Tag Archives: regular life

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 Tea Ceremony at Matsuka-sensei’s house

Studying tea ceremony… I’m not sure if studying is the right word, maybe practicing, refining or just enjoying… with a wonderful circle of folks.

Together, we enjoy refining the sequence, admiring the artifacts, eating lunch (fabulous of course), and in some cases also practicing/refining/studying/enjoying wearing kimono.

This was a special one to kick off the new year. So lovely (other riffs elsewhere in this archive). 

My sweet Ryoko riffed out a riff, ergo:

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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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New Years Greetings / 2020 + Reiwa 2 / from Dave + Ryoko

+ Happy New Year 明けましておめでとうございます+

New Years Greetings / 2020 + Reiwa 2 / from Dave + Ryoko

Here’s vibe-ing Reiwa 2 / 2020 comes with some combination of full hearts, hearths, cradles, pockets, and postboxes as well as small museums, slow trains, free hugs and happy health. You are adored and appreciated.

xo from Dave and Ryoko at Tsuchida Cottage, Okayama

Diary: Christmas Concert with Mae Maes and Friends

Mae Maes Christmas concert (plus fresh poster for a show in Tamano featuring Ryoko’s painting & design).

On Dec. 22nd at a store in Tsudaka, Okayama, Ryoko and her Mae Maes bandmates held a Christmas concert with 2 shows which included their originals, some festive standards including some sing-a-longs. I rolled out with M-i-L and met up with some of the usual fans, enjoyed some conversations and coffees. 

The ladies were in fine form and their new pianist Kazuko-san getting more comfy each gig.

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Diary: Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing in Okayama, 2019

Christmas isn’t really an “event” in Japan, more of a marketing campaign and a prelude to New Year’s Eve which is laden with tradition, nostalgia and routine. It’s kinda my speed as i am def turned off by rampant commercialism quasi-religious sabre-rattling which comes around. 

Regardless, with new family (and more family arriving in 2020) i wanted to wrangle a bit of festiveness – also acknowledging been a long while since i had vaguely “regular” christmas and while this was atypical, established some new routines, scratched an itch… after all, with the turmoil in my life the last years, there is admittedly some misgivings and rather tough emotions which come around during all this hoolpa. Most importantly, got to show love and respect for wife and in-laws. 

PS You can see a bit of building up for Christmas and read a riff between a friend and i about this holiday in Japan in: Diary: Christmas Forthcoming / out n about and at home in Okayama, 2019

What follows are a few poorly-photographed artifact of activities from Dec. 24 – 26 JST. Carry On!

First off, Dec. 24 (christmas eve) we made dinner of grilled mackeral, squash, pickled cucumbers and tsukemono carrots, greens, miso soup, tea, rice, lotus root, and whatnot. Yup, not off to a very traditional start – ha!

Christmas morn, we opened our stockings (pictured above) purchased from a 100yen store ($1), nothing but the best! and enjoyed toast with cream cheese and my kaki (persimmon) jam which i am always talking about, and nashi (pear). My sock had snacks, Ryoko’s had expired 35mm film and a necklace and snacks. 

Then we went to post office (one of my fave activities of course) and i wore a Santa cap (borrowed from Ryoko who wore at Mae Maes Christmas concert) to the amusement of the post office staff and the kids at the grocery store which was our next stop. Folks are stocking up for New Years time during which many stores are closed or scaled back hours and folks generally wanna hunker down. 

Then we picked up a pre-made feast from a great lil cafe called Sakura-mi we had ordered a while back when we went on a little lunch date. Here’s the café’s post box.

And i got to make a fire in the wood stove. So yeah, post office and fire making in the same day! Pleased. 

Took the grub home and set up at parent’s house (next door).

Continue reading Diary: Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing in Okayama, 2019