Tag Archives: art

Dancing Center Stage

August Abandon Afoot

More midsummer fireworks lie loaded on the launchpad, if that’s your thing – Mizunami has their display tonight, as part of their 54th annual Mino Genji Tanabata Festival (a month after most other observances), featuring teams of dancers and taiko drummers on stage for the 16th year now. It takes place Friday through Sunday in front of Mizunami Station. Everyone is invited to hop into the frenzy of the parade. There’s also a “clay objêt” Toudo Festa competition, in which teams have a frenetic 48 hours to sculpt clay into whatever their imaginations can conjur up.

You could consider Mizunami’s Tanabata fest with its dancing a warmup for Nagoya’s 15th annual Nippon Domannaka Matsuri, or Domatsuri for short, to be held from August 23rd to 25th. Some 23,000 dancers on over 200 teams from all over Japan and the world will carouse and compete for championship original folk dance honors.

The only rules, according to the official website, are “each dancer must hold a naruko, or clapper, and … a melody from a local folk tune of the participants’ home area must be incorporated in the music.” As with Mizunami’s revelry, they encourage the audience to join in the dancing as a means of cross-cultural communication, and welcome last-minute entries without reservation, so to speak.

And as long as we’re on the subject of Nippon Domannaka (the very center of Japan), it’s not just figurative talk when people speak of our central location, or the logistical benefits of relocating the national capital to Gifu to help alleviate congestion in Tokyo.


Here’s a picture of Yasaka Station, the centralmost station in Japan, on the Nagaragawa Railway Etsumi-Nan Line. The diesel-powered single-car line, which you can use to get from Mino Ota on the Taita Line to Gujo (station photo below), also stops at the centralmost hot spring in the country, accessible directly from Manthatsamouthful Minamikodakaraonsen Station (station and spa are under the same roof). Of course the all-night trance-like dances at Gujo are for many a must-see, gotta-groove to thing this time of year as well…


…as is, for those who can bear to watch, the bridge-jumping, river-plunging tradition on the river you may be able to view from this walkway. I think they jump from the bridge just a few steps to the left of where I took this photo.


Now Museum, Now You Don’t

Magritte, Chagall, et al.

Eyes for art whetted by the French masterpiece exhibition in May and June? You can get more of your fill of European paintings this month at the Menard Art Museum in Komaki.


Among artists whose works you can experience will be Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Van Gogh, Monet, Kandinsky, Magritte, and (from my experience) Japanese female favorites Miro and Chagall.


Regret, Chagrin, All In

In addition, just a regret to post – I was looking forward to this photo show at the Tajimi Culture Center, but confused the dates with those above. Guess the tiring toll of a busy week caught up with me.


Hope I have another chance to check out this local nature photographer sometime. He looks interesting.


Never Had a Chance

Update: On the subject of gone before you know it, I just learned of a cafe in Toki I must have gone by dozens of times without even knowing it was there, and now it’s gone, and been so nearly a year. From what I’ve heard, it would’ve been right at home in the blog, so I’ll cut it some belated bandwidth here, with my regrets and hopes for happier stories in the future. It went by the name of Iroha Shokudo, and was situated right beside Sun Mart supermarket between the Toki River and Route 421. They served curry and coffee, daring to bring a tad more cool to Toki. Business was too tepid to keep it going, unfortunately. Maybe someone else reading this can be inspired to carry on the gentrification journey, if you will.

If They Build It…


I put a nice bright spot in a soggy afternoon with a visit to a hot new place in Toki (yes, Nothing-To-Do Toki) today.


Since opening just this month, Secret Time Cafe has quickly become quite the in spot, having been supported by lots of folks along the way to realization. Many who had a hand, including a couple of acquaintances of my own, are recognized with their names painted on the floor. Apparently the opening was rather a smash, word of mouth rendering Secret Time no secret at all.

The cafe feels like a bit of Nagoya or other city right in downtown Toki. Near the intersection of route 421 and local (not regional) route 19, it shares an ample parking lot with the second hand shop with the big Santa sign.

