Indiana Jones and the Temple of Deer

You can see more photos from other places in the Japan category of this blog, and also read about the trip in the zine I wrote.

Our final stop in Japan before flying home from Osaka was Nara. In the 700s it was the capital of Japan, at the time when Buddhism really became established in Japan. Nowadays as well as Buddhism, it’s known for the tame deer who live in the forest park surrounding the temples and shrines. We stayed in a hostel in the forest. It seemed a short walk from the train station, but we ended up walking along dark forest paths dragging cases seemingly forever, with deer staring at us accusingly like something out of Princess Mononoke. (The hostel turned out to be a pretty weird place too).

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Zine orders close for summer 21st May

I’m going to be away a lot over the summer, so I’ll be closing my online shop down (until probably September) next Wednesday the 21st of May at 3pm GMT. This means that if you want some zines you need to order this week or wait several months. It also means I can only really do trades within the UK. As well as zines I’ve also got various badges, patches, prints, lengths of vintage ribbon etc. You can find the shop here. There are also wholesale prices available for distros.

What I currently have:
Being Editors 1– essays about children’s writer Diana Wynne Jones
Best of Fanzine Ynfytyn– collection of articles from issues 1-13
Colouring book zine– guess what? you colour it in
Keep It Clean– low stress cleaning/household tips
Film Photography 101– does what it says on the tin
Fanzine Ynfytyn 14– Vienna- all the schnitzels and dumplings you can eat
YF 15– Pointless board games and bad French jokes
YF16– Grandparents and their weird habits and people I wanted to be when I grew up
YF 16.5– 24hr zine about El Topo and Sedmikrasky and hometown boredom
YF 17– Why Mr Frosty sets are disappointing as an adult and lists about J.Mascis and cats
YF 18– 80s video hire and a delicious lasagne recipe
YF 19– Bulgaria and glasses wearing
YF 20– North Korea (a place I have not visited) and winning competitions
YF 21– Paris on a low-to-no-budget
YF 22– Foxes and being in charge of a maze
YF 23– Illness and trying to avoid “wellness culture” bullshit
YF 23.5– 24 hour zine about bees, quilting and modular synths
YF 24– Mirena IUDs in combo with PCOS and Prednisone
YF 25– Our Maxim from Almaty, and exploring the world of the ceiling
YF 26– The strange world of French campsites
YF 28-Japan on a budget
YF 29– Italy in the 90s and today
 

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Craft as radical?

Intro

I’ve split the article up into four sections- my criticisms of radical spaces and scenes I’ve known, of the fashion industry, and of the current commercial craft revival, and then at the end explaining the ways I think doing textile crafts can be radical. In writing the article, I was specifically thinking of crafts such as sewing and knitting, both because they are things I do, and also because they are stereotypically done by women and often dismissed as silly and frivolous, but a lot of the points can apply to any handicraft. As well as dealing with the topic of crafts, it’s really more of a kind of wander round my thoughts about “radical”. The section on crafts is actually the shortest, but I’ve used it as the overall framing device. I’ll probably manage to piss off both the cliquey punx and the craft blogger people with this, but never mind.

To make myself clearer, I’m specifically defining “radical” here as freeing people from the oppressions and inequalities of mainstream capitalist society. It’s no good claiming a place, group, behaviour or people are “radical” if they just continue the racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist or classist (and every other bad -ist) structures of the rest of society. It’s also no good calling something “anarchist” or “non-hierarchical” if there’s just a different unspoken hierarchy at play (that no-one is allowed to talk about).

The incredibly depressing political climate of the last few years, with its lurch to the extreme right and increased support for oppression and exploitation makes genuine radical spaces more important than ever, but also means that it’s important to not treat the whole thing as a silly status or fashion game.

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Okunoshima- Rabbit Island

You can see more photos from other places in the Japan category of this blog, and also read about the trip in the zine I wrote.

While I was in Japan we visited the island of Okunoshima. In the Second World War it was a top secret chemical weapons plant, but now is a nature reserve famous for its free-ranging tame rabbits, who are probably the descendants of the lab rabbits.

