In 2007, on an assignment by the New York Times Magazine to cover many of Shigeru Ban’s buildings, I was fortunate to travel extensively through Japan for almost two weeks. This allowed me to see other parts of the country besides Tokyo, as we visited the Paper Art Museum in Shizuoka, a private home called Maison E in Iwaki and the precious daycare center and Atsushi Imai Memorial Gymnasium in Odate, Akita.
I met Shigeru Ban briefly on two occasions (and took one portrait) as Michael Kimmelman, the writer of the article for the New York Times, was doing parts of his research and interviews with Mr. Ban. Here is the link to the original article.
Despite all work & glory, the memory that stuck with me the most, was our experience taking part in a traditional Japanese bathing ritual. Traveling with my trusted long time assistant Dan Levin as well as good friend and production designer Maki Takenouchi, who helped with the production and translations, we spent one night in Akita at a hotel that offered a hot spring. After a brief tutorial from Maki about what to expect and proper conduct, we got changed and entered the men only facility. As they say, what happens in Akita stays in Akita, but two hours later we certainly were the cleanest we had ever been, and the experience became another aspect of the Japanese culture that I absolutely love.
There is a hilarious picture of us about to enter the spa, and I will add it to this post once I have managed to locate it.
In the meantime: Congratulations, Shigeru Ban!