Heart beat #19958

Contemporary art can be weird wonderful and whimsical, more often weird. When it is participatory, it is at another level again. And so I became heartbeat #19958 recorded on 13 April 2016 in Christian Boltanski’s worldwide installation ‘Les Archives du Coeur’.

The house sits facing a quiet beach of the Setouchi Inland Sea. Inside, “Les Archives du Cœur” my own heartbeats were digitised forever. I can’t remember what my personal message was which is part of the archive for the work.

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Kumano Hongu Taisha Spring Festival

With declining rural communities as well as less Shinto followers  across Japan, local religious and cultural local festivals might be struggling to maintain community interest and participation. S0 I say to fellow visitors in particular – seek out and celebrate small festivals.

One such festival is the Kumano Hongu Taisha Spring Festival, in Hongu, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture in mid-April every year. With shrine ceremonies and procession of mikoshi, this festival is like many others just smaller scale.

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Images of the Kumano Hongu Taisha Spring Festival

Big festivals in Japan are vibrant and exiting, the energy of the massive crowds palpable. But small festivals with rich history and cultural connections are worth finding.

On such festival is the Kumano Hongu Taisha Spring Festival, in Hongu, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture. Hongu is a central place in the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes which are registered as UNESCO World Heritage and part of the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range”.

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A short but well-formed section of the Kumano Kodo

Historic pilgrimage routes are becoming extremely popular with serious trekkers and casual visitors. The Kii Peninsula in Wakayama Prefecture offers the Kumano Kodo network of pilgrimage routes.

The 7 km walk from Hosshinmon-oji to Hongu Taisha is an easily accessible part of the Nakahechi Route that gives an insight into 1,000 years of arduous pilgrimage across the Kii mountains. Local buses can get you to the trailheads at either end.

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My Umbrella

The simple question from my work colleague was “where did I get my umbrella?” It might look like an ordinary, cheap looking, clear plastic, black ribbed and black handled umbrella. But that umbrella is a link to disaster, resilience, hope and friendship.

Here is the story of my umbrella.

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Miffy Cafe brings smiles in Kamaishi

Fair to say that I am not a fan of theme cafes. But the unmistakable line visage of Miffy adorning a cafe in far-off Kamaishi took Veronica and I back to those days some 30 years ago when Dick Bruna’s classics were a favourite in our household. We just had to go in.

That simple outlined image of a rabbit, often depicted with intense colour, associated with parent’s reading and children’s laughter. What a juxtaposition for Miffy to be in front of us here – a place of death and destruction, an engulfing tsunami etched in survivor’s memories, forever captured on video and seemingly endlessly repeated.

 

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Cafe Ryusenkei replaces a faster music life

So this is Cafe Ryusenkei, an American Airstream caravan from the 60’s transformed into an intimate, mobile cafe fitted out by award-winning designers. Moving from place to place, a calendar identifying the next port of call.

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