Izu! 伊豆!

The ride home

Returning from a trip is never as fun as the start of the journey.  The possibilty of a new adventure is past, the body is tired, the train ride home takes longer than the ride out, and the car one is riding in is invariably graced by the presence of screaming children.  Where were they on the way out?  All journeys must end, or course.  This is a given, but even so my Izu adventure was over before I was ready for it to be. 

Jim Dawson, friend and former choirmaster at Rikkyo University’s All Saints Chapel, invited me to visit him and his friend, the owner of a traditional Japanese inn called Isaribi on the Izu Penninsula.  All of the rooms have their own private hot spring-fed baths made of cypress, and all look out to the ocean.  Is it not the lap of luxury to check into an elegant tatami-floor room and head straight to your own private bathing heaven?  

 

Isabiri room bath

One bathes upon arrival (with a beer in hand, if possible), before bed, upon waking, and, if possible, once again before checking out.  I managed three out of four, and scored No. 4 later after checking out.  Breakfast at Isaribi is an elegant affair served in the room.  No toast and jam here, but plenty of fresh seafood (lobster soup, sashimi, grilled fish, etc) and vegetables.  I would surely live to be 342 years old if I ate the meal below daily.

Jim took me on a walk around the area after breakfast.  We wound up on the coast, where there is a small bathing shack (a rotenburo, or outdoor bath) fronting on the ocean.  A wizened woman takes 500 yen per bather and 100 yen per towel at the entrace (see the photo I took with her after the bath).  One strips naked, leaving clothing on simple shelves, and then hops into the steaming hot stone tub while the hot sun bears down on all exposed skin.  Cooling off requires standing naked while facing the ocean as a meagre breezes tries to dry running sweat.  Post-bath lolling about on the hot stone breakwater increased the sweat flow to the point that a downpour wouldn’t have gotten me any wetter than I was.  It was wonderful!  

Hot men (literally!)

 A visit to the elgant local Shinto Shrine completed the morning’s activities.  Izu Okawa’s Shinto Shrine had some very skilled detail work (see photos). 

I am an adult, or so they tell me.  Yet going home after this short adventure felt like leaving grandma’s house for home when I was a kid.  Home is best, of course, but new discoveries, drinking with friends, and travel are all things to be treasured.  I am grateful to Jim and Yo for this experience.  Thanks, guys!

 

 

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This Summer! この夏!

Today marks the 16th consecutive day of rain in Tokyo.  Yesterday’s TV news told us that this is the first time in 40 years that we have been so blessed.  It is better than a water shortage, I guess.  But when it comes to outdoor sports this August has been somewhat challenging.  I have been lucky, managing to walk and cycle between the downpours.  And this year I had an excellent companion for four rides this month.  My brother Russ, sister-in-law Kim and neice Lindsey visited for the first two weeks in August.  It was a previously unexerienced luxury to have them with us (it was their first-ever trip to Japan).  Morning coffee with whoever was up early, fun rides with my brother, day trips around Tokyo, and our daily 5:00 pm wine time (in honor of my father) were all great fun.  I don’t usually post much family news on this blog, but the first visit by my brother and family since we moved to Japan in 1989 certainly rates a post on “The View.”  I think we were able to give them a memorable experience – there were 4 earthquakes, 1 typhoon, rain storms, heat and humidty, and voracious mosquitos to enjoy.  

テレビニュースによると、東京は40年ぶりに16日間連続の雨に恵まれています。水不足より良い状態でしょうが、関東地方の皆さんは困っていると思います。私は雨と雨の間サイクリングと散歩をしていますので、文句は言えません。しかも、弟家族が初来日してくれたので、たくさんの楽しみにがありました。弟のラスもサイクリストですので、2週間の間4回ほど一緒にサイクリングが出来ました。金沢へ出かけた三日間以外、弟、奥さん、そして姪が自宅で一緒に暮らしました。本当に幸せな2週間でした。彼らにとって、日本の全てが新鮮だったようです。忘れられない経験は4回の地震、台風、大雨、蒸し暑い気候、そして、どこにでもいる蚊ではないかと想像します。

It is always fun to show a first-time Japan visitor around, because lets me ‘re-see’ Japan through their eyes.  Though they were here for two weeks, we didn’t do many of the famous sights in Tokyo.  There were many alternatives to those crowded scenes.  Some highlights were eating dinner on our roof while watching fireworks, attending a Bon Odori dance in my neighborhood, visiting Hikawa Jinja (a large Shinto shrine) in Omiya with craft beer in the evening.  Our only trip out of the Tokyo area was to Kanazawa, a 2+ hour shinkensen train ride.  It is a town with a castle, famous Japanese garden, neighborhoods with traditional buildings, etