This is not a typical art blog today.
While my encaustic mixed media work is exhibited at a gallery in New York City, I am away from my studio, visiting my family in Hamamatsu(浜松), Japan.
The Golden Week will (officially) start from April 29. (The G.W. is one of Japan’s busiest holiday seasons.) Hamamatsu has a renowned Hamamatsu Festival 浜松祭り(May 3rd – 5th) during this national holiday that draws approximately 1.5 million people every year from all over Japan, and even from abroad.
Recently, four of my American friends in the U.S. happened to ask me the same question, “What is the name of your hometown?”
I thought to myself, “Hmm…they wouldn’t know of the name itself, or the name of this festival, and the name is difficult for them to pronounce or remember.”
So, as I do most times, “Hamamatsu,” I answered. And then, I added, “YAMAHA (musical instruments) and Honda (motorcycles/automobile) were both founded here.”
Although I lived in Tokyo/Yokohama for many years to go to college and for work, Hamamatsu is my hometown.
One of the friends suggested to post some photos or write something about it. Flowers are not my typical subjects. (I am often drawn to lights. Lights in the sky or in the cities. The previous photographic series has also something to do with lights.)
However, when I drove out near my parents house, unexpectedly I found the Nanohana (Rapeseed blossoms) field, which I never knew before. It is a little out of place to me but I felt happy to encounter it!
So, the next day, I took my old parents there. They knew this place. Still they were happy to see it this year.
I see myself as a visitor, although I spent my childhood here. The city is not small and pretty busy (Population: 810, 000.). Like Seattle, Hamamatsu has both urban and nature. In fact, Seattle is really like Japan, especially Hamamatsu to me. It is a quite big city and has easy access to nature. The Mt. Rainier looks like Mt. Fuji. (When I saw Mt. Fuji this time, my head recognized it as Mt. Rainer for the first glance.) There is water such as big rivers and ocean nearby. Humidity.
A lot of my old friends are here and came back after they lived in Tokyo, or other areas, for a few or more years. Typically, my high school friends would re-connect for New Year’s. I joined a New Year’s party a couple years ago for the first time in a long time. It was fun, refreshing and easy to re-connect, even with some old friends who I haven’t talked with for a long time. You may have a similar experience.
While I still feel it is like a home in Hamamatsu because there is a physical home here, I often feel more home and feel relaxed when I flew back to New York or Seattle. When you move a lot and live in different cities or countries, it becomes hard to feel like I belong – wherever you have lived or currently live. Strangely, this feeling is even from my childhood. So, I decided to belong to the earth while living, and to heaven after die.
I am always reminded of culture difference each time I travel between Japan and the U.S., even right after arriving at each airport. I travel often but I still very much feel the difference of people and culture each time in the East Coast, West Coast in the U.S., Europe and Japan. I feel convinced to adjust myself accordingly and respectfully. Not only languages, but also my behavior. Otherwise, it would be rude. (Ok, I have to admit my voice is a bit too loud for Japanese people, even when try not to be. I use more hand gestures than the average Japanese person by nature… ; )
I actually crave for studio time. I can work on my art here as well, but the space is very limited and the house is too clean to get it dirty with paints. So I am instead focusing on other things and work. Writing or seeing different landscape or scenery is good for your soul and new ideas. Or just feeling relaxed. Talking with new or old friends is a bit challenging for me at first (-Some people would say I don’t show it, and while I’m not shy talking with people in a professional setting, I have found myself introverted in a way), but always ends up enjoying.
I am looking forward to going to see Hamamatsu Festival this year on May 3-5 after being away for a long time. If you have a chance to visit Japan around this season, you may want to experience the festival. The last time I went was 2005 when I came to visit to make the photographic series of Fire Flies – Japan that was inspired by Hamamatsu Festival.
This year, I will simply enjoy. You don’t have to feel guilty. Happy Golden Week!
Time You Enjoy Wasting is Not Wasted.
* Quote by John Lennon. The same or similar saying has been attributed to Bertrand Russell, Marthe Troly-Curtin and others.
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