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Takamatsu, a city of art facing a jewel of the world: the Seto


Islands, Art and Octopi

2011.11.29 by Cathy Hirano
Hearing that the art sites on Ogijima were going to close down for the winter, my husband and I impulsively hopped aboard a ferry on the very last day. We almost didn't go because it was cold and raining. "We've seen all the sites already. Is it worth the trouble?" we thought, but in the end we were glad we went.

Ogijima in the rain, looking wet but still beautiful.

We arrived in mid-afternoon just as 130 people were leaving. Apparently there had been a big event with hoards of kids and families reminiscent of Art Setouchi in 2010. The onba market was out with local women selling food and handmade crafts from their custom-made art buggies.

Onba Market

We bought octopus rice, tempura and soybeans ? all excellent and reasonably priced. The men were selling local fish, octopus and crabs, live!

Local crabs

I caught this man butchering an octopus on the spot for a customer.

According to him, octopi have several hearts so they don't die very easily. This one tried to escape up the butcher's leg despite being partly butchered already.

It didn't succeed. A pretty gruesome business really. We bought live crabs instead and cooked them when we got home. These local crabs can't be bought in stores because select restaurants that know how good they are buy them up. They were delicious but cooking them live was still a bit gruesome.

Cooked crab.

After shopping, we wandered through the now familiar lanes to the art sites. Arriving at Dream Friends, we were delightfully surprised to find the art space transformed by the works of a local artist named Tadataka Mizutani.

I'm not sure how much comes through from these photos, but the vivid greens and blues in the white washi-papered setting seemed to mirror the colors of the outer world, drawing us inside. It was quite magical.

The above are from a stunning series of mirror image photos made for the 2003 Kyoto World Water Forum. Below are some of Mizutani's graceful stainless steel sculptures.

His wife happened to be there and she told us that he had submitted a proposal to Art Setouchi 2010 but had passed away a year before the festival at only 54 years of age. This was a beautiful tribute to his work.

Another pleasant surprise for us was Sea Vine. Being a gray day, they had turned the lights on in the building. It was the first time I had ever seen it lighted.

Sea Vine building looking very inviting on a dark day.

Sea Vine in the light

Organ in the rain

View from Urushi House

We ended our trip at Onba Factory where volunteers were packing away the Onba Works for the winter.

Inside, however, we heard great news. Yasufumi Oshima, chief of the Onba Factory team, had just been awarded the Takamatsu City Cultural Incentive Prize, which he very much deserves! We also found a new onba.

A replica of a catamaran that is currently being used by volunteers to clean up the beaches of the area's islands. Here's the real thing.

It can also be rented with the driver for day trips around the Seto Inland Sea. We got a lift home on it, which was really nice!! It's a totally different experience being so close to the water.

Although the art sites are closed for the winter to undergo maintenance and give the artists and volunteers a bit of a break, there are still fun activities being planned with the Ogjima community. Check out the website below (in Japanese) if you're interested. (If you can't read it but are coming for a visit, let me know and I'll tell you what's going on.)

This blog's writer

Cathy Hirano

I've lived in Japan since 1978. After graduating from a Japanese university with a BA in cultural anthropology in 1983, I worked as a translator in a Japanese consulting engineering firm in Tokyo for several years. My Japanese husband and I moved to Takamatsu in 1987 to raise our two children in a slower-paced environment away from the big city pressures. We've never regretted it. I work as a freelance translator and interpreter and am involved in a lot of community work, including volunteering for Second Hand, a local NGO that supports educational and vocational training initiatives in Cambodia, and for the Takamatsu International Association. I love living in Takamatsu.

Discover Scenic Sites and Art around Takamatsu on Bicycle Aji stone and stone art appreciation 1 day course Art, Architecture, Sightseeing in 1 Day Seto Inland Sea Jewel of the World 1 Day Satisfaction Course Learn about Takamatsu  in 1 minute Seto Inland Sea,  Jewel of the World Let’s enjoy learning Bonsai skills Access to major tourist areas

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