Blue Sky

18 June in Otsuchi, Iwate, we had a clear blue sky with beautiful gentle breeze. It was the 100th day from the March 11 disaster. A group of us was there to clean the Otsuchi-gawa River, where tsunami travelled upstream. The surrounding communities as far as 5km were devastated. Although the river water is cold and clean, the riverbed is filled with pieces of glasses, nails, roof tiles and fragments of household goods and industrial materials. On both sides of the river stand the Otsuchi Primary and Secondary. In the coming warmer months, we hope children can enjoy cool clean water in a safe environment. As we were finishing for the day, a string of kites flew straight up into the blue summer sky, as if to free the soul of those who were lost and the grief of their families and friends.


Suikinkutsu in Broome

The Suikinkutsu at the entrance of the Broome Shire Council,WA was installed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Broome-Taiji Sister-town Relationship. Simon Wearne, who has learned the art of Suikinkutsu making from Master Kubo, completed this installation using all local materials, plus stones from Taiji (grey stones in centre). The installation coincided with the naming of the street in front of the Taiji Town Council as "Broome St". The Broome suikinkutsu features special stones permitted from Yawuru People, the traditional owners in the Kimberley region and native plants, showing distinctive Broome landscape. This is the 5th suikinkutsu by Team Kubo, who has been installing this beautiful land art with a specific aim to communicate and celebrate the importance of peace, friendship, natural environment and local culture. With this installation, we acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, and the Japanese ancestors who came across the sea, worked hard in a foreign land, many of whom never saw their homeland again.


Industrialisation and Human senses

Shukuho is one of the traditional sake breweries remaining in Wakayama city center. The brewery was established in 1886, whose wooden structure partially remains. The current brewery built in 1965 is an example that human senses and abilities were still controlling the machines. The large scale factory was still serviced and controlled by workers, who lived in the building for the six months while sake making was in process using the barrels, ladders, buckets etc all made with wood. The time was a major industrialisation but was still pre-computer control, when humans were in control of machinery, not being overtaken. The critical senses in sake making, feeling of the temperature and consistency, visual clarity, taste and smell - were controlling the machine.

Suikinkutsu in Taiji

The town of Taiji, Wakayama and its Australian partner town Broome (WA) are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their formal tie, which actually dates back to mid 19c when Taiji fishers went to Broome for the pearl diving industry. Apparently Japanese divers, many of whom were from southern Wakayama, excelled in their work - they were also diligent workers, some of whom apparently played hard as well. Many families in both towns share the same heritage. The relationship became threatened and was nearly lost when Broome felt the mounting opposition against the whaling & dolphin hunt, in which some Taiji fishers are engaged. The Broome council's decision to put the relationship temporarily on-hold was reversed and met with clear community opposition, and this year, the two towns want to renew their commitment to the friendship. The Suikinkutsu installation, proposed by Simon Wearne and helped by the usual suspects - Mr Kubo, Hide, Simon and the new gang Roku, was completed in time to welcome the Broome delegates arriving in early June. Its sound certainly reminds us of the importance of peace in our mind and people's connection, which was so prevalent at the time of recent disasters.



Sumie or Suibokuga is n ink and wash painting seen in Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam. Various tone is expressed by ink concentration (notan or light and dark) created by the amount of ink stick ground in water. Effects are also created by speed, force, thickness of the brush strokes creating effects such as kasumi (faint trace) and migimi (smudging). Sumie is in this sense created by the meditative concentration of the artist focused on the space between the paper and brush.

Night Song

Do koalas sing lullaby to their babies? ... in the morning light...

Deep Ocean

The ocean is a world deeply known. Ama, women divers, plunge into their world that is 'my own, beautiful place'. Not romanticising but Mishima Yukio's novel Sounds of the Waves (Shiosai) gives us the glimpse of the world. Perhaps the fascination is the enticement of the world, from which you may not be able to return, like Eurydice. In our radiophonic story of ama women Waiting for the Tide (ABC Radio National, 2007), Tony Barrell gave a brilliant reading of the women plunging into the ocean deep.
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/radioeye/stories/2007/2694298.htm ) Sadly, Tony died suddenly last week in Sydney. My sincere tribute, gratitude and farewell to the most inspiring audio storyteller (Photo: Taiji, Simon Wearne)


Sakura 2 (Negoro)


Sakura (Wakayama)


Light and darkness 光と影 陰陽

Light and darkness or ying and yang - each is born out of the other, each enhances the other and neither exists without the other. There is a fractional moment, however in changing light, when both exist or neither exists. Such is the moment of void and fullness that emerges in deep contemplation, quiet listening and absolute stillness (inspired by Nao, paper artist).



My deepest sympathy and sincere wishes for those people affected in the recent disaster. There is no word to describe the devastation and loss, and the nuclear is giving further threats nationally and beyond. Human vulnerability despite of the power we thought we had gained is so real. We are at a time of serious re-thinking. In all the sadness, one reassurance is that the mountain still watches over us and the flowers are starting to bloom. May the blue sky and bright warm sun keep shining over those people who have lost family, home and homeland.


Sound of the Universe

Gagaku, literally graceful tunes, is Japanese ancient music and dances, mostly performed in shrines in royal occasions today. The most fundamental instruments in gagaku are three wind instruments - sho, hichiriki and ryuteki. Sho looks like a mini pipe organ consisting of 17 bamboo pipes. Hichiriki is a reed-like instrument made of rackered bamboo with 7 holes on the front and 2 on the back. It is the most used instument in gagaku. Ryuteki, dragon flute, is a 7-hole flute with 2-octave range. It is said that Sho represents the sound of heaven - sunlight coming through the clouds, Hichiriki, sound of the earth – human voice, and ryuteki, sound of the sky – a dragon flying through the sky. Together, they represent the sound of the Universe. The soundscape of the University, seemingly imaginative emerges, as we stand As we stand on top of the Oishi-yama Mountain, the soundscape of the universe emerges.

Hatenashi - endless mountains

Hatenashi– the mountain range to the right is named Hatenashi, endless. As we reach this point at the end of an all-day walk, the name of the mountain feels right. If we drove or flew into the area, however, the endlessness of the land might not be sensed.


Kan-nabi - where gods reside

Oto-matsuri is a fire festival held annually on 6 February in Shingu, at the southern end of Kii Peninsula, Wakayama Prefecture. It is in a sense a secret/sacred men’s business held at the Kamikura Shrine, whose deity is a large rock Kotobiki on top of the hill. Steep stone steps (538 steps) lead up to the rock from the shrine. Over 2000 men, young and old, dressed in white traditional costume walk up to the rock at dusk after visiting 3 local shrines in town. They carry a wooden torch - they bang each other's torch as they pass by on the way to the shrine. The gate to the hill-top rock closes around 7pm. Several messengers ran down to a small shrine half-way down the hill and receive sacred fire, which they take back up to the waiting crowd. The fire travels slowly through the crowd, lighting the torch carried by men until the whole hill top is lit with orange glow. Every now and then, roar rises from the eagerly waiting crowd echo through the valley. Then a sudden silence fell, and with a big roar, the gate opens and several lights descend the hill, like a shooting star. Some young compete to be the first one to reach the shrine gate, and others descend slowly, negotiating the uneven steps dimly lit by the fire. The festival is said to have 1400 year history, since a deity descended onto the rock. A site where gods descend/reside is kan-nabi, and in Japan’s traditional beliefs sites could be any natural places - a tree, forest, mountain, rock, river, waterfall…. Nachi Waterfall nearby is one of the well known kan-nabi, included in the 2004 world heritage nomination “Sacred sites and pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountain Range”.