Even though Saiki is provincial and not much goes on here, every once in awhile something happens to bring a bit of the larger world and culture to our small city. At the end of September two large shipping containers appeared in the paved lot that is the former site of Kotobukiya Department Store in “downtown” Saiki.
Kotobukiya- a six-floor department store-with an escalator! – was the draw to the center of town for many years; the company went out of business around 2002 and the building was demolished in 2005. The center of town is now largely shuttered shops and everyone goes to the new Cosmo Town-a strip mall with a supemarket, game centers and other shops at the edge of the city.
A few days after the containers arrived, I heard a rumor that a new cafe had opened in town. Driving by on my way home from work I saw that the containers had been arranged into an open air cafe. Last weekend Jiro and I stopped by and learned all about the Medical Herbman Cafe Project– take a look at the Medical Herb link for their menu and illuatrations.. A project conceived by the folks at Eiki Danzuka’s Earthscape Inc as an entry in the Niigata Art Triennial (in English), the Herbman Cafe is a portable cafe and event space that serves teas, snacks and drinks using Japanese traditional herbs and edible plants.
The original installation in Niigata included a giant herb garden in the shape of a human body. In Saiki, the herbman figure was cut out of a wood platform placed between the two facing containers. This cafe is here until today and then it heads to Beppu until November 9th- there is hope that it will continue to move to different locations all over the world. Last night the cafe hosted a music event with local musicians and light food-lots of fun under the moon on a warm Halloween night.
The past two weeks have been a little chaotic and I was hit hard with a cold and laryngitis…I am finally feeling back to my regular self- but my voice is still pretty raspy. I doubt the singing in classes helps much. Jiro’s mom also came down with a cold which turned into pneumonia pretty quickly. It was pretty scary until we got her to the doctor and she is now in the hospital until her cough goes away. She says she feels fine and is ready to come home, but she’ll be there for at least another week. I am glad we got her the care she needed before she got any worse and she should recover completely.
The best thing that happened these past two weeks is that Jiro was notified that one of his pieces 不動の石(Fudo no Ishi- Stationary Rock) was accepted into Nitten– the Japan National Fine Art Exhibition. more about this piece It is a major accomplishment for him and a great honor. He went to Tokyo for the opening reception last Thursday. I am so happy for him!
And the Nippon Maru 日本丸 sailed into Saiki Harbor yesterday. It’s a four-masted training ship run by the National Institute for Sea Training for students interested in maritime careers. The local high school band played as the 70 cadets stepped off the ship for a solemn welcoming ceremony. Jiro and I went back today to watch them unfurl the sails- it took a full hour for the crew climbing up the rigging and then working on the deck releasing and securing ropes. Amazing to watch. The ship will be here for a few more days and they head off for another port.
The fracture in my foot seems to be healed now and I plan to return to Tai chi class this week. Tuesday is a national holiday-Bunka no Hi-Culture Day, I plan to head up to Oita for a hit of bigger-than-Saiki culture.