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Climbing Mt. Fuji
I’d like to resume my residence diary as soon as possible... but I am still in Japan.
Yesterday, I went on a climb to Mt. Fuji.
Most people said that climbing is not possible because of the typhoon no. 11 and rain. Indeed, while I was staying in the lodge in the seventh station, it was pouring so hard; I met quite a number of people who were climbing in the rain, and they said ‘Ummm, it will be very difficult from here to the top.’ Fortunately, however, we made it to the top, and while we were climbing, the sun was always out, as though it was one of our companies.
Actually I was not very well since I arrived in Japan; running nose, cough, headache plus cramps... My condition was the worst I could think of (as you know, climbing Mt. Fuji is not an easy job even for healthy people because the air is thin – it is even harder if you are suffering from respiratory affections) but anyway I tried, and I made it to the top. The fact that I could do something like climbing Mt. Fuji even when I am not very well gave me confidence – although if you could prevent it, maybe you should not climb. Sleeping for 12 hours on a mountain lodge must have been good – it is generally acknowledged that taking a decent sleep is impossible in the mountain lodge, because of the high altitude.
The scenery of the volcanic mountain was something new to me – I felt as though I was walking on a different planet. Many people climb during the night in order to worship the rising sun at the top, but I do recommend both climbing up and down during the day because the view and the scenery is superb. But you do need a sun screen, which I forgot. My face is all very swollen now...
BBQ at Los Angeles
In LA, we often had BBQ – people get together after the work and have BBQ at someone’s house. In Japan, BBQ is a kind of big outdoor event, but for the people in LA, it is like ‘Nabe’ in Japan – a meal for many people, easy to prepare, and it is fun. There is even a BBQ ‘bugyo’ (master).
There are lots of kinds of BBQ products – about 30 different kinds of BBQ sauce, or something like a light-off material which will put a smoke-chip smell to the food – surely convenient, but I did not appreciate them very much as they have a very strong chemical smell.
There is always a huge chunk of mince meat (500g or so for one person?!) and they grill it with some onions and BBQ sauce. Then they put this between the buns, together with some pickles and parsley – tiny tiny bit, like in a cheap restaurant. The meat has a chemical smell – both from the sauce and the light-off material.
I am sorry but... this was not at all good. Too much oil and chemical smell! Too salty! How can they eat this? Nooooooo. I missed the simple taste of Japanese food.
It is impossible to make such a horrible BBQ in Japan. I don’t think they can get that bad taste even if they try. In a way, it was an ‘ethnic’ food. The photos are from the BBQ party I had in Japan. Tokoyaki (octopus balls) was very good.
Two Hours and a Half
After visiting LA, I flew to Japan to take a short holiday.
There is no official holiday period at Rijks; but as each technician or advisor takes his or her holiday during the summer, it becomes like a holiday period.
Last week, I went to Kanazawa and Osaka.
In Kanazawa, I went to an exhibition called ‘Drawing Restraint’ by Matthew Barney in 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. In Osaka, I saw Alegria 2.
As for ‘Drawing Restraint,’ some of the things in the exhibitions – installations, videos and photos – were quite interesting, but the film of the same name showed in the basement theatre was very long (2 hours 30 minutes) and boring – as if he tries to make it a real ‘restraint’.... I went to the bathroom twice during the film.
The things happen in the film – whether it is big or small – did not impress me at all. The larger scale it became, the less impressive it appeared. I thought it was enough to see the exhibition upstairs.
Alegria 2 also runs for 2 hours 30 minutes... but this was marvellous. It was such a short 2 hours 30 minutes, which impressed me very very much. They are real entertainers. I really enjoyed it.
If I am going to spend the same 2 hours 30 minutes... I prefer to see Alegria 2... or Star Wars – Episode 3. This was fun and the Japanese subtitle was excellent!
The image of C-3PO and the Jupiter.
In LA, six of us (including Iwan and me; two Dutch, a Hungarian and three Japanese) were staying at Steve’s house. One of us, Jewse, is interested in Japanese language; he picked up some Japanese phrases from our conversation, for example, ‘Nanka tabeta? (Have you eaten?),’ ‘Mo juji dayo (It’s ten already).’ He often asked me ‘How do you say that in Japanese?’ when we are working together.
Among the Japanese words he knew, his favourite word was ‘Shokki-arai-ki (Dishwasher).’ Funny.
One night, before going to bed, he suddenly said to us ‘Shokki-arai-ki, good night!’ and surprised us.
He also called washing machine ‘Shokki-arai-ki,’ so I told him that it is only for a dishwasher, and a washing machine is called ‘Sentaku-ki’; but he said ‘Sentaku-ki’ was difficult to pronounce.
I went to LA for two exhibitions.
One was a group show called ‘Fast Forward’ in House of CAMPARI.
The other was an exhibition called ‘Gallery Exchange,’ which was a project between China Art Objects Gallery in LA and Bowie van valen in Amsterdam to swap their galleries during August. It was a perfect plan; Steve, the gallerist at China Art, wanted to have an exhibition in Amsterdam; and Raj and Maurice could prepare for the opening of Bowie van valen gallery in LA in autumn.
China Art presented the works of Andy Alexander, Kim Fisher, Mason Cooley, David Korty, JP Munro, Jon Pylypchuk, Eric Wesley, Pae White, TJ Wilcox, Dave Deany, Sean Landers, Ruby Neri in Amsterdam – they are all popular artists (wow!).
Bowie van valen presented the works of mine and Iwan in a two-person show.
The gallerists even swapped their houses, so we all stayed at Steve’s house. We had BBQ, went to beach, visited the desert... it was fun.
LA was big, always sunny, and dry even when the temperature is high. It was an unusual scenery: lots of cars and freeways, tall buildings together with palm trees and hills. There is even a desert nearby.
Iwan was shocked by the number of cars in the city (n.1) and saying it is inconvenient that they cannot go anywhere unless they own a car (very Dutch, I think). I understand his point but my impression of LA was different: LA appeared to me as a beautiful city with a touch of melancholy.
Note 1: LA is known for its enormous amount of exhaust gas. On the top of the mountain, you can see a layer of exhaust gas over the city area, like a white cloud. This creates a stunning sunset.
Images (from the top): Raj, showing us a triple axel on the street
Jewse, watering the garden
Joshua Tree National Park