"We live quite near a little fishing village called Manazuru so the level of fresh fish we get is top shelf. The sushi and sashimi in the grocery store are at least as good as what we have gotten in better sushi joints back in the USA. But the peculiar thing is, it’s become kind of mundane now. It has lost its ‘specialness’ because it’s no longer an exotic meal from a foreign land. It’s just day-to-day food. And I’ve yet to have a real authentic hamburger. There's this mealy pasty meat patty they put on a bun with a bunch of shredded cabbage and some tonkatsu sauce. They call it a hamburger. It’s not. Ironically, some of the best pizza I’ve had—in any country—has been from the fancy Italian joint just over the mountain into an onset town called Hakone (named after the nearby volcano). It's a fancy modern building on Lake Ashinoko. We were there just yesterday with the fellow who helped me set up my Caliburn turntable. Thanks to the amazing freshness of local produce and the Napoli-trained pizzaiolos cooking in an Italian-made wood pizza oven, this is real D.O.C. stuff. It's a welcome respite from the four major food groups I have found in my local area: fish, noodles, hamburg steak and sandwiches from 7-11."


"Whilst there’s the one end of the culture shock which we’re experiencing with the banking institutions, there’s also the pleasant part of it that I remain delighted by. Where we moved is a kind of dream come true. It’s a quiet town. I get to look out over the bay every day and the people I’ve met here are an absolute treasure. The kindness of Japanese people pervades their culture. This idea that I would encounter discomforting xenophobia from the locals is utterly false. I’ve been treated warmly, kindly, respectfully by everyone I’ve met and have developed a couple of very precious friendships in the short time we’ve been here. As well, my children are attending a local public school and have been accepted into the gaggle of children readily. They’ve managed to make several friends and they’re enjoying their time in school whilst doing quite well in their studies.


"The level of artisanship here is obsessive. This also seems quite pervasive culturally. The authenticity of care that goes into making even mundane things is often breathtaking; and the attitude toward cultivating one’s skills in an art or a discipline is very special for its quiet but deep sincerity. In this respect I am very much in a place where I feel both at home and humbled, wanting to experience more of that passionate regard for beauty that runs in the veins of this culture. When it comes to music and hifi, there is just no place in the world quite like Japan. I’m eagerly awaiting the chance to visit with some of the audio luminaries and serious connoisseurs here. This is truly the stuff of legend. So while I might miss the occasional authentic hamburger or shake my fists at the frustrating institutional habits of the banks… what we’ve gotten in return from our life in Japan is immeasurably precious and life-affirming. And it’s from experiencing some of that beauty and harmony and the living breathing presence of nature, that the inspiration for the redlevel series awoke."


Here we see crated heavy hardware delivered from the docks into the digs; a machine spooled with Aeron insulation; and a redlevel weave in the process of being applied...


... followed by more redlevel-specific shots duly colour shifted to red.


Chris' Aeron application is so named because his coarse dielectric weave builds air pockets into the insulation layer to inject some air-dielectric functionality. Unlike Teflon extrusions which require outsourcing to industrial plants, this process can be done in-house. It gives our cottage builder more control and options.


As this intro attempted to convey, Black Cat Cable the brand and cat behind it remain a thoroughly small-scale artisanal enterprise which in 2015 was transplanted from America to the land of the rising sun. Japanese culture really embraces and values this type of approach and business ethics. With the Internet's real-time global reach, a resourceful entrepreneur can now live where he and his family fancy the most and still supply his customers wherever they live. Unlike speakers and electronics, cables ship easily too (cable winders and employees not so much). The direct interface between maker and user not only add intimacy and one-on-one relevance to the transaction, it removes unnecessary middlemen and their profits to increase the value quotient. Have company, will relocate. Black Cat Cables just did. And they're back open for business.


For review, Chris would put together a loom of solid-core silver redlevel Lupo. From the Latin lupus for wolf, I told him that his timing was hairy given the coincident arrival of the Lycan from Burson's new subsidiary Supreme Sound. Popular fiction's most popular lycanthrope is a werewolf after all. Hifi reviewing as dangerous blood sport?


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