Category "Travel" Archives

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!

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.


I'm now back from my trip to NY and am feeling great.
It's been a long time since I've been happy with my playing but I felt like I was at least able to get as deep into the music as I was hoping. It's always dangerous to say how a concert went as every person's perception is different but at least I can say I gave it my all and couldn't have done anything more to give a better performance.

Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" was a real struggle for me but I feel that I've at last made it my own. Next time I put it in a programme it will hopefully have matured into something even better.

The few days after my concert was great fun,spending time with my cousin and her partner,seeing old friends and teachers from childhood. Although time was limited,I also got to enjoy what NY has to offer - great food,shopping and theater/comedy! The past few months have been practice,practice,practice, so it was so nice to be able to enjoy life again like a normal person!



I love good food and wine and have always enjoyed it,but my experience in France was a whole new ball game.

There were so many things that I had tasted and just couldn't believe how delicious they were. And it's not just the tastebuds which are involved! It's actually a feeling that you get from it - which I've never experienced with food before.

Gallette_resize.jpgAnd it wasn't even food specially prepared in fancy restaurants! It could be simply the fresh croissants /baguettes in the morning ,the pates from the butcher or the fruit from the market. My stomach would never give me the signal that I was full as it seemed that the pleasure I'd be getting from my tastebuds would totally overtake my brain! A very dangerous situation to be in! That's why I now understand why gluttony can become a sin!

Rose%20and%20Raspberry%20meringue_resize.jpgThere are so many delicious things that I remember from this trip. The chicken and lemon terrine from the butchers,eggs poached in red wine, the pear tart that I had on my birthday,the salmon mousse appetizer (which had a poached egg in it) from Fauchon, the super thin and light gallette at a tiny restaurant in Paris and of course all the beautiful wines to go with it!

There are two things that I will never forget though,because of the feeling that I had got from them.
One was a "rose and raspberry meringue gateau" which I had at the cafe of the Musee Jacquemart-Andres in Paris. The beautiful surroundings played a big part too but there was something so exquisite about the taste that it just felt like it had taken over all my senses. It was the perfect combination of the perfume of the rose, the tartness of the rasberries,the richness of the cream and the sweetness and texture of the meringue. Pure heaven!!

The other one reminds me of a scene in the film "Ratatouille". In the film this really mean restaurant critic asks for the speciality of this French restaurant and the chef brings out,what seems to be an arrangement of a simple wholesome "ratatouille" . The critic takes a bite and it immediately takes him back to his childhood and fills him with the warmth of his mother's love and his heart just melts.

Morgon%20Cheese_resize.jpgThis happened to me on the first night that I had arrived in Morgon. The owners of the Chateau, James&Sarah,had prepared us a wonderful dinner with the beautiful wines that they make,and at the end of it,they presented us with a cheese board. It was one of these cheeses that had blew me away. I really can't describe why it was so special. It was just a creamy,not so salty cheese,but for some reason it reminded me of my mother. Not of my mother's cooking but of my mother! It was just a really gentle but soothing taste.

So,I'm hooked. This trip has been a real eye opener in so many ways!
I am so glad that I don't live in France though. If I did,I would be in big trouble as I would become so big that I don't think I'd fit in front of the piano anymore!

Beautiful Beautiful Beautiful!

I've been working really hard for this concert in October and have been busy getting the administrational side of it done but I think it's now under control and feel that I can now sit down for a moment and write a bit about my summer.

Chateau_resize.jpgI came back feeling totally refreshed and inspired after my trip to England and France. It is always so nice seeing old friends and enjoying London and absorbing the cultural vibe there. This year though, there was an added dimension to my trip where I was given the opportunity to play the Elgar Piano Quintet with the Bridge Quartet in a Chateau in the Beaujolais region - a place called Morgon - in France. My whole stay there can be described in one word - BEAUTIFUL. Everything about it was absolutely beautiful - the scenery,the sky,the food,the Chateau,the people and the music. I felt so lucky to have been given the chance to play the Elgar and I was so excited about playing it even when practicing it on my own in Japan. Morgon%20SKy_resize.jpgIt was such a treat then to play it with the Bridge Quartet and I thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed it. It is such a beautiful piece. The piano - an Erard - was also perfect for the solo Liszt pieces that I had played and I was truly inspired not only by the sound but also by the surroundings. The atmosphere was so warm and welcoming and it just seemed like the perfect evening.

