End of holidays; life changes – 休みが終わりました、還暦についての思い

I found this little statue in my local Buddhist temple. His expression mirrors my feeling at the end of the Christmas holidays.  But going back to work has its positive side.  I love working with the Rikkyo choir, so the resumption of rehearsals is a positive.  Also, being away from home gets me out from the habit of snacking on Christmas sweets every hour on the hour.  This has to be a good thing.

What did I do during the holiday break, you ask?  I admit I only got on my bike once. On the other hand, I did a lot of long-distance walking with a camera in hand.  So, in addition to spending good times with my family, I was able to work in quite a lot of photography.  A few of the things I saw while out on long walks will appear at the end of today’s post.

Now what is the meaning of this odd photo? What is with the red getup?  Japanese people will immediately understand, but the attire signifies that I turned 60 (late last year). And in Japan, turning 60 is a big event.  Because the Asian zodiac runs in cycles of 12 years, reaching 60 means that you have done 5 cycles and are considered to have completed one life cycle.  The implication is that now that you are done with the old life you are allowed to begin a new one.

I’ll be quite honest here.  Numbers mean very little to me.  Turning 60 was the same as turning 32 or 29 or 12.  Putting the numbers aside, though, I did feel that it was time for a change, and that change coincided with reaching the age of 60.  There have been many things in life that I have felt I “should do” or “should strive to be.”  I many cases, this sense of striving for something better has led to improvement.  Better performing, better teaching, etc. On the other hand, the feeling that one should be something better than one can also gives rise to feelings of inadequacy. I determined that now that I have reached the grand age of 60, and have completed one life cycle, that I would free my self from the curse of “should do, should be.”  How does this determination express itself?  In many cases, it means that I now accept things as they are.  This IS my level of conducting and performing.  This IS my was of dressing.  This IS my way of living life.  Perhaps one does have to reach the grand old age of 60 to be able to indulge in this sensation.  I must admit it is exhilarating!

Something I’ve thought about for a long time in relation to the above was when to stop performing solo organ concerts.  I wanted to get out of the business before I started giving poor performances.  Turning 60 seemed to be the ideal time to make the jump.  So, with next week’s lunchtime concert at St Timothy’s Anglican Church in Tokyo I end my career as a concert organist.  I’ve thought on this a lot over the past few months, and don’t regret it.  It’s time to get out, and I’m ready to do other things.  To make the decision really final I’m selling my house organ (more on that in a later post), and declining recital offers.  I’ll still play for Rikkyo university ceremonies and services as needed, but no more solo concerts.  4o years in the business is enough.

Now to lighter topics.  Here are a few of the things I saw on long (15 km or more per walk) strolls through Tokyo during the winter break.  It doesn’t matter what country I’m in, I am attracted to signs of the spiritual, whatever the religion be.  In Japan that usually means Shinto Shrines or Buddhist Temples.  Here are a few I found while wandering.

I work hard at times to get the shot I want (photo by son Masa, with wife Mariko in the background working the same shot)

The resulting shot:

Of course Japan is not a land of nothing but temple and shrines.  On a recent walk to Shinjuku the winter light suggested black and white photos of city scenes.

And in the miscellaneous category:

Dream houses

Riding in inclement weather

And finally, winter foliage

Posted in Photography ~写真, Tokyo ~ 東京 | Leave a comment

Happy 2018! 明けましておめでとうございます!

(日本語は間も無く追加します)It is officially 2018, and The View wishes all its readers the best of all possible years.  The future is indiscernible and the past a bit frightening, so I suggest we try to live in the moment this year.  Perhaps if we live each day as if it were our last the world would be a better place?  There would be no need to amass indecent amounts of wealth, or to try and climb over our fellow humans in the pursuit of fame, power, or whatever.

It must be admitted that strange things transpired last year.  An old man with a long red necktie and strange hair took up residence in the White House.  He continues to spew electronic missiles that aim to divide rather than unite.  But sudden rises can presage sudden falls.  On this New Year’s Day I hope for better leaders who care for the future of all humanity.  We deserve better.

Following that admittedly unprecedented political outburst, I think it would be wise to turn to less controversial topics.  Photography, anyone?

