Category Archives: Music

Good-bye, Ricky…I’d like to see you after improving my English skills someday!



      It was snowing on December 18th. If I had had nothing to do, I would have avoided going outside in the heavy snow. But that day was special for me. In the morning my private English teacher Ricky was supposed to introduce me to a friend of his as another teacher before he left Japan. In the afternoon I was going to have a farewell party for him, and in the evening I was going to attend his band’s last gig. Therefore I went to the café in spite of the snow. It usually takes about 30 minutes to the place by bus, but it took me nearly one hour to get there due to the snow that morning.ricky2

     Ricky and I were at Komeda, a famous chain of coffee shops in Nagoya. We talked about many things, looking out the window at the snowflakes, sipping hot coffee and eating some toast and boiled eggs from their “Morning Service.” Most coffee shops in the Nagoya area have this “Morning Service” and give you some food for the cost of a cup of coffee in the morning. After a while, Ricky’s friend Anthony joined us. I was relieved to meet him because he looked very gentle and friendly. ricky3

     Then we went to a friend of mine, Hisako’s house, where Ricky’s farewell party was supposed to be held. It had stopped snowing by the time we arrived at her place. Unfortunately, most of my friends decided not to attend the party because of the snow, but two of them came. To tell you the truth, I would have liked to have a much bigger party for Ricky! But the small party was very nice and cozy with Hisako’s cordial homemade dishes.ricky4

     Around two o’clock, Anthony and Ricky left Hisako’s place. Anthony had to go to his school, and Ricky needed to prepare for that evening’s concert. I went home after clearing up after the party, and then went to Juke★Box, the music studio, in the evening. They have a party room and you can have a small party and a concert there. Ricky’s band “Los Tres” usually rehearsed at the studio. In fact, I myself often practice playing the drums there. ricky5

     Los Tres was a rockabilly band consisting of three musicians: Ricky, the vocalist and the keyboardist, Antonio, the vocalist and the guitarist, and Sally Fat, the bassist. The name Sally sounds female, but he is a man. I had wondered what the band would do after Ricky left Japan, and was shocked to know that they would disband. Antonio was also going back to his home in Spain soon! Not only me but also the staff at the studio were surprised at the sad news. So they served many kinds of food and drinks for free as a farewell.ricky6

     The concert was fantastic! Ricky, Antonio, Sally Fat and the drummer played energetically and their music fascinated the audience. Anthony came to the party after his job during the interval. “Oh, we have the same name!” After Anthony and Antonio greeted each other, Anthony borrowed Antonio’s guitar and sang a few songs. That was also great! I had a wonderful time, but the end of the party meant I had to bid farewell to Ricky… Good-bye, Ricky. Thank you for your lessons. I don’t know when I can see you next time, but I’d like to see you after improving my English skills someday!

Jazz Concert at a Buddhist Temple



saikoji1     A Jazz concert at a TEMPLE?

     I was very surprised to hear from the deputy head priest of Saikoji Temple in Toyohashi that he was organizing a Jazz concert at the temple, but decided right away to join it because it is rare to have opportunities to listen to Jazz music at temples in Japan. saikoji2

   Incidentally, Saikoji Temple is famous in Mikawa area for an event called Tori-no-ichi. Tori-no-ichi’s literal meaning is the Rooster Fair and a market selling lucky charms for business, especially decorative rakes called Kumade. Actually, the day before the concert was Tori-no-ichi. So, a big Kumade rake was displayed at the temple.

     The concert was held on November 23rd. I was very surprised again when I entered the temple because the room was packed with little children. saikoji3

     This is the right place, isn’t it?

     A Jazz concert was certainly held at the temple. It started solemnly with the priest’s greeting to the audience under gorgeous golden decorations. It was a concert indeed, but it was different from others I have experienced. saikoji6

     First of all, there were no seats in the room. The audience could sit down on the floor anywhere they liked. Actually, they did not need to sit down. If they wanted to stand up, they could. Secondly, they were able to do anything they liked, for example, dancing, running around, and even making sounds! So many of the children were holding something to make a sound, such as maracas made from milk cartons, percussion instruments made from empty boxes, or rolled-up newspaper. Actually, I did not know until that day that the purpose of the concert was to cultivate children’s artistic expression.saikoji5

