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It is no longer a secret. I will soon be heading to Amano, Japan, where I'll stay for a few days with potter master Shige Morioka. I hope my time in Amano will significantly help me to improve my understanding of Joy Brown. There, in Amano, with Shige Morioka, Joy evolved into a brilliant ceramist.

Shige’s Studio in Amano

Moreover, considering other incursions to nearby destinations might enrich the experience and guide me to produce the imagery needed to pay a fitting tribute to Joy's upbringing in Japan. However, planning such incursions took much work from the start. Figuring out where to go and what to do in a country I know so little about only added pressure to my ignorance of its culture and language. Baby steps, I thought... Let's start somewhere and move from there in any possible direction. "You've done it before," I said when I thought about the time I got lost in China. But that was then, and I was thirty years younger. I know better now, and when all predictions fail, we have Google to fall back to.

With some help from AI and YouTube videos, I came up with my first itinerary outside of my residence in Amano with master Shige Morioka. There will be others, at least two more. One certainly to Tamba, the quintessential capital of pottery, and Hiroshima, a place of no return, a must-be sort of place for my generation and the generation before me. In many ways, we have all been shaped by what happened there in 1945.

Banryutei Rock Garden, Koyasan

Countdown to Kansai

Before checking in for my flight back to Charlottesville, I will take a two-day excursion to Koyasan & Sakai. The proximity to the International Airport of Kansai, near Osaka, rendered these two geographical entities the perfect destination for a final dispersion.

Day 1 - I will head to Koyasan by rail after pre-checking my bags at Kansai. Koyasan is the ancestral home of Shingon Buddhism, where his founder Kobo Daishi is said to be in eternal meditation. For someone like me who can't manage to be silent for five minutes, "eternal meditation" sounds like much introspection. The first stop will be Kongobuji, the main temple of Shingon Buddhism. It's like Saint Peter's Cathedral at Vatican City, only that the pope here it's been dead since April 835. The second stop will be at Okunoin cemetery to visit Kobo's mausoleum and hundreds of funeral monuments dating back to the VII century. At some point, I will probably engage in a procession related to the cult of Kobo Daishi. I'm not sure precisely what it entitles, but I have about nineteen hours to kill on the flight to Osaka. I will learn more about it then. Following the procession, I will most likely walk the Nyoninmichi trail to delight myself with the breathtaking views of the mountains. Hopefully, I will be destroyed and inspired, ready to sleep on a futon at a nearby temple known for its delicious Shojin Ryori (Buddhist cuisine).

Day 2 - I should have known, Kung-Fu notwithstanding, in the late 1970s, the following morning would find me at prayers chanting the morning away. Then, a Shojin Ryori breakfast before catching the next train to Sakai, the birthplace of tea master Sen no Rikyu. If all goes well, In Sakai, I shall partake in a tea ceremony that would have pleased my aunt Grace beyond words. Wrapping the festive weekend of sorts, and before heading back to the airport, I will visit Mozu-Furuichi Kofun. In these ancient burial mounds, the ruling class and emperors from the 4th and 6th centuries rest in the relative peace of a millenary culture.

I still need to figure out when and how I will get to Tomba and Hiroshima, but that's another story. Photos in this article are not mine; mine will be included in upcoming deliveries on the go.

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