Reflecting on KAIR
We wrote to past KAIR participants and asked them to think back to their experience in Kamiyama and tell us about their memories and reflections. Here is a selection of their responses. Click the question to view more responses to the same question from other artists, or click the artist's name to view more information about that artist.
–Tell me about a memory that you have of your time in Kamiyama.
On my last night, we went to a mountain lodge with an attached onsen, cooked local fish soup over open pits and all went into the onsen together and laughed a lot. It was an incredible evening. There was a very beautiful view over the whole valley all the way to Tokushima. I often wish I could easily escape to this lodge.
–What place in Kamiyama has special meaning for you?
Kamiyama itself was so unexpectedly, and stupendously beautiful. The entire town was special. Having said that, Higanji was exceptional. I also loved the Korean restaurant. I also really loved the cinnamon tree outside of my studio at the elementary school.
I was privileged enough to work at the Awagami Paper Factory in Yamakawa and that was an incredible experience. The craftswomen there are amazing.
– What was a challenge you overcame, culturally or otherwise?
The cultural differences made things difficult at times. As someone who grew up in the west, I am used to privacy and people knocking before entering. In Japan, this is a foreign concept. Up until pretty recently, people in Japan had never even heard of locks on doors; their houses are made of paper. The Japanese culture emphasized and still emphasizes a sense of community; this includes free entry into each others homes at any time of the day. In some ways, this is lovely of course, but I wasn't used to it then. I could also never get used to the culture of being so near to the ground, either sitting or lying, but again, these were all just other ways of looking at the same thing that I had to get my head round.
–What were some things you wish you had brought with you? What did you bring, but didn’t need?
I wish I had brought a few more bottles of Scotch whiskey, much enjoyed by the locals who came to sit at our table in the evenings, though as I discovered there are very good, but rather expensive, Japanese whiskeys.
I didn’t need books to read – at the end of each day I was simply too tired to read, and in six weeks I only took half a day off. I was willed to work intensively, and the prevailing culture supported that.
–If you were to do it all again, what would you do differently?
I would collect more and build less: the time frame was to short for me to completely finish something.
Jasper de Beijer