      The musicians were Minoru Yoshiki, the bassist, Noriyuki “Knocky” Nakahashi, the pianist, and Syuji Mori, the tenor saxophonist. Once the music began, the children got excited and started to express their feelings freely. Some clapped their hands, some ran around, some hit the floor with rolled-up newspaper, and some played their handmade instruments. I think this freedom of expression was because children are not bound or fixed by rules. But meanwhile, adults like me are limited by many restrictions. I would need gallons of alcohol if I needed to let my real self out…saikoji4

     Interestingly, the bassist and the saxophonist moved around in the room while playing, though, keyboardist could not move around. The concert had no separation between the stage and the audience, but had a free atmosphere. I had a great time at the temple!

The Alphorns in Nagoya: Why don’t you join us? You have a talent!


SN3T0055     On a Sunday I suddenly wanted to eat ice cream. My husband and I were on our way home from a home improvement store. We dropped by a convenience store and bought ice cream. It was too hot to eat them in our car, which had no air – conditioner. So we went to a park nearby.

     When we were looking for a nice and cool place, we heard something. Some deep sounds. We found out the source when we were looking around. Three men were playing unfamiliar musical instruments. They were wooden horns, more than two meters long. SN3T0056

     I got interested in the instruments, but decided to finish my ice cream first since it began melting. Although it was hot that day, the wind was cool in the park. It was quite nice listening to the music, licking ice cream in the shade. When my husband and I finished our ice cream, the three men just stopped playing the horns. We walked up to them.

     “Hello,” one of the three men greeted us.
     “Hi! What’s this?” I asked him pointing to his horn.
     “It’s an alphorn.”
     “Alp? Does it have something to do with the Alps?”
     “Oh, yes!” He began explaining about the instrument enthusiastically as if he had been waiting to be asked. Actually, he was not the only person talking about the horn passionately, the other two men were also enthusing about the horns. SN3T0058

     They met the instruments first in Nagano Prefecture, not in Switzerland. There is a village which has a workshop for making alphorns by hand there. They heard about the instruments and the village, and went to the place several years ago. Then they fell in love with the horns. So, the three men went to the village for three months running to make their own ones. Each horn had a painting of beautiful flowers. They painted them by themselves. They were talking about their favorite musical instruments with starry eyes. SN3T0059

     “Why don’t you try?” one of them asked us with a smile.
     “Oh, really?”

     First, my husband tried. Amazingly, he made sounds after a few tries. The men’s eyes gleamed. They gathered around him, nodding, and said, “Why don’t you join us? You have a talent!” Next, I did. I tried hard. My face turned red, but no sound came from the horn. It seems that I have no talent for musical instruments…

     My husband and I are lucky because we stumbled across such an interesting instrument and people! According to them, they have more people in their group and are going to have a concert next March in Midori-ku. Why don’t you go to the concert if you can make it?

The Way to the Ocean ~ A Fresh Stream ~ : A piano recital at Munetsugu Hall



      “Does anyone have free time this Thursday?” a friend of mine said. I was having lunch with some of my friends at a cafeteria after a Tai Chi practice last Tuesday. I did not know what she was going to bring up, but I rummaged through my bag and took out my schedule book. An event had been redlined in the box of the Thursday on the calendar.

     “I have time. So…?” I looked up from my schedule and saw her. This time, it was her turn to rummage through her bag. She took out an envelope and drew a few small cards from it. And then, she put them on the table.

     “What are they?”
     “Tickets for a concert.”

     When I picked one of them, she put another thing on the table. It was a flyer of the concert with the program and a picture of a lovely girl. It seemed to be a piano recital.

     “Aren’t you going to the concert?”
     “Oh, I am. But I still have extra tickets. Why don’t you go to the concert with your friends? I’ll give you the tickets,” she said and handed me the rest of the tickets and flyers.

     She gave me four tickets. I decided to go to the concert with my 82-year-old mother and give the rest to my friends.

     The concert was held at Munetsugu Hall in Sakae, Nagoya. Munetsugu Hall is a concert hall for only classical music. Tokuji Munetsugu, the founder of a curry restaurant chain, “Curry House CoCo Ichibanya,” established the concert hall in 2007 to have people enjoy classical music more easily and develop younger artists. They offer a concert at lunchtime (11:30 – 12:30) almost every day for only 1,000 yen. This piano recital was one of the lunchtime concerts.

