Monday, July 25, 2016

Naoshima - the art island

Our much anticipated last stop of our Japan adventure was Naoshima, a small island that floats in Seto Inland Sea of Japan. (Seto-Nai-Kai)... It took us about 2-3 hour train and ferry ride trip from the city of Okayama. We were so excited to be there on July 5th. 

Combination of art and beach on a little island where we can get around by buses and bicycles... 
Can't get better for the family travel:) 

We loved where we stayed. Cottage Ohana was once again... a little bungalow that had all the space we could have wished for in a Japanese house, fully decked out super clean kitchen, a loft space above the living room, rental bicycles, and a really really sweet grandma who helped us get around the island on the first and last day of our stay. We were little away from grocery store (20 minutes via bike to the nearest market) but LOVED being so close to the beach and all the outdoor art installations. We visited Yellow Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama everyday and night and enjoyed seeing it lit by different lights and ambience throughout the day. 

Few of our favorite highlights: 
- Visit to Chichu Museum. Probably THE favorite experience for all of us. This museum proved to me that "feeling" the art as opposed to "seeing" the art is powerful way of experience the world. The entire museum was serene, centered and beautifully minimum in the most sophisticated way. My favorite artist was Walter De Maria and Frido and Satchi's favorite was James Turrell. Since there was no photography allowed, we talked a lot about drawing and sketching while we were there... and taking mental pictures for our memory. I don't have any photographs from the museum and that has been wonderful in some way. I sometimes trace my memory to the museum and get in touch with the way we felt there as a family. Just incredible.

- A day exploring Art House Projects. This was a fun day for us! It was very hot and humid day... but we got on our bike and managed to tour all 6 Art House Projects which were old village houses converted into art spaces showcasing one artist/house. Frido and I are honestly surprised to see how excited Satchi was once she was the first house. It must have felt like a scaled up version of a scavenger hunt for her. Looking up the map and finding the next house... walking through narrow narrow old town alleys. We still talk about which house was each of our favorite! 

- Playing at the beach. Kids needed something to offset the "artsy" things we wanted to do so we were at the beach pretty much everyday. Watching a big container ship go by... playing with crabs at low tide... watching kids get lost in their play while sharing canned beer from vending machine with Frido. 

Now that we have been back to Los Angeles for about 3 weeks, we think of this trip a lot. How it was shorter than we usually like to travel to Japan but how rich and present time felt. We know that this trip will frame future travels in a very special way... 

The night we came home, I jotted on my journal,
"Everything looks the same.
But nothing feels the same." 

That's exactly how I felt when I walked through our usual front yard... after we unloaded our suitcases. I want to remember that I felt different when I came home after this trip. I also want to remember how we felt the need for small and large changes in our everyday routine. Because it's so easy to be really busy and get swept away into "everyday" after travel... I want to keep reminding us that we felt the need for evolving and growing from what we knew of our everyday. 

"The Journey is the Destination."


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Old meets new... Kurashiki City.

After spending very jet lagged 2 days at the Superior Labor, we took our next adventure to Kurashiki city. (with Coco's very first train ride!) We decided to continue with the theme of "renting a house" and found this lovely renovated Machiya overlooking the city for a really reasonable price. Traveling with kids is so much easier when we can rent a house instead of staying in a hotel. To be able to cut few simple vegetables and fruits for them as a side meal, make coffee in the morning and have a downtime without feeling like we needed to be somewhere else.

Kurashiki was visually very inspiring city. Old and new colliding together. We were in the middle of "Bikan district" (loosely translates as a beautiful site district) where a lot of traditional machiya and atmosphere of the old merchant town was preserved and appreciated. It almost felt like being in Disneyland when we were in the district. Somehow detached from the real world... in a very nostalgic way.

It happened to be very hot 2 days when we were there so tourist traffic was very mellow and we took easy with our outings... with very very very early morning walk around the town which started at 6am and plenty of analogue time in the house during the hottest hours of the day. We loved feeding Koi-fish at a canal, visiting an old temple, marveling Classiky store, stepping into washi tape store (seriously!!! a room full of beautiful washi tapes), sending postcards, eating delicious panda face desserts...

p.s. note to myself with more we did and felt...
- meeting owls
- being bit by so many mosquitos - Coco got the most bites. :(
- izakaya dinner
- girls playing in Japanese style closet (it's like a bunkbed!!)
- walking through arcade avoiding the heat and sun
- getting girls' the cutest sun hats
- getting myself a handmade hat
- journaling at 4am on a balcony as sun came up
- video chat with Frido's parents
- multiple visits to coin laundry
- the very feeling of Japanese street I remember from my childhood as I walked through the narrow alleyway to a grocery store


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