Late Summer

Progress on the minka in the mountains continues; perhaps not at the pace I’d like to see, but it’s progress nonetheless, and the workers can’t be faulted. When they’re there, the house continues taking shape.

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One thing we’ve been focusing on recently is our kitchen. I selected an IKEA Metod module system that, while new, has an older, farmhouse look. It took a day to drive out to to Osaka to order it, and another three days to assemble everything, but it’s starting to look good here, and I got the job done in time for the workers to install it.

You can get a good sense of what the finished product will look like here.

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Meanwhile, Masutani-san began building the framework to hold it all. To the left of the kitchen cabinets will be our refrigerator, and to the right a washing machine. 

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Today, a (presumably) husband-wife electrician team arrived to install in the many outlets we requested for that part of the house. (Rice cooker, espresso machine, etc.)
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Meanwhile, back behind the house Matsuda-san is seen here pulling off the last remnants of the space where window shutters once were stored for the rear engawa. The rear engawa didn’t really look out at anything yet made the house more vulnerable in the event of heavy snow, rain, or landslides, so we’re replacing it with a simple wall instead. Not long after this photo was taken, he was stung multiple times by a hornet. His leg swelled-up and spent a precious work day at the hospital instead.
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To the left, behind the ladder, is the other side of that same wall. The paneling nailed between the great wood beams will soon be layered with white plaster, which should brighten the room considerably. 

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This is what the space in-between looked like immediately before Masutani-san got to it.
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Busy man that he is, Masutani-san also began work on a futon closet that’s being converted into a space for our indoor toilet and accompanying sink. 
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Beyond the kitchen cabinet, there hasn’t been all that much for me to do, in terms of helping the crew out, so one day I managed to tacking this stone wall, which had become so overgrown with weeds one couldn’t even see it. Stuart and His Mighty Sickle strike again!


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Fellow minka owners Lauren and Pat made the wise suggestion that we install a ceiling fan to help push the warm air downward for once we get our wood stove up and running. This was a cheap but functional model, though I confess to being tempted, someday, to maybe replacing it something a bit more ornate and period, like this one:

ceiling fan

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Sadie, Simon, Keiko-san, and I also spent a morning in Miyama, and while Sadie finished her summer homework, I assembled this cute DIY birdhouse, a good deal (and deal of fun) for a mere 1200 yen.
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Sadie at the Miyama dairy.
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A praying mantis tries unsuccessfully to break into our kura.
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That evening, joined by Yukiyo, we all headed over to the nearby Hirogawara matsuage (fire festival). Here, our neighbor three minka down, Murata-san, shows off vegetables for sale grown in his garden.

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As with Hanase’s fire festival, photos can’t do justice to the sights and smells of the event. I found Hirogawara’s more intimate and casual and neighborly, and thus much more relaxed and enjoyable. 
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Most of those who intended were locals, but there were plenty of others bussed in from the city including, apparently, lots of Korean and Chinese tourists. 
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Yesterday, Yukiyo’s father visited the minka for the first time. A retired window-installer, he’ll be helping out in that department to save us money and time. He liked the place so much he recommended that we sell our house in the city and move out here. Not a bad idea, maybe. 
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We also brought our dogs, Maisie (l) and Edie (r), for their first trip to Hanase. For them it was a great adventure.
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Edie, particularly, made a new friend.
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By the end of the day, the dogs were happy but done-in and ready for a nap.

