Jan. 12th, 2010

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Apologies for the lapse in Click Opera service; I exchanged a web browser for a car windscreen from Friday to Monday and drove an automatic Daihatsu Naked onto Seto Inland Sea ferries and up and down the mountains of Shikoku. Hisae, Yoyo and I had so many adventures and saw so many inspiring sights it's hard to know where to begin, but I'll start with Japanese country style, which we all adopted after raiding a timewarp clothes shop in Kamiyama run by an 83 year-old lady.



We'd just descended the mountain after teasing the car along hilariously narrow one-track roads -- ledges, really, scarily steep and snowy at high altitudes -- when we discovered this shop. It seemed to be closed -- all the lights were off, and it was a Sunday -- but the girls tried the door, found it was unlocked, and went in. The decoration was very 1940s.



A cute little old lady soon appeared from the house next door and started shouting and laughing, asking us questions and telling us her age proudly.



We all bought padded slacks and jackets, and I got a sort of mini rucksack bag and some pink socks. I was tempted by some elasticated floral forearm covers that hook over a finger (the farmers' version of armlets forming part of the kuroko or kabuki stagehand costume I was wearing in New York last year, which suggests a link between farmers and theatre), but found the patterns too feminine in the end. The clothes made us look like the agricultural workers (often very elderly) we'd been seeing from the car working in the fields, sometimes high up in the mountains. Here's what I look like in my outfit (which cost about $30 in total):



In some of the supermarkets in small towns in Japan you get local produce sections where photographs of the producers of particular local foodstuffs are displayed alongside their wares. I find this fascinating, not just because we so rarely see the makers of the things we buy in stores, or because making small producers visible is a step towards my vision of input-output shops, but because the "fashion" displayed in the photographs is so bloody great.

Here's a selection of snaps of the garb worn by farmers working on either side of the Seto Inland Sea. In a way some of these stern, kind people resemble the Shakers, but they're also rather like feudal peasants. A lot of roadside Japan looks feudal, but it's a horizontal feudalism where everyone is liege and serf by turn.





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