06 June 2010

Free Day At Fuji

Andrew W.K. was raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His father was and still is a professor of law At U of M. He attended the University of Michigan School of Music where he studied classical piano. He became a singer/songwriter and rock star. His twitter feed has daily tips for how to party.

@AndrewWK: PARTY TIP: Listen to rock 'n' roll music

Our first day off at Mt. Fuji. There is a large forest on toward the south west of the town, know largely for its very high suicide rate. The map from the hostel, which I later learned was very much not to scale, showed a trekking route over a smaller mountain which would end right by the entrance to the forest. The night before I prepared a playlist for my ipod, trying to fill it with every upbeat song I could find: Lovin' Spoonful, The Mighty Mighty Bostones, Mama Cass, Paul Simon, Miley Cyrus, Journey, Andrew W.K., so as to not be possessed by what ever drives people to travel to this place just to end their lives.

@AndrewWK: PARTY TIP: Doing what you love is partying

I struck out on my own at the crack of 10 am, looking for a 7-11 next to a Mos Burger as my sign post for the beginning of the trail. I passed it several times, just a small parting of the trees, a cramped path, that slowly opened up into a series of switch backs rising above me. After a half hour of clambering upward, I arrived at a small shrine, the first marker on the map to show that i was going the right direction. After catching my breath for a short while, I continued on until i reached a fork, two signs in Japanese, pointing in opposite directions, both uphill. My map showed only one path.

@AndrewWK: PARTY TIP: Don't play it safe

I flipped a coin and chose the path on the right. Grasping at branches, I pulled myself along, the lake in front of me, I realized I had chosen correctly. The trail flattened out at the top and became a nice, leisurely walk. I hadn't seen a single person since entering the trail. I hummed along with the music blasting from my headphones, soon began to sing along with Iggy Pop as I ducked under low hanging branches and jumped over rocks. A flash of gray about a hundred yards ahead killed the music in my throat and froze my feet.

@AndrewWK: PARTY TIP: Put lotion all over your face

Iggy's lust for life couldn't make me move no matter how hard he tried. Three monkeys crossed the path in front of me. The size of St. Bernards, fluffy and gray, bright pink faces. The first two crossed with out hesitation, the third stopped dead in his tracks, turned his head to look at me, then slowly turned his whole body in my direction. Pink fists planted firmly in the dirty. My immediate thought was "Oh cool! Monkeys!" I reached behind me for the zipper to my camera bag, as soon as my finger touched the cool metal, Mojo Jojo took a step forward. My next thought was "Oh shit! Monkeys!"

@AndrewWK: PARTY TIP: Don't ignore your impulses and don't deny your urges

I began to back up, pink feet matching my steps, soon joined by another pair. I quickened my backwards pace, the Beach Boys lamenting me to visit Kokomo. I forgot where the hill was. As I rolled to the bottom, my music was drowned out by a terrible screeching. I didn't realize my voice could still get that high pitched. As I lay in the soft earth, their presence was announced by puffs of breath from their flared nostrils. Piercing blue eyes hovered over mine, filled with a horrible mixture of lust and murder.

@AndrewWK: PARTY TIP: If you don't go over the top, you won't get to the other side

one side of the story...

...on this particular day.
the skies are clear. the temperature is warm.
we come for the art. a relationship between nature and built form.
the paintings and sculptures are merely bonuses.


the only one of its kind.
unique and original. every detail articulated.
the building meticulously situated within its natural site.
undisruptive of the existing ecosystem, yet irremovable and connected.

the presence of natural light follows us as we travel deeper into atrium. the light does not fade as we descend into the earth. its guiding presence does not falter as we flow throughout the gallery spaces. it becomes the spectacle.


the first of its kind.
objects of art are at the mercy of their surroundings.
the experience is always new as the setting never repeats.

blurring the line between art and nature. real or fake.
a metal orb suspended in the air reflects a distorted, warped context...we believe this to be inaccurate. the picturesque quality of the Japanese landscape is a powerful piece...a seemingly painted context. a pond of seemingly wild koi follows us as we cross the bridge...they wait for their scheduled meal.

person to person. day to day. the experience is different.

03 June 2010

impossible view

Today we climbed Mt. Fuji. Well, most of us at least.

The weather was brilliant and I was more excited than ever to make the climb. I’ve never climbed a mountain before and this was the chance of a lifetime. I was as prepared as I could ever be and confident that I could tackle the task ahead.

The first couple of hours were tough as I was getting used to the pace, but after a while it got much easier. We were telling stories and cracking jokes and having a great time. I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend my time in Japan.

When we were a little over halfway up and the climb started to get rough, I jokingly mentioned to Catie that I wouldn’t carry her down the mountain if she got hurt. Of course, as soon as these words left my mouth, I tripped. At first it didn’t hurt. At first I felt fine. But it soon became obvious that I was in no condition to be climbing any more. My ankle started to swell and turn colors.

Uhhh…. This isn’t good…

Catie whips out her cell phone. “Okay, awesome. Now, who can we call?” After about ten minutes of frantic button pushing, she managed to get someone on the line. “Alright. Good news is some one is on their way. Bad news is I don’t know how long it’s going to take.”

Okay. I can handle this. It can’t be that long, right? By this time my ankle was roughly the size of a melon and hurting like hell. Catie looks panicked. She’s probably worried about the University’s reaction to one of their students getting stranded on a mountain. It really wasn’t her fault though; I’m just clumsy sometimes, honestly.

I hear something coming. It sounds big. “Is that what I think it is?” Catie looked over at me with a face of mild disbelief. “It sounds kind of like a ….” Just as she was about to say the word ‘helicopter’, one came flying out from the clouds and landed on the clearing just below us.

Well. That was quick.

We’re soon surrounded by a team of well-trained Japanese rescue ninjas (not kidding, they looked like ninjas), and I was loaded onto the helicopter, complete with stretcher and neck brace (even though there was nothing wrong with my neck. Apparently it’s protocol).

As we fly through the mist, we catch a glimpse of the crater. From this height, the mountain and the surrounding valley look incredible. The dense trees, the lakes, the developed areas all look like patches on a giant quilt. I manage to snap a couple of photos before we get enveloped in the clouds again. As I’m looking at them now, they’re a little fuzzy, but definitely my favorites of the trip so far.