Vineyard_resize.jpgThe time that I had spent in Morgon really has given me a lift. I think the affects of the earthquake and tsunami which happened here in Japan in March really has taken a grip on everyone and I have been finding it hard to separate myself from it. Not that I want to or will forget about it,but I feel that my experience in Morgan has given me a chance to start on a clean slate and start again afresh.

I'll have to write about the FOOD in France in a separate blog . I never knew food could bring so much pleasure. I now totally understand why gluttony is a sin!

Summer in England

I've had a busy few months,with lots of new pupils and going to China for the first time which was a great experience.

I've just come back (actually it's already nearly two weeks...) from my holiday in England. It was a shorter holiday than usual so it did feel a bit rushed. It had also been over a year since I had last visited London so it did take a bit of time to settle in. But,of course it was great seeing friends and being able to spend time together with all those that I hadn't seen for a while. Skype is great,but nothing compares to actually meeting with someone in person. I feel very blessed that I have so many people in my life whom make my life so full and joyful!

I'm going to sign off with a quote from one of my favourite films "A Prelude to a Kiss". (Sorry - it's a total chick flick!)

"Never to be squandered...the miracle of another human being"

Exactly where I should be

It's now more than ten days since I've been back from the States but I am still feeling the effect of my trip.

It had been a while since I had been in the States for such a long time purely for holiday. I had been there for concerts,but on trips like those,I'm totally focused on myself and my music so I don't really have time to absorb anything from the actual place itself.

Something really interesting happened this time after I had been there for a week. After a week of being in a totally relaxed mood,seeing friends and just really enjoying myself,I suddenly remembered how I used to feel when I was growing up as a kid in New York. I remembered how I used to be full of confidence and that I felt that everything seemed so easy and that it seemed like anything was possible. I remembered how I was able to say exactly what I wanted to say and not worry about it's effect. It was like suddenly the stronger side of me had emerged.
This is really interesting because I had always wondered,all these years since I had left New York,what my life would've been like if I had stayed in America.

After I had moved back to Japan,all this confidence was completely shattered. I couldn't speak the language to start off with so you can imagine what a failure I suddenly felt like in every aspect of life. In America,I thought I could do everything. In Japan,I suddenly felt like I was so bad at everything. And so,after the age of 8,I had never regained that confidence I had when I was little.

But,on this trip,I was given a glimpse again of how it felt like when I did have this confidence. It felt great,and also I felt like I was able to say exactly what I wanted to say without having to process it!

Ironically though,after a few days I realized that if I had grown up with this attitude I would have become a really selfish person. Not only that,I realize that because I had lost my confidence I had become more sympathetic to others and I am sure that I am more sensitive to other people's feelings because of this. This is a truly important and necessary trait for a musician and I believe that I am a better musician because I have had this experience.

Now,at last, at this point in my life,I can say that I am truly grateful for all the experiences that I have had all throughout my life,as I have faith that they all had their meanings. (Although there are still some that I wished hadn't happened. But I guess I don't have a say in that...)

I don't know where I might be going from here,but I can definitely say that I must be exactly where I should be at this given moment.

A Taste of Heaven

Holy%20Trinity%20Church_resize.jpgIt's now a week since coming back from my trip to England. It had been a while since I had done a full recital so the past few months have been really tough both physically and mentally.

I won't go into detail on how the concert went or how I felt it went,as I think that experience can and should only be shared by those who were there on the night. (I'm always a bit suspicious when musicians tell you how well a concert went... How the musican felt and how the audience felt are usually two totally different things.)

HT%20Piano_resize.jpgI have to say though that my whole experience in Hereford has been a really amazing one. This is the third concert I've done here and I am overwhelmed by the support and kindness that I have felt by all those involved in making these concerts possible and also by those whom traveled so far to come and hear me.

Usually there is an emptiness which follows big concerts,but this time I was immediately filled with joy and happiness. I cannot believe how lucky I am and am mystified by why I deserve having such beautiful warm-hearted people around me.

I don't know how much I was able to "give" through my music but I definitely came home with my heart overflowing of love. I feel like I've been to Heaven.

Now - back to the real world!