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Author: stuartgalbraithiv

Stuart Galbraith IV is a Kyoto-based film historian, writer, and publisher-editor of World Cinema Paradise. He is the author of seven books, including The Emperor and the Wolf (Faber & Faber, 2002), the joint-biography of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune hailed by Martin Scorsese as "a must read." Peter Biskind, in The New York Times Book Review, called it "a rare feast for lovers of Japanese cinema [and] a monumental job of research . . . infused throughout with an affection for its subjects that is contagious. Best of all, it does what all good film books should do: returns us, with an enriched appreciation, to the movies themselves." "One of the best industrial histories of Japanese cinema available in English," adds Catherine Russell of Cineaste. And Bill Kelley, in The Sarasota Herald Tribune, had this to say: "Not many film books deserve to have the adjective 'extraordinary' applied to them, but Stuart Galbraith's The Emperor and the Wolf is nothing less than that. In fact, it's more . . . this 823-page achievement wants to be all things to all admirers of its twin subjects, and, incredibly, it succeeds. Reference work, scrupulously thorough filmography, exhaustive biography - all are here . . . A graceful, economical writer, [Galbraith] is also a first-rate critic and film historian. [The Emperor and the Wolf] is a wonder of clarity and organization, and an enormous pleasure to read . . . [a] magnificent book." Galbraith's other books include Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo: The Incredible World of Japanese Fantasy Films (Feral House, 1998), The Japanese Filmography (McFarland & Co., 1996), Motor City Marquees (McFarland, 1994), and Japanese Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films (McFarland, 1994). In 2007, Galbraith's The Toho Studios Story, was published by Scarecrow, while his latest, Japanese Cinema, was published by Taschen in 2009. From 2004-2009, Galbraith wrote a monthly column for Japan's Daily Yomiuri on Region 2/Japanese DVDs. Within the home video field, Galbraith has written essays for Criterion's three-disc Seven Samurai DVD and Blu-ray, Optimum's Rashomon, BCI Eclipse's The Quiet Duel and Subkultur's The Long Good Friday. He provided audio commentaries for AnimEigo's Musashi Miyamoto - The Ultimate Samurai and Tora-san, editing the accompanying booklet for the latter. A commentary recorded (with Steve Ryfle) for Godzilla vs. Megalon but suppressed and aborted due to legal problems became an instant collector's item. In 2011, he co-produced Message from Earth, a short documentary on the making of Kinji Fukasaku's Message from Space. In 2015, Galbraith recorded an audio commentary and wrote and produced a new short documentary, Rashomon at 65, for the British Film Institute's Blu-ray of Kurosawa's 1950 classic. Concurrently, he served as an consultant on Oscar-winning director Steven Okazaki's documentary feature, Mifune - Last Samurai (2015). Also in 2015 Galbraith wrote an essay for Arrow Video's The Happiness of the Katakuris, shot interview material and provided an audio commentary for their Battles without Honor and Humanity boxed set. He was an associate producer for the DVDs of the classic poolroom drama The Hustler and Sidney Lumet's The Verdict. He provided audio commentary (with director Richard Fleischer) for the Special Edition DVD of Tora! Tora! Tora! (all for 20th Century-Fox), and interviewed Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond for his audio commentary track for The Sadist. Galbraith also contributed commentary tracks to The Horror of Hammer and Tales of Frankenstein, all for All Day Entertainment. Galbraith's audio commentary for Classic Media's Invasion of Astro-Monster was released in 2007 and nomiated for a Rondo Hatton Award. Holding a Master's Degree from the University of Southern California's prestigious School of Cinema-Television, Galbraith worked as an archivist and researcher at both Warner Bros. and M-G-M. At Warner Bros., Galbraith implemented preservation projects and procedures at both its USC-Warner Bros. Archives and the Warner Bros. Corporate Image Archives. At M-G-M, Galbraith worked as a "film detective," tracking down the original camera negatives to more than three dozen "lost" films. Born in 1965 in Detroit, Michigan, Galbraith was a film critic for the Ann Arbor News, a daily newspaper. In addition to writing film reviews and feature stories, Galbraith also wrote a weekly column, "Video View," which ran from 1990-1993. Between books, Galbraith wrote for such film magazines as Filmfax, Outre, and the French film magazine HK Orient Extreme Cinema. Since 2003 he has lived in Kyoto, Japan with his wife, Yukiyo, and their daughter, Sadie.

3 thoughts on “Late Summer”

  1. WOW…… the, soon to be, kitchen area. The fire festival looked like a real cool event. Wondering if you bought any veggies while there.

    I look so forward to reading and seeing the progress of your minka. I also find myself looking up some of the words that I don’t know. Actually, it is all the Japanese words. This just proves that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do so.


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