Johnstone Strait is calm?  Crazy but true!

We said goodbye to Greg and Carolyn at April Point and then we had a few days to explore on our own before Robert and Sharon flew in to meet us at Dent Island.

After reprovisioning at the little local grocery store the night before, we woke slowly and were having a hard time motivating to leave, but the Captain checked the latest weather forecast:  the next two days were supposed to be calm in Johnstone Strait, the morning fog was clearing and we still had two hours left before the strong tide in Johnstone Strait would turn against us.

So we left the dock as quickly as we could and headed out to explore the strait in the unusually calm weather.  We have traversed Johnstone Strait only twice, because Gale Force winds blow through there almost constantly, and when we do attempt the passage, we have always cruised through as fast as we can without stopping or lingering because the strong winds can return quickly, generate large waves and make your time there very unpleasant.  This was a fun change.

The first night we anchored in Otter Bay, near Chatham Point.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was calm and a good place from which to venture out into Johnstone Strait and try our luck at some fishing in the salmon-rich waters.  Sadly, our pitiful fishing continues.  It took us an extremely long time to gather all of our gear for the first time this year.  Once out, we tangled our lines and the fish took our bait, twice.  Oh well.

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t clear and it was rainy and foggy the next morning.  This year’s unusually cool and wet summer weather was beginning to get to me.  Around 1 pm, after the fog finally cleared enough to resume our exploration of the still calm Johnstone Strait, we heard on the VHF radio about an orca nearby at Ripple Point (which we had been told was also a good place to fish directly from our boat rather than from the dinghy).

At Ripple Point we didn’t see any orcas so we decided to fish.  Within a minute of baiting our lure and dropping it in the water Jim heard the deep exhale of an orca less than 30 feet away. So much for fishing!  We grabbed the camera and enjoyed some quality orca time.  This orca was a loner and looked like it had an injured fin.  I emailed the photos to the local authorities so that they can help if that’s possible.  They replied right away, identifying the orca as “T-002C”.  He became separated from his family about a month ago and is now traveling with a new pod.  The problem with his fin is because he has scoliosis of the spine.


After our orca time we set of it for our next anchorage at Thurston Bay.  We had been here many years before with our first  boat.  It’s an awesome kayaking area with a very lovely sunset view, as you can see from the photo at the top of this blog.  It also has the beautiful little island below. The next morning we woke to sunshine.  What a nice change!  But I still got a fun photo of some light fog lifting near shore.


It finally felt like summer had arrived and our cruise to Dent Island for our rendezvous with Robert and Sharon DeWolf was fantastic.


After a quick tour and lunch at Dent we all decided that we should go up Bute Inlet again.  It was a perfectly sunny, calm cruise going in and we decided to try anchoring at the very end of the inlet this time because of the calm winds.  Although Robert is a kayaking Jedi Master, he has never kayaked Bute Inlet and we knew both he and Sharon would be blown away by the beautiful mountains and glaciers of this Canadian fjord.  They were.


The next morning was a bit windier, but Robert and I went out for a kayak while Jim and Sharon explored using the tender.  Our calm time ended shortly after that and the wind really kicked up.  Time to leave.  The cruise back was less relaxing, but manageable.   Robert took the helm for a while doing a great job searching for logs hidden in the waves.

The timing was right for another eagle show at Arran Rapids and we weren’t disappointed. Once again we anchored at Octopus Islands after going through the tidal rapids at “Hole In The Wall.”  Robert had been through here on kayaks before and really enjoyed the return on the True Love.  Seeing all this was a first for Sharon and she loved the beauty we were all sharing together.

Sharon has been so important in helping the Captain stay strong and healthy.  She is a chiropractor and a natural healer and we were so glad to thank her by sharing this beautiful place and nurturing her a bit with good food and conversation.

We anchored at Octopus Islands around 7 after a long but amazing day, enjoyed a great meal and then Robert suggested we all watch a DVD.  He picked out Rear Window from our selection on board. It’s such a great movie and it was a kick watching it together.

