Last month I was in Japan. 
I saw great beauty and order in gardens, art, buildings, and food.

It wasn’t just surface beauty. It was/is an approach to life that manifests in outer beauty. That approach involves going slowly, taking care, learning something totally, following rules, mastering a craft, respecting process, being aware.  It means spending your whole life learning to do something well, and then giving that thing your whole attention every time you do it.

One result of such mastery is freedom. Looseness and ease are paradoxically the result of discipline, of doing something with all of your being. (As in this painting by Nagasawa Rosetsu 1754-1799)

At the Miho Museum, in the forests SW of Kyoko, there was a show of Bizen pottery. The potters understood their clay and kilns perfectly. They allowed the spirit of the clay to shine, decorated with the natural residue of the firing process.

Miho had a great gift shop! I bought a small rough creature made of clay.

I also bought a children’s book. When I got home I discovered that they were by the same artist – Kouichi Maekawa. 

In his art I see freedom, playfulness, and a love of this world.
Here are many of the pages from the book, enough to tell the tale.


The acorn of an idea that I took home from Japan is that the process is as important as the result in a piece of artwork: my life and work can’t be separated. I don’t know how that acorn will grow in the years to come.

16 responses to “Japan

  1. Japan is such an amazing country. Perfecting your craft and passion is clear everywhere. Living in Europe many years gave more breadth in world perspective. Japan is a place for my soul.

    • Thanks for your comment – I know what you mean. It was my first trip – it was very hard to sum up what I saw and felt there.


  2. Cathy Ballou Mealey

    The whale observing the acorns wend through its gullet made me laugh! Glad you had such enriching travels.

  3. Kyoto also has the purest water! Japanese art is certainly amazing, modern or old- beautiful to look at.

  4. Thanks for the reaction to your trip & for sharing insights. Love this post!

  5. I love this Artist work- I am so inspired by his ceramic animals

  6. Another beautiful blogpost–so much insight and keen observation. I love your brain. The illustrations (and figurine) by Kouichi Maekawa are fantastic! Thank you.

  7. “…giving that thing your whole attention every time you do it.” Writing this on the wall, and keeping this beautiful post close to heart.

  8. I can’t wait to see and hear more about your trip, Julie. What a treat it must have been to realize after you were home that the clay figure and the book were by the same artist! I learn about something or someone new every time you post – now I’m off to find out more about Kouichi Maekawa!

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