Time is a peculiar thing. Its passing and one’s perception of time shifts constantly. When spending time in Kameoka, there is for me personally a sense of time passing immensely quick but very slow at the same time.
Time passes quick because there are so many connections, impressions and experiences. There is certainly a sensation of it passing too quick, since I would like to stay longer. To gain more, but also to ‘produce’ more. It is a strange feeling to realize there are ‘only’ a few days left here. 'Where did time go?', I sometimes wonder.
On the other hand, time is passing slowly. And this is mainly because of a shift in attitude towards time.
My project here in Kameoka includes interviewing residents of Kameoka city to paint their portrait and write down their stories and share them with the world. Thinking people might be busy I kept saying before every interview how long it would take. ‘About 30 minutes, is that possible?’. Every interview ends up running longer, with also effort spend to get to know each other without a notepad or recorder. With coffee, cake, making a true connection going both ways.
The conscious choice, every day, to connect, to reflect, to be attentive and appreciative. Not only in a professional sense, but in a maybe more private sense as well.
I notice things that usually go by unnoticed for me. The dew on my window in the morning when I wake up and the sun shining through it. I take the time to save the moment, capture the image.
Thinking of what I have been learning so far, I think this might be one of the bigger points for me personally. Taking time, making time, has consequences for everything you do. I feel it in my paintings: stopping and reflecting, I suddenly see what does not work and needs to be changed. Focusing and taking time to paint for hours uninterrupted, I get in an artistic flow that I usually deny myself being ‘busy’ or unfocused.
It is not only this program that allows this change, but also Kameoka. Here there seems to be time. People make time. I’ve noticed, moving back from Leiden to Amsterdam, that in bigger cities time tends to pass by differently. Everyone is hurrying, rushing, the standard reply to ‘how are you’ would often be, ‘good, busy’.
Kameoka for me is also a reminder about time, priorities and being ‘busy’. Because what does busy mean? Doing much, too much for the hours in one day? Or does it also have to do with an attitude and a way of living?
Looking back I’ve seen there has been so much and then there’s been emptiness. I encounter this as a point during all my interviews. Anna Namikawa’s favorite place in Kameoka is an empty field. ‘There is nothing, there is no one’. But maybe, these moments and places of silence, of ‘nothingness’ actually contain very essential things.
Sitting alone in my room painting is my pause in a stream of impressions, emotions and experiences. But it is also what enlarges, activates, encompasses and connects it all. For a few days I do not go outside and live quite 'secluded'. In the supermarket I quickly buy my groceries, returning afterwards to my place of silence. My place of nothingness? After this period and stepping back outside, showing my face again at some social gatherings I am warmly greeted by partipants: 'Where were you? I didn't see you for a few days!'
I think of joining two teaceremonies, the empty fields, the abandoned houses. The mountains laying in the thick but also transparent thin mistclouds. But also of the lively talk during our ‘Osanpou tour’ through Kameoka. The strange and bizarre connections: how likely that you find a common friend and suddenly someone who starts speaking your language? I think of the cooking parties, enjoying food and sake together. Of meeting my friend, the only friend I have an extensive digital letter writing tradition with since I left Kyoto, and spending some hours appreciating moss together. I think of all the encounters, memories, experiences.
How wonderful to be here. What a great opportunity. During my interview with Anna Namikawa her energy and positive outlook is a lovely experience. One of the questions I ask during my interviews is ‘What is something you are proud of?’. It is quite a difficult question in many ways I believe, but also one that allows for a more deep connection and understanding.
During this question and many topics that come up, Anna says with a face beaming with joy: ‘I think I am really a lucky girl. To be able to do what I want to do.’ I feel the same being here, in Japan, painting, connecting and reflecting.