Cecilia’s adapter doesn’t work.
No cellphone, no laptop, no Internet. Just eyes and ears and presence. Pencil and paper, too.
Take the local bus to next village. There’s a temple, with a steep hillside garden behind. There’s a mountain brook, running quietly, and a stone reservoir offering its clear cold water to visitors. Bright sunlight sieves through the deep red foliage of maple trees, reaching down into the water. Delicately indented leaves scattered on threadstones and thick green moss. In the garden, two hundred and fifty Buddha’s disciples carved out of rock; each human figure caught in movement, in meditation, in anger, in story-telling, in rest, in laughter…
I like it here.
Three stone sculptures in Choanji Temple garden, Sengokuhara;
graphite pencil on paper.
Bonus: In the Garden by Van Morrison (from the album No Guru, No Method, No Teacher 1986; this version played live in Norway 1988. Sweet intro!)
No guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the Father in the garden
From Hakone Tozan railway; all photos HHW.
Day after the opening, I leave Yokohama together with my Swedish colleague Cecilia Lindborg. We’re off for Hakone – a vulcanic highland area, not far from Mount Fuji and wellknown for its beauty and its hot springs. The pitch of the railway leading up from the coast is so steep that tunnels and bridges aren’t sufficient to bring us there. The train zigzags its way up; three times the driver has to walk along the set of cars to change direction. At last we reach the terminus and find our way to the ryokan – the inn.
Our reserved room has not a number, but a name: Bright Star. A low table with two cushions to sit on; two sleeping mats with thick, warm, light blankets; a kimono, a coat and a pair of slippers each. Beyond the paper wall, a waxing moon is climbing over the valley. After dinner, the onsen bath is waiting for us – hot and sulphuric. Then, a cup of green tea, some sweets and a chat before bedtime.
Despite the title of this exhibition – Contemporary Art from Sweden – it was a joint venture, displaying artworks by no less than eighteen Japanese and fourteen Swedish artists. On Monday, we gathered for the hanging at Red Brick Warehouse on the Yokohama waterfront. This is the result, or at least a fair portion of it – please note the mixture of distinctly different cultures; Expressionism, Pop Art, Modernism, Classicism…
left: Taeko Ukon, Mitsuharu Miyake and Håkan Wennström (video)
middle: Toshiko Watanabe and Kerstin Svanberg
right: Shoko Miki, Cecilia Lindborg and Hitomi Iwano
Kersti Rågfelt Strandberg and Ito Chihiro
left: Helena Hildur W; right: Shizuko Ono and Jan Manker
…and then, again, this happy mixture at the opening: after the opening speech by minister Ulf Sörmark from the Swedish embassy, Swedish folk music was performed on traditional instruments by Japanese kids having learned from Youtube how to play them. And a kimono-clad lady inviting everyone to dance the polska.
The shades of light in nothingness are time. Between each breath, the opening to death.
Safely landed at Narita Airport, the Swedish party head for Yokohama and the Red Brick Warehouse where the EAJAS exhibition will take place. Our hosts – particularly Ms Toshiko Watanabe, Ms Shizuko Ono and Ms Akiko Kondo – have prepared everything, including a welcome reception in the tiny studio of Ms Ono’s father, the late sculptor Nobumuchi Inoue. Emancipated by the cultural openness of the Meiji restauration in the 19th century, Nobumuchi Inoue gathered and merged influences from Japan, Asia and Europe. Later, during the second world war, his heartfelt world citizenship made him a conscientious objector. Today, his studio remains a working space as his daughter honours his legacy by her own career as a painter. History is present, and so is Herstory; we all share, and co-create.
Nourished by this first encounter with our Yokohama friends, I set out next morning to take a look at the city. And this is what I’ve seen.
(all photos by HHW.)