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06 April 2011

Of Earthquakes and Pipe Makers
 Everyone is fine

       -Posted by sykes-

A number of people have kindly written to ask about our friends in Japan since the horrifying earthquake that struck the northeast coast of Honshu on March 11th. All of the pipe makers and their families are fine. Most of them are in and around Tokyo, so while they experienced some shaking and had some stuff jump off of shelves, they weren't terribly affected by the quake.

Hiroyuki Tokutomi lives with his family in Maebashi, in Gunma Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, and was a little closer to the epicenter. They experienced some damage and problems with computers and power and whatnot, but nothing threatening or serious.

Again, thank you all for your kind curiosity. It's always nice to see the way the pipe community responds to such events.

Posted by sykes at 11:40 AM | Link | 1 comment

17 December 2010

Day One in Japan
 Or, does Sykes actually do any real work?

       -Posted by sykes-

I've been back from Japan for a couple of days now, starting to recover from jetlag and starting to look through the vast number of photos and perhaps two hours of video I took while I was there. These are all photos from my first day in Japan. Kei Gotoh and Takeo Arita picked me up at my hotel in the morning and we visited (I had no idea this was planned) a small museum of work by the celebrated painter Gyokudo Kawai, known for his naturalistic melding of traditional Japanese artistic themes with western modernist influences. After the museum visit, we had lunch with Sab Tsuge, who was wearing (I think) a hakama and smoking (and this I know) a kiseru, the traditional metal pipe that was used to smoke tobacco in Japan starting in the late sixteenth century.

Extremely fine tobacco--much finer than cigarette tobacco-- is used with the kiseru. According to Tsuge, the kiseru is making something of a comeback, in part because of recent tax increases on tobacco. That's actually rather ironic because that exactly was the genesis for the kiseru: heavy taxes were levied on tobacco during the Tokugawa shogunate, so the pipes shrank accordingly.

We enjoyed a wonderful, traditional lunch together in a beautiful tatami private dining room overlooking the river. I shan't try to detail the food; I don't know what much of it was, though it was all good. Following that, we had coffee outside and Gotoh, Arita and I headed back to Gotoh's workshop to chat, take pictures and videos, and actually conduct three minutes of honest-to-goodness business. Perhaps the best thing about my job is that the actual transacting of business is done in about three minutes and the rest of the time is spent on the concordant rituals, which largely consist of eating and talking about pipes.

Kei Gotoh took the third and the twelfth photos in this series. Since those are definitely the best, kudos go to him.

Posted by sykes at 4:45 PM | Link | 0 comments



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