Back in London

I've just arrived in London.It's great to be back. Can't believe how warm it is - really feels like spring! Heading for Hereford tomorrow and really looking forward to this concert. Hope I can keep my spirits high as I feel very inspired at the moment. Must be the season!

Summer's over!

como_resize.jpgI've come back from my summer in Europe and feel totally refreshed and ready to go back to my teaching and playing in full gear.

I had such a brilliant time staying in Britain and visiting Belgium and Italy - seeing friends,eating great food and visiting beautiful places. I feel very blessed that I have so many good friends with such good hearts. They are all such an inspiration to me and have given me so much happiness in this life. The truly special time that I have spent in the past month has filled my heart with so much joy that I feel the music is just overflowing. It's wonderful to have an outlet for what I have absorbed. I hope the music that I work on now will reflect the wonderful time I have been blessed with.


I've just arrived in London greeted by beautiful weather. It's so nice to be back here in a more relaxed way as I won't be performing during this stay. I'll hopefully be making arrangements for a concert for next spring but this too will be part of the fun of this holiday. I'm really looking forward to having a great summer seeing friends and travelling to Europe as well. This is where I get all my energy and inspiration for my music so I'm hoping to make the most of my time here!


Hyde%20park%20corner_resize.jpgIt's interesting how one notices the change in mood when you visit a place after a certain amount of time. I think you are more aware of it when you don't actually live there but are familiar with the place. It was 8 months since I last visited London and I definitely sensed a change in the feel of the city.

When I first arrived in London 20 years ago,it was just emerging from it's recession. I remember that so many shops were closed and that my impression was that everyone seemed to be wearing black! There was definitely a "heavy" feeling to the city.It was a big contrast coming from Japan which was starting to enjoy it's "bubbled" economy. As a musician though I thought this was as near as I would get to heaven.I loved how people put so little importance on money (and food!) and really seemed to know what mattered in life. The culture seemed so rich and so integrated into everyday life and people seemed to be so much more thoughtful than in Japan.

In the next ten years,I saw a definite but gradual change in London,but I have to say the next ten years after that have just been mind boggling. First of all,the food! All these amazing restaurants emerging - and the variety is unbelievable.I still have a hard time convincing my friends here in Japan that the food in England is actually really good now! The bad reputation had stuck for so long that everyone can't believe that all that could change in just a decade! I am so impressed to see people eating sushi walking down the street. Japanese cuisine was unheard of in London 20 years ago - now you can get it in Tescos!!!
The other big difference which I sensed was the colourfulness of the city. So many people wearing bright colours! Black is now a minority!

Cab_resize.jpg But sadly I have to say that I have seen the down side of all this prosperity as well. People seem to be putting so much importance on money and material things that I think it has taken away a great deal of their time which used to be poured into cultural things and matters of the heart. I used to always see people giving up their seat on buses and trains for people who were in need of it - I haven't seen this happen in London in the past 5 years!!!

Going back this time though,I really sensed a change of mood.The whole city seemed a bit quieter and there was less of a buzz to it - less people around and about and everyone seemed much calmer. There used to be this sort of over confident feel to the city but I guess this is calming down. I hope the economy won't be as hardly hit as it was in Japan,but I hope that at this time,London will be able to rediscover it's greatness that it already had and combine it with what it has gained.

Trio Concert at Leighton House

  Leighton House
Leighton%20House_resize.jpgI've just come back from London. It was a 10 day trip with a great deal of hard work,but the trio concert at Leighton House went well so I am feeling happy and relieved.

I arrived in London on the 22nd,welcomed by the cherry blossoms in full bloom. From that day on till the 28th,the day of the concert,it was solid practising and rehearsing. I was in good condition though,so the hard work was not a chore but a very fulfilling time. It's wonderful to be able to work with musicians that you trust and are musically inspired by.

Leighton House is such a beautiful place and I had already been imagining and so looking forward to playing the Ravel there. I could just imagine the colours of Ravel and the colours of the interior of the house blending perfectly.

after%20concert_resize.jpgMany friends had come from quite far away and I am truly grateful for those who made an effort to come to the concert. It was so nice to see so many familiar faces and to feel their support.

I am so grateful that we were able to do this concert with so many people helping to make it happen and supporting us.It was such a wonderful and fulfilling trip!