The next morning during breakfast I noticed two local tour boats going by so we turned on VHF channel 7 and heard the tour boats say to each other that 2 orcas were nearby. We quickly finished our breakfast, deployed the tender, and motored south about 20 minutes to the other side of Surge Narrows where we found the 2 orcas (including one that was very large) and 4 tour boats.  It was sunny and warm, the orcas were playing and I even put my feet in the water which was a first this trip.


When we got back Robert and I got a final kayak in before we headed back to Dent to get them to the seaplane for their flight back to Seattle. 

The tidal rapids near Dent Island were very strong as we approached and for a short time we were barely able to make headway through the swirling, churning waters and whirlpools between Big Bay and Jimmy Judd Island (aka Eagle Island).  At one point the water had 20 foot elevation changes in the current.  Alas, no photos we were all too enthralled.

 Last night Jim and I did some ceremonial eating at Dent’s very nice restaurant.

Today we begin our journey home.  Who knows what adventures we will experience over the next week. Maybe we will even catch a fish?

The Captain and First Mate of the True Love.

Triumphant Return to Bute Inlett

After our wonderful time in PLI, we made our way north to the Cambell River area that is north of Desolation Sound.  First we made a reprovisioning stop near Powell River follow d by a bakery stop in Lund.

One of our favorite anchorages is in the Octopus Islands and it didn’t disappoint.  We spent two meditative nature days enjoying the quiet peaceful area.  Practicing with the new zoom lens, I got a couple of good photos.  We saw Eagles, herons and otters, and raccoons foraging at low tide.


Jim’s high school debate partner Greg Call and his wife Carolyn joined us next for a Bute Inlet adventure.  They flew in to Dent Island where we enjoyed a yummy dinner.  The next day we headed out to conquer Bute Inlet:  a 40 mile long inlet into British Columbia’s Coastal Mountains, including 13,000 feet tall Mt. Waddington, BC’s tallest mountain.


The weather was beautiful and we finally took down the plastic windows that protect the front & sides of the upper helm and take down the convertible top so that we could thoroughly enjoy the sunshine and stunning views of glacier-covered mountains.  It was a lovely cruise and we ate delicious pastrami (supplied by our earlier guest Peter Glick) sandwiches along the way.  As those of you who have read our True Love Adventures over the past years know, we did not have success on our first Bute Inlet Adventure five years ago.  In 2011, we tried to anchor at the head of the inlet but the winds were crazy coming off the mountains, our anchor wasn’t holding, but when we tried to raise the anchor it got stuck on something.  No matter what we did, we couldn’t bring the anchor up so we eventually had to cut it away, leaving it in over 100 feet of glacier-fed water.



This year we discovered a new anchorage, just east of Bear Bay, in a little unnamed cove that was protected from the strong NW winds.  Since it had no name on the map we named it Spady & Call cove.  After anchoring, the Captain and his former high school debate partner headed out to try to ascertain the depths around us and where we should shore tie.The glacier water confused the depth sounder on the tender so in the spirit of Captain Vancouver they used a pole instead.  After a perfect shore tie we settled down with some cocktails and I made a yummy dinner.  We had to eat inside to escape some fierce biting flies, but they magically disappeared later that evening when the men had to tow away a large, menacing drift wood tree, and the flies didn’t return the following morning.

And what an amazing morning it was!  The perfect mornings sunshine and calm winds gave everyone great views of the glaciers as we cruised the shoreline at the head of Bute Inlet and then headed back to civilization.  It was so nice that I even got to do my yoga on the bow for the first time this trip.  As we approached Arran Rapids just east of Big Bay we were treated to a crazy eagle frenzy.  The rapids were running at 9 knots, churning up the water so much that hundreds of small fish were killed and floating on the surface.  Voila, bird food.  We stayed and watched at least 30 eagles swoop over the water and catch fish in their talons.  Although the original consensus was that there was at least 30 eagles, as the day went on and we reconsidered our memories, we all agreed that it must have been at least 50 eagles.  ;-)


I took tons of photos with my new telephoto lens.  Here are some of the best.


After our “eagle extravaganza” we headed back to the Octopus Islands where we anchored for the night.  Thunderstorms in the distance provided the backdrop as we enjoyed a great evening of heated, but intelligent political conversation, good cocktails, steak and tasty wine that Greg & Carolyn had brought with them.

