Tag Archives: Toyohashi

Jazz Concert at a Buddhist Temple

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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!

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The Tai Chi Training Camp in Toyohashi 2014: Congratulations, Satchan!

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1926730_599608880160996_25541487563107799_n-a     “Satchan!” I called out my friend’s name when I found her in the hotel’s lobby. She was sitting with her teacher. Where was I? I was in a hotel in Toyohashi to attend a Tai Chi training camp, which was held on October 4 and 5. Satchan was there to take a test for becoming a shihan( Tai Chi master.)

     The Tai Chi training camp is held every October. I’ve joined it since I was a beginner and this was probably the seventh time for me. The participants practice Tai Chi together and learn theory with some actual movements. In addition, there is an examination for becoming a Tai Chi master. Actually, not everyone can take the test. Test-takers have to fulfill all the conditions: having already the pre-master certification and five years further after taking it, a membership of Tokyo head office and a recommendation letter from their teachers. It takes at least ten years to qualify for taking the test after starting to do Tai Chi. DSCF0741-a

     Satchan met all the conditions. That was great! Actually, there were more than 80 people who were going to take the test this time! Wow! Mr. Kawamura was also included. He and I are learning from the same teacher. So, I came to the place not only to practice Tai Chi and meet my friends but also to cheer him at the test this time. DSCF0746

     Actually, I did not know that Satchan was going to take the test there until I found her at the hotel. I had thought she would take it at another opportunity in Tokyo because she had not mentioned anything about her participation. It might be because she and I are not “Tai Chi” friends. We are “English” friends. I mean, we got to know each other through English classes. I did not even know she was also doing Tai Chi when I started. That is why, we seldom talk about Tai Chi when we meet. Interestingly it was the first time for us to see each other in uniform, which is originally for karate but is our school’s (Yang Ming-Shi Simplified 24-Form Tai Chi) official costume. DSCF0771

     The test-takers were divided into two groups. Satchan and Mr. Kawamura were in the  latter group. Besides they were standing next to each other. So It was lucky for me because I was able to take photos of them once. All the examinees looked nervous before their names were called, but once the test started, interestingly the audience seemed to be more nervous than the performers. Fortunately, all of the candidates passed the test. Congratulations!

The Tai Chi Camp in 2013: I ate too much again!

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Why are they changing the light volume so frequently? I was wondering while doing a qigong exercise. I was doing that with other 400 participants. All of us were taking breath slowly as moving our arms at the same pace. No one uttered a word. The room became brighter and then darker repeatedly. Then I noticed that the room became brighter when we inhaled and became darker when we exhaled. I thought it was strange a hotel staffer changed the light volume in time with our movements…54220081000925697

     Then I came to a sudden realization that no one was controlling the intensity but I just felt like that way! Probably I perceived “qi” radiated from 400 people as light. When I inhaled slowly, the room got brighter and brighter, and when I exhaled slowly, it started darker and darker…How interesting! I’d never perceived “qi” that way. This strange thing happened while I was joining a big Tai Chi meeting in Toyohasi last October.

     The Tai Chi camp was held at Loisir Hotel Toyohashi on October 5th and 6th. I took part in it with two of my friends. When we got on a train, there were many ladies in it. And I glanced at them, wondering if all of us might be heading to the same destination. Sure enough, some of them who were sitting opposite to us smiled and gave us some candies! Suddenly our car became a kind of reserved train, and I was already able to have a wonderful time before the camp began.

     My friends and I had a lunch at a Japanese restaurant named Musashi nearby after we arrived at the hotel. They had many lunch specials, and I chose “hime-kgo-zen”, or a lunch set in a basket of a princess. Yes, the photo was that meal. It cost 1,000 yen. Hmm, reasonable. After lunch, the Tai Chi camp stared. But I was sleepy…you know, I ate too much…

     Around six o’clock, there was a feast. I met many people and made new friends over the wonderful dinner there. A teacher came to our table and told us an interesting episode: He has bought a new house recently in a countryside, where there are still many wildernesses. One night, he noticed a shadow of someone was getting closer to the frosted glass door. He wondered who came at that time of night. Then, the glass door slid open quietly without a knock, and a raccoon peered into his house. He was very surprised because he had not expected that non-human appeared. They stared at each other for a while. Then the raccoon seemed to give up something and left without closing door…

     Actually there was a workshop after the dinner. But I was sleepy…you know, I ate too much again…Around 8:30, it finished. I went to my room with my roommate. Not only me but also she ate too much at the banquet, but we went to a convenience store outside to buy some snacks… No wonder I can’t become thin…

    The morning training started at 6:30. I was almost a zombie. But I revived by breakfast! All of the participants practiced Tai Chi around 9:30. And as you’ve already expected, I was sleepy because I ate too much! After the session, there was an examination for becoming a master of Tai Chi. More than 60 people took the test and wonderfully all of them passed. I might be more nerves than the test-takers…During the test, there were a great deal of tension in the room… Relaxing after the event, I had lunch together with other participants. Ha ha, I ate too much again! Well, I had a great time at the Tai Chi meeting!

Tori-no-ichi Festival at Saiko-ji Temple in Toyohashi: A special bamboo rake might bring happiness to you!

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     Have you ever heard of “Tori-no-ichi”? It literally means “birds’ market”, but birds are not sold in “Tori-no-ichi”, but special rakes are sold… toyohashi 2

     “Tori-no-ichi” is a kind of open-air market held in November on the day of “Tori” in Chinese calendar. It was originally a harvest festival for peasants, but since around the Edo period it has become a place to pray for a health, fortune and good business, and highly decollated bamboo rakes have also become the essential item. Many people believe the rake brings them happiness and prosperity in business. Believers bring their old rakes back to the shrine or the temple where they bought last year and buy new ones for the coming new year. toyohashi 3toyohashi 4

     I had an opportunity to join the festival on November 20. It was held at Saiko-ji Temple in Toyohashi located in the southeast of Nagoya. One of my Tai Chi friends lives in Toyohashi and he invited me to the fair. He also showed me around the temple by the tram.

     First, we went to Toyohashi Park, which is a ruin of a castle called Yoshida-jo. Now there a restored storehouse stands quietly beside a 300-year-old big isunoki tree, or distylium racemosum.

toyohashi 5     Second, we visited a Japanese Orthodox church. This building is one of the three important cultural properties of the Orthodox Church in Japan and called “Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew Church”. Unfortunately we could not enter the 100-year-old church with a dignified air at that time… toyohashi 1

     Third, the place we headed for after the church was a Japan’s shrine named Akumi-Kambe-Shinmei-sha. The shrine is famous for a festival called Oni-Matsuri in February. The festival is to pray for the productiveness of grains and its main act is a fighting between an “oni” goblin and a “tengu” god. The festival has an about 1000-year-old history. toyohashi 6

     Finally, we arrived at Saiko-ji Temple where “Tori-no-ichi” was being held. There were many stalls before the temple and it was setting the mood for the festival. Near the gate there was a stand selling special bamboo rakes, and many people were buying ones from venders in happi coats. When you buy a rake, the venders clapped with the beat and cheered to you. toyohashi 7

     It is not enough to buy a rake at the festival. You have to bring the rake inside the temple and make it have power from Buddhist priests there. Otherwise, the rake is just an ornament without supernatural power.toyohashi 8

      If you’d like to live in prosperity, why don’t you buy one next year? Anyway, the small trip to Toyohashi was very interesting and filled with new discoveries for me. toyohashi 10