Writing and cycling, cycling and writing – 作文とサイクリング

2014-08-12 ride (27 of 38)How was your summer vacation, Scott?  Let me think… did I have one?  Ah, I remember - I’m going on a short one from tomorrow with my “the wife.”  Up ’till now?  Most of my days this summer have been spent studying John Rutter’s choral works for an article I just finished (and that will be published this fall).  I had a playlist of over 100 tracks of this man’s music to listen to, as well as research to do for the article.  I do like many of Rutter’s compositions, but he isn’t the first composer I’d choose to spend my summer listening to if given a choice.  The offer of publication was welcome, though, so I girded my loins, opened my ears, and got stuck in (as my British friends would say).

To retain my sanity and a hint of muscle tone, I tried to get out cycling every morning before beginning the day’s work.  Many days I managed to do it – every day this week, in fact.  My proudest moment?  Getting up at 3:30 am for a 75km ride before sitting down to the day’s listening.  My, the sunrise!  My, the heat later!  Here are some of the things you might have seen, had you also been writing an article and indulging in some early morning rides.

1. Pink elephants.  I’ve seen this one for years (at Akigase Park), but finally got around to taking a formal photo with him this morning.

2014-08-23 ride (4 of 6)

2. Wind.  Well, one doesn’t really SEE wind, does one?  But, one DOES feel it when cycling.  I went out the day after a large typhoon, and battled its winds all the way down the Arakawa cycling path to Tokyo Bay.  Coming back up the river was fun, I admit.  30 kph without really using a muscle…  Can you see the wind in this photo?

2014-08-11 ride (12 of 18)

3. Boats.  I have ridden past it for years, but finally decided to check out the university boat team facilities at Toda.  What a busy place at 6 am!  Many universities (including mine) have boat houses here, and practice and race at this manmade waterway.  It is a colorful and lively place to visit in the morning.

2014-08-22 ride (9 of 7)

This is the Rikkyo University Boat House – GO, Rikkyo!

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4. Bridges.  Naturally, any river in an urban setting is crisscrossed with bridges.  The Arakawa River is no exception.  I feel sorry for car drivers, who only see the topside of bridges, and then usually in a slow-moving parade of fume-belching cars and trucks.  Riding under them provides a whole other perspective on urban architecture.

2014-08-21 ride (4 of 6) 2014-08-22 ride (10 of 7) 2014-08-20 ride (12 of 10) 2014-08-20 ride (11 of 10) 2014-08-20 ride (7 of 10) 2014-08-20 ride (6 of 10)5. Nature.  Sometimes nature and industry combined.

2014-08-21 ride (6 of 6) 2014-08-20 ride (5 of 10) 2014-08-13 ride (10 of 20) 2014-08-13 ride (7 of 20) 2014-08-13 ride (4 of 20) 2014-08-12 ride (15 of 38)

6. The sky.  In the city I rarely notice the nature of the sky.  On the river, though, vistas widen, and plenty good views are around every corner.

2014-08-11 ride (10 of 18) 2014-08-13 ride (9 of 20) 2014-08-21 ride (9 of 6)

7. Interesting buildings.  Yes, I do sometimes cut through the city.  Modern buildings are fine, but the older, less well maintained are my personal favorite.  And yes, I always stop for shrines and temples.

2014-08-13 ride (14 of 20) 2014-08-13 ride (13 of 20) 2014-08-12  (4 of 4) 2014-08-12  (2 of 4) 2014-08-13 ride (18 of 20) 2014-08-13 ride (19 of 20)

When I get home after these morning rides I always intend to get right down to work.  Sleepiness does sometimes intervene, and I find myself having a catnap before starting.  Refreshing!

untitled (8 of 25)

I hope your summer vacation was a good one, too!



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

Photos added – 写真を追加しました

Closing Evensong service

Closing Evensong service

Yesterday’s report on the Rikkyo Institute of Church Music’s summer workshop didn’t include any photos.  Today I received many good shots of the event from our staffer Sho Tamura, so have updated the post.  Have a look if interested.

