The Golden Edible Ocean

Golden Week lived up to its name this year, nine days of gloriously warm, sun-lit spring. In marked contrast to last year, I actually got to leave Tokyo and get out of the studio. My wife and I headed down south to her ancestral home on one of the islands of Japan's Inland Sea. They don't get much press, but if you have a chance to visit the Setonaikai, take it.

I grew up a tree-climbing farmboy, so I enjoyed picking oranges (actually natsu-mikan, a sort of cross-breed between an orange and a grapefruit, weighing in at around three times the mass of a regular mikan). Less so the kamikaze drives in the back of the mini-pickup up and down the orchard paths, with a severe lack of guardrails and a sheer drop to the rocks and ocean below. I didn't die horribly, so it's all good.

It was educational. The most interesting fact: the ocean is edible. From the oysters clinging to the rock-face, which you can brutally smash with a rock and eat on the spot, to the little sea snails (called nina, and best boiled in a little soy sauce) I harvested with my wife, pretty much anything you can pull from the water can be stuffed in your mouth. This makes the ocean a lot more appealing to me.

Back now among the concrete alleys of Tokyo, the only wildlife to be seen are the crows, pigeons, and occasional giant frogs. I wouldn't advise trying to eat any of them. Still, it's good to sleep on my own futon again. Today's Tokyo rain completes the homecoming experience, and I feel re-energized to get back to drawing, cutting and gluing.