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[personal profile] imomus
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.





(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-11 04:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cargoweasel.livejournal.com
That thing strapped to the guy's back in the third to last photo - what is that, a portable shrine?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-11 04:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cargoweasel.livejournal.com
Oh, you edited the post! Doh. It's gone now.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-11 04:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] butterflyrobert.livejournal.com
This post is making my heart sing. Sayaka has promised to take me on some country adventures this summer and this post of yours is making me feel eager. Thanks! And I still urge you to learn Japanese.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-11 05:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pulled-up.blogspot.com (from livejournal.com)
Off the scales on the adorability charts! Cushioned clothing and bonnets = ultra huggable.

Pok was being a bit bad yesterday and the day before btw. Every time we took him out he was marking his territory. I had to change my trousers 3 times in 24 hours. He was looking relaxed this afternoon though - he likes to hang out under my desk when I am working on the computer. Sometimes he tries to steal things out of that red bucket beside him:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/iloveacomputer/4265849693/

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 06:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
Ha,excellent! We crazycrave Pokporn!

See you next week, we're back Monday evening!

samourai fashion from the chanel house

Date: 2010-01-11 05:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] petit-paradis.livejournal.com
"...artist Tetsuya Noguchi has created some concept samurai armor suits designed to appeal to the fashion-conscious warrior."


http://pinktentacle.com/2010/01/chanel-samurai-armor/

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-11 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lord-whimsy.livejournal.com
The lady with the mushrroms is a dead ringer of my Choctaw grandmother.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 01:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] butterflyrobert.livejournal.com
These are the posts I will miss the most when he ends the blog.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 03:31 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Buying farmer clothing from Japanese grandmas in the sticks? You and Hisae are going to have to take up rooftop farming at your apartment once you get back to Berlin in order to utilize those garments to their fullest potential! Image

your almost 100%

Date: 2010-01-12 03:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] milky-eyes.livejournal.com
You're becoming more and more Japanese... your pursed lips are new... but the body posture has long time been there... you just need the hair....

here let me help you out a bit...

Image

The liberal Yin is the fascist Yang?

Date: 2010-01-12 08:24 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is a conundrum. To say we must maintain and love difference, and then to go to Japan and dress and act as a Japanese person is an example of "The liberal Yin is the fascist Yang". While we enjoy the change, we are inflicting saminess on our host. Reinforcing any nationalist or supremacist prejudices. Denying them the very difference that we advocate. Boring them even. Our feast may be starving and suffocating them.

How do we know that the inhabitants of a Tokyo subway are not pining for loud football fans with beer cans to really shake things up? Of course they aren't! But they'll never really know if we destroy the finest export we can offer a host - our difference.

Re: The liberal Yin is the fascist Yang?

Date: 2010-01-12 09:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
It seems to me that we'd be inflicting saminess on our host both by acting like her (your point here) and by dressing in the global monocultural garb (Gap, Uniqlo, etc). I'd argue that the context of a foreigner wearing a Japanese farmer's costume does make it sufficiently different to amuse the Japanese (our garb got a lot of comment, and our explanation that oba-kawa (cute old lady) style is, for us, oshare (fashionable) raised some laughs.

To break out of the yin and yang of local and global (ie "glocal", because they're so tightly bound together) is difficult. Do I dress as a trad Scotsman in Japan? That's the style (Pringle, Harris tweed) Japanese buy when they come as tourists to Scotland. Do they codemn me to sameness if they pull on their new clothes in the hotel and walk down Princes Street wearing a kilt? Not really. I'm amused, as the Japanese are when I do the equivalent thing here. (PS: I pay much, much less! Those Royal Mile shops are a rip-off!)

Re: The liberal Yin is the fascist Yang?

Date: 2010-01-12 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
So foreigners should adopt local ways? You're saying that this the best way to maintain and respect difference? The right-wing Yang is turning full circle, even before your sentence is finished.

Re: The liberal Yin is the fascist Yang?

Date: 2010-01-12 05:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] milky-eyes.livejournal.com
How do we know that the inhabitants of a Tokyo subway are not pining for loud football fans with beer cans to really shake things up? Of course they aren't! But they'll never really know if we destroy the finest export we can offer a host - our difference.

ok your showing your true colors... how do we 'know' that of course they dont want football fans. And why is it in anyway up to us to critic this, from that angle.
thats idea still smells of imperialism...

its not what you do but how you do it.


Re: The liberal Yin is the fascist Yang?

Date: 2010-01-12 07:56 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I suppose it's like children who dress the same as their parents, and even adopt the same mannerisms, phrases and opinions as their parents. Is it charming, over-dutiful, or kind of creepy? Do we think our host wants us to mimic them? Are we trying to kill them with stagnation?