昨日、立教大学教会音楽研究所主催の教会音楽ワークショップ in 立教キャンパスについて報告しました。今日、スタッフの田村さんから写真が届きましたので、更新しました。見たい方は是非昨日のポストを見て下さい。

Posted in Choral ~ 聖歌隊関係, Church music ~ 教会音楽, Rikkyo ~ 立教 | Leave a comment

Summer music – 夏の音楽

As usual, when I am delinquent in updating this blog, it means there is a metric ton of material to post.  I will try to be choosy, but music is in the air, so ready your reading glasses and dig in.  久しぶりのブログ更新なので、たくさんの情報を提供します。頑張って読んで下さい。

1. August 2-3: the Rikkyo Institute of Church Music sponsored a jam-packed two day workshop on various aspects of sacred music.  Since the Rikkyo facilities are finally all in place (three organs, the chapel office building with rehearsal spaces, etc), it seemed that this was the year to do the workshop at home (the last two years we held it in Kobe).  Saturday began with a fascinating lecture titled “Why do people sing” by Prof Abe.  If you think about the question for a few minutes, you’ll see there is no easy answer.  We continued with group organ lessons on both campuses, followed by a 90 minute rehearsal for people in the chorus course.  Sunday began with the service at the university chapel, followed by more organ classes, another choir rehearsal, a meditation with organ music led by Ajuko Ueda and Yuko Sakiyama.  The 80 members of the chorus class led choral Evensong, which concluded the workshop.  In addition to the three pipe organs, this year we had a new attraction – a reed organ class, led by specialist Sonoko Itoh.  Ms. Itoh provided a beautiful 19th-century instrument for her class.  Thanks to everyone who worked hard to make the two days a big success!  For those who couldn’t attend, here is the pamphlet (Japanese only).

8月2〜3日:立教大学教会音楽研究所主催:教会音楽ワークショップ in 立教キャンパス。以下のリンクをクリックすれば、二日間のプログラムを見る事が出来ます。去年、このワークショップを神戸市で行いましたが、立教大学の設備が全て整ったので、今年は本場で実施する事になりました。詳細はパンフレットに書かれていますが、多く参加者(関東地方の方々だけではなく、名古屋、東北、等の参加者と講師達(基調講演担当の阿部先生、オルガンの講師(伊藤園子先生、崎山裕子先生、私)、メディテーション担当の上田亜樹子先生、礼拝担当の宮崎先生、そして、事務局の佐藤雅枝さんと田村翔さんに心から感謝です。大変充実した週末でした。来年も同じ時期で開催する予定をしていますので、興味のある方は是非予定して下さい。

2014 Summer workshop pamphlet

Workshop photos (all by Sho Tamura) ワークショップの写真(田村翔写真)

Opening lecture by Prof. Abe: "Why do people sing?"

Opening lecture by Prof. Abe: “Why do people sing?”

Reed organ lent for the occasion by Mr and Mrs Itoh

Reed organ lent for the occasion by Mr and Mrs Itoh

Reed organ course, led by Mrs. Itoh

Reed organ course, led by Mrs. Itoh

Organ class led by Yuko Sakiyama

Organ class led by Yuko Sakiyama

Organ class led by me on the newly rebuilt Beckerath organ

Organ class led by me on the newly rebuilt Beckerath organ

Choir course rehearsal (led by me)

Choir course rehearsal (led by me)

Closing Evensong service

Closing Evensong service


2. Voice Recital by Kumie Yasuda, accompanied by Kayo Itani (August 7).  This wonderful event was held at Tokyo Opera City’s Omi Gakudo recital hall.  Ms Yasuda is one of the Rikkyo chapel choir’s voice trainers, and specializes in early music.  She performed a well-chosen recital of German lied (first half; Schubert to Strauss) and Japanese art songs (Kosaku Yamada to Toru Takemitsu).  A happy surprise was the piano used for accompaniment.  It was a Broadwood square piano made in 1814 and recently restored.  It was roughly contemporaneous with the earliest of the German songs.  What a revelation in sound!  Unlike the modern grand piano, it has a much more transparent, yet lively personality that provided a perfect background for Ms. Yasuda’s clear voice.  This concert was a real treat – repertoire I haven’t heard for decades, as well an aural combination new to my ears.  Here is the flyer for the recital:



