Japan has an amazing overnight delivery service. We have used it twice now, once to send Tokiko's kimonos from Sendai to the school, and now to send two suitcases stuffed with 50 lbs apiece of books, kimonos, and pottery, to the airport. It was $20 per item. People use this service a lot because it's door to door and completely reliable. Or so I am told.
The 1 hour bus ride to Tokyo was $15 apiece. We went to lunch with the editor of Bio-City Japan, a magazine dedicated to thinking about environmentalism from a spiritual as well as technological and political point of view. He picked an Italian restaurant (the second favorite choice here, after Japanese food), and watched happily as we ate. He said that Japan has an unbroken tradition of experiencing gods in the natural world, it is the nation of 8 million kami. With that attitude, it is natural for people to think of addressing environmental problems from a spiritual point of view.
We said that the Native Americans had a similar point of view, but that for us, who are historically new to the Americas, our mythology is science. So, approaching the natural world through Citizen Science is a good way to get people engaged in effective environmental change. We bowed and exchanged assurances to connect our organizations with each other.
Then we headed for our meeting with Allan West, but got sidetracked on the way by a pottery fair. Japanese pottery is about what you'd expect from having seen it at Uwajimaya and other such places, but here it is inexpensive. A bowl, for example, will cost about $6, and a large plate about $10. We wandered about, dazed and delighted.
Finally, we broke free and wound through the alleys of that district to Allan's. I presented him with a watercolor and Camilla presented him with the copy of Andrew Henry's Meadow that she'd taken to Japan with her. What a fortuitous coincidence, that both of them should have been so inspired by the same childrens' book!
We sat and discussed lots of things like the role of artists in inspiring change, and living in Japan as a foreigner. Allan does a brisk business; lots of people dropped in or peeked into the windows and he seems to have a large following here. However, the Japanese screen painters do not recognize him as a colleague. Is it racism or what? He doesn't know and has found a way around the issue by simply selling so much good art.
We parted reluctantly. In that short time, he's become a friend.
We closed the evening by going to the same restaurant we found last time, and eating enormous amounts of delicious food; eel, raw mackerel, squid intestines, pickled daikon, caramel pudding, and wobbly greyish purple stuff. Mmmm.