On the ferry out to the semi-tropical, fern-covered island, we joked about it being like Jurassic Park but with rabid fluffy bunnies. They turned out to be even tamer than I had expected, probably tamer than a lot of pet rabbits. They’ve never seen predators, and all their experience of humans is being petted and fed in return for being friendly, so if you even sit down, a load of rabbits will pile onto your lap.

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Diana Wynne Jones zine

I have a zine of articles about children’s writer Diana Wynne Jones (of Howl’s Moving Castle et al) I wrote this zine in 2011, also managing to interview her before she sadly died (you can also read the interview online here). The original edition was 1/6 of an A3 sheet, made on a Risograph machine. This was great when I still had access to an A3 Riso machine, but after I didn’t it was very expensive and difficult to reprint, so it went out of print. Recently I did a new edition, with all-new illustrations, in a much more convenient standard A6 size.

The zine is available here on its own for £3.50 (currently around US$4.50 or €4.20) or as bundles with my Japan zine or a Fire and Hemlock inspired print.

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Benesse Museum collection

Benesse House on Naoshima doesn’t allow photos of their modern art collection, so here is a selection of works I like by some artists I saw there. I though the space of the museum was wonderful, but the fact that there was no information about the artworks was a letdown. If you didn’t know much about modern art already, you might not have got much out of the visit, which is a bad thing for a museum, seeing as one of the main reasons to go is to learn new things.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Basquiat was a rags-to-riches super-star in 80s New York, (including dating Madonna) until he sadly died of a heroin overdose. His paintings are definitely even better appreciated in real life than in photographs. They’re absolutely huge, and have all kinds of layers, different texture and hidden tiny images and texts hidden in them when seen in person.

Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly also makes huge canvases, but is instead the world’s premium scribbler. It’s definitely the kind of modern art that people scoff at and claim they could do themselves in five minutes (but never actually do). Some of his works are huge surfaces covered in hundreds of tiny scribbles, but the essential thing is that he makes exactly the right scribbles that are expressive but also somehow soothing to the eye, which is far harder than it looks.

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Naoshima

(Yayoi Kusama pumpkin sculpture on the beach)

I won a competition last year for free plane tickets to Japan, and went with my friend Vicky for just under three weeks in March, using a rail pass to explore the main island of Honshu and staying in hostels (and a spell in a hotel in Kyoto that came with the flights). Apart from the free flights we were totally broke, so a lot of the focus of the trip was on free or low cost attractions like scenery and museums and making maximum use of the rail pass rather than restaurants, bars or shopping. You can see more photos from other places in the Japan category of this blog, and also read about the trip in the zine I wrote.

Naoshima is tiny idyllic island in the Seto Inland sea devoted to modern art. The opening of the Benesse modern art museum (owned by the same organisation as Berlitz language schools) revived the island’s fortunes, although it’s still a small and quiet place with only a few villages and a lot of old people.

We visited the museum, but no pictures were allowed inside, so these are all of the rest of the island. I’ve made a post of some of the artists in the collection here.

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Zine catalogue

I have updated and created an online catalogue of my zine projects- both the current ones, and the out of print ones. It can be found at http://www.ynfytyn.co.uk. If you have ever wondered why my zine is called that, you can also find out here.

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Kyoto Shrines and Temples

torii sm

Kyoto is famous for its Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, many of which are UNESCO world heritage sites. There are so many in the city that even though I spent a whole day walking round different sites, I only saw a small percentage of them. People place stones on these Shinto torii gates for good luck. You can also see my photos of ema good luck plaques here.

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Kyoto II

sakura bud sm

Here’s some more photos of Kyoto. I have split the pictures up into several entries. You can see more photos from Kyoto and other cities in the Japan category, and also read about the trip in the zine I wrote. Kyoto is famous for its cherry blossom, but sadly we were there a couple of weeks earlier than it comes out in full bloom. You did see the odd bud here and there though.

tanuki sm

Instead of garden gnomes, people in Japan have tanuki figures. I didn’t see any wild racoon dogs.

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