      The concert was entitled: The Way to the Ocean ~ A Fresh Stream ~ “Classical Music for June.” Risa Okubo, the pianist, explained the meaning in the opening. Young musicians from Gifu Prefecture have had concerts under the same title, and this time was the eighth. Gifu is a water-rich area with many rivers. These young artists portray themselves as fresh streams and the ocean as the world. That is, they express their ambitions of becoming worldwide musicians. Besides, they introduce music relating to water. That was why the pianist played these numbers:

1. Prelude Op. 28, No. 15 in D-flat major “Raindrops” by Chopin
2. The Seasons, June “Barcarolle” by Tchaikovsky
3. “Auf dem Wasser zu singen (To be Sung on the Water)” by Schubert (transcribed by Liszt)
4. “Die Forelle (The Trout)” by Schubert (transcribed by Liszt)
5. “Ondine” from “Gaspard de la Nuit (Gaspard of the Night) by Ravel
6. Ballade No.3 in A-flat major, Op.47 by Chopin
7. Sonata in D minor K.213 / L.108 by Scarlatti
8. “Isolde’s Liebestod (Love-Death)” by Wagner (transcribed by Liszt)

     Actually, I don’t listen to classical music so much. But the concert was very nice and my mother and I had a wonderful time. I met a friend of mine to whom I had given the rest of the tickets at the hall. She came there with her friend, and they were also very pleased to have a great time. It is a good idea to drop by Munetsugu Hall at lunchtime and enjoy classical music once in a while. Classical music has a healing power. Nagoya’s summer is hot and humid. Why don’t you have an elegant time in the cool concert hall sometimes? You’ll feel refreshed when you leave the hall.

Karaoke Party @ ISONA: This is like we are in an expensive dinner show, isn’t it?


And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain…

     Charlee’s vibrant and resonant voice filled in the small pub Isona. Kenji, a friend of mine held a karaoke party there in the beginning of last November. I was having a good time with some of my friends. In fact, the owner of the pub is also a friend of mine.

     Although Charlee was using a microphone, I did not think he needed it. He is a professional singer. So, his voice was totally different from the other participants. It did not come from his vocal cord, but emanated from his whole body! His voice is lamprophony.

     Having delicious food with alcohol in the dim light of the pub, my friends and I were captivated by Charlee’s singing, saying “This is like we are in an expensive dinner show, isn’t it?”

     Of course, not only Charlee but also all of the participants sang various kinds of songs. I sang a famous Enka song, Tsugaru-Kaikyo-Fuyu-Geshiki, or The Winter Scenery of Tsugaru Straits, and Duran Duran’s The Reflex. Oh, don’t guess my age! CAM01479-a

     Some of the participants were shy and hesitated to sing at the beginning, but they loosened up and finally transformed themselves into different characters at the end of the session! I’m sure all of us enjoyed the party!




     Charlee Laine:

     ISONA: 2-8-11 Nakata, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya (between Imaike and Ikeshita)

My Travel in London 9 ~ Soho ~ Singin’ in the rain!


London 2013 293-a

     I was too tired to appreciate the exhibits at the British Museum. I was sitting down on a stool against the wall at a café and browsing through a guide book of the museum instead of looking at the real things. In the meantime, I was getting a little energy back with a cup of coffee. There was a museum shop in front of the café. I decided to look around the shop until Yuko came. (The former episodes are here: My Travel in London 1, My Travel in London 2, My Travel in London 3, My Travel in London 4, My Travel in London 5, My Travel in London 6, My Travel in London 7, and My Travel in London 8)

     Mmm…Should I have bought something with the Rosetta Stone motif? There were many kinds of souvenirs printed with the text of the stone in the Collection Shop: Rosetta Stone T-shirts, Rosetta Stone iPhone cases, Rosetta Stone calculators, Rosetta Stone notebooks, Rosetta Stone bags, Rosetta Stone mug cups, Rosetta Stone umbrellas, Rosetta Stone ties, Rosetta Stone USB stick, etc! Yuko phoned me when I was debating whether to buy one of them. She came to the main entrance. I went out of the museum without buying any goods of the Rosetta Stone. Actually you can get them anytime on the Internet. So, I might buy something with the stone motif later!London 2013 295

