Kyoto Diaries by foreign artists

    Artist in Residence

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My trip to Japan

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Diary of Japan visitors

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Gerlinde

Day one was meeting Yuki and introduction to Kyoko and Sachie, 2 very charming Japanese artists and Yuki’s friend Maki, who showered us with her kindness - she is the perfect representative of a Japanese hostess. Yuki , Maki, Kyoko and Sachie had come with so many delicious things that it took
Angelika, Suza and me 3 days to finish it.

Monday Maki was in charge of us. After meeting at the train station we all went to an impressive sweet shop that turned out to be a training centre as well. Below are the photos of yesterday’s introduction and graduation into becoming a”maker and connoisseur of Japanese sweets” - together with  30 or 40 junior high school graduates!!!
It definitely was the highlight of the day. Delicious sushi  with Maki and introduction to shopping streets and department stores followed. A stroll to the Imperial Palace gardens and shrines closed the cultural programme for us on day 2
To be continued tomorrow.

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Suza


After a quick morning trip to The Golden Temple (Kinkakuji) and another stamp in the beautiful Goshuin Chou, we arrived at the Be-Kyoto Gallery for the East West Artists Exchange Exhibition Opening Party. 
We were treated to an abundance of Japanese treats and drinks in the lovely surroundings of the gallery. 
After an introduction from Yuki and a talk from visiting artists Liz Whiteman Smith and Stefania Pinsone, 

Gerlinde started the residents' talks, followed by Angelika - and then I said my bit in Japanese which I had learnt with the help of Nanami back in London. People were very encouraging about it which made all the practising feel worthwhile :)  We will miss the lovely, friendly people here and all the support which they have given us.
The local artists then told us about their artworks and we had a couple of hours to get to know each other and browse their work before we headed off for a walk along the Kamo River with Gerlinde's friend, Masa Suzuki, from their college days at City and Guilds in London. Naturally, we passed more pretty temples along the way because it is impossible not to in lovely Kyoto: this time being Shikokuji and Amidaji.  
On the way back, we had a very traditional Kyoto meal with the help of Masa's translations. It was nice to eat somewhere slightly off the beaten tourist track and learn more about the culture here. 
Looking forward to the gold leaf demonstration and tea ceremony tomorrow!

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Gerlinde


Day 3
On our third day in Kyoto we had another new experience waiting for us. In the handicraft center Suza was taught how to print a woodblock print and Angelika and we’re taught how to paint a clay bell doll. In contrast to the full class room the previous day, we were alone and had the space all for us. Painting the dolls was a very calming experience and after a short while Angelika and I got used to painting on clay, a totally new surface for us.
From the handicraft center we walked and visited the Heian Jingu shrine. Another delicious luncheon in a small sushi place gave us new energy and we explored the philosopher’s walk along a canal. Beautiful landscape, temples, shrines , little shops and cafes along the idyllic path.
But the time we finally returned we felt a bit “templed out” .

Day 4
Delivered our art work to the gallery , where Yuki and a number of other artists had arrived for the unpacking, hanging and curating of all the art work. Three of Yuki’s artist friends then took us to Ninnaji temple. Revitalised by Japanese tea and/or sweets and since Ryoanji  temple was not far, Yoko and her friend accompanied us there . The stone garden and grounds  were as impressive as ever.
Back in Kyoto, Angelika, Yoko and I ventured to Kyoto Station  and ended our day with an enjoyable tempura meal

Suza

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Today started off wonderfully with nice boxes of chocolates from both Gerlinde and Angelika for my birthday. They actually did a better job of remembering it was my birthday than I did, as I have been so distracted with all the things to see and do here ;)

We met up with Keisuke Watanabe and Mari Takahashi who took us to the beautiful house of gold leaf artist Hakuya Noguchi and his wife who both welcomed us with tea and sesame snacks, then Noguchi san took us up to his studio where he gave a very in depth demonstration of gold leaf technique with lots of different examples. It was fascinating to find out all about it and to appreciate how much work goes into the process.

After we left the Noguchi residence, we went for lunch and then onto Watanabe san's house for a tea ceremony. 
He taught us how to make the tea and all the steps involved in accepting and drinking it, using unique drinking cups; one of which had been repaired and decorated with gold leaf. 
Afterwards was a trip to Koshoji temple to practice Zazen meditation with a monk, which was quite an experience!

Then some sightseeing to end the day at Kenninji temple with it's dragon ceiling artwork - which took two years to complete - and then onto Yasaka shrine. 
We are all looking forward to tomorrow's Gion based day

Suza

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Day 7 was mostly based around Gion:
An early start at Kiyomizu-dera in the mountains, followed by a walking tour around the Geisha district with lots of information about their culture and a few quick glimpses of Geisha and Maiko rushing past. We also saw the tea monument and learnt about the differences between temples and shrines. 
In the afternoon we went to a Geisha theatre show and tea ceremony.
The sets, costumes, hair & make up were stunning and the storyline easy enough to follow without fluent Japanese. Wonderful music from the live band accompanied the eloquent dancing and performances and it was nice to feel completely absorbed in something so quintessentially Japanese. 

Afterwards, we went for a long walk through the many man-made alleyways at Fushima Inari shrine. We went up and up through bamboo forests; past wild boars and feral cats (cared for by a kind man feeding them every day for years) until we reached a great view of a lit up Kyoto at dusk from the mountainside. 
A lovely way to end my trip to Kyoto before I head off to Tokyo - whilst lucky Gerlinde and Angelika get to explore some more tomorrow. 

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Liz



This is my entire diary of Kyoto. Please click the button below.

My diary in Kyoto

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