3. Recording project (August 8).  The Rikkyo chapel choir was asked to record four hymns from the newly published Kyokai Fukuin Sanbikashu (hymnal) for a set of CD’s covering the hymnal’s contents.  With retakes, it took from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm to complete the recording.  As you can see in the following photos, we were well covered, with 12 microphones and an elaborate recording setup.  It was a good learning experience for the 20+ senior members of the choir who participated.  I’m looking forward to hearing the finished product.  Here are 7 photos of the day.

録音プロジェクト@立教大学の池袋チャペル。立教大学チャペル聖歌隊は最近出版された「教会福音讃美歌集」に含まれている4曲の録音依頼を引き受け、8月8日収録しました。(興味のある方:このプロジェクトのCD vol. 1はこのリンク先にあります)。録音は午後4時30分から8時までかかりました。写真の通り、チャペルは12本のマイクと様々の機材によって、一時的に本格的なレコーディングスタジオになりました。聖歌隊の上級生のみ参加しました(写真)。

12-mike setup at the Rikkyo chapel

12-mike setup at the Rikkyo chapel

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Recording engineer Mr. Kuzumaki

Organist for the project - Yuko Sakiyama - and I discuss "serious matters"

Organist for the project – Yuko Sakiyama – and I discuss “serious matters”


Rehearsal (yes, that is your blogger at his other job)

seniors of the choir

seniors of the choir

I question the validity of that last take

I question the validity of that last take

Prof. Ukei and I flank the singers for the day

Prof. Ukei and I flank the singers for the day



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

Yokohama to Tokyo cycling – 横浜〜東京(自宅)サイクリング

Souji Temple, Yokohama - 横浜市總持寺We had a respite from the intense heat and humidity today.  Last night’s storm blew it all away (to where?) for the time being.  It was also time to take my Brompton bike in for its first tune up, as it’s been ridden over 600 km since I bought it in May.  A trip to Green Cycle Station in Yokohama is always a pleasure.  Lots of lovely small and folding bikes (they specialize in these exclusively), accessories, and a very pleasant staff.  Also, the shop is located a five minute walk from Yamashita Park, which is always worth a visit.  The park today:

2014-07-28 ride (17 of 69) 2014-07-28 ride (15 of 69)

After the bike servicing was finished I rode back home.  While cycling I seem to be attracted to temples like a moth is to light.  Today was no exception.  I rode up into Souji Temple(總持寺)on the outskirts of Yokohama, and discovered a large complex of impressive buildings.  The complex map:

Souji Temple, Yokohama - 横浜市總持寺

A wooden temple building with ornate wooden tracery around the large doors:

Souji Temple, Yokohama - 横浜市總持寺 Souji Temple, Yokohama - 横浜市總持寺 Souji Temple, Yokohama - 横浜市總持寺

The next building I visited was a far larger concrete structure.  Monks were practicing for a ceremony while I was was there.  You can get an ideal of the size of the building by comparing my (tiny) Brompton, as well as yours truly.

Souji Temple, Yokohama - 横浜市總持寺 Souji Temple, Yokohama - 横浜市總持寺 Souji Temple, Yokohama - 横浜市總持寺Some interesting architectural details:

Souji Temple, Yokohama - 横浜市總持寺 Souji Temple, Yokohama - 横浜市總持寺

After leaving the temple I rode up the Tamagawa River dike before crossing into Tokyo.  Accustomed as I am to the great cycling highways of the Arakawa and Tonegawa Rivers, the narrow, bumpy, and sometimes unpaved Tamagawa dike road wasn’t very impressive.  Downright annoying at times.  I will have to cycle farther upstream sometime to see if it improves.  The lower reaches, anyway, are to be avoided for people on bikes with skinny tires.  It would probably be fun on a mountain bike, though.  The route map:

2014-07-28 ride (1 of 1)

Finally, in answer to your unasked question – yes, I did reward myself for the physical exertion of the ride.  A date with “The Wife” for sushi and sake.  Satisfaction.

sushi dinner reward


As a bonus for those who made it to the bottom of this post, here is a recording made at a temple I visited last week in Kumagaya.  (It was made on my cell phone, so please excuse the tinny sound).


