Monthly Archives: June 2008

Golden Country Bengal

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HI351620      There was a small event entitled “The Evening of the Golden Country Bengal” at Nisshin Citizen Hall last Friday night and I went see it with some of my friends.

     It was on Bangladeshi culture including a concert by a Bangladeshi band called Gram Bangla and a performance by Bangladeshi dancers. Participants enjoyed not only music and dance but also chai and some Bangladeshi snack in the interval.HI351631

     At the event, firstly the band played the music. I don’t know the real titles in Bengali, but they mean “Ears of rice is wavering in the horizon like twinkling flowers”, “The sun rose in the east horizon”, and “I visit your heart every before day.” And they also played their national anthem.

     Before that day I had thought their music would be similar to Indian one. But it sounded more like Japan’s Okinawan music. I think their music has a kind of healing power. HI351617

     It was the first time for me to see all the instruments they played with. They look beautiful and sound wonderful. It’s said some of them are made of jack fruit trees.

     Next, there was a dance performance by Monu, who is one of my neighbors, and her cute daughters. Their costumes were really beautiful and their performances were excellent, especially those little girls were very cute. HI351627

     And then there was an introduction of Bangladesh and their folk costumes. The person who introduced their country was Monu’s husband. I felt deeply for his words. He said, “Bangladesh is always introduced as one of the poorest countries in Japan. The media direct a spotlight on their economic problems mainly. But there are many wonderful culture and remains in Bangladesh. I’d like many Japanese to know those wonderful points and to visit the country.” HI351625

     I just watched a TV program on Bangladeshi economy just a few days before. In the program, people who are struggling to get free from poverty were picked up. And I had never thought of Bangladesh cultural heritages before listening to his words. HI351634

     There was a tea break and participants enjoyed chai and some Bangladeshi traditional food. That was wonderful! After the break, the band played the music again. Their powerful performances refreshed me very much!

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Mid-Summer Tea Tasting Party

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お茶屋2      I took part in a tea-tasting party after the seminar on guiding last Saturday. I had a wonderful time with my friends there.

     At the party, participants checked each tea’s leaves, liquid color, flavor, and aroma and so on and tried to express about them with your own words, enjoying having tea over various food and chatting. I think it’s similar to tasting of wine. お茶屋1

     The host, Paul is very good at expressing each tea, for example, he expressed about the Darjeeling Castleton 1st flush like this, “This is summer tea. I feel as if I’m lying in the field and feeling the summer breeze.” or something. It’s quite difficult for me to express about tea like him…I think he’s a kind of poet.   HI351597

     This time the number of the participants was around 20. We had about ten kinds of tea: Darjeeling Castleton 1st flush, the 2nd flush, Elephant Assam, Keemun Hao ya A and B, Ceylon Uva, Dimbula, Earl Gray, hot and iced some fruits tea, and …I forgot…We also had many kinds of food such as chocolates, cookies, jellies, rice crackers, sandwiches and pies with tea. All of the tea and food were excellent!HI351594

      According to Paul, each tea has best match food. Yeah, I think it’s true. All tea is called “tea” and of course made from “tea” leaves. But each tea’s looks of leaves and liquid color are obviously different from others and of course the aroma and the flavor are different. That’s why it’s not strange to choose the best match food for each tea.  

     The host of the tea tasting party, Paul Lewis, is a president of a tea company named M&P’s Tea. The company name’s P means initial of his name Paul. What does the M mean, then? M means Paul’s business partner, Masanori. Paul is a descendant of a manager of the East India Company. Castleton where the Darjeeling tea we had is from was opened by his ancestor. Paul’s ancestor’s story and Masanori’s story on Sri Lanka were very interesting too at the party. Knowing many things about tea and tasting good tea may make your life much richer!

Workshop on guiding

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     Last Saturday I attended a workshop on guiding in English at Will Aichi (Aichi Prefectural Women’s Center). I learned many good points not only for guiding but also for better communication from the lecturer Ms. Makiko Kumazawa, who is a professional English speaking guide.

     Ms. Kumazawa gave the lecture under seven heads: professional guide’s job and role, the past, the present and the future on inbound travel, what foreign tourists seek in Nagoya area, guiding points in Nagoya area, hints for guiding, manners as a guide, and self-study for better guiding.

1. Professional guide’s job and role
     It’s necessary to pass a state examination to become a guide in Japan. Since “Visit Japan Campaign” started by the Land and Transport Ministry last year, the jobs as guides have been increasing and the role also has become more important. According to Ms. Kumazawa, sightseeing was undervalued in Japan at least 10 years ago. But recently the value has been appreciated, resulting in a growing number of guiding languages.

2. The past, the present and the future on inbound travel
     According to Ms. Kumazawa, inbound travel means tourism from abroad to Japan. The governmental “Visit Japan Campaign” has served as a tail wind to the rising tourism from abroad. In the past, the typical route of sightseeing in Japan was from Narita Airport (Tokyo) to Hakone and then to Kyoto and Nara area, passing through Nagoya area. But recently Centrair (Chubu International Airport) has become a hub airport, and many tourists go sightseeing in various areas, especially northern Japan, from Nagoya area. In conventional tourism, sightseers used to just go see old Japanese temples, but lately walking tours in nature, experiences of Japanese sub-cultures such as animations or ladies fashion and of communication with local people have been more popular. Modern eco-tourism and technical visit are also in favor, which are called SIT (special interest tour).

3. What foreign tourists seek in Nagoya area
     It often says that there’s no places for sightseeing in Nagoya. Nagoya was almost burned down during the World War II and most of the town had to be rebuilt after the war. That’s why old buildings don’t remain so much. But therefore Nagoya is one of the world’s largest industrial areas, and it has Toyota. Sightseers can have great experiences through the industrial tourism.

4. Guiding points in Nagoya area
     As I wrote above, Nagoya has a few old buildings for sightseeing. Nagoya Castle, which is one of the best tourist attractions in Nagoya area, is a replica. But Ms. Kumazawa says that the imperfection can be made up by anecdotes or introduction of geographical and climatic features or of local people’s disposition or dialect and so on.

5. Hints for guiding
     People who have much knowledge are apt to parade their learning. Guides should understand what the tourist wants to know and give the information with accuracy. Ms. Kumazawa says that she thinks the guiding might be a failure if the tourists said “You know very much! You are a teacher!” Guiding should not be one-way self-complacency, should be interactive communication.

6. Manners as a guide
     You will be a guide for a variety of people at different places, you should be well-groomed accordingly. You should understand differences between other countries’ and Japanese customs like table manners and taboo. Especially learning food restriction is very important such as Islamic halal, Jewish kosher, and vegetarians under religious belief or health problems. Ms. Kumazawa told an inside story. One day she guided for a group which includes some Muslims. She had had arrangement with the manager of a hotel many times about food. In spite of her best endeavors, the hotel almost served bacon that day…When she quarreled with it to the manager, he was confused by her anger. Of course, noticing that bacon was made from pork, he made a humble apology to her. Japanese people may tend to be careless about other countries’ customs.

7. Self-study for better guiding
     You should gather related information to guide, seek good points in tourist attractions, walk around the area, learn proper English expressions. And Ms. Kumazawa says that you should keep smiling and enjoy yourself!

Chagall

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chagall

 

      There has been an exhibition of Marc Chagall’s works at Mindscape Museum in Okazaki. I went see it last Sunday. I’ve liked Chagall’s works of art since I was an elementary school student.HI351591

     I wonder when I met his works for the first time. Probably it was when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Of course what I saw was not a genuine one. The encounter was at the school library. HI351584

     I don’t read recently so much, but I used to love books and often to be in the library. Perhaps I found one of Chagall’s portfolios in a corner of bookshelves while choosing books and his paintings must have fascinated me when I opened the book.

     Since then I often took it home to gaze on his works well. What I remember well is that the lending slip of the portfolio has only my names at the elementary school. At last I had an opportunity to see genuine pictures by Chagall last Sunday!HI351587

     Mindscape Museum is located in a silent hilly terrain in Okazaki and there are a big park and a hospital nearby. It is made of glasses and looks modern. A little bit small, but is very cozy. HI351590

     At the exhibition, Chagall’s early works are gathered many, such as his etching works in 1914 and paintings in 1922, which are his works before he left Russia. The exhibition has the wall paintings of the Jewish Theater in Moscow. Those are spectacular. His paintings in his times in Paris and the Unites States and also his recent works are also displayed. I had a really good time there.

Ikebana Exhibition

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ikebana      There has been an exhibition of Ikebana, or the Japanese art of flower arrangement, at Matsuzakaya, the department store in Nagoya. I went see it with two of my friends because my tai chi teacher’s piece was displayed there last Wednesday.  HI351565

     There are nearly 400 schools of Ikebana in Japan and my teacher belongs to one of them named Ohara-ryu school. And the exhibition was held by the school. HI351572

     Since I’ve never learned Ikebana, I don’t know exactly what the differences among those schools are, but I’ve heard that Ohara-ryu is kind of simpler as compared with some of others which tend to show fancy.  HI351574

     Though it may be true, I think it depends on the person who arranges flowers. In fact, I thought there were many differences of the way of expression in each Ikebana when I was at the exhibition. HI351580

     It’s said that Ikebana originates from offering flowers on Buddhist altars in ancient times, but that it has begun as an art in the 15th century.

     Ikebana differs from Western flower arrangement in that it has many rules. People can express their own feelings with flowers freely but the technique cannot deviate when they do Ikebana. HI351578

     To be honest, I don’t like such a formal world with strict rules and hierarchies, but I appreciated the exhibition.

      It was a kind of mysterious universe; quietness and loudness, small and big, wildflowers and imported products, Japanese pottery and Western glassware, tradition and innovation…Each exhibitor expressed their own feelings freely with their school methods.

Arimatsu Shibori Matsuri Festival in 2008

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HI351547      There was a festival called Arimatsu Shibori Matsuri in Arimatsu, Midori-ku, Nagoya last weekend and I went there with some of my friends last Sunday. Arimatsu is well-known for shibori, or Japanese tie-dying.

      The festival is crowded with thousands of people who want to get some products of shibori and to enjoy seeing a row of old houses along the street, which remains still now. I had, however, one more reason to go to the festival this time. It was to take part in a tour with an English speaking guide. 有松3

     I went to the festival with a friend of mine last summer, when I just enjoyed seeing old things and didn’t learn anything about the area Last fall, however, I had an opportunity to take part in an English speaking tour at another festival in Arimatsu, and I learned many things through the tour. That was a wonderful experience for me. 有松1

     Actually the guide of the tour is one of my English teachers this semester! She is not only an English teacher but also an English guide! Since I got the information that she would guide in English at the festival, I asked her to let me join in the tour.HI351554

     But I was told shocking news one day drawing near the festival. It was that the tour might have been cancelled, because any foreign sightseers hadn’t applied for it yet. So I asked her to perform the tour even if the participants were only Japanese. 有松7

     After all no foreign sightseers showed up for the tour last Sunday (it seems that some foreign tourists took part in the tour before the day) , but she guided in English kindly for me and 12 of my friends, who are interested in an English speaking guide tour and the festival.

     According to the weather forecast, it would rain that day. But luckily or unluckily the sky cleared up and it was really hot! Maybe too hot! But all of the participants had a great time at the festival. I don’t know how express my gratitude for the tour to my teacher and AGGN staff. HI351556

     Arimatsu was opened in the Tokaido, which was the most important road in Edo period, in the 17th century. Before the village was opened, the area was very dangerous with bandits because it was deserted. But many travelers had to pass the area for coming and going between Kyoto and Edo, which is the old name of Tokyo. The village was opened by the ruler’s order to prevent crimes. udatsu

     The first settler was Shokuro Takeda from Agui, Chita. He started shibori, or tie-dying, business. Because Arimatsu’s soil was poor, it was not suit for farming. He thought of the good idea to combine cotton and tie-dying.

    namako-kabe In those days, Chita was the leading producer of cotton in Japan, and he could get the idea by seeing workers to build Nagoya Castle because many of them came from Kyusyu area, in which tie-dying is famous as well. The business he started was great hit. Arimatsu has been famous for shibori since then. 

     In Arimatsu all of houses burned down by a big fire in 1784. After that people has devised many ways for fire prevention such as udatsu or namako-kabe. Anyway, I was able to learn many things about Arimatsu this time. Why don’t you visit the old area someday?

Birthday Party at LOVELY

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HI351529      The other day, I received a letter of invitation from a friend of mine. It said the following…

    ★★th BIRTHDAY PARTY at LOVELYてるぽん3

     This year, I turn ★★years old.
     I organized something “daring” for
     my birthday.
     I have haunted JAZZ concerts in
     recent years,
    
and it awaked my old memories that
     I used to
listen to standards saying,
     “How cool…”
    
“Oh, I want to sing songs like
     a singer!”
                                                 
Mr. Masaki Hayashi,
                                                 
the pianist, has offered me help in
                                                  realizing my dream. 
                                                  Then…
                                                 
I’ve reserved LOVELY.  Yes, I’ve got guts.
                                                  I’ll be very happy if you come to the party!

HI351518

     There’s a reason why she used the words such as “daring” and “I’ve got guts.” Jazz in LOVELY is a very famous live music club for blazing a trail of the field and standing long in Nagoya. In brief, the live music club is not usually a place where amateurs play.  

     But she did the concert at the place last night! Helping her was not only the pianist, Masaki Hayashi, but also a professional saxist, Kazuhiko Kondo, played together as well. HI351521

     The party started with the two professional musicians playing. The saxist is active in many music scenes as a saxist for many bands, an arranger, or a manager for concert tours of other artists. He played as a member of the band for Akira Terao who appeared at “Koh-haku Uta-gassen”, which is a kind of national TV program for New Year’s Eve, last year. The pianist is also rustling and often plays abroad. The performances by two professional players were really fantastic.  てるぽん4 

     And my friends came on. She was very beautiful in gorgeous black dress. She looked as if she were a professional singer!

     Her singing voice was gentle and sweet and very comfortable to listen. It seems she went to karaoke by herself to practice singing songs many times. And her efforts resulted in success! Her song was no less wonderful than the two professional players!てるぽん2

     According to her, a concert incited her to have it. I don’t know exactly what it was like, but she decided to have her own concert while seeing the concert. She said, “I am an ordinary middle-aged woman. I wanted to show such an ordinary woman can do anything she desires to do. I hope my performance cheered all of you. Thank you!”

     Yes! I think all of the participants at the party were borne up by her! Thanks!