     When I looked back, the overwhelming powerful-looking edifice was there. You know, I had entered the museum from the north entrance under construction. Wow! I had actually been at the museum! I could hardly see its precious items, though…Well, I was not supposed to feel down! Yuko and I were going to see a musical that night! I was surprised when I met Yuko again. Both of us did not know where the theatre was located exactly… London 2013 296-a

     Not to worry! We were in London, which had been named as the best city to visit in the world last year. There were many signposts with detailed maps and street names in town. Besides I could tell the direction because I had seen a map of London many times. So, without any problems Yuko and I were able to get to the theater: the Palace Theatre. We were supposed to see Singin’ In The Rain in the prominent red-brick building.London 2013 298

     Yuko and I need to eat something before the musical started. After getting the tickets, we set off to a night town of the West End. Walking from Moor Street to Old Compton Street, we were standing at the door of Café Boheme. We did not have so much time to drift from place to place. So, we decided to have quick meal there. Actually I was too tired to have good appetite at that time, but the French restaurant gave me great satisfaction. London 2013 299

     I ordered Soupe a l’oignon or a cup of onion soup and Omelette or an omelet with herbs. They were excellent! The onion soup was the best I had ever had! The golden liquid gave energy to me! Yuko had the same onion soup and hamburger with French fries. Her dishes also looked really delicious. Everyone seemed to be enjoying their food. The atmosphere of the restaurant was very nice and our waiter was gentle and good-looking! Yuko and I had a great time at Café Boheme.

     At around 7:00 we left the French restaurant and headed to the Palace Theatre. All of the doors of the theater had already opened and were swallowing up people, when we arrived. Climbing up short stairs, we saw a bar floor on the right and many excited people holding glasses there. The interior decorations were gorgeous. I was almost overwhelmed by the historical atmosphere of the theater. Mmm…Should I have worn a more fashionable dress?CAM00929

     My seat was O-14 in the Stalls. A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N and O. That is, I was sitting the eleventh row from the front. We were quite close to the stage because there was not a pit on the ground floor for the orchestra, which played above the stage. Yuko was sitting at O-15, which was next to the aisle. We were able to see the actors up close because they acted not only on the stage but also in the aisle. It was as if we were also in the scene. The stage was really wonderful. I could not understand all the actors were saying, but I really enjoyed their performances.CAM00928

     They showered large quantity of water on the stage before the intermission and the ending and the stage became like a pool. The actors splashed water to the auditorium seating on purpose while dancing. That was why people sitting from the first to the fourth or fifth row got wet. Of course, they were squealing with delight instead of complaining. The rest of the audience also cheered at the spectacle. At the end of the play, the whole audience gave a standing ovation to the actors, the orchestra, and the rest of the staff. Yuko and I had a really great time!

     It was raining when we went outside. But no one put up an umbrella. Many people from the Palace Theatre were willingly getting wet, singing in the rain “Singin’ In The Rain”! Lots of people came out from not only the Palace Theatre but also other theaters in the West End. The street was full of excited people. Yuko and I did not know where the underground station was, but we did not need a map. We were just swept along in the crowd and then arrived at Leicester Square Tube Station automatically. CAM00930

     We took the Piccadilly Line to Earl’s Court Station together. Yuko’s hotel was near Bayswater and mine was near West Brompton. We said goodbye to each other at Earl’s Court Station. Yuko went to the eastbound platform and I went to the westbound of the District Line. Yuko was supposed to go to Wales and I was leaving for Japan next day. My feeling was still running high even after I was alone. But at the same moment, I was feeling sad when I thought about my flight back on the following day…

Meets Organic Market in Minato: Could you tell me what their business is and what the musical instrument is?




