Day 6 | Echizen (3)

Today is Portfolio Day.

The atmosphere is tense. A little excitement is in the air. Everyone is carrying bags, folders or a roll on their way to the bus. Today we are going to show our work to each other.

We are the second shift. Curious, we look around to see how things are going in the first shift.

Everyone gets a table and a bulletin board. Some are well prepared. Prints in a plastic folder, a booklet to go with it, business cards, while other tables just show one printed stack.

We admire the work and exchange business cards as we walk through the booths.

Exchanging business cards - yes, that’s something special. In the same way that you are supposed to do with money here, you give your card to the other person with both hands. Then you have a good look at the card and place it in your business card holder. I am already an expert at doing this. . Everyone starts to tidy up when told to. Five minutes later we prepare our stand. Even Westerners can keep to the rules.

Our stand has visitors at once. Is it because of the stickers, the business cards or the Belgian Mignonettes after all? Merci to the home front for the bright idea, the chocolates are appreciated! We are not the only ones with gifts, some people give us small woodcuts or other nice gadgets. Nothing is sold, but we have lots of nice reactions to the mokuhanga magic. More business cards are exchanged.

We get comments that our prints are of good quality. That is very nice to hear. The ‘wrong onsen’ print is popular. We have to take photos with a lot of people, in front of the posters, with the MOKUBLAD or sometimes for fun. I try to make my best photoface. Not so obvious in the morning.

Another thing that is often mentioned is the fact that our work is very different, but that we are a good match in our work together. We are very pleased with this comment, as we are of the same opinion. Tuula Moilanen is enthusiastic about MokuhangaMagic and promises to speak to the Finnish mokuhanga community about the next initiatives, Kari Lahtinen talks to Vladimir about his research on wood. A professor from the university and a paper merchant who has a Belgian artist client come to talk to us. We have so much nice conversations, meetings of kindred spirits. Everything so interesting!

Hopefully this conference will lead to more to come. The main thing in my mind is that there is a lot of work and a lot of ways to make a print. It always comes down to the same thing: ‘This is the recipe, but depending on the weather, where you are, the paper, the thickness of the ink, the way your hair is or what you have eaten, you will have to adjust the recipe a little’.

Happy and full of positive vibes, we eat our bento box in the sun. After dinner, we are taken to a very famous pâtisserie Espoir by Sichio (a study friend of Vladimir, who lived in Belgium for many years and is now back in Japan). The patisserie is très Français, ah oui. With accordion music, Thonet chairs and, above all, the wonderful aroma of delicious coffee and chocolate. Fantastic!

nice patisserie
sensei showing woodblock

Afther coffee, back in the conference we join the demo’s given by Kitamura-san(cutting) and a printing demo by Horaicho-san. The set-up is good, with TV screens where you can have a look at everything. Everything is translated live and there is always plenty of time to ask questions. It’s all recorded, too, so we needn’t bother writing everything down. Some viewers discreetly take a nap while sitting.

We are expected in the city centre for the evening programme (it is the last evening here). We are treated to takoyaki and chicken kebabs. The atmosphere is great with food trucks, beer and sake. We mingle with the local people. What a good initiative! There is a little festival atmosphere. Although… a few hours later, at 9.30 pm sharp, everything is neatly cleared away.

Vladimir looking at the festivity
lady dancing and two ladies making music

After dinner we go to listen to a performance by two ladies who play and sing on the koto. The music is accompanied by a traditionally dressed woman dancing. Wonderful.

The next stop is a monk with a bamboo flute and a recorder, who is playing a couple of songs along with a CD. He plays his songs full of devotion. Well done, but not really my cup of tea, to be honest.

Vladimir and Soetkin under cherrytree

Finally, we meet the cherry blossom of cherry blossom trees. Beautiful tree, could fit a house underneath. I have never seen anything like it before. Lying under the tree and just looking at the sky full of blossoms and stars must be amazing. So beautiful, almost unreal.

Arigato gozaimashita.