The evening brought in some beautiful fog and an almost full moon.

When we woke the fog was even more beautiful as it slowly dissolved away.


After a hardy breakfast we cruised south and east to the April Point Resort across the channel from Campbell River where Greg and Carol had a reservation on the 5:30 seaplane back to Seattle. 


It truly was a fabulous few days and we look forward to the next time Greg & Carolyn can join us for another summer cruise on the True Love.

Our Favorite Place


As many of you know, Princess Louisa Inlet is one of our favorite places in the world. The trip in was pretty cloudy, but calm. The big mountains were cloud covered but the shoreline was glowing with colorful moss and liken.  The shoreline was like natures art gallery.


 We spotted two eagles, including a juvenile finishing his final color change.


We decided to stop about 5 miles outside of the inlet for the night in a new spot.  It proved a perfect anchorage and we were met by an heron, seal, and raven.  We ended our day with some nice kayaking before the evening rain began. 


The La Niña theme continues and the weather was less than awesome.  But, as we suspected, that means waterfall abundance.  Chatterbox falls was very full.  Our favorite spot was available and as we anchored and did our successful shore tie, a glowing rainbow appeared in the gray sky.


Unlike all our other visits, the water was too cold too swim: only 65 degrees instead of 75.

We love sharing this magical place with friends and this year we were joined by Barbara and Richard Wortley.  We measure all yucky weather against the time when Jack and Ruth Halsell joined us a couple of years ago.  This was not anything less ke the extreme of “Jack and Ruth weather” (a unrelenting, soaking rain lasting 3 days).

They landed and we shared two very special days surrounded by the beauty of the ever changing views, clouds and waterfalls.    

Of course we shared yummy meals and great scotch too. 

When the weather cleared we kayaked and took the tender on an adventure out of the inlet ending with an ice cream stop and tour of Malibu Camp, a “Young Life” Christian camp at the entrance to the inlet.  Richard got an amazing photo of a hummingbird with his phone as we toured part of the camp.

 Richard got this amazing photo of a hummingbird with his phone.  The hummingbird showed no interest in Richard what so ever.
Although it was cloudy on Monday, their seaplane arrived on time and they headed home with no drama. 


Black Bear in Princess Louisa!

The sun broke out and we enjoyed a lovely, long kayak complete with our first ever bear sighting in PLI.  He was sleeping behind this extremely beautiful cedar root burl.  Jim just missed seeing the bear as he woke up with a start and quickly scampered away on an animal trail.  

A La Niña Summer Cruise

This year we chose to leave for our annual northern cruise before July 4th.  Peter Glick and Gail Luxenburg boarded on July 1 as we road the outgoing tide north to Port Townsend.  

We had our first challenge before preparing dinner.  The Captain spotted water dripping from the ceiling entering our stateroom below the kitchen sink.  After investigating and discussing taking the faucet apart, the Captain discovered that the faucet head was loose causing the water to leak down the hose. It just needed to be tightened, crisis adverted. 

The weather report was constantly shifting.  When we went to sleep the forecast was for light winds the next afternoon and heavy winds in the early morning.   In the afternoon we hoped to visit Lois and George at Guemes Island (near Anacortes), but the weather prediction was for high winds so we decided to head to Friday Harbor, where we found a lovely anchorage behind Bowen Island where we were greated by an eagle.The crossing of the dreaded Strait of Juan de Fuca was a bit bumpy and foggy in the distance, but not bad.  Gail, who was concerned about rough seas did not have any problem.  Unfortunately there were no Orca or whale sightings on this crossing.


Our afternoon was spent relaxing while Gail and Peter went kayaking.  

Sunday we enjoyed a lazy morning, raised anchor and headed into Friday Harbor to top off the diesel, drop off our guests and head off to Canada.

We were concerned about crossing Haro Strait given the high wind warnings, but once again the forecasters were wrong.  Obviously, the weather forecasters are having trouble shifting to the La Niña model.  The windy forecast never changed, but we ignored it and anchored at our favorite spot just outside of Montage Harbour.  It took all our effort to stay awake for sunset, but our fortitude was rewarded.  The next day we enjoyed a lovely kayak before heading north to Naniamo.

