Summer vacation! 〜 夏休み!

Yes, Johnny, teachers enjoy summer vacation as much as students do.  Probably more, because we’ve had so many more years to practice.  I only started my holiday yesterday (and have to teach at open campus tomorrow – grrr), but have already worked hard had having fun.  Cycling, of course.  Shopping with the wife for things around the house.  Meals out, a concert tonight. etc.  There is so much to cram into a short time!  Here are a few photos from “what I did on during my summer vacation.”  The next post will be a very serious one, I promise.  But for today, pretty things only.

1. a temporary garbage dump on the Arakawa in Tokyo.  The sign says “special anti-terror measures in place.”  Good thing – one wouldn’t want those pesky terrorists blowing up valuable trash.

2015-08-04 ride (47 of 18)

2.  Bike lane.  I’m glad they are creating new lanes around the city.  Blue is my favorite color, and it is soothing to ride in a blue lane.  Too bad the big white letters are raised enough to give a bumpy ride, and that truck drivers find the new lanes convenient for taking naps.

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3. Now for the real pretty – sunflowers along the Arakawa cycling road near Toda, Saitama.  2015-08-04 ride (57 of 18)

4. Now for the less pretty.  Yours truly on an early morning ride.  This is my favorite spot in Tokyo.  Kasai Rinkai Park on Tokyo Bay.

2015-08-04 ride (45 of 17)

5-6: Full moon (so-called Blue Moon) and the Red Moon a few days later

2015-07-31 moon (48 of 10)

2015-08-03 (53 of 18)


Stay tuned for a really, really serious post tomorrow.

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

Well done, good and faithful friend

Rest in peace, my furry little friend of 17 years.  You are missed.

Islay (1998-2015)

Islay (1998-2015)

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Revenge ride – リベンジライド

I could have stayed home yesterday, basking in the dark, dry coolness of my living room.  Instead, I chose t0 head out for an all-day ride in the heat.  Exactly how hot?  40 C (103 F) on the Tonegawa cycling path at 1:00 p.m.  This, I assure you, is hot enough.  Sweat runs from everywhere on the body, including one’s eyeballs.  Why, Scott?  Why??  This is the chorus that greets me when I meet people after such a challenging ride.  There are two reasons, actually; one logical and one illogical.


1.  Illogical reason for long rides in hellish heat: my long ride last week ended at the 192 km mark.  Reason enough?  The “number people” in the audience will understand.  If you are the type that says “192 – fine distance,” then I have no more to add.  If you are a “number person,” however, your teeth will ache, your hands will shake, and you won’t sleep well until you go out for a better number.  Precisely 20o km, if possible.


2. Logical reason for long rides in hellish heat: I enjoy being out on my own, fighting heat, occasional boredom, and fatigue.  I need to see open swathes of territory with few (preferably no) people in sight.  I want to see the sun come up at the beginning of a ride, and then watch it go down later that same ride.   In fact, I want to experience all of the following:


1. sunrise over the Arakawa river 荒川サイクリングロードから見た日の出

2015-07-21 200k ride (8 of 116)

2015-07-21 200k ride (13 of 116)

Sunflower at sunrise

2. Castles and temples 城と寺

Sekiyadojo 関宿城

Sekiyadojo 関宿城

Tokouji Temple, Kazo City - 東光寺、加須市

Tokouji Temple, Kazo City – 東光寺、加須市

Tokouji Temple, Kazo City - 東光寺、加須市

Tokouji Temple, Kazo City – 東光寺、加須市

Tokouji Temple, Kazo City - 東光寺、加須市

Tokouji Temple, Kazo City – 東光寺、加須市

3. Roadside shrines found when making wrong turns; boys chasing bugs in rice paddies 道に迷った時に見つけた石像と田んぼの中で遊んでいる子供達

2015-07-21 200k ride (78 of 116) 2015-07-21 200k ride (81 of 116) 2015-07-21 200k ride (91 of 116)

4. threatening skies ドラマティックな雲

2015-07-21 200k ride (99 of 116)

5. placid Mt Fuji 穏やかな富士山

2015-07-21 200k ride (109 of 116)

6. and, finally, sunset near the end of the ride 日暮れ

2015-07-21 200k ride (116 of 116)

Now you know all the reasons I ride, both logical and illogical.  Proof of the deed:


2015-07-22 200k ride (40 of 1)


2015-07-22 200k ride (30 of 2)

Posted in Cycling, Nature ~ 自然 | Leave a comment

A respite from music – 音楽から離れた

2015-07-14 long ride (28 of 52)Every once in a while I feel the need (or, more accurately, a screaming, undeniable urge) to get out of the city and away from music making.  In the busiest seasons of the year I ignore the call of the wild and carry on.  But around this time of year I have the time to escape, and do so as often as possible.

