Two months in Japan will come to an end tomorrow. I’m sitting in the 300-year-old Yomoyama house. Outside the sun is shining and it is a mid-November day with 20 °C. A palm tree in front of the house is still blooming like many other flowers everywhere in Tone do, the city where I am staying. But the days are short and the nights are cool. The old Yomoyama house with its tatami and shojis (the paper doors), romantic dream of many Europeans, is then inhospitably cold. The house has no heating. We use the kotatsu, (a table with a heat lamp under the plate and a quilt above it) and a home jacket plus many layers of clothing. For the night, there are thick duvets.
Yesterday we set down the ARTONE exhibition, a private initiative by local artists, which is supported by the city. The area in the suburbs of Tokyo is impoverished after the fat years at the end of the 20th Century. The age of the inhabitants is high and the area is cheap, which attracts many artists to settle here.
ARTONE took place from 1st to 15th of November 2010 in a disused school and is a beautiful extension of the artistic mainstream, a mix of 21 professional and ambitious amateur artists. In addition to the various positions almost every day workshops and events were organised. I learned a lot about Japanese culture in these 2 months.
I travel with my partner, Alfred Banze. We both visit Japan the first time. The presence of a well known person and the possibility of talks and reflections in the mother language make things easier. The arrival was difficult; there was almost no contact with other people. Maiko Sugano, the director of Yomoyama-So residence and an artist, was busy with the preparations of the upcoming exhibition project. A journey to Tokyo takes almost 2 hours and is extremely expensive, a return ticket costs 20-30 €. First we knew nobody. Through the recommendation of German friends we gradually met some Japanese and foreign artists.