Naniamo is our perfect stop for provisioning before heading north.  The weather was mixed, but lovely.  We enjoyed our annual Greek dinner at Teverna and brought home plenty of leftovers. It didn’t feel like July, but early spring or fall. 


Yesterday, we took advantage of the sunny, relatively calm morning to cross Georgia Strait to Egmont.  On the way we enjoyed a yummy caprese on char roll-up (sans bread, saving calories for the bakery).  Once again the crossing was a little ruffer than we prefer, but absolutely acceptable.  Once tied up to the Back Eddy docks we went for a walk to the bakery in the woods.  We love this spot, but the docks are in serious need of repair.

Skookumchuck Rapids at XL

Last night and today the rapids are at XL.  We have seen them before, but never this intense.  After dinner we took the tender down to the spot.  The current was crazy and even with our 40hp ourboard engine, it felt risky keeping above the rapids.  Because the Rapids drop below us, it was hard thphotograph from the tender.

Our day ended with a dramatic and unusual sunset. Breakfast at Westcoast Wilderness Resort


As promised the weather has shifted to drizzle and cloudy.  The tide changes this afternoon so we slept in and walked up the hill to the upscale alternative to the Back Eddy Resort, the Westcoast Wilderness Resort.  It’s lovely and serves breakfast.  This photo looks down at the True Love on the dock.  We are the inside boat.


Last year we didn’t get to visit PLI.  Our visit this year will be short on sun, but full  waterfall abundance and as usuall no connectivity.  A week of the grid.

The True Love Adventure Continues . . .

The Captain & First Mate of the True Love

The Myojinken in Matsumoto, then touching the”key to paradise” in Nagano before heading back to Tokyo

Our journey to Mastumoto was smooth and easy.  The only hiccup turned out to be that we caught our taxi driver’s cold.  He sniffled in the hot car both ways from the train station to the ferry and back.  As he said goodbye to us at the train station in Okayama he handed us each a package of Kleenex, foreshadowing the cold symptoms that would begin the next day.  Oh well, we hear almost everyone has a cold back home too!

  The train to Matsumoto was a special “wide-view” train.  Jim was giddy when he saw the big, wide, front window with a 180 degree forward view of our surroundings, including the engineer, who put on a great show with dramatic gestures noting every track light (green, yellow or red) along the journey.

From the Matsumoto train station, we took a small bus out of the city through ever narrower curvy roads up the hills until we arrived at the Tobira Onsen Myojinkan Inn. This small “traditional” Japanese resort and hot springs  is an enchanting, magical place. We were the only Anglos once again and the other visitors who could speak a little English kept asking us how we found it.  

           
 Our room was very large and had a beautiful winter view of the nearby stream and the snow covered trees. It felt a little like home, except for the lack of beds. This was our first hotel where we slept on mats, rather than beds.  It wasn’t as bad as we thought, but a bed is much more comfortable. For our dinner we enjoyed another delicious work of Japanese “food art.”  

                         And the traditional Japaneese breakfast was also perfect, held in a stunning view room, decorated with birch tree lights and wall coverings. 

Breakfast

  

  

  This place is also famous for their public (although gender separated) hot spring baths. It was extremely hard for us to leave the next day and take the bus for a day trip back into Matsumoto to visit the historic feudal castle, but we did and it well worth the time. Once again the weather cooperated with a sunny sky that allowed us to see the beautiful  mountains that overlook the city.

   

  
 
  Jim and I climbed the 6 stories up the interior castle steps. With 3 levels of moats and a first story built from large stones, the castle’s design is strategically imposing. Before artillery, airplanes or very large catapults, it would be virtually impossible to capture it and its hundreds of samurai defenders.

After our excursion we returned to the lodge and rested and enjoyed the pools before repacking our small bags for the next 2 days in Tokyo. We love the Japanese process of shipping big bags ahead so that the train travel the s only done with small overnight bags.  

It turns out the weather in Matsumoto really turned a few hours after we left, blocking the winding narrow road with snow, ice and falling trees, stranding the guests. 