The menu has a pretty wide selection to choose from (more galettes, for one thing), everything sounding tasty, eye-pleasing and healthy. I had the taco rice lunch for ¥980 including what you see here and a drink.


They’ve devoted a lot of attention to the atmosphere here, and did a nice job, especially considering this space has been a revolving door for a number of cheap, seedy or somehow unappealing outfits in the past. That is, emphatically, history now. I didn’t have a chance to look completely around, but I’m sure I’ll be stopping by often enough. More photos and info (like what the “art” on their business card refers to) to come.


Secret Time Cafe, bar and zakkaya (notions shop) has these very welcome broad business hours: Tuesday through Thursday, and Sunday, 11:30-3 and 5 PM to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 11:30-3 and 5 PM to 1 AM. Closed Monday and the third Tuesday. They have smoking and non-smoking sections.

Make Your Old Art Prof Happy

If you enjoy seeing art, you don’t want to miss the nice collection of three centuries of masterpieces by French artists showing at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art at Aichi Arts Center in central Nagoya until June 23.


The exhibition features 66 works spanning periods from Baroque and Rococo to Cubism, from Poussin to Picasso, all from the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. As such, it’s a good chance to review your art history knowledge from that college survey course you had to take. The significant changes in each period are outlined in Japanese, and audio guides explaining eack painting are also available in Japanese for 500 yen.


One of the highlights is a captivating Renoir portrait being shown in Japan for the first time, visible on the poster and admission ticket above. The whole show was a pleasure to see. One painting that especially brought France and French painting home was one called (translation of Japanese) “Paris at Dawn” by Luigi Loir.


Besides museums, the twelve-storey Aichi Arts Center has a performing arts theater, a library, spaces for contemplation, art shops and restaurants including a Wolfgang Puck Cafe.

Earth and Space

This weekend through Monday, there’s a two-person exhibition of ceramic works at Mogura Gallery at Reverie in Tajimi.


Titled Observation/Composition, the young artists it features, Tatsuma Segawa and Erica (sic) Suzuki, have nothing in particular in common as such. A joint show was just more practical for each.


Suzuki’s works, pictured in the photos above, emphasize composition, in particular use of negative space. One multi-part piece consists of a square three-dimensional “frame” in which the other parts rest.


Segawa is interested in the change that clay, earth and other materials go through in the firing process, as well as any material in any process over time, like the effect of global warming or the eventual swallowing of the Earth by the sun bilions of years in the future.


The gallery will be open each day from 11 am to 7 pm.

Happy Day

Today’s mild weather was such a welcome relief, and how fitting it was. It started when I woke up to some relieving and exciting news (more on that below), and continued through the day.

First, as this weather was something to savor, let me share a little footbound exploration using that walking map I mentioned recently.


Just right of the center of this view of the map (with explanatory speech bubble below it) is Hakusan Shrine (pictured below), known as a healing spot in central Tajimi. Above and to the left of the shrine on the map, you can see the location of Tourin Syunyo cafe and gallery. I’ll blog about the map (really a coordinated effort to raise awareness of these wards’ arts offerings) more comprehensively as I try to visit some of the spots.


Meanwhile today, there was great news about the LiveCode Kickstarter – a huge growing surge over the past couple of days from people all over the world has put the campaign over the top. Now with less than 24 hours remaining, there’s still much more to aim for: LiveCode’s maker, RunRev, has set “stretch goals” beyond the original lofty target, which itself, frankly, looked unattainable to many only a few days ago. Sorry to get a bit technical here as I explain, but it’s a significant event, I think.

The first stretch goal, basically allowing automatic handling of any mobile screen resolution, has been reached. This has always been a significant roadblock for all mobile developers whenever new devices come out (Retina, iPhone 5, odd-sized Android phones, etc.). And it will continue being just as big a pain for most everyone to scramble to support, season in and season out, except for lucky LiveCode developers.

