Day 12 | Karuizawa (4)

piles of printingink colours

I’m having breakfast alone this morning. Vladimir worked late last night, I suspect he’ll get up late. I managed to finish my plates yesterday. Now I have to make some ink and I shall be ready to print. I wonder how things are going to go here.

No procrastination today as this is our last ‘teaching day’..,

This morning we will start to print. We still have a lot of questions we want to ask Terry. If we get those answered, we’ll be two happy people and this week will be more than successful. In the afternoon, Vladimir would like to learn to make a coil (= the string of knots that is wound up in the bars). He has made some unsuccessful attempts in the past, inspired by YouTube and the www. But from today on, he is really going to know how to do it.

The workshop starts right on time, but first I have to cut out my ‘flying kento’. Then it is time for action!

First demo: Goma-Zuri. That means learning to make a mottled print in a fairly controlled way. Terry demonstrates. Vladimir takes notes. I photograph. Then I try it. Terry adjusts. I try again. Until it’s about right.

soetkin printing
vladimir taking notes

Second demonstration: Mokume. This means to make a clear print of the structure of the wood during the printing process. Same pattern. We learn both dry and wet methods.

Third demo: Sumi print. With ink. He immediately demonstrates three techniques in one, understanding that we are quite greedy.

some testprints

I’m very satisfied. And so is Terry. He says that it is a pleasure to teach advanced students.

Coffee on the roof terrace (Vladimir spontaneously joins us up there, we also had lunch outside this afternoon).

Last lesson: coiling knots for the inside of the baren. Vladimir learns how to tie a rope with small pieces of bamboo. Specialist job. It doesn’t look easy at all. Just like yesterday when we repeared the baren, it is painful for the hands. It involves all sorts of muscles and actions that we are not used to using. The baren-maker-san apparently has no more fingerprints from this work. I can believe that and am happy to stick to photography and filming.

coiling tread

Terry also explains to us about the construction of the back of the baren. Each day, a new thin piece of paper washi is applied to the mould, a process that takes six months. Sanding down the edges and varnishing it with persimmon juice.

I am going to buy my barens, I think. A good one should last a lifetime. I learned that yesterday. It seems fantastic and achievable if I could replace the worn bamboo top.

This morning Aya joined the workshops for a while. We agreed to eat sushi together tonight at a sushi train. That’s a restaurant where you order sushi with your iPad. The food comes to your table on a conveyor belt. There is a tap on the table from which you can draw green tea if you like. Very special. We have a good meal, it’s cosy. We get to know an Aya, what a lovely lady. Cool couple.

Yesterday, Terry told me how to subtly trick a Japanese person when it comes to paying the bill. When I subtly hint to Vladimir that it’s time to go to the toilet, he reacts with surprise and says that he doesn’t really have to go ;)

Eventually, he gets the hint and goes to pay the bill. In the meantime, Terry has understood and is helping from a distance. There were a couple of buttons on the iPad that needed to be keyed in first. Once again, it’s not that easy to sneak a treat to a Japanese person.

In return, we get a ball from the Gashapon (ガシャポン), from Terry. I win a green kitten. Vladimir wins a beautiful pink ring that almost fits around his little finger. Great. And all of it in the colours of Mokuhanga Magic ;)

two mascottes from the Gashapon

On the way back home, we suddenly come out of the darkness just outside the town and onto a road with a lot of lights. Aha! A group of lovehotels. These are hotels where you can rent a room on an hourly basis. Also for the night. They tend to be cheaper and bigger than the average hotel room in Japan. Take kitschy interior for granted. They appear frequently on Adults only. Now we know why. The garages have a curtain. You can check in completely anonymously. This is deeply rooted in their culture, Aya explains. Especially in the countryside, where there are often several generations living in the same house AND the walls are made of paper!

To round off the evening, Terry treats us to a retro Frisco tablet from the family mart.

When we get back home, Vladimir goes upstairs to do some more cutting work. I get some more paper ready to do some printing tomorrow. Looking forward to it!

Time for bed.

Meanwhile, my warm futon awaits me. It is a poor substitute for the warm back that I miss so much and would love to snuggle up against.

Have a good sleep!