More, not less, from Japan

The Oil spot potters
We are back ‘home’ in Arita, The Lovely One, The Wafer-thin, Betty Churcher look-a-like channeling Katherine Hepburn, Buffy the Mozzie-Killer, Miss Forgetful and her New Pass Port and I. All of us, find our way with the help of our local guide Miyuri San, to the home and workshop of a potting family who specialise in the making of oil spot tenmoku glazes. We are shown into the family store room where there are hundreds of oil spot glazed pots on display, all in stages of preparation for sale. This family has been here a long time. I can’t be sure exactly how long, but we are talking to the 17th generation of the family and his mother, the wife of the 16th generation, who have been potting on this spot. It is a very nice old range of buildings set around and creating an enclosed sort of garden courtyard with fruit trees and vegetables. The roof of the old main house is still thatched and has a lot of shibui about it. The prices are quite expensive and out of our range, the work is OK, but not especially good, so we only look and admire. I’m amazed when the matriarch leaves the room and returns with a tiny 7cm. oil spot glazed bottle, and presents it too us as a gift!
Tatsuya San
We meet a local potter, Tatsuya San, we have dinner together with Miyuri and a Canadian couple Michael and Judith, who are staying in the attached Guest house, while we are sleeping up stairs in the house’s loft or attic. It’s a good time and we laugh a lot together while preparing a huge shared meal.
Tatsuya San invites us to visit his studio and we spend a bit of time with him. We have tea and he shows us some of his pot collection. He has a very nice tea bowl that he inherited from his father. It is an old Karatsu bowl that had been broken and his father had repaired it with gold in the cracks It’s a ‘cracker’ all right, a really lovely thing. Creamy yellowish and probably oxidised. I can see in his show room that he has made a few attempts to replicate some of the qualities that are apparent on this bowl. I ask if I can buy one of them. He shakes his head, with a long explanation in a regretful tone, but one that I just can’t understand. I can pick out only very few words. I think that the dialect here is different from the ‘normal’ Japanese that I’m more accustomed too. I nod and make it clear that I understand, even though I don’t. Because I think that I do. I know that feeling of wanting to keep close at hand, test pieces that I don’t fully understand as yet. Works in progress that are infuriatingly difficult to really come to grips with. I do it, why shouldn’t he.
At least I think that this is what is happening.
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We get to try some of the local porcelain body made from Amakusa stone. It is slightly plastic, but not too bad. I wedge up a lump of the stuff and it is very floppy to handle, but still hangs together. I couldn’t do this with my milled porcelain stone body. Not unless it had been laid away and aged for a few years. This clay is typically short with all the usual porcelain body characteristics. However, it is plastic enough to throw with and holds its form, but it is very sluggish on the wheel. Janine and I both have a turn at throwing with it. It’s an interesting experience, not unlike throwing my one-stone bai tunse native porcelain body after it has been aged for 5 or 6 years. The difference is that this stuff is used straight from the factory in the town with no ageing.
After we have made our work Tatsuya San demonstrates how it is really done. He’s a very good thrower and is quite used to this material. He uses a lot of different wooden profiles for throwing, as is the accepted method here. I don’t really like to use too many tools. I like the ‘feel’ the clay in my fingers, and I don’t mind the odd finger mark in the work. I’m not a ‘proper’ porcelain potter. I love the irregularity of the human touch. The imperfections of humanity expressed in my work. I’m quite imperfect, there is no point in me pretending otherwise. I feel that my work should reflect honestly who I am. What I think and what I feel. I can’t really see the point of me practicing for ten years to be able to make something almost as well as the machine can already do. I can appreciate the skill that these potters have developed, but it’s not for me. I don’t aspire to that.
I wrote about this a few years ago in an article called “Perfect is the new junk”.
We watch and learn as we are taken on a tour-de-force of Arita throwing skills.  I like Him! He’s good and I have a real respect for him and his work. It helps that he is a really nice person to boot! As we leave the workshop I see that there are loads of blossom falling from the trees next to the driveway. i also notice that he disposes of his shards in a similar way to me.
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IMG_6375Tatsuya San takes us for a coffee at the local ‘organic’ cafe, ‘Hatakenowa’. It is really very quiet and nice in its back-lane location, a lovely ambiance. The young lady who runs it has a very gentle demeanour. We like the feel of this place a lot. The lady tells us that she will be serving lunch here on Saturday. A full vegan lunch. We decide that we will go. We do and it is really good.