   Although it would be a great place to be stranded, we were glad to make our 2 day trip to Tokyo with a quick  3 hour stop in Nagano to explore the Zenko-Ji Temple. After arriving at the Nagano station we followed our instructions and put our luggage in a locker. It took a bit of time to find a place to get change because the lockers took only 100 yen coins, but a quick juice purchase solved that problem.  From there we proceeded to the appropriate bus stop for an easy bus ride to the Temple.  

Although it was a rainy cold day, the walk through the grounds up to the Temple set the stage for a perfect visit. We had hoped this trip to find a meditation bell for our travels with no luck until Zenko-Ji.    

  The little shop just outside the gates of the Temple had a great selection of small bowls that make a deep, resonate bell sound when struck with a little mallet.  We chose one with a pitch we both loved and the shopkeeper was very helpful, even though he spoke no English. 

   

  

  

  The Temple is large with an enormous incense burner before the entry. Once in the Temple you can walk through a pitch-black tunnel under the alter to touch the “key to paradise”. Of course this was a must do. It was absolutely dark, and as you walked (no shoes of course) we were instructed to keep our right hands along the wall until we felt the metal bar on the door to the under-alter chamber.  We are pretty sure we accomplished the goal. On the way back to the bus and train we stopped for some warm noodle bowls to take the edge off the cold rainy day.

After we checked into our Tokyo hotel, we got to meet and have dinner with Leif and Natalie Mortenson. They are the son and granddaughter of our friends Dave and Pam Mortenson.  After meeting us at the hotel we walked to a fun local spot and enjoyed good food while getting to know them both.  

We stayed in Tokyo at the Four Seasons Hotel and it is a perfect hotel.  Perfect location, small, tasty breakfasts, comfortable rooms & beds and fantastic service.  After a long travel day and feeling the effects of our blooming colds, it was an wonderful and welcome respite.

We woke a little worn out, but once again ready to rally for a guided tour of Tokyo. Keiko Kamei had read some of our blogs and articles about Dick’s Drive-Ins and Jim’s Dad and felt like an old friend as we headed off via the Ginza subway line to the Haraju district for a stroll through the Meiji Shrine.  Because much of Tokyo was destroyed in the war, the grounds and imposing  entrance gates and Shrine are all relatively new ad surrounded by 120,000 trees brought and planted as gifts.  

  


  This is a place where people come for weddings, blessings for newborns, new cars, new jobs, new trips and similar new things. Spending the day with Keiko helped us learn more about our last 2 weeks. For example, we are now able to distinguish between Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples.  

 When removing your shoes,  immediately you notice the heated floors, which were very nice compard to the ice-cold floors of every other Temple & Shrine we hav visited.

 We took part in a sacred Shinto blessing ceremony.  The priests give blessing to the visitors by name using special prayer sticks.  Jim got a healing blessing in the ceremony.  

After the Shrine we did a bit of an architectural tour through the Omotesando district, where flagship designer stores are housed in amazing buildings. Japanese love new trendy things and we passed young people cued in long lines for a fashion show and a western-style silver jewelry boutique.  

          

We shared a delicious lunch and then Jim headed back to the hotel for some quiet time, while Keiko and I explored the museum and the Yanaka district.  The Yanaka district is home to the Museum of  Art.  It’s a quiet neighborhood with lovely old shops, and homes along with artists.  I liked the peaceful energy.  I bought some delicious rice crackers from a shop that has been making them the same way for 100 years.

  
 We had the opportunity to visit Allen West’s gallery. He’s an American who uses an old Japanese technique of mixing deer glue with ground stone pigment to create beautiful pieces of art. For winter his themes are plum tree blossoms and bamboo in snow representing beauty and success in harsh times. . Birds in pine trees are another theme. Like our last artist visit in Kyoto, it was very special. Allen, his wife, Keiko and I chatted about pigments and painting, his recent commissions, the states, families and life. I purchased a small Shinto-themed horse painting that reminded me of our morning Shinto service at the Temple.

  

  

 By the time Keiko and I worked our way back to the hotel, I was pretty exhausted.  jim and I went out for a quick simple dinner from the collection of small restaurants in the massive Tokyo train station next to our hotel.  With Keiko’s help we purchased some NyQuil-like cold medicine to help clear our nose and help us get some sleep.  We both woke the next morning feeling much better, and then enjoyed another yummy leisurely  breakfast.  

