All set and a plea for information

8 sushi pink Just two days to go

         yen here, vouchers printed, now

         can we get some help?

We’re are now in the very excited build up to actually going on this trip at last. It became even more exciting this week when Japanese currency arrived. I’d shopped around at banks, the post office and travel agents to find not very good rates. In a week when the Japanese government poured trillions of yen into the economy to kickstart inflation and recovery, the yen fell against the pound and the dollar. However exchange rates are slow to respond – a bit like prices at the filling station – quick to go up when oil prices rise, slow to come down when they fall. Rather warily I ordered them online – well there was a bank holiday weekend in the way but they turned up fine as planned. I had looked at several sites and found the best rate and excellent service from who kept me informed of progress throughout the process. Here they are: ¥1000 somewhere between £6 and £7; ¥5000 about £34 and ¥10000 about £65 – well today anyway!

Yen 1

There were two other important pieces of preparation. Being a little unhappy to rely entirely on showing electronic booking forms to hotels and car hire desks we decided to print out all our booking confirmations and vouchers. Our good friend Toddy posted earlier that we would need a “sturdy binder” for all of them. He was right as you can see and thank goodness we’re not on Easyjet or Ryanair with cabin luggage weight restrictions.

Travel booking folder

The other sprang from some great advice from the superb practice nurse at our local NHS surgery. Dee is suffering from a bout of sinusitis at present and was a bit concerned about its effect on the ear and head pain she usually suffers during take off and landing. “Get ear planes,” we were told. So we did. They are little clear rubbery earplugs with a grometty spiral at the outer end which helps to balance pressure and prevent pain. Sounds great, we’ll find out in a day or so if they work.

And now I wonder if anyone out there can help me? When I was in Japan in 1981, I bought a series of four etchings which we’re extremely fond of and would like to find out a bit more about. I photographed them and took them in to the ever-helpful Alisa at the Japan National Travel Office in London to see if the titles or the artist’s name would provide any clues and maybe point us at the locations they depicted. The titles proved descriptive but non-specific in terms of finding out in which part of Japan they might be. Up in the Hills, Green Fields, Poplars and Red Bird are accurate but unhelpful. She was also unable to provide a secure reading of the artist’s signature so I’m posting the etchings and a close up of the signature below and if anyone recognises places or the artist we’d really love it if you could post a comment to let us know.

The etchings:

Green mountains  Green fields

Green poplars  Red poplars all

and the signature. Green fields signature

Thanks for your comments, feedback and suggestions. Now for the real fun!

5 thoughts on “All set and a plea for information

  1. The artist is Ushiku Kenji, below a short bio from arteline.
    Kenji Ushiku was born in Chiba prefecture in 1922. He studied art at the renowned Tokyo University of Fine Arts. Works by the artist are in the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Chiba Prefectural Museum of Art, the Chiba City Museum of Art, the Sakura City Museum of Art in Chiba prefecture and the National Museum of Art in Osaka. The artist participated in the Tokyo International Print Exhibitions of 1957, 1960 and 1962. He is a member of Japan Print Association.

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