大都会に住む私は時々人がいない所へ行き2015-07-14 long ride (47 of 86)たくなります。出来れば、大自然がいいです。仕事で忙しい時期はこの気持ちを無視しますが、学期の終わりを近づくと、サイクリングに出かける時間が増えます。先日、様々な川の土堤を通って、ロングライドに出掛けました。ルートは高速道路規模の江戸川土堤(写真)から利根川の細い道(写真)を通って、最後に荒川の土堤で東京へ戻りました。

2015-07-14 long ride (23 of 52)Last Tuesday I managed to take a very long day ride, using the river dike system as my personal bike highway.  The route varied from a cycling super highway (the Edogawa River dike in Tokyo): to the narrower bike path along the Tonegawa River in Saitama.  The farther you get from Tokyo, the fewer the cyclists and pedestrians, until you can ride for nearly an hour without seeing anyone.

It was a fine day, but rather hot.  Mid-afternoon along the Tonegawa cycling path was a bit brutal – 38 C/100 F. Riding for hours on end without any shade in such heat does mean one has to be careful about heat exhaustion. I find headaches to be good early warning signs, and pull off for cool-down breaks when I feel them coming on.  Tons of fluids are needed, and salty food (even me, of all people!) help.


To summarize the ride, I left the house at 4:30 am, and returned at 8:30 p.m.  192 km was covered in 16 hours, with half-hour breaks taken here and there.  Three major rivers were used: the Edogawa, Tonegawa and Arakawa, with many other, smaller, streams crossed along  the way.  Here is a route map:


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Things seen along the way: 見たもの:

1. Mizumoto Park, my first stop before hitting the river dike system.  The lotus flowers were in full bloom. 水元公園(東京都内):蓮は美しく咲いていました。

2015-07-14 long ride (5 of 52)

2. Sekiyado, at the point where the Edogawa river forks from the Tonegawa river.  It is a nice little park with a museum in the shape of a castle. 関宿城博物館の公園で休憩しました。江戸川が利根川から別れる場所にあります。

2015-07-14 long ride (58 of 86)

Behind the museum is a green space with picnic tables, benches, and gorillas. 博物館裏の小さな公園に、ピクニックエリア、ベンチ、トイレ、そしてゴリラがあります。

2015-07-14 long ride (55 of 86)

3. Bridges across the Tonegawa connect Saitama and Ibaraki prefectures 埼玉県と茨城県を結ぶ橋

2015-07-14 long ride (24 of 52)

4. The wide-open views from the Tonegawa cycling path 利根川サイクリングロードから見た風景:人はいない!

2015-07-14 long ride (67 of 86) 2015-07-14 long ride (28 of 52)

5. The dike along parts of the Tonegawa are being strengthened, so houses, roads, temples, etc., were all being moved away from the river to allow for the construction.  Here is a newly relocated set of Buddhist images I saw in one spot. 利根川土堤の一部は工事中でした。土堤を拡大するため、周辺の家、寺、道、などは全て川辺から移動しました。以下の仏像は新しく設置されたようです。

2015-07-14 long ride (62 of 86)

6. The last stop on the Tonegawa dike before going across country to catch the Arakawa river dike was a rest area at Hanyu.  This was the only time I really felt a bit close to the edge, physically, so indulged in the saltiest thing on the lunch menu, drank buckets of water, and enjoyed some ice cream before getting back on the bike. 利根川を離れる前、最後の休憩は羽生道の駅でした。到着前、頭痛がちょっとひどくなったので、長めの休憩をとりながら、メニューの一番塩辛い物、ソフトクリーム、アイスコーヒー、などを楽しみながら体を冷やしました。その後は問題がなかったです。

2015-07-14 long ride (70 of 86)

7.  It is about an hour’s ride to across the countryside to the last river dike system (Arakawa), and not the most interesting of terrain.  Even so, by getting slightly lost I found this rural Shinto shrine, with its welcoming series of torii (shrine gates).  Somewhere near Gyoda City. 羽生から荒川の土堤までは行田市を通ります。約1時間かかりますが、見どころが少ないです。しかし、ちょっと迷子になった時、この田舎の神社を発見しました。