Before heading to our train we went for a quick (& successful) excursion to buy some casual Japaneese robes (called Yukatas).

As I finish this blog we are sitting on a small local train during the 30 minute trip from Nagano to Myokokogen for our final week in Japan, all of which will be devoted to skiing.  Skiing was the reason we came to Japan in first place.  If the skiing is anywhere close to the rest of our trip, it’s going to be epic!

We have arrived and settled at the lodge .  It’s rustic, small and has a great skier feel.  It’s certainly very different from the rest of our trip.  But it feels great!   This is definitely an interesting out of the way sky area.  It’s snowing and the adventure continues.

 Islands of Art

  Our journey takes us next to Benesse Art Islands.  To get to this spot in Japan southwest of Kyoto, we traveled by high speed train, taxi and ferry. The Islands are south of the tiny Port of Uno.  Although the islands themselves are just small dots on the map, they are part of the much larger Seti Sea, the “inland sea” passage located between the south side of Japan’s main island and two of Japan’s other large islands.

   

 The taxi took us to the “private” ferry (the “Thunderbird”, the same “public” ferry we would ride the next day) to get to the Benesse Art Hotel on the island of Naoshima.  It was a cold, windy afternoon and the forecast wasn’t promising.  In fact, the smaller inter-island public ferries were canceled on our arrival day. We got to our room and it was quite small.  The design was upscale dorm room.  The art at the hotel was very modern, minimalist .  

If the weather didn’t improve, hanging out in the room and the “minimalist” hotel would be disappointing for 3 nights.  The grounds and beaches are very nice, but we were beginning to question how wise this location was for this time of year.  I think we were going through Kyoto withdrawal.  

Throughout our trip very few people have spoken English, but it really hasn’t hindered our travels.  This night, after a scrumptious dinner, we had a problem with the bill and very little ability to clear it up.  We were beginning to think we would cut this part of or trip short.  But, after talking to our agent by email and phone we decided to wait until the next day and see if the weather improved so we could explore.

It did!  

   

 The wind calmed down and the temperature increased enough that the sun felt warm.  Our art explorations by ferry took us to 2 nearby Islands:  Teshima and Inujima.  Jim and I have never really appreciated modern art. But the instillations on these islands are quite unusual, combining old villages with architecture, art and nature.

Once again our itinerary was perfect,

  
  We were met  at the small ferry dock on Teshima by cab and our driver swept us to 3 different spots beginning with Les Archives du Couer. We wove through a little village then came to a building by a lovey beach housing a long dark room with a single light bulb and speakers amplifying individual heart beats from people all over the world.  

  

 Clever, but not worth the trip. The art got much better from there.

Our next stop was enchanting and perfect.  The Teshima Museum is a collaboration of art and architecture, dug into a hill surrounded by rice paddies. After walking the beautiful grounds you come upon a white concrete dome.   

 Before entering we removed our shoes, put on slippers and were told to be quiet and not step on anything on the ground.  From there you enter a perfect environment with moving water, wind, and openings to the sky.  It is absolutely impossible to describe but I’ll try.  It’s a metaphor for life.  Some drops of water enter from small holes in the floor, they grow in size until they move toward a distant well.  Along the way, the traveling water “beings” join with others, separate from others, and ultimately merge with a large pool or disappear down a well.  If it was a bit warmer we would have stayed much longer.  I’ve taken some photos from the book we purchased because photos weren’t allowed.  

   
   
We stopped for some coffee in the second building before moving on to our last stop on Teshima and our first “art house” experience.  Here is a photo of a group of children visiting the exhibit. 

   I love the matching hats to designate the group.  One of the children was clearly visiting her Mom. You don’t see a lot of children in Japan because of the extremely low birth rate.  We read an article just a few days ago about the lack of desire for many young people here to date, have children or even have sex.  If you remember our gold leaf artist who’s family had the studio for 5 generations, they have three 40-something children and none of them are married.   

  An “art house” is an old local home in a hamlet that’s transformed by an architect and artist into an art experience.  The Teshima Yookoo house surprised and enchanted us. This one included a wonderful water element, garden and very cool tower.  Sorry no photos allowed.  When you enter you look through red glass to the rock garden and court yard.   