And just now as I’ve been typing, the second extra goal has been met. This will let users automatically use native themes for iOS, Android, and other mobile platforms. Up to now, we’ve had to create many of our own interface elements, which is often even better (more original, attractive, and fun), but for many apps this will make the process much quicker, and allow for apps with a more conventional look-and-feel (sometimes more marketable).

The third new target is to bring Cocoa support to Mac desktop app deployment. All the features of the latest Mac OS, continuing into the future, will be at your disposal. Your Mac apps will be as slick and integrated into the OS as anything out there.

The Kickstarter is now the most highly-pledged open sourcification project ever, and seems headed to end up in the all-time top ten tech Kickstarters. The LiveCode user/developer community is abuzz with plenty of other ideas and plans of their own (that’s what open-sourcing enables) now that the main goal is a fait accompli.

Thanks to everyone who contributed, and let’s make one more final push for Cocoa. You can still pledge if you haven’t already. It’ll take a mighty finish. Tell anyone you know. Blog it, Facebook it, tweet about it. Use LinkedIn, Line, or a large megaphone. It’s individuals like you who make the difference.

Now Showing

A Shot in the Arm

Well, ain’t that a kick in the head. No sooner do I do a little cheerleading and blog about a Kickstarter fundraiser, than Kickstarter comes out with its own iPhone app (free!) the same day. The LiveCode project needed something like this.


Art in the Park

Also kicking off today is the Ishoken Graduate Exhibition. Students graduating from the Tajimi-sponsored ceramic arts school are showing their earthen theses at Ceramic Park Mino through Sunday. A hands-on ceramics lab and design course are also being offered at the facility today.


I talked to the owner of art de vivre cafe (thanks for the kumquats, Tomo!), a graduate of the program, who said the students come from, and ultimately disperse back to, all over the country, putting careers on hold for a year to concentrate on their art. I’ll try to get up to the show for some photos.

A Shot in the Dark

Finally, a sock-soaking walk in today’s cold rain netted me just this:


No, this Taita Line train hasn’t rudely run up against a defenseless traffic sign. It’s what’s underneath. This underpass beneath the JR Chuo and Taita lines, with a clearance of just 160 centimeters, was listed on the map below as a little thrillseeking spot (I’ll have more on the map in another post). Having run up against a closed “Honey’s Diner” (perhaps not so ironically, someone else I asked today recently had the same not-so-sweet experience, minus the rain, being, like a frustrated Pooh, unable to gain access to this purported Honey west of the station), this low point was now destined to be the highpoint of my walk. Though I’ve been there before, just for kicks, I ducked by to see.


My mission, should I choose to accept it: while simultaneously disentangling a complex, insidious snarl of 60′s TV spy and detective drama cliches and characters, to delve into the dark depths of the subversive passageway, track its clandestine comings and goings, assess potential sources of leaks, tease out its secrets, thwart imminent threats, and generally save the planet, being ever careful to dodge nefarious puddles and sporadic dripping train fluids.

Never a second thought. I was game.


Though the sign states a 1.6 meter limit, the actual height is higher. No need to duck. I walked under it with my umbrella overhead. And there are little side nooks to stand in if a car comes through. And yes, they do. Especially thrillseeking taxis, it seems. Beeping their horns at cold, splishing, dimly lit, umbrella-toting, thoroughly engrossed, picture-taking underpass pilgrims. I half expected Tige Andrews to come chasing after me for jaywalking. At one point I thought I was about to be cornered by an unknown agent on a stealthy new kind of Segway. You can imagine my relief when the silhouette turned out to be an obaasan pushing one of those upright personal grocery carts. Relatively unscathed, and with the security of the free world more or less assured, I eventually scampered back to the safety of Nagase Dori and a rich, hot, foamy cafe latte at art de vivre. You want thrills? I got thrills. I know of an even slimmer chute under the tracks in Toki that will keep you glued* to the edge of your seat, at least until the next Kickstarter commercial.