2015-07-14 long ride (32 of 52)2015-07-14 long ride (36 of 52)2015-07-14 long ride (35 of 52)2015-07-14 long ride (39 of 52)

The last part of the ride was a 4+ hour battle against headwinds from an incoming typhoon.  Not pleasant!  I was shooting for 200 km, but eventually threw in the towel at 192 km, with knees screaming, butt aching, and all other various parts of the body clamoring for an end to the day.  Not to worry, though, I plan to do it again in a week or so when the winds settle down.  Anyone want to join me for a 200 km hot ride? 最後の4時間は強い迎い風との戦いでした。200キロを走るつもりでしたが、192キロの時点で、体は大きな声で「止まるんだ!」と叫んだので、諦めました。来週(風のない日)またチャレンジします。以下の写真はサイクリングロードから見た日没です。

Here is the last light of the day before I found myself pedaling in the dark.

2015-07-14 long ride (50 of 52) 2015-07-14 long ride (52 of 52)

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Music in the air

(日本語は 明日中にアップします)

As the immortal Rosetta Tharpe put it, “Up above my head I hear music in the air”  (You don’t know of Rosetta?  Shame!  Here she is performing this very song)

Well, Rosetta is not the focus of this post, though I love her music.  Rather, it is to introduce a few concerts and events I’ve attended lately to prove Rosetta really was right – there IS music in the air (in Tokyo, anyway).  Edward Elgar, by the way, said pretty much the same thing about life in Worcester, England.  “My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take as much as you require.”

July 14: Combinir di corista choir concert at Kioi Hall

This was a concert commemorating the tenth anniversary of this excellent choir.  The program started with Bach’s “Singet dem Hern ein neues Lied,” and progressed through Reger, to a wonderful set of Japanese pieces based on the story of the hidden Christians of the 19th century: “Orasho Kakure Kirishitan.”  The second half of the program comprised works performed by the choir over its history.  I really like the sound of this excellent chorus.  It is young, flexible, and changes to match the period of repertoire being performed.  If you live in Tokyo and like choir music, you should try to hear them.  You can hear a few pieces on their website.

July 12: Julian Collings masterclass on accompanying Anglican chant, held at Rikkyo University’s Ikebukuro Campus chapel (sponsored by the Rikkyo Institute of Church Music).

Here to play the organ in duo concert with cellist Rebecca Hepplewhite, Julian coached organists on the fine art of accompanying choirs.  Players were given help on choosing sounds that amplified the meaning of the texts being sung.  He also worked with the Rikkyo chapel choir, who sounded almost like native English speakers by the time he finished.  Thanks for an informative, as well as fun, workshop, Julian!  Some photos from the event below (click to enlarge any photo).

Julian Collings with Mori Kohei

Julian Collings with Mori Kohei

Julian Collings conducting the Rikkyo chapel choir

Julian Collings conducting the Rikkyo chapel choir

Julina Collings working with Yuko Sakiyama

Julian Collings working with Yuko Sakiyama

July 11: Svyati Duo Noontime Recital at Rikkyo University’s Ikebukuro Campus Chapel

Duo Svyati

Duo Svyati

This concert was performed by Rebecca Hepplewhite, cello, and Julian Collings, organ, to a full house.  It was a fine respite from the continuous rains of the season.  The duo performs together on regular international concert tours, a fact which showed in their precision ensemble playing.  Julian’s colorful registrations made full use of the chapel’s Tickell organ, providing a solid accompaniment for Rebecca’s fluid, singing cello solos.  If you would like to hear the duo in concert, they are playing at Tokyo University Tuesday, July 14, before flying back to London.  Here is the concert link.  And here are the performers after after the concert.

June 30: A jazz evening at the Shinjuku Hilton Hotel St George’s Bar, Takeshita Yuki, vocals. 

untitled (4 of 4)Ms Takeshita is a graduate of the Rikkyo Choir, and a professional vocalist.  I have heard her before in a concert setting, but this was the first time to hear her perform jazz.  We heard three sets performed with piano and bass. The music of each set was unique, and her performance style was refined and cool.  I quite enjoyed hearing something so totally different from my normal musical activities.  You can hear Ms Takeshita by checking her performance dates on this website (Japanese only).

June 26: Rikkyo University Chapel Choir and OB/OG Members in the annual Rainbow Concert

The chapel was full once again for this annual choir concert.  I will be posting some recordings soon, but today here are a few photos to enjoy until the recordings are ready.  (Photos by Sho Tamura and Taki Hirano)

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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