So I flew to Japan at the end of March. I had a nice flight with a stop in Seoul in South Korea. As you can imagine, that kind of travelling is making you tired and after landing you can only think about going to sleep. On the other hand, I was really stressed. I didn't know what to expect. Once I collected my luggage, I went through the gates and I have noticed the tv crew waiting for me. I have approached them shouting ''Kon'nichiwa'' and I think that I have surprised them. After the short introduction, they asked me to go through the gate again. Hehe. But how can I do that? You can't go back and I was so tired that I only wanted to go to the hotel. I have waited for someone who was going through the gate and quickly went through it:D Did I brake the law? Probably yes, but it was fun. So I went through it again and I was acting like someone unaware of what is happening. They called me ''Grzegorz San'' and I have approached them:D This time was good and I didn't have to do it again. They quickly interviewed me and then we went to the hotel in Kyoto by bus. It was an hour trip, but at that time I was able to chat with my translator Jim. Jim was born in Japan and raised in Chicago. He is a great person and I felt a strong bond with him. Once we arrived at the hotel, I have quickly refreshed myself and then we went to the bar. I was only dreaming about some good food and a beer.
Yusuke ''Jim'' Okada - my translator
Mai Shishihara - director's assistant
Jo Yoda - the director
Inside my hotel:
I have found a gown on my bed in the hotel. I thought that it was kimono:D
On the very next day, we went to Kameoka, near Kyoto. That place is beautiful. We stopped our van next to over 1000 years old huge cedar.
My director asked me to go up the hill without giving me any details. I didn't know what to expect and where I was heading to. After a short walk, I have approached the small house. The guy who was waiting for me was Youzou Tushihashi. He is an always smiling miner in Maruoyama - famous ''Tennen Toishi'' (Japanese natural sharpening stone) mine. The only mine in Japan where stones can be mined from all strata.
After a short introduction, I have talked to Tushihashi San about sharpening stones and his job. He showed me hundreds of stones and I felt like a kid in a theme park. Tushihashi San is the fourth-generation miner. I am not 100% sure about it, but I think that he is also one of the creators of the ''Japan sharpening Culture Promotion Association''. It is really hard to translate. Even if he is not one of the creators, then he is one of the craftsmen. These guys have created the very first sharpening stone museum which is in Kameoka. Here is the link to their website: http://toishi-kan.info/en/index.html
Big stone in the middle cost 500000 yen (about 4400$)
Here is a short walk around in Tushihashi San house and workshop.
Later on, Tushihashi San took me to his mine in his small van. It was a little bit funny because he couldn't speak English and I didn't understand a word in Japanese. There were only two places in a van, so my translator has to go in the other car. Tushihashi San is a great person which is always smiling and laughing. We didn't understand each other, but it didn't stop us from talking to each other in our languages. After arriving at the bottom of Maruoyama, we still had to walk up the hill. Tushihashi San is 68 years old and he was going to the mine very eagerly.
You can guess that you are close to the mine because there are stones everywhere. I am pretty sure that you could find some good ones between the rejected ones.
Entrance to one of the Maruoyama shafts
Tushihashi San in action:
... and his main tools:
Tushihashi San asked me to help him:
Me and Jouzou after mining huge rock (the one I am holding is only a small stone chipped from the big rock). These stones are over 250.000.000 years old.
Later on, I had a lunch with Tushihashi San on top of the Maruo mountain. That was my first meal in Japan in front of the cameras and I can tell you one thing. It is really hard to be natural while eating and talking in front of a few cameras and many people.
There is a small lake with beautiful colours at the bottom of Maruoyama. It was really hard to capture that on the photo.
After a day in the mine, we went back to Jouzou Tushihashi house and later on our cameraman and an audio man took us to Kyoto. From there we took Shinkansen to Sakai.