An Unexpected Meeting and an Unexpected but Moving Story


Recently, I met my friend Mark and we went to a restaurant for lunch.

We were both surprised, though, when we met a woman, a friend of Mark’s, who was holding an exhibition of paintings there. The paintings were actually by her late husband and she told us how every year she holds this exhibition around the time he died which was father’s day.

She had quite a story to tell.

I don’t know how people recover from such tragic events; and how they can even seem to still be happy people – the human spirit is amazing. 

She also happened to be fluent at speaking English and a really engaging person.

One thing she said really stuck with me which was how these commemorative exhibitions often bring people to her who used to know her husband and I think that connection is very important to her.

In a way, she gets to know her husband again through another person’s encounter with him.

And this was the case with us because it turns out that Mark, although not aware of the artist at first, after 10 or so minutes of looking at his work suddenly realized that he had bought two paintings from this artist about ten or so years ago.

One of the things I particularly like by this artist is a handmade map of Beppu. We could see and hold the original. It was beautiful. And he had also done a starry night time picture of Beppu bay. I think that was my favorite landscape painting by him – it has a magical feeling to it.

Yes, it was quite a profound lunch.

After this I dropped Mark off and then I parked in the neighborhood and started walking around looking for places to paint. It is actually quite an interesting neighborhood and I should perhaps mention that Beppu is famous for it’s natural spas. I was by the river and I could see natural steaming hot water pouring into the river. It was quite a sight.

The painting is one of the scenes I did near Mark’s house.

I know this isn’t your typical beautiful scene but I’ve had to learn to adapt to my environment and develop a more unconventional kind of beauty

What I liked about this scene was the irregular assortment of building shapes and the rice field in this quite urban environment; I found that very interesting.

That’s all for now.

See you again, or as they say in Japanese, Mata ne.

Gareth.

Postscriptum

I originally wrote this story in June of 2014. I am editing it in April of 2021. This cafe has since closed. I don’t know if the owner retired or became sick. I’m a little sad about that because it was one of those rare places that had a special place just for exhibiting paintings. There was a room added on to the cafe with a curved wall and it was perfect for showing artwork. 

And I think I saw the lady I talked about here again four or five years later. There was a big event going on in Oita city. I think it was a cultural festival. The Japanese love their festivals. And in one of the city parks there was music and people dancing. She was one of the people dancing. She was dancing alone. But she looked very happy. It made me think that we should enjoy every day the company of our loved ones because at some point they won’t be there any more.

And finally, I can’t believe I threw away the painting above. When I edited this story, I looked at the image and thought it was quite nice. But in the past I decided it was not so great and binned it. All I have left now is a small image. I had to blow this image up and then sharpen it in a photo editing app, but it turned out quite nice – or so I think. 

Gareth Naylor

I am an Englishman living and painting in Japan. I have now been here for over 17 years and have been painting for all that time. I love to travel around the Japanese countryside and find beautiful places to paint.

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