I can’t seem to get in the mood for cycling lately, but have taken several longish walks with camera during the holidays.  My New Year’s eve was spent rambling through the north side of Tokyo.  Though I’m fairly familiar with this part of the city, I still managed to make new discoveries.  A brief flurry of snow while I visited a small Shinto shrine helped to make the day more memorable. So, to greet the new year, I share images of Japan at the holiday season.  I hope you get a sense of the peacefulness and calm that I found while out walking.

New Year decoration at Johoku Park 城北公園にあった門松

Colors of the season 季節の色

Other colors of the season 冬の美しさ

Suwa Shinto Shrine, Nerima 諏訪神社、練馬区

Suwa Shinto Shrine, Nerima 諏訪神社、練馬区

Suwa Shinto Shrine, Nerima 諏訪神社、練馬区

Myoanji Temple, Nerima-ku 妙安寺、練馬区

Myoanji Temple, Nerima-ku 妙安寺、練馬区

Chomeiji Temple, Itabashi-ku 長命寺、板橋区

Chomeiji Temple, Itabashi-ku 長命寺、板橋区

The staff photographer ブログの写真担当

Posted in Photography ~写真, Tokyo ~ 東京 | Leave a comment

The sleeping blog awakes, or Christmas at Rikkyo – 眠っていたブログがよみがえた(クリスマスですの報告)

Merry Christmas!  Another year of music making has come and gone, and once again I am enjoying food, family, and wine.  The stress levels decrease in inverse proportion to the increase of my waistline.  But that is a project for the new year.  For now it is time to forget and celebrate.  I hope you had a good holiday, whatever your religious preference might be.


The editor of the blog apologizes for nearly two months of sloth!  It is time to start posting again – with a vengeance.  Today I will share the Christmas events at Rikkyo University that I had a hand in.  From tomorrow I think I’ll begin changing the focus of this blog more toward photography.  Time will tell.


Lessons and Carols (December 16, 2017) 9つの聖書朗読とクリスマスキャロル礼拝

The Rikkyo University All Saints Mixed and Women’s Choirs sang for the annual service of Lessons and Carols in the Ikebukuro Chapel.  With a 75 voice choir in a 300 seat chapel, the layout of the choirs is critical.  Following last year’s pattern the Women’s Choir sang from the balcony while the Mixed Choir took over the chancel area.  It worked beautifully for double choir music.  I was very pleased with the singing of both choirs.  Luckily for us, choir graduate Uramoto Kohei took excellent photos of the service from the balcony.

2017年12月16日立教学院諸聖徒礼拝堂で Lessons and Carolsという伝統的クリスマス音楽礼拝が行われました。混声聖歌隊と女声聖歌隊が歌いました。チャペルの収容人数が約300人に対して、75名の聖歌隊員の配置が重要な点です。去年の通り、女声聖歌隊はバロコニーに、混声聖歌隊が祭壇で歌い、ダブルクワイアの音楽には最高の配置でした。両聖歌隊の歌のレベルに満足しました。卒業生(と元代表)の浦本康平さんが下の写真を撮ってくれましたので、提供します。

Mixed choir performing 混声聖歌隊の演奏

Carol singing 全員でクリスマスキャロルを歌う場面

The student conductor’s job during this event is critical – she has to direct the Women’s Choir when it sings, as well as to watch my conducting during the double choir works so that the two choirs sing together.  Kitazawa Aoi did a wonderful job!


Student conductor of the Women’s Choir Kitazawa Aoi 女声聖歌隊の学生指揮者の北澤さん

Yet another excellent sermon by choir chaplain Kim Daewon 聖歌隊チャプレンの金先生は相変わらず素晴らしい話をされました

End of service recessional 礼拝最後の退堂

Christmas Eve followed the normal pattern at Rikkyo, with late afternoon services at the Ikebukuro and Niiza campuses.  This year I was in charge of Niiza, playing the organ for parts of the service and conducting the choir.  Student conductor of the Mixed Choir, Nagata Haruna, took charge of the university choir anthems at Ikebukuro (thanks, Haruna!) .  Here are a few photos from the Niiza campus chapel.