Daihatsu hard

Date: 2010-01-12 06:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
BTW, apologies to anyone who came for the Kyoto lecture today -- I had to cancel it. Halfway up the Osaka-Kyoto expressway the Daihatsu suddenly started pouring with white smoke at the back. We were stranded on the side of the road, and called a towtruck, who took us to a Daihatsu garage, where we were told the turbo charger in the oil system was malfunctioning. I think this may relate to some absurdly interventionist garagemen last night who were training new recruits and, when we just wanted gas, gave us an oil and water change too, but put in the wrong oil then took it out and put in a different kind. Anyway, I missed the lecture and have hefty bills to foot to boot. Cars -- they really are a pain. While I'm aware that I couldn't have seen some of the amazing Shikoku sights I did over the weekend without a car, I'm really glad I don't own one. Plus expressway driving is stressful. Yuk.

Re: Daihatsu hard

Date: 2010-01-12 09:53 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

Hard luck ...

There was a reasonably good turn out, between 20 and 30 audience members. In addition to upper-level students from our 映像学部 (College of Image Arts and Sciences), we had three attendees who came from off campus as a result of your announcement: two Americans came from Kobe, and Japanese guy working in traditional arts & crafts from Nishijin, the nearby kimono district.

Instead of your lecture I showed them Zbig Rybczynski's "Fourth Dimension", which I had been wanting to show my seminar students for some time, then had a fairly good discussion afterwards. So all was not lost ...

Felt a bit sorry for the two who travelled all the way from Kobe, though.

Your welcome next time, if schedules & budget allows. I strongly recommend, however, taking the train!


- Michael

Re: Daihatsu hard

Date: 2010-01-12 12:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
Oh, definitely train next time!

Sorry, Kobe people! Ironically, I was in Kobe twice this weekend. Could've given a lecture in Chinatown, or in the Indian veggie restaurant Kusumu.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 11:57 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
C'est exactement ce genre de rencontres qui rendent les voyages au japon si précieux. Je t'envie, Nick!

Bise à Yoyo

Olivier

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 01:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] krskrft.livejournal.com
That's one thing I like about East Asia in general: everybody has his/her "uniform." In the West, we tend not to like it when people can tell, without knowing or speaking to us, what we're up to. So we wear all sorts of things that may not be suited at all to the tasks in which we're engaged (we don't want to be "predictable"). In the East, people seem far less preoccupied with this strange sort of privacy.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 04:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thenewsometimes.livejournal.com
How does the fact that there are lots of "serfs" in rural areas make Japanese-style feudalism "horizontal"?
The fact is that young people are leaving rural areas ASAP because of a lack of jobs and kids from rural areas are statistically much less likely to be able to attend prestigious universities than those from urban areas. People from urban areas look down on the country like whoah, if that weren't the case, why would 田舎臭い be an insult? It's my opinion that Japan fetishizes big-city wealth just as much as your average Western county .
花より団子 = Gossip Girl
From: [identity profile] brokenjunior.livejournal.com
Speaking of the majority, you might be right. But there are also new (more countryside and nature related) social trends among young and well educated people becoming popular I think – like for example the Half-Farmer/Half-X (http://www.japanfs.org/en/pages/028711.html) movement. Actually some of my friends have become such part-time farmers near Wakayama and are growing organic brown rice, while alongside working as web designers and photographers.

Also, there might be some Mori-Matsuri-Camera-Girls (森マツカメ - sorry lost the link) hiding in the hills somewhere...

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 10:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
How does the fact that there are lots of "serfs" in rural areas make Japanese-style feudalism "horizontal"?

Japan retains feudal-style gestures, but is clearly a modern democracy, and what's more one whose equality and collectivism is ahead of Western democracies (the only close liberal democracies, in Gini terms, are in Scandinavia).

You see horizontal feudalism every time you see two Japanese people bowing to each other. When two staff members from a car showroom come out onto the street and bow deeply before a departing customer's car, one of them wearing a peculiar ceremonial cape, the driver, glancing at the gesture in his rear-view mirror, is temporarily a liege lord. But when he gets to his own business he will bow deeply to his own customer. Horizontal feudalism.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-13 12:42 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"equality" in what sense(s)?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-13 03:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
Japan's most recent Gini coefficient (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gini_Coefficient_World_CIA_Report_2009.png) rating, while still showing the nation more equal than the US, does show it falling quite a way behind Scandinavia in income equality, which is sad.

Nevertheless, this is clearly not in any meaningful sense a feudal nation, although it retains some feudal gestures and signs in ordinary commercial interactions between citizens.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-13 05:41 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
ok; equality in a strictly economic sense then.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 05:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] count-vronsky.livejournal.com
Of all the outfits you have worn over the years that one is me. To a t. Right down to the gloves.

and those little old ladies in the next to last picture are so cute I want to eat them right up!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 10:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slime-slime-sly.livejournal.com
omg thats so gorgeous
Im coming over