Whilst waiting to change trains I took these. The signage is aesthetically satisfying in a way that it just isn’t in the UK. The Japanese care about these things:

Lovely colour-coded exploded views of the station layouts are commonplace:

We’re not even up to lunchtime yet! More to follow…