Journey south and the Museum of Art, Kochi 

On Sunday 6th I took the bullet train from Tokyo to Kochi, changing at Okoyama. I was lucky because it was a clear day and I saw Mount Fuji on my way out of Tokyo. It was quite beautiful with the summit appearing to hover over the clouds.

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Shinkoku is very mountainous and I spent lots of time drawing the blue mountains in the distance on the train. By the time I got to the island of Shinkoku the sun was setting and the last few hours were in darkness. I didn’t really mind being on the train in darkness, it felt like being in a Hayao Miyazaki film.

Mio from Museum of Art in Kochi met me from the train and kindly drove me to my Airbnb. I had booked to stay in a village about 30 minutes away from Kochi called Tosayama. I was really excited about staying in rural Japan. As I arrived in the dark it was quite strange to not really know where I was but I could tell I was high in the mountains as we seemed to pretty much drive upwards for the whole 30 minutes.  I stayed with Tomoko and Masa and their three boys. My room really beautiful with  sliding windows all round the walls. I arranged to meet Mio at 7.50 the next morning which is pretty early for me.

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It was quite amazing to wake up in the mountains. The house was up a little slope just near the main village. Mio took me to Museum of Art in Kochi and introduced me to her colleagues. I gave them some more artists books from Margate as presents, this time from Nick Morley, Steven Allen, Jo Murray, Heather Tait, Dan Thompson and Rachel Wilberforce.

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I spent some time looking around the gallery after getting a tour of the building from Mio. The building is really beautiful, water surrounds it and you walk along a long bridge to get to the main door. Their main exhibition was called Mindfulness! and they had two other shows, one by the photographer Yasuhiro Ishimoto and a exhibition about birds. I saw my third work by teamLab since arriving in Japan. This time there were screens mounted on the gallery wall and the sound changed as you moved in from of them. Mio told me that Kochi owned a lot of the catalogue of the photographer Yasuhiro Ishimoto’s work as his parents came from Kochi. In the exhibition were a collection of his photographs of Japanese gardens, he did very interesting things with shape and texture. Black and white photography has the potential to become quite surreal and almost trick your eyes. .

After visiting the gallery Mio drove me to see the Makino Botanical Garden at the top of a hill just a little way from the gallery. Kochi is situated in the South of Japan so their plant life is extraordinary. I particularly loved the greenhouse. Just behind there was a shrine, moss covered the floor around the various buildings and shrines. I saw several people taking part in pilgrimages.

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