The creche at Niiza is a large and elaborate one.  Just the thing for photographers with a bit of time to kill.  I must admit always wonder why the carvers choose to portray Jesus as a blue-eyed blond, though!


After the 5:30 pm Niiza service I took the train back to Ikebukuro for rehearsals and the 11:45 pm Midnight Mass (I am usually the organist for this, so my student conductors do all of the conducting for this elaborate sung service).  The last event for this busy time is the Christmas Day high mass.  It went very well from both a liturgical and musical standpoint.  Both choirs were seated in the chancel, with the handbell choir using the balcony.  For reference, here is a list of the music sung by the two choirs for the above services:



1: Wiant/Shaw: Stars of Ice (a Chinese Christmas carol sung but he Women’s Choir in Chinese)
2: Andrew Carter: O come, o come, Emmanuel (Double Choir)
3: Roger Quilter: The cradle in Bethlemem (Women’s Choir)
4: Howells: A spotless rose (Mixed Choir)
5: Stanford: Magnificat in G (Mixed Choir)
6: Philip Stopford: Lully, Lulla, Lullay (Mixed Choir)
7: 14th Century German, arr. John Rutter: Quem pastores laudavere (Double Choir)
8: MacDowall: Gloria (Women’s Choir)
9: Willcocks: Resonemus laudibus (Double Choir)

Retiring Choir Staff 聖歌隊のスタッフ引退

The end of the Christmas high mass also marks the changing of the guard in the Rikkyo choir.  The third-year students who have managed all aspects of the choir for the year retire, and a group takes the reigns.  I always dislike this part of Christmas.  The wonderful staff on which I have relied totally for the smooth running of the choir melts away, and a new group starts to tests its skills.  I am happy to being work with the enthusiastic new group, but always miss the former staff.  The 2017 was a truly stellar group!  Thank you to all members, but especially the student leader Nagai Hiroshi, and student conductors Nagata Haruna and Kitazawa Aoi.  You made my job a lot easier in 2017!!!


2017 Choir Staff members

My wonderful (former) student conductors (Aoi on the left and Haruna on the right)

The Editor of the (sleeping) View from Tokyo wishes all of you the best of all possible holiday seasons.  Peace and joy to us all!

(the View will resume regular posting from tomorrow!)

Posted in Choral ~ 聖歌隊関係, Church music ~ 教会音楽, Music - general ~ 音楽:一般, Rikkyo ~ 立教, Tokyo ~ 東京 | Leave a comment

Lessons & Carols tonight at Rikkyo University 今晩: 九つの聖書日課とクリスマスキャロル礼拝@立教大学

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

67th Annual Requiem Concert Saturday – 第67回レクイエム奉唱会

Tomorrow is the annual Requiem Concert at Rikkyo University’s All Saints Chapel.  This year the student choirs combine to perform Faure’s lovely setting of the Requiem mass.  The chorus will comprise 70 students (with a few recent grads), accompanied by our usual professional orchestra.  Here is a photo of the dress rehearsal held last night.  It went exceptionally well, so I can guarantee a fine performance tomorrow night.


Requiem Dress Rehearsal レクイエムGP

The concert begins at 6:30 pm and is free and open to all.  The Faure Requiem will be performed on the second half of the program.  The first half will be sung by the two student choirs accompanied by university organist Yuko Sakiyama.  The program is below.


Women’s Choir 女声聖歌隊
Herbert Sumsion        There is a green hill
Pablo Casals                 Nigra sum
Cecilia McDowall       Missa Mariae: Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus dei
Mixed Choir 混声聖歌隊
Edward Elgar    They are at rest
C. V. Stanford    Magnificat & Nunc dimittis in G Major
Ola Gjeilo           Ubi caritas
Jonathan Dove  Seek him that maketh the Seven Stars                                                7

Finally, a bit of PR.  The Rikkyo choir’s first professionally-produced CD has been released.  It is available for sale on campus, by direct mail to me (use the comments section to contact me), as well as in Christian Bookstores throughout Japan.  I should be available to buy on Amazon Japan soon, as well.  In addition, the CD will be available for purchase after the Requiem concert Saturday.  Here is the PR flyer for the CD.


Posted in Church music ~ 教会音楽 | Leave a comment