*Think about it.

Four Little Words

I agree with Jerry: The writer it is.

I wasactually (sorry, the space thing (peripheral touch thing) is so rampant itdsserves to be uncorrectedand shown up for what it is*) thinking to myself just the other day that the name Pop Tarts must have had some relation to Pop Art. I even checked the aisles atMeidi-Ya, after failing to find eggnog for the holidays, to see if they sold them. But as far as putting it in the blog, as I subconsciously tossed it around in my head, I was loathing making the obvious, tired reference to Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein. Now, frustrated artist that I am, I may have an opening.

I hope you could link to the video, funny as a left cheek with no right whatsoever, savagely chewing on a forked tongue in super slow motion. If you couldn’t, this will make even less sense than whatlittle ot’s making now. Anyway, what really caught my ear (and boy, is that another story for another time, via a link to be determined (you’ll see)), somehow, was Seinfeld’s use of the word “daunting.”

I began to posit sentences like “I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I daunted someone I really cared about;” “It’s not really worth daunting at this point,” “Aww, who daunted on the sofa?!” and “why don’t we daunt this out like adults?” The possibilities are… daunting.

And Jerry’s four word hypothesis is intriguing. A little tip I may try myself. There you go: “cheek,” “chew,” “savagely,” or some part of speech thereof, and “tongue.” Oh, wait. Tongue and cheek are already taken as a set. But daunt worry. I’ve got plenty of cheek where that came from. I just have to be more content with content and remember that all wordplay makes Jack a dull blogger. I did pick up this soup at Meidi-Ya, by the way.


Thank you, Jerry, for helping show there is such a thing as getting something for nothing, if not a free lunch from the Soup Nazi. Many a creative writer’s power is his or her dedication and deadline. Beyond that, where the stuff actually comes from, often no one can foretell. Kind of like canned SpaghettiOs, Spam, or Dum Dums’ Mystery Flavor.

*File it under Truth to Materials, kind of like Pop Art itself, a refusal to deny the visual milieu of the day, however banal or ugly**. People have used typewriters’ artifacts as part of “concrete poetry,” or retained drunken slips of the finger at the keyboard (Truth to Tequila), or made use of the mobile camera’s distortions, but I may be the first person in the world to deliberately make use of the iPhone 5′s sensitivity issues, which probably resulted from a verycomplex cost-benefit analysis at Apple. Just my luck this’ll be the one time people finally realize how trivial (in its inevitability) such truth to environment has become, and I’m roundly rejected as a pathetic artistic wannabe.

**O, to be in college again indeed, where the word “milieu” is never out of place.

The Artist, Up Close and Personal

Picture of the Artist As a Maker of Young Men

I made the acquaintance of artist Mitsuyuki Sakai recently at Lotus Cafe, where I learned from the owner he’s something of a local legend, having variously taught/mentored/inspired/corrupted/otherwise delivered into adulthood many a lusty local young lad throughout a long career in education (no mention as such of young ladies, but I presume it’s much the same). Yesterday I caught an exhibition he’s having in Mizunami.

The show was at Cafe Realize, which I’d often noticed signs for but never ventured up to. It’s located toward the Sony plant, somewhat between Komeda Coffee and Cabin Pasta & Pizza.

After having a pasta lunch in the sunken central dining area here, I had other business in town, but briefly stepped up to see the paintings around the raised perimeter. The boardwalk is quite narrow, meaning you can’t stand very far away from the works, which is a severe limitation from an artist’s point of view, but then again I, um, realize this isn’t a gallery first and foremost.


Working on board, Sakai mixes, if I understood correctly, earth materials with black and white acrylic paint for varied texture and color. Punctuated by occasionally exposed bits of underlying primary colors, simple geometric shapes dominate in different ways in each of these works. I found myself preferring the more bold, iconic ones.


I’m not sure how long this show lasts, but Realize is worth a visit any time at any rate.