     It was really cold on November 18. I had to do Tai Chi as a performance with my teacher and some of my friends before children and their parents at an elementary school in Meito-ku, Nagoya in the morning. So, I was wearing a special T-shirt for the event and black satin kung-fu pants. After the event, I put on a fleecy hoodie, an insulated jacket, and windbreaker pants on them, and then went to Minato-ku for another event. There, the outfits like me, I mean, wearing nylon or polyester things, were minority…

     Most people in the event were wearing wool or cotton clothing. Many of them were also wearing knitted caps and long stoles. Interestingly, those people’s costumes were earthy colored and sloppy…オーガニック3

     I was in an event called “Meets Organic Market” held at Chukyo TV Housing Center in Minato-ku. Probably people who are interested in organic things do not like petroleum products. I am also interested in organic or/and natural things, but I have many petroleum-derived things such as fleece, nylon, and polyester clothes as well. オーガニック5

     There were more than 30 booths of foods and clothing in the event. Of course, all of the clothing stalls were selling only cotton or wool products, and all food stands had just organic things. I bought a sandwich with soy ham, a vegetable curry, and a brown rice soup for lunch, and had a cup of coffee after the meal. I felt like becoming healthier with those organic things. My body seemed to be happy. You know, I often eat processed food with lots of additive stuff…オーガニック2

      Suddenly music started while I was sipping the coffee. Two men were playing the strange-looking instruments when I looked at the direction of the sound. One was playing the double-neck guitar and another one was playing the stringed instrument with something mixture of plectrums and sticks. オーガニック6

     Those musicians’ booth had nothing to sell when I arrived at the event. There was a board with “Sold Out” written on it on their stand. It seems that they were selling bread…but I am not sure…What did they sell? What was that musical instrument? オーガニック7

     The next organic market is held on December 16 at the same place. Why don’t you go to the event? And could you tell me what their business is and what the musical instrument is?

Nagoya Dome Yakimono World 2012: Is that him?


dome 3

     Is that him?

     I was in Nagoya Dome, the indoor baseball field in Nagoya, for an event named “Dome Yakimono World” on November 17. Yakimono means ceramic in English. It is an annual event and has more than 300 booths in which not only ceramic wares but also other table wares such as glass and plastic products and Japanese lacquer wares are sold. Actually there are some food stalls also in the site.

     I had not had lunch yet when I arrived at the dome. So, I decided to buy something to eat and drink at the site first. Kiyomi Yano, a radio personality, was talking on the stage when I passed through the stands to go down the field. She said, “Do you want to listen to music? Okay, it’s time for music, then.” While I was buying some food for lunch, a singer began singing. I thought, “He’s a very good singer…” when I was going back to the seats to have lunch. Then I was very surprised at seeing him singing on the stage. dome 4

     “Is that him?” I could not believe my eyes. The singer who was singing on the stage with a guitar was the former vocalist of a rock band called J-Walk (JAYWALK): Koichi Nakamura. Of course, he is a very good singer. And of course, the singer must have been him. He is the radio personality’s husband. Why was I surprised at his performance? Because he vanished from the limelight two years ago. Actually, he was arrested using narcotics in 2010 and got a two-year-jail sentence. He did not need to go to prison because of probation, but he decided to go silent for two years that he deserved to be in jail. dome 1

     His songs after a long interval were excellent. I was very happy to see him singing and to listen to his songs. I felt lucky because I had not expected being able to listen to his voice at the event. It was also nice to see him and his wife look happy. Kiyomi said to his husband after his performance, “Take all those things away! You know, no one does for you anymore!” It was a bit self-deprecating, but was funny. I enjoyed their performance on stage over my lunch. dome 2

     The show was over, and my lunch also was over. I left the stands and went to the main area. Japan is a small island but it has many kinds of clay, and each area has their own unique ceramic cultures. It was very interesting to see those differences and to talk to shop owners or ceramic artists about their works. This flog is Pierre. According to the artist’s husband (The man is also a ceramicist. Unfortunately his wife was sick in bed and could not come to the event.), Pierre is from France…Of course, it is a fantasy. He cost 50,000 yen…It was too expensive and big to take him home to me…dome 5

     I bought a coffee cup and a saucer in which violets were painted at this booth for my mother. She loves violets. I was able to listen to Koichi Nakamura’s wonderful songs, to see many beautiful and interesting things, to talk to many people, and to buy a nice set of cup and saucer for my mother at the event. I had a great time!

Kakuohzan Fall Festival 2012: Why don’t you explore in the eclectic mix world of the old and the new ?