 The concept of these small architecture and modern art projects was really new for us.  The fact that they were in these small, rural and old areas infusing young people and art lovers was delightful and ingenious.  Would this work in the states?  We think it would in struggling WA communities like Aberdeen.  

When we began our day we weren’t sure if we were going to go on to our third island, Inujima, but we were hooked now.  The weather was good and we were up for the adventure to continue.

Our enthusiasm was rewarded.  After departing the small ferry there was a building with a cafe and the ticket site for the returning ferry and the art projects on the island. After ordering a lovely small lunch we sat and looked at the water.  The table in front of us was filled with a group of ladies doing origami led by an origami Jedi master.  

 After I took pictures of her, she made Jim and me a gift of origami.  No English, just smiles and bowing to give our thanks. 

   
Our hearts and tummies full, we walked to the first stop at the largest art building, Seirensho, created from the remains of a copper refinery.  It’s designed By Hiroshi Sambuichi.  

  

  

  

  The bricks used are from the original smoke stack and have a metallic sheen.   The exhibit is hard to explain, but it used long dark hall ways, mirrors, solar projections and natural light in a magical way. We loved it!

 

From there we strolled through the village visiting other art house projects. Some we looked at, some we sat in, but alas no photos were allowed. I snuck a few plus some photos of the walk around the Island.

   
    
    
    
  

This is one of the young people who have moved to the island to work at the art houses.  They are well cared for by the elders who still live on the island.

  
    

The coast here is full of  actual “sea hawks.”
 

After the return ferry we had time for a shower before a traditional Kaiseki Japanese dinner.   

 The restaurant is located at the main museum up the hill above our hotel.  The dinner was perfect.  We’ve been doing quite a bit of sake testing and enjoyed some more with our dinner.  After dinner we ended our day by exploring the museum.  Now this was the modern art we were used to seeing. All white painting, wood and rock circles on the floor, toy soldiers in a circle, “junk on a shelf”. . . it was a fast tour.

This morning we got to sleep in before exploring the Chichu Museum and another collection of art houses in an old area.  The Chichu features three artists Claude Monet, James Turrell, and Walter De Maria in a building designed by Tadao Ando.  We loved it all, the interplay of art and architecture once again opened our eyes to a new appreciation of the possibilities in this kind of art. No need to explain Monet, but the light, shapes and interactive aspects in Turell’s and Maria’s installations were so engaging.  Again no photos allowed.  This is a picture from the book.  It’s a huge room that you walk into and around.

  
On our way out we stopped to chat with the gardener who was proudly tending and planting flowers despite the winter weather. 

 The best part of the art houses here was walking through the village to find them.  We also passed by a really beautiful shrine.  The curve of the roof (which we learned on this trip, represents the ocean) is particularly dramatic. 

  

  

  

  

   We stopped for a leisurely, delicious lunch at small spot with only 3 tables.   

 The food was scrumptious. At our favorite art house here we are led into a dark space using our hands to guide us along the walls before we sat on a bench.  It is pitch black.  This is what it must feel like to be blind. Over time light appears.  A few specks at first and then a full screen. We were then told to stand and walk towards the screen. It turns out the light was there all along.  It just took ten minutes for our eyes to adjust. Really cool. 

Tonight we enjoy one last dinner at the fine hotel restaurant before traveling again by ferry, taxi and high speed train to Matsomoto. The adventure continues!

Nara Fire Ceremony

The Nara fire ceremony was a kick.  Combining a community fair atmosphere with great tradition, religious cooperation and fireworks.  Really, what could be better. We joined in on the parade up the hill with chanting and conch shell blowing and stayed for the grass burning. I’ve posted some of the video on Facebook. Jim paticurlalry loved the Shinto head coverings.  This is a must do if you are here this time of year.  It combined interfaith (Buddhist and Shinto) prayers for the departed and world peace along with fire safety for the town and the shrines (which have burned down a lot over hundreds of years).

We ate lots of yummy street vender foods (the healthy food is not photographed) including the ceremonial soup topped with a salty-sweet cotton candy.   We didn’t actually eat the crazy bananas, but we did photograph them.