Super Summer Ⅲ Getting ready!

3 days in Boston and then back to London.
Now,at last,I have a few days where my diary is totally blank. Before coming to London,I was thinking I could use these days for visiting friends in Oxford and the Isle of Wight,or go to the theatre or go to an exhibition,etc,etc.
canal%20boat_resize.jpgThen I suddenly realized, I had so much to do which I hadn't even thought of!!!!
My BIG birthday was coming up and I hadn't really thought it through!
I had hired a canal boat for two hours but hadn't done anything else!!!
So, the next 3 days were spent running around London,finding things to make this party work! I have to say,though it was a lot of work, I really had a great time!

In Japan,after you're 20,we don't really celebrate birthdays. It's impossible to find fun but tasteful things for adult birthday parties in Japan so just looking around the various party shops for decorations,props and party goods was so much fun. I don't think I'll get this excited about my 60th so I think it was good that I put in my time and effort for this 50th birthday celebration. (Only wished I knew more about what options I had for catering so I could have maybe sorted that out even before leaving Japan. Now I know, so anyone looking for advice,please ask me!)

Super Summer Ⅱ!

After our lunchtime concert,it was at last time to relax and Michiko had invited our families to a wonderful restaurant along the Thames. It was such a hip and sophisticated place with beautiful views and delicious food. Really feeling like I'm in London now!
Now the holiday begins!

The very next day I flew to Boston. This was an unexpected trip as I had suddenly decided to go just a few weeks before. I went to visit my teacher from primary school whom I have visited every year now for the past 6~7 years. I had missed seeing her in the spring,which is when I usually go, as she was unwell. But in June, I had heard that she was getting better and by the beginning of July she had recovered well and seemed strong enough to see me so that's what I did!
Mrs.Donvan%20%2718_resize.jpgI was SO happy to see her again and we were able to share two precious days together this time. She was her cheerful and wonderful self,full of wit and wisdom and kindness. Every time I see her she amazes me and I always am inspired by her spirit. I am so lucky to have had her be part of my life since a very young age. I am so grateful to know her.

My cousin and her partner also came to Boston from NY to see me so when I wasn't seeing my teacher I was spending time with them. It was so nice to come back from my visits to my teacher to see friendly faces at the hotel and be able to talk about my day.
My Boston trip was quite a tight fit in my already planned out European holiday but I am so glad that I found a way to make it possible. Seeing my teacher after so many months of worry was definitely one of the highlights of this summer!

Super Summer Ⅰ

I've had a brilliant summer this year jam-packed with lots of travel and lots of celebrations. My summer holiday started in London,although it wasn't a holiday at first.

Lunch%20Time%20Concert%20July%20%2718_resize.jpgI had a concert with my violinist friend,Michiko,3 days after arriving there. We rehearsed intensively,starting the day I had arrived and over the next 2 days. It was unexpectedly hot so was a battle against the heat as well! We played 2 sonatas - one by Mozart and one by Brahms. It was the first time to play with Michiko,so we had a great deal to adjust to but I think it was a good start for us as an ensemble. It was wonderful to have so many friends and family in the audience. There was a lovely atmosphere in the church - very relaxed and joyful - which was perfect for a lunchtime concert. What a great way to start my three weeks of summer!

7th Year

%E5%A4%A7%E4%BB%8F311_resize.jpgIt's 7 years since the great earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku.
This year again there was a prayer ceremony in Kamakura where Shinto,Buddhism and Christianity all came together to offer prayers for those whom lost their lives and to pray for the recovery of the area. This year it was held at Koutoku-in,where the Great Buddha is.
It's a very sad day but it's also very moving to see the different religions come together especially considering that most wars,even now,are caused because of our differences in faith.
At 14:46 (which is when the earthquake happened) ,we stand for a minute of silence. It's always amazing that for that one minute,although there are so many people (including small children) there is absolute silence. Even the birds seem to sense the sadness and don't sing.
May our prayers be heard.

Let it snow,let it snow,let it snow!

SN3V15380001_resize.jpgWe've been hearing a great deal of news about cold weather all around the world but it finally hit us here in Kamakura yesterday. We had one day of very heavy snow which of course seemed to have thrown everyone into chaos! Rush hour started at 4PM and by 8PM (when I had to catch my train back from my teaching which is usually mid-rush hour) there was hardly anyone at the station in Shinjuku! I've never seen Shinjuku station so empty! (The equivalent of Shinjuku in London would be Piccadilly Circus,in New York,Times Square!)