Tajima San – The Dusty Miller
The porcelain body that is used here is made locally in the town. We have gone past the factory a few times, as it is along the road to the supermarket. This one-stone porcelain body is made by Mr Tajima, an umpteenth generation porcelain clay body maker. We see piles of the various rocks dumped in the driveway from tipper trucks. These stones look so uncannily like the stone that I collect out in the bush where I live. It has all the same characteristics, even the black sooty mould look on the surface. It has the fracture planes, even the iron staining in the cracks, it’s amazing. I suddenly realise that I’m even a little bit shocked. The hairs on my arms are slightly raised and I have goose bumps. I didn’t expect to see this here.
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We watch as the bobcat loads the stones into the tumbler and washer to get any ‘dirt’ off the surface of the rocks. It is then transferred to the primary jaw crusher. Both of these operations are extremely noisy and I feel that I ought to be wearing ear muffs. We are escorted inside where it is quieter, but only just, as the next operation is to go through the stamping mills, where the gravel from the jaw crusher is pulverised to dust. This is so archaic! These machines must be so old. I can see that they are really worn. They have done a lot of work in their time.
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The next step in the sequence is for the powder to go into the ball mill to be ground. The ball mills are huge, almost walk-in size. It doesn’t escape my attention that there is a pallet of New Zealand China Clay, Halloysite Kaolin next to the scales besides the ball mill! There are a lot of other pallets of dry powdered materials in there too, but all the bags are labeled in Kanji, so I can’t read them. So this is how he gets a freshly crushed hard stone to be so plastic so quickly. I assume that there are bags of bentonite and felspar in there as well?
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Next, the resultant mixture is put into a series of long white troughs of cloudy slip, where the slurry is treated and flocculated, passed through electro-magnets to take out any metal fragments that have been worn off the machinery that it has passed through, then into the filter-presses. The dewatered plastic body is then vacuum pugged a couple of times and finally ends up in plastic bags of what look to be about 15 or 20 kgs.
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I’m told that the stone being used these days no longer comes from the local Arita stone quarry, as it is fully worked out now. There is only a small amount of the white material left and it has already been bought and stock piled by a local pottery family, who make ceramics for the Imperial Family The remaining material in the pit is all iron stained. The ‘amakusa’ stone that they are using these days comes from Amakusa Island way down in the South of Kyushu. The felspar that is being used comes from an island way out in the ocean, further to the South west. It is called ‘Chouseki’, whether this is the name of the island or the stone, I’m not too sure.
It’s been a really interesting tour for me, not least because I’m weird and like this sort of thing. Who else would get so excited about seeing a pile of stones that would make your hairs stand up on end? But because, far from being just plain interesting it’s been very educational. We can’t buy that New Zealand kaolin in Australia. We used to be able to, however, the quarry was bought by a trans-national corporation and they choose not to sell it into Australia, but there it is, freely for sale in Japan. So the secret of Japanese Arita porcelain is actually Aotearoa! The land of the Long White Cloudy slip.
What I find most interesting is that the most workable blends of my bai tunse, native porcelain stone, came from blending with a local kaolin and some felspar that I extracted by froth flotation and blended with white bentonite. This is almost exactly what I have seen today. Same material, the same problems. Worlds apart, a different language, but the same solution!
Today we make the pilgrimage to Kuratsu. Kuratsu is one of those words that congers up images of exotic old tea bowls and other rustic cha-do wares. It is a place with a very long history. Regrettably, the reality is somewhat different. It’s a highly developed modern town, perhaps city is more a more appropriate description. There is a vast discrepancy between the old Karatsu wares and the new city offerings. I was particularly disappointed with the work of the local Cultural Treasure, Potter’s work. It seemed lost and desperately seeking sustenance from any and all sources. There were tenmoku pots, oxidised copper alkaline blue islamic pots, Korean slipped pots, Chinese tri-colour pots, anything but local Karatsu pots. And this was the best of it!  Very weird mixed up stuff. A total loss of identity, or so it seemed to me. Maybe there is an explanation, but none was offered, and I’m too thick to figure it out for myself.
 nice old kiln.
I eventually found a gallery that sold some lovely, simple pots as well as all the other mixed up tourist dross. I bought a very subtle tea bowl, quite small, in the lower range of sizes, in a soft, satiny dry, pink/grey subtle mat surface, quite under fired, but in a really delicate and gentle way. It has a few soft shades of black, white and grey in small highlights in places, which I decide will be the ‘face’. The clay body is yellowish with a soft sandy texture. It is really nice to the touch, in my hands. I ask who made it and the gallery owner writes it down for me on the makers card. I ask to see more from this potter, but alas there is nothing else quite like it in stock. She tells me that this is made by a student of a well known potter and shows me his work as well. I can see the references, but prefer the students tea bowl on this occasion.
I also buy a sake cup in a similar style and shades of colour, but a lot more shiny. It’s a pity that there isn’t a softer, matter one. It turns out that this cup was made by the gallery owners son. She is delighted and quite effusive in telling us this and everyone else in the shop who will listen.
So I don’t know what Karatsu is now, but the older pots in the museums are lovely, a sort of soft, grey muted celadon style. Quite dark and dirty-looking. The body appears to be a grey, vitreous stoneware with low silica content, such that the glaze is very finely and densely crazed.
No-one seems to be doing this style anymore. The modern pots that we saw in the artists studios and the centre of town galleries were so mixed and variable that I can only think that they are desperate for recognition to the extent that they will try anything and everything to stand out and get sales. I’m most likely missing the point, as I most often am. But without the guidance and council of someone more knowledgable. I’m unable to see through the dross and confusion of all the disparate styles. Anyway, whatever the reason, I think that what I have chosen to take home is a subtle example of some lovely understated qualities. Wether or not it is ‘Karatsu’ or not doesn’t matter to me all that much. It’s beautiful. I’m satisfied with that.
The next stop on our ceramic ‘Haje’, is Hagi. We travel by train from Karatsu to Imari, change systems and train to Arita. Change again from local rattler to an express and make our way back up to Hakata/Fukuoka. This is the main Station for Kyushu island and from here we transfer to the Shinkansen to go to Shin-Yamaguchi. It’s only a couple of stops on the Shinkansen express. Outside the Shin-Yamaguchi station we find the bus stop for the trip to Hagi. The bus goes directly over the mountains to Hagi station, on the other side. It takes an hour and a half or so. But is quicker than the local rattler train which goes all around the coast to get here and takes most of the day. We are already booked into the local ‘Royal Intelligence Hotel’ that is located directly at the station, so only a 30 metre walk with our luggage. We booked it before we left. They are expecting us when we arrive, which is nice. We aren’t hard to pick, as the only Gaijin here tonight.
After settling in to our room, we proceed to the tourist information office in the station, to find that the lady there speaks virtually no English, but is very keen to please and to be helpful. We point at the tourist brochures about Hagi-Yaki with some enthusiasm. She responds with a torrent of information that we can’t make head, nor tail of. We thank her and give up. All we want is a map of the town with the potteries and galleries that sell pottery indicated. As there is no-one here today who can translate for us we make our leave, with many domos, enhanced with a few arigatos and the occasional gozaimasu.
We are out on the side walk, deciding which direction to strike out in, when she comes after us, out into the street holding her mobile to her ear and asking us to wait, wait please. So we do and in a few minutes a man appears in a big black car. He is the owner of a very prestigious Tea Wares Gallery in the town centre. He speaks just a few words of English but has a fancy mobile phone with live Google translate. He speaks into the hand set and a moment or two, or three, later, the phone talks to us in English. But only in short sentences. So it takes a few minutes to discover who he is and that he will take us to visit a few of his stable of artists and then to his Gallery. OK, so we are off.
The car is large and expensive. Obviously there is money in Tea Bowls. The seats are huge and plush leather. There is even a small bar in the back for us with a selection of water or cold green tea. We visit a potters studio out on the edge of town. It is a small two story house with a very big shed out the back with a tantalising hint of a noborigama, just visible. But we are soon whisked into the Tearoom/Gallery where the potters wife duly prepares tea for us. We walk around the gallery and see that the prices are very high, to extremely high and a couple are coitusing high. Well for us they are. We can’t afford anything here, so we are a little bit embarrassed not to buy something, but we didn’t ask to be brought here. It’s all a bit of a misunderstanding. We are not well-heeled collectors. Eventually the master potter comes in and we are formally introduced with much ceremony and bowing, with many more domos, enhanced with lots of arigatos and plenty gozaimasus.
There is some small talk amongst themselves. I suppose that they are trying to figure us out. Mr Gallery translates through his phone and we all get a good laugh out of this. Especially as the software suddenly changes into German mode without telling us. We can’t understand any of the words in the Japanese or German part. We look very confused and at a loss to know what to say. I open with “I think that the translation sounds like it is in German” Mr Gallery looks at his handset, does a double take at the screen and looks again. Then he pushes his spectacles up onto his forehead and looks very intently at the screen again. Finally he passes the phone to me to read the text. I confirm that it looks and reads like German text as well. Well, to the best of my ability to tell. He fiddles with the phone and presses a few buttons and suddenly laughs. Yes, of course it is! How did that happen? Or words to that effect. We all laugh and the situation is greatly diffused.
We start again and all goes well this time. He asks if I am a famous potter in Australia. I tell him No. I’m not. Do I know the lady magazine publisher from Australia? I think that he means Janet Mansfield, and I say yes to that, if that is who he means. He nods, it is. She came here and visited him apparently, a few years ago.
We say that she has died recently, and he already knows this. We ask if he knows Paul Davis who worked here a couple of decades ago. He thinks about this a long time. Paul San? From Australia? In Hagi? Yes, Maybe!  A long time ago. He is totally non-committal on this. I feel that there is something that is being left unsaid here, so leave it at that.
As it is obvious that we are not going to buy anything, we are politely ushered out and into the car. We end up at the gallery, where the prices are even higher. I apologize to him for not buying anything, we didn’t expect the prices to be so very high. He very patiently and carefully explains the meaning of the Tea Ceremony in Japanese society and how this is the cream of the cream of Hagi pottery on show here. There are several bowls by National Treasure potters. It is a well known fact that Hagi is number one for tea bowls in Japan, then Raku and third is Karatsu. All the others don’t rate a mention.
It’s a funny thing, but in Kyoto, Raku is well known to be number one, with Hagi second and Karatsu third. But when we were in Karatsu just recently, they told us that Karatsu was clearly the number one choice for tea bowls, with Raku being number two and Hagi only just trailing along at the rear in number three place.
Well I don’t know and I can’t say, but Kato San in Shigaraki conferred with Sagara San and they both agreed that Sen No Rikyu, the first and greatest tea master had set down the order of best tea wares as No1 Raku, No2 Hagi and No3 Karatsu. Shigaraki didn’t get a mention in their version of the story. So I believe them, because they left themselves out. The three on the list all agree on the content of the list, but each of them change the order, putting them selves first. Not a usual Japanese trait, I wouldn’t have thought.
We spend the next day just walking by ourselves around the town. It turns out that there are any number of pottery shops in and around the tourist sector of the town, we visit the castle ruins, the temples and shrines, at least 30 shops. We even buy a few small pots. Not made by famous artists, but lowly local potters with no reputation to uphold, students or beginners perhaps, but they are all very competently thrown and turned and have some nice qualities. I limit my self to paying $30 max, so this limits what I can choose from.
I don’t need an amazingly good Hagi tea bowl, because I already own one, back in Australia. I’m really here to see a few different examples of what ‘Hagi’ has to offer. The Hagi style?, the pink blush style, the white crystal style, the blue/white opalescent blush with yellow highlights, the ‘spotted dog’ style etc. I find all of these in different places and at different times throughout the day. Eventually I find a very nice and simple fairly plain white glazed bowl with a hint of a pink blush, but it is $50, so I am forced to extend my budget just a bit. I also buy a spotted dog sake cup for $10. The nicer tea bowls are $2700 or there abouts. So they stay on the shelf.
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We visit the old castle ruins. The stonework is amazing. There is a very cute tea house in the grounds. It’s a lovely walk, we are out from early till very late. In fact it’s well after dark, by the time we find our way back to the hotel. We walked home via the sea shore to photograph the sun set over the water, only to find that it doesn’t set over the water, it sets over the island, but the ocean is very calm and the fading light illuminates it beautifully.
We have the same dinner in the same restaurant as last night, because we enjoyed it so much. Sashimi, sushi, tempura, miso, pickles, all the usual culprits and quite affordable. So, fortunately the food in Hagi isn’t rated the same as the pots. So we can at least afford to eat here. Because we return to the same restaurant, for the 2nd night, they remember us and are extra attentive. We get an extra serving each of Sashimi with this meal. It’s unnecessary and greatly appreciated by us. A lovely gesture.
This place appears to be a very prosperous town. I doubt that it is a ceramic tea wares led economic recovery, maybe its because it’s a small fishing port? What ever the reason, it’s nice to see a place doing well. Even if it means that we can’t afford any of the better work here. Never mind, I don’t need the best, what I want is to see, experience, feel, taste, hear all the interesting new sensations, feelings and hopefully insights that go with a different culture, I don’t need anymore things, but I somehow seem to collect them.
From Hagi we make the return trip over the mountains and back to Shin Yamaguchi and onto the fast train to Kyoto. We arrive just after lunch time and get the same room in the Chitta inn for the same price as before. Very good value for us. We make the train trip to Nara for the afternoon. Because time is limited for us this afternoon, we don’t walk the back streets of the old town, or visit the giant Budda. We just walk the main street and arcades, where Janine buys a loose fitting summer frock, in Japanese cotton print. I buy a piece of old kimono in indigo cotton. It has been repaired in a few places, but this gives it a nice Sabi Wabi quality. I don’t want anything too perfect, because it’s just not me, and because I’ll probably want to cut it up to make patches for my shirts and pants.
Nara is a city of deep culture and very old history, but we manage to spend a shallow afternoon in frivolous shopping.
We have been in Japan for a month now and so we have been lucky enough to catch both of the Kyoto markets The first at the Toji Temple and the second at the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
We go to the Toji markets. This is a famous market, held each month in and around the Toji Temple grounds. We try and go there each time we are in Japan, timing our visit to Kyoto to fit in with the market day. The Toji market is always held on the 21st. of the month, regardless of the day of the week that it falls on. It’s a really great view into Kyoto life. I love to just wander around looking, smelling, tasting, hearing everything. The Lovely One finds a very nice white shirt with a few pleats that really suits her and it fits so well. I find a couple of small pieces of old ikat woven indigo cotton cloth and a couple of fragments of patched cotton kimono cloth that is beautifully woven but also has a remnant of faded pink printing in strategic places in the pattern. They are lovely and very wabi sabi.
We decide to have okonomiyaki pancake for lunch. We just can’t walk past this stall, it smells so good. It is also a great theatrical experience to watch them making it. They are great showmen and women. It’s a very hot day and they offer a place to sit under cover of shade. They even offer a cold beer to go along with it. I’m in heaven!
No! I don’t think so. I think that I ought to call it Nirvana, seeing that we are in the Buddhist temple grounds. It’s very tasty and cheap, and so immediately fresh, it all happens before your eyes, as you wait, just like the best street food always is.
As we wander more or less aimlessly along we bump into the stall of a young man who makes and sells very delicately decorated pots. We bought one of his cups a few years ago from this stall. His style is still very similar, the work has a soft feel to it and is light to the touch. He has a very sensitive approach. I remember that we liked him as well as his work the last time we met. We buy another cup. It’s small and easy to carry with us. It will also be quite light to post back to Australia. He tells us that he is opening his own gallery/shop in a few weeks, but we will already be gone by then. Maybe next trip? We take his card, just in case we can make it there sometime in the future?
As I’m meandering between the stalls and crowds of people. This market has fallen on a  Sunday today, so it is really full. I’m walking past an antiques stall. There are lots of them in this row. Suddenly I spot an old Karatsu pot, or something that looks a lot like it ought to be an old Karatsu pot. I stop and go over to pick it up to examine it more closely. The stall holder calls out  to me “Karatsu – Old Karatsu”. “Cha Wan”! That is exactly what I was thinking that it might be. I take the time to look at it very carefully. It really looks the part. I’m suddenly full of avarice and greed.
I wants precious, must have precious!
The stall holder calls out to me again “Very old!”
Maybe it is! But what would I know. I’ve only ever seen things like this at a distance from behind glass in a museum. The only one that I have ever handled was at Tatsuya Sans workshop, and it was quite different. What I am seeing is an object that has the look of age, the body is pale grey, dense and pock marked with a few small, even tiny, burn-out craters where little bits of organic matter were embedded in the clay before firing. I turn it over in my hands. The whole pot is warped from falling over in the kiln during firing. It has a chip on the dented side where it has been removed from whatever it was stuck to. The glaze is a soft, dark apple green and is very finely, densely crazed. There is a pale yellowish haze on the inside, where there may have been a little bit of oxidation during the firing. There are a few little grains of setting sand or something similar embedded in the glaze inside the bottom.
On the whole I like what I’m seeing and handling. It feels good, it’s well balanced and it has that patina of age which gives it some sort of gravitas. The stall holder sees that I’m interested and points to the old browned, wooden box that comes with it and on which it  was sitting, upside down. Because of the warping, it doesn’t fit evenly on it’s foot ring.
The old guy repeats, “Karatsu – Old Karatsu. Very old”!
I ask “Koray-wa nan deska” – how much is this thing here (that I’m holding)?
He answers in quick Japanese that I don’t understand. I’m not that good with number words, especially big ones, I can tell that the amount is not in the single digits that I do know! That’s not surprising. I hold out my phone with the numerical key pad. He types in 48,000. Ouch! OK. That is about Au$500 and a bit, no, a lot more over my budget than I was hoping. If I was going home tomorrow I’d think very seriously about it, but I’m not. I’m here for quite a while, and then still another month and then in Taiwan afterwards. I have to be very careful not to do silly things, so that my money will last the distance.
I sadly decline, but walk away with some regret. I shouldn’t, but I do. I can’t help it. I really want it. I feel that there is something to learn from this bowl. But I’ll never know now.
Afterwards, on reflection. I think that I should have bought it and gone without eating or something. It wouldn’t hurt my ever expanding waistline. I don’t even have a photo to reflect back on, as I had decided to travel light on that day and didn’t bring my camera with me. I’m appalled at my shameless desire and sudden need to own an object. This is not the person that I want to be. I feel that I should be above such things, but I’m not. Welcome to the human race.
Kitano Markets
5 weeks later, we go to the Kitano markets. It is very similar to Toji, all the usual suspects are there, maybe more antiques and less food stalls, probably because one street that borders the market is full of restaurants? I look in vain for the antique stall that had the lovely bowl, but it isn’t there. Miss Betty/Katherine/Buffy gets a fantastic white shirt with amazing pleating. It really suits her, She of the Driven Snow looks very pure and distinguished in it, you could even go to Church in it, Betty looks even more Churcher than ever!
We are woken early by the temple bell. It is very deep, full and resounding. There are only 6 gongs, about one a minute. It’s a beautiful sound to wake up to. It’s quite a contrast from the smaller higher pitched bell in Arita that was rung about 20 times over ten minutes. That was also really nice and I looked forward to it each morning. One morning I woke and wondered what had happened to the bell. It didn’t ring yet. I looked at my clock and realised that I’d slept through it. I felt somehow a little bit cheated.
We spend the next day in Osaka. It’s only a short train journey away from Kyoto. We get a map of the city precinct and manage to navigate our way from the station to the Museum of Oriental Ceramics. It’s a pleasant half hour stroll. There is a special exhibition of Imari porcelain. It tells us the story, that we are already familiar with now, of the history of Arita and Imari as well as Nabashima ware. Its a good show and well done. There are some very impressive pieces on show here, most of them from their own collection, but a few have been lent for the show. We dine in the Museum cafe and go to the other section of the Museum, where the permanent collection is on show. Japanese, Korean and Chinese works. So many beautiful examples.
As there is still time left in the day, we work out that we can cross town and out into the suburbs to see a special traveling show of French Impressionist paintings. We think that we have figured it all out, changing stations and companies onto a different line and we manage to get off at the correct station. Success! We walk to the gallery building. The private gallery is on the top floor of one of the tallest buildings in town. It has a sky gallery for city-scape viewing. When we get to the Art Gallery level, it is closed today. Apparently for no particular reason, just closed to the public. There is some sort of promotional event happening, as people are coming and going but we can’t go in. So that is a total bummer, all that way for nothing.
We now have to re-navigate the subway system to return to our original starting point without having to go back the same way. We figure out the most direct route and find the station. We can’t seem to buy a ticket though, even though we ask for help. It’s blindingly obvious to everyone and well signposted in Kanji. Finally, Janine, Betty, Buffy, the Bofin figures out the sign language and how to interpret it. She leads the way and Lo. There is the ticket machine for our particular line. There are 4 different companies and lines operating out of this one station complex. It’s something of a terminal for the intersection of several lines. It all works out well and we are back into the tube system, smack in the middle of peak hour. At Osaka main terminal we change to the Kyoto line and are back ‘home’ in the dark, but we know exactly where we are going here in this part of Kyoto. We go to a local noodle bar, just 100 metres from our ryokan and have a lovely dinner of Gyoza and Kimchi with a beer – not noodles. It’s so good that we have it all a second time. Yes. It was that good!
Walking home to the ryokan we see the complete eclipse of the moon!
We pack our bags and get ready to leave for the airport very early tomorrow morning.
With fond regards from Betty and her Precious