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To Takasaki by bike – 自転車で高崎市へ

2014-07-23 ride (8 of 56)

Shodenzan Temple gate guardian 聖天山観喜院

What sort of blog post would you prefer today?  More serious, music-related news?  It must the be end-of-semester blahs, but I’ve had enough seriousness for the time being.  We now move on to more interesting topics – cycling, biking, and riding.


The rainy season officially ended in Tokyo this week, and with it came the heat.  I rode 130 km (80 miles) yesterday to Takasaki Station.  Since I used my folding road bike (Bike Friday – see photo left), I could ride in one direction without worrying about the trip home, and enjoy a nice, cool train ride back to Tokyo.  It takes about 10 minutes at the station to prepare the bike for boarding the train – foldin2014-07-23 ride (2 of 56)g, securing the parts, and putting it in a cover.  I have two folding bikes (as the faithful reader well knows.  A Brompton, and the Bike Friday I used for this ride). My Brompton is a far more elegant and compact folder, but you can’t beat the Bike Friday’s road bike ride feel and speed for long rides.


(The great thing about the route I chose is that it used two river dike systems (Arakawa River and Tonegawa River), so time spent on roads with cars was kept to a minimum.  I left home at 5:30 am and arrived at Takasaki Station at 5 pm, and most of that time was spent on cycling paths.  See the route map below.

2014-07-23 ride map (1 of 1)

I had a general plan for the day, but was pretty loose about the exact route I took.  Purely by coincidence, I chose a route out of Kumagaya City that took me past Kangiin Shodenzan Temple.  I might have ridden right past, but decided to have a peek.  My peek revealed a national treasure, photos of which are below.  Though it was so hot even my elbows dripped with sweat, it was a great discovery. (click on any photo to enlarge)


2014-07-23 ride (7 of 56)

Temple precinct map (notice the Tonegawa River behind)

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No air conditioning anywhere, of course.  Other ways to cool down include shaved ice and barley tea breaks: 写真でわかりませんが、本当に暑かったです。当然なことで、冷房はどこにもありませんので、体を冷やす方法として、お寺のよこのお店でかき氷を食べました。

2014-07-23 ride (30 of 56) I hate to keep harping on the heat, but it was impressive!  Already 35 C (95 F) before lunch in Kumagaya, the hottest temp of the day was along the Tonegawa dike, where it hit 40 C (104), with high humidity.  Intense!  Here is what the dike path looks like.  Try to imagine the heat and sweat: 温度について何度も書くのは悪いけど、本当に暑かったですよ!昼前、熊谷市は既に35度で、利根川土手を走った時の最高気温は40度でした。笑うしかないと思いながら高崎へ進みました。その風景:

2014-07-23 ride (34 of 56)

2014-07-23 ride (43 of 56)

Tonegawa cycling path near Fukushima bridge – 福島橋近くの利根川サイクルロード

2014-07-23 ride (44 of 56)

Tonegawa cycling path near Fukushima bridge – 福島橋近くの利根川サイクルロード

And for the doubters in the crowd – here is my proof photo.  Entering Takasaki City limits: 高崎まで走った証拠写真:

2014-07-23 ride (52 of 56)

One last photo.  I’m afraid my bike frightened the famous pink gorilla of Takasaki.  Quite unintentional, I’m sure. 最後の映像。ピンクゴリラは自転車を怖がったようです。申し訳ない、ゴリラさん。

2014-07-23 ride (55 of 56)

PS: you can read about another interesting ride on a different folding bike HERE. 前のサイクリング(東京湾沿い)について見たい方は上のサイクリングページのリンクを利用して下さい(英語のみ)。


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