I always think though that Kamakura is at it's most beautiful when it snows. The train took over 2 hours to get back from Tokyo (it normally takes only one) but I was looking forward to walking back home in the snow. It was dead quiet and no one was around but Japan is so safe that I had no worries and it was,as I imagined,absolutely beautiful.

Happy 2018!

Wishing everyone a very peaceful and Happy New Year!
"Peaceful" is the keyword here.... So many worrying things in the world now which seem to be all happening at once. I hope that we can all find a way to coexist in harmony. This world is big enough for us to appreciate it together!

America Ⅰ

I've just come back from my annual visit to America.I'm up with my jet lag and it's 5am in the morning but am feeling really good and full-filled. I visited 3 cities this time in just over a week but everything went so smoothly.I couldn't believe that everything would go so well - every plane, train,bus was on time if not early, and all my hotels and Airbnbs were well in order. Haven't had such an easy trip in such a LONG time.

3 stops on this trip - New York,Boston and Champaign Illinois. I write annual visit as I have a promise with my elementary school teacher from when I was living there when I was little that I would come visit her at least once a year. I try to combine other things with my trip - sometime concerts - but this time was really filled with seeing lots of people I love - family, friends,teachers and even a pupil I had taught over 10 years ago!

Each person has helped me be who I am today and when I see them I realize how I have been truly blessed from a very early age.
I cannot be grateful enough.

6 Years

2017%E6%9D%B1%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC%E7%A5%88%E9%A1%98%E7%A5%AD_resize.jpg2017%E6%9D%B1%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC%E3%82%AD%E3%83%AA%E3%82%B9%E3%83%88%E6%95%99_resize.jpgIt is 6 years since the Earthquake and tsunami happened in the north.
The prayer ceremony in Kamakura was held at the Hachiman Shrine this year. The three religions - Shinto,Buddism and Christian - coming together and offering prayers.
May our prayers be heard....

Happy 2017!

Wishing the world a peaceful 2017!
Praying that we can learn to work together towards a more united,caring world.

Schubert's Winterreise

There are certain events in life where you can't believe your luck that you had just happened to be there and it has nothing to do with your own intentions. Today was one of them.

My teacher from when I was in my teens asked if I could page-turn for him for a concert. It was for Schubert's Winterriese. The singer is quite a famous Japanese baritone who has sung in the Opera Houses in Europe and who has been singing the Winterreise for over 50 years. He is 84 years old. I was asked to come for the rehearsal a week before the concert and I am ashamed to say that it was the very first time that I had heard Winterreise as a whole. The singer,with age,was struggling a bit,with coughing and stamina,but still I was deeply moved by this amazing piece and also by my teacher's beautiful playing.

Coming home from that rehearsal,I suddenly realized that I may never have the chance to perform it. So, I thought I should take this opportunity to try to learn more about it. I bought the music and as I have the singers bible "Lieder Line by Line" by Lois Phillips who was also my teacher in London,I put it aside by the music and have been practicing it in the past week.
What a piece!!! I knew that it was an epic piece but never knew what a MASTERPIECE it was!!! First of all,Muller's poems are SO beautiful,and also for me,feel so true. It is definitely a young persons story. Although dark and heavy and slow,there is also much passion and deep angst and hopelessness that one only feels in youth. ( I think that as we get older,we realize that no matter how bad things get,life still goes on and that we just have to deal with it.) And then,of course Schubert's music. So simple and yet so moving. I have totally fell in love with it.

Anyway,today was the concert and I think everyone backstage was a bit worried. The singer had his arm in a sling as he had fell the previous day and he was having trouble walking so came on stage with a cane. He was not looking good....

BUT..... Once the performance started,it was truly amazing. The Winterriese is an 80 minute song cycle. Usually in a classical concert,you have two halves,one being around 40~45 minutes with an interval in the middle. Just staying on stage and keeping your concentration without a break for 80 minutes seems impossible. Let alone singing at 84 years old!!!

Admittedly,the voice was unstable at times,but there was not one single cough (didn't even have water on stage!) and his stamina seemed to grow as the performance went on!!! He did 3 encores as well!! It really seemed like the music had taken over him and there was something really transcendental about the performance. I was taken not only into "Schubert's Winterreise"'s world but was taken even beyond. Although I had to page turn,I was deeply deeply moved several times sitting by the piano on stage and had to stop myself from welling up saying to myself "this is not the time nor the place!!".

I feel so lucky and grateful for having been able to be there and experiencing something so special. I was shown first hand,the true power of music.