     Do you know there is an interesting place named Kakuohzan, which has eclectic mix of old and new things, in  Nagoya? There is a temple called Nittaiji enshrining real Buddha’s ash in the area. Nittaiji Temple gathers many believers, especially senior citizens, and therefore there are old-fashioned shops such as a Japanese sandal shop and a rice cracker shop in the approach. But nowadays many of those old shops are closed because of aging of keepers and their buildings.

     However, those closed shops have not remained in being closed for a long time. Most of the old shops have been reborn as cafés, restaurants, bakeries, import goods shops, a convenience store, a cheese shops, a tea house, accessory shops, pottery shops…etc. So many young people also come to Kakuohzan. But the young generations in the area do not just wait for customers. They organize some events to attract people as well. One of their events is Kakuohzan Fall Festival.

     The fall festival was held on November 3 and 4 this year, and I went there on 4. It was a lovely day. I arrived at the festival around noon, when many people were enjoying street food. In Kakuohzan’s festivals, you can try many kinds of delicious foods like curry, pastas, cheese fondue, cake, yakisoba (fried noodles), fried chickens…Oh, I’m getting hungry…

    In Japan’s usually festivals, there are just food stalls and game booths. But in Kakuohzan many art creators and crafters also have stands. The festival has an aspect of a creators’ exhibition. Paintings, photos, potteries, glass arts, steel works, woodworks…etc. Looking those things around is, of course, interesting, but talking to the creators about their works is more interesting. I had a wonderful time on a warm autumn day. Why don’t you explore in the eclectic mix world of the old and the new?

Mori-no-Ie Matsuri: To Future Non-Discriminatory Society


4296d9e2-s     …Children seldom keep on lining up in order during their school trip. They always block the passage in the station, and I, who am bringing a white walking stick, am often caught into the crowd. The children don’t care a bit about me, who am an intruder to their territory, but their teachers spot me and scold them saying, “Move to the right!” to clear the aisle. One fifth of teachers, however, add this, “What are you looking at?! Don’t stare at the person! Don’t stare at the person!” That’s the saddest moment for me. I can’t see, but I can hear. Am I dirty to look at? Am I something looked away?

     I think it’ll be a great opportunity for children to study about challenged people if they happen to meet someone who is disabled during their excursion because physically and mentally disabled children and ordinary ones are educated separately in Japan. They can experience to know that many different people live together and that some can’t see, and learn how to treat them if they see those disabled people in the town. Teachers can even teach their students saying, “Okay, everyone, look carefully. If you meet someone who can’t see is in trouble, lead the person with your elbow like this.” I would be happy to be a guinea pig for that. (“Ikari-no-Kawada-san” by Ryuichi Kawada, translated by moshimoshimo) 

     That’s a part of “Ikari-no-Kawada-san” written by Ryuichi Kawada, who is a visually impaired person. As he says, disabled children are separately educated from non-disabled children in Japan. Actually this “separation” continues after they graduate from their schools. The disabilities and the non-disabilities seldom interact in Japan. They live in their own societies even though they live in the same country. I myself hardly ever meet challenged people in my daily life in spite of having many facilities for the handicapped nearby. But I had an opportunity to visit one of them lately.

     There was a festival in one of those facilities in my neighborhood on 17th. The facility named “Mori-no-Ie” is an ambulatory care center for physical disabled people. One of my friends takes part in volunteer activities there once a week. She had told me about the event, and we joined the festival together. morinoie 2

     At the event there were many booths and corners where many things and foods were sold and different exhibitions were held. The friend and I had a hand massage and seifu treatment first (Seifu is a kind of massage). We looked at exhibits created by some care-receivers such as paintings and ceramics then. All of them were very artistic and many have great sense of humors.

     We saw two men cooking in the inner court. We know one of them. He is a cook at a café nearby. Actually the café is run by the same company of the facilities for physical disabled people. He was frying noodles in a swelter. We bought a pack of the fried noodles each and some dumplings for lunch. And then we ate ice cream because my friend’s activity group was selling ice cream outside.

     After lunch, we went to see the concert of koto, or Japanese harps, and shamisen, or Japanese three stringed banjos, upstairs. The performers were students of Kikuka High School. Their music was wonderful. I had a great time with both of the disabilities and the non-disabilities at the care center. I hope the day when there is no discrimination against challenged people and no “separation” between disabled people and non-disabled ones will come someday soon in this country.