Tag Archives: out n’ about

Diary: Starting off 2020 with Coffee and Classes etc.

A coffee break at “Tartan something or other” (not actual name) in downtown Okayama

So it goes, the festive season passes yet calendar stays busy with the usual sorts of things. Yesterday included returning books to splendid library, a few letters (Switzerland and Indonesia) to the post office, a stop for the best ramen, and a visit to a chiropractor and then a super good little (i mean little) coffee shop – like just perfect right? 

In amongst, we repaired/re-did a wall in Tsuchida Cottage, attended a parenting class(!), went to opera variety show, hit up Hatsumi-san’s piano recital, moved some brick around outside, printed more flyers for Mae Maes gig, talked to a guy about replaced some drafty windows, recycled plastic items, booked a trip to Nagasaki… 

Here is a variety of snippets collected along the way, with minor annotations as possible. 

we ordered umeboshi by the kilo – i love these pickled plums and nope to make them myself one of these days soon but in the meantime, order up in bulk! salty, sour goodness
one morning i awoke to Ryoko singing snippets of so many songs – realized she was tidying up all her sheet music/scores etc.
tidied up the Kamidama a little bit with fresh items to bring good fortune and happiness more and more

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Diary: Opera Day with Kimono and Seijinshiki + Piano Recital

Heading to opera today / Ryoko is purple kimono with silver obi & orange sandals. Stunnnning. Also complicated (it ain’t just “putting on a robe” – its a whole process choosing the right one for the occasion and then whoa putting it all on is an art (which is kinda the point).

Anyhow, furthermore, today is national holiday to celebrate and welcome crop of 20 years olds to adulthood with all sorts of dress-up ceremonies & events. [Read about Seijinshiki}

Should be real colourful in the city / we’re riding bus, i’m having a warm bevvie.

Note: to be clear, this wasn’t a full opera production but rather a variety of songs by a troupe (is that the right word?) or a company of singers doing various ensembles, bits, songs, snippets from opera. I have the program and would share notes but hey… it’d just be a tease right.

Let’s meet some of the singers:

Here’s Ryoko and I with Matsumoto-sensei who was singer & MC – sharp and graceful gent

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Diary: New Year’s Bar-b-q at Kobayashi’s Rural Caprine Farm

Hanging at my non-secret hideaway with sempei Mac Kobayashi.

On January 3rd, to continue celebrating the new year, we organized the parents, uncle/aunt and cousins to head over to Mac Kobayashi’s Rural Caprine Farm for some leisurely bar-b-q fun.

I gave farm tours to check on the big pigs and tiny horse and the old cow barns, feed storage areas, piles of dirt, old van, possible campgrounds and whatnot. 

Anyhow, was very pleasant and i love eating Mac’s food but even more, hanging out with him and his ridiculous music collection

The parents and uncle/aunt enjoyed some Koti Beer and Mac’s assortment of wines – so happy!

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Diary: New Year’s Holiday “Kojo Piano Club” Friends Music Party

Ren-san, Dave and Hamazaki-san at Kojo Piano Club party
having laffs with my pals Ren-san – Left (master of Piano Bar) who played some John Cage-ish piano composition, and Hama-san who served as MC and due to his recent birthday, received a groovy hat gift from Ryoko and me

Note: In the day’s between / around New Year’s – there are plenty of activities… today’s activities include hanged up the New Year’s decoration, drinking all the coffee to try to wake up & thwart headache, then going to an afternoon friends party/talent show where we will be singing a duet with Ryoko on piano.

Our selection is a modified (taking out the sort of dodgy creepy lyrics) version of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” with an arrangement vaguely based on this lovely scene in TV programme “The Crown” season 1. 

Do not expect video documentation of our performance though we diligently practiced and made a special vocal arrangement with some trade offs and whatnot. 

However, I will present some insta-photos as evidence and to provide a bit of flavour of the 5th annual Kojo Piano Club (there was even a theme song) party / event in which all the friends (many of whom, perform or learn together) perform music in various ensembles, plus usual eating, drinking and frivolity. 

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Diary: New Year’s Morning + Day / Reiwa 2, Let’s Enjoy!

Well hello 2020. Let’s enjoy. Step 1 (or 2) #japanlife

special stash of Indonesian coffee beans
give em a special extra roast
into the Moka (not mocha) pot – my fave all-around way to prepare coffee
warm up in our chilly little cottage

Continue reading Diary: New Year’s Morning + Day / Reiwa 2, Let’s Enjoy!

Diary: New Year’s Day Reiwa 2, Shrine Visit

Off to the shrine on New Year’s morning, in this case to a smallish local shrine called 天津神社北側参道 / Achi jinja, up a hill/mountain nearby. 

To amuse (some of the hundreds of) kami at the shrine who (according to some pun-ny alliteration) enjoy 5 yen coins with holes, plus 500 is the going rate for the amulets, some 50s in there too..

There is an arts and crafts component to this activity as well. Come along… 

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Artifacts: Cameras (various), with thoughts about impermanence

Here’s looking at you future past… (As seen while dropping off expired 35 mm film for developing, something mildly recursive about all of this).

The blue Lomo Diana with flash seen to right came home with us for a christmas gift for Ryoko, along with 3 rolls of expired 35mm film. 

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Annotations re: Star Wars IX and personal historical notes

A few remarks regarding Star Wars IX “The Rise of Skywalker“ #NoSpoilers

Empathy is the greatest power or attribute worth striving towards and is cultivated (in large part) from kindness, calmness, self confidence and trust in others

War brings displacement and costs beyond death of fighters… Cultural loss, loss of personal history, plus refugee situations & family separation which can bring trauma for generations.

While you can’t choose whom you share blood with, you can choose “family“ and love beyond status, background, gender, species etc.

Rewards come eventually and sometimes in unexpected ways – Patience is your ally.

As you continue the hero’s journey, mentors and icons fall away, you will become your own hero. Be empathic to self, choose your family wisely.

Ryoko purchased tickets in the special super comfy theatre – the loungey reclining seats came with slippers and a tray for your snacks. was my first time in a cinema in Japan as it goes. I coulda sat there for a trilogy!
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Diary / Museum: Tea ceremony, PM Inukai house + grave & trains plus citrus fruits

One of these two is a former Prime Minister who was assassinated while his house guest Charlie Chaplin (also allegedly targeted in the assassination to – oddly enough – provoke the US into war) was at a sumo tournament. The other is a happy poet who loves small museums. 

Indeed, today (Dec. 15) was a tea ceremony at former PM Inukai Tsuyoshi’s house (he was assassinated by 11 young officers in 1930s during the chaotic military build-up period of Japan) here in Okayama. 

First off, went to the tea ceremony with our group including Mitsuko-san with whom i rode the fantastic local Uno bus to the station where Yano-san picked us up in his van along with our tea sensei Matsuki and we met Sachiko-san at the event. 

Ryoko was in charge of the wagashi (sweets) for the event. There is more to say about tea ceremony but suffice to say, there is a lot of preparation and intention but the actual event is rather brief and while calm, not necessarily solemn but rather jovial.

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Diary: Maniwa Out n About / hot springs hotel, bowling, agri-garden and lonely stations

Coffee stand, cute and tiny (clad with olden board) at the Agri-garden market area in town of Maniwa

Ryoko was teaching a tree-trimming workshop at a community centre for seniors in the logging town of Maniwa so I rode the bus to meet up. We stayed at a hotel for a couple of nights, went bowling plus i took some strolls to contemplate the change nature of rural Japan while Ryoko was working, oh and we found a quirky coffee shop/art gallery.

Let’s address each of these check points separately:

Bowling and Hotel (pleasantly lost in Showa)

First the hotel, the Maniwa Riverside was the sort of “once grand but now rather shabby” hotel i kinda dig.

Laden with memories a la Grand Budapest hotel. They were making a good effort though the rooms were unfancy and the carpets not changed since sometime in the Showa time. Importantly, there is an onsen hotspring bath with was the main reason. Nice outdoor bath too. No secret i love love love soaking in hot water. 

The hotel included breakfast which was a bit odd but the onigiri (rice balls) were hand prepared. Also hard boiled eggs with salt, pickles (yum) and a few various pastries and miso soup.

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