Day 10 | Karuizawa (2)

vieuw outside with old bike

The sun is shining. Lovely. It’s still cold. But it feels good. We’re in the mountains, so it’s much fresher than in Echizen and Nara. But the weather doesn’t really know what it wants. Two days ago we had sandal weather. Today I wish I hadn’t sent my gloves back to Belgium.

It’s beautiful here, the morning sun is entering. I take lots of pictures with my Kodak. Click, click, click. Glad I didn’t return it to Belgium.

window with curtains
reflection of mount-fuji-curtain in the mirror

We walk to the supermarket, croissants and a fresh baguette for breakfast. What a way to present food, we feast our eyes. What an assortment of mushrooms and vegetables to choose from. All of them strikingly similar in size and shape. Vladimir is of the opinion that all the fruit and vegetables here are strictly selected. Anything with a difference in size or shape is not for sale, but is processed differently.


I start the working day with chopping. First a piece of my thumb when cutting the baguette. Then I start to work on my first plate. Vladimir lines up his drawing. He begins to transfer it onto his wood. He uses Terry’s Japanese saw to cut a large slab of wood to size.

woodblok with tools for cutting
Terry holding his japanese saw

I quickly do my laundry. Everyone seems to have the same idea. The sun shines on the balconies around us, and washing is hanging out everywhere.

Lunching with Terry in the sunshine. The local Etna sighs another cloud.

vieuw from the terrace on the vulcano

The afternoon is followed by a lesson in how to mend a baren. A good baren should last a lifetime. The sheet of bamboo that surrounds the baren will weather over time. We are learning how to provide it with a new sheet of bamboo. It is not an easy job, warns Vladimir, who has done it before. And he is not exaggerating.

He gets it quite well the second attempt. A bit of an asymmetrical grip, but otherwise OK. I need to try three to get it. Then again…there’s a crack in my leaf and I turned the handle the wrong way. But for some reason I like the work. There is something in the act of turning and pulling the leaf that I recognise. I know that my colleague from the arts and crafts workshop at school would no doubt be a crack at this kind of work.

We continue to practise until 5pm. The bell rings. Terry goes home. No more printing today. Tomorrow, I hope!

barens without bamboo cover
S and V working
barens finished

Aya (Terry’s wife) is giving a short workshop for four English people tomorrow. She comes in to prepare the paper for her workshop. We watch closely how she does it. In the end, it doesn’t seem to be all that much different from the way we do it. Even though we didn’t want to talk about it any more, some of us are quite happy and relieved to make this observation.

Vladimir walking in the sun

We update our notes and head for the Familymart. We buy breakfast for tomorrow and stock up on food for the evening. Vladimir makes a delicious omelette with mushrooms. For dessert I have a macha-magnum and V has a green pudding.

magnum with macha-taste

Doing the dishes and then a back to work. Cutting and drawing, with Maria Callas in the background and the lovely smell of paraffin in the air. What more does anyone need?

soetkin working

Keep your fingers crossed for a mild night. I’ll turn off my blanket now. Good night.