Janine and I find ourselves in Japan for a short time. Just in time to be here in Kyoto to wake up to a magnitude 6 earthquake, very exciting!
It’s the second time that I have been here and experienced an earthquake. Luckily we are staying in a 200-year-old wooden building that has survived worse than this, but it was exciting. After the 60 seconds of violent shaking and rumbling that started off slow and then increased to a maximum crescendo, the building was left rocking for another minute until the energy slowly dissipated.
We went down to the ground floor where we met our host in the corridor. I asked if we should go outside, but she said NO! We’ll go and watch it on TV and see what has happened.
I’m totally amazed that within 60 seconds of the quake dissipating the TV channel was broadcasting automated quake readings and a map showing the epicentre just to the southwest of us. It was a magnitude 6 and centred between Kyoto and Osaka. They even had live video coverage from the top of major city buildings showing the degree of the rocking and shaking of the tower.
I’ve experienced 3 earthquakes and 2 of them have been here in Japan. We were in Mashiko just a few weeks before the big earthquake and tsunami at Sendai that caused so much devastation in that area and the ongoing radioactive problem that still isn’t fixed.
Interestingly, both times here in Japan I have been here with Janine and she has either been in the bath, or this time just returned from the bath, with only just her flimsy cotton ‘yakata’ gown. She was understandably reluctant to run out side! So I’ve learnt something, beware when Janine has a a bath, the earth can move.
The third earthquake was at home in Balmoral Village in 1976 or 77. It was short and sharp and came and went with a sudden ‘crack’ sound. It rattled the window panes but little else in the house. I rushed outside and every bird noise had stopped. It was almost totally silent – except for the sloshing sound of the water in our big water tank outside, up on the tank stand. Ten tonnes of water sloshing back and forwards in the tank. That took many minutes to slowly dissipate. It takes a lot of energy to move 10 tonnes of water so violently.
We are fine and so is everything and everyone else in this city it seems. It’s just another magnitude 6 quake. Just another day. We look forward to seeing a lot of pots, potters, pottery shops and galleries, and eating a lot of sushi in the coming days.
This is a nice bowl from our wood kiln firing. Wood fired porcelain bowl with pale celadon showing some light ash deposit on the fire face with a little ash glaze crystal growth build-up on the exposed clay at the foot with carbon inclusion. The celadon style glaze is limpid pale green on the inside and grey/green on the out side with a little yellow ash deposit and some grey carbon inclusion at the rim.
A very nice little pot. What more could you want from a simple rice bowl? You couls even drink tea from this little beauty.
We decide to make a vegetable risotto for dinner. There’s plenty in the garden to choose from, but i decide to go with a mostly red theme tonight.
We have beetroots a plenty, as well as red rice, red capsicum, red chillis, red cabbage as well as red tomatoes, both dried and fresh.
I de-glaze with red wine. We have some fish stock from the night before so it’s all go.
To deepen the flavour profile, I add a slice of frozen marrow bone stock and a slice of frozen basil in olive oil.
The dish is finished with the addition of fresh herbs and fresh picked broccoli from the garden.
It’s a quick and easy meal on a cold night and very warming. We are forecast to get our first frost tonight.
If we are going to be saddled with extended drought into the future, we are ethically bound to respond in a creative and positive way. We try to avoid being a drain on anybody, any thing or any institution, including government. This is all part of our commitment to a philosophy of living an independent life. Possibly something akin to true philosophical anarchism. It’s not a matter of bringing down any government, but rather a case of being so independent that government atrophying due to lack of need.
So the drought continues and we have ordered 2 new water tanks. The first has already arrived and been installed on the smaller front section of the Old Railway Station roof a few weeks ago. The new, and slightly larger tank arrived today and we installed it on the back and slightly larger section of roof. With 4,500 and now 7,500 litres of added storage, the Old Railway Station building is now adding to our overall commitment to self-reliance in drinking water. Another one smites the dust.
The Old Station is not a very big building. In fact its tiny, but every bit of roof space is now important in the endeavour to catch drinking water when it rains, which isn’t very often these days. Funnily, it starts to shower as the delivery truck arrives, so Janine and I install in the rain. Tragically, it clears up just as we finish, but we are ever hopeful that it will continue over night and for the next few days.
The previous new tank is now half full from the occasional showers that we have managed to now capture. Every bit counts if we are to continue watering our garden plants with drinking water, while we wait for that big storm that must come someday and fill the dams again.
The new, larger grey tank is down the back on the right, under the bottle brush tree.
We bake vegetables fresh from the garden for dinner, finished with a bechamel sauce. It’s delicious and uses so little water to prepare.
We have just entered winter here and the hot spell has finally ended. Only a month ago it was still 30oC. Now the cold has at last set in and the weather has finally realised that it ought to be winter. The days are short and the nights long, we light the fire in the kitchen stove every night now. It cooks our dinner and heats the hot water tank as well as us in the kitchen.
Now that it is cooler and a lot safer, we have started holding our winter wood firing workshops each weekend.
We have also done one overnight stoneware firing in the big wood kiln as well.
This firing was absolutely average at 15 hours, We sometimes finish in 12 to 14 hours , but at other times it goes for 16 or 17. So this is smack in the middle of our range. Lots of good pots and interesting crystalline wood ash glaze surfaces, combined with a lot of grey-ish flashing effects that we don’t often see. Possibly because the damper tile broke at the end of the firing and jammed not-quite-closed. I had to get up on the roof and put a kiln shelf on top of the chimney to finish sealing it off at the end of the firing. This changed the cooling cycle a little from the usual.
It’s all part od life’s rich texture. I’ll tell myself that when I’m up to my arm-pits in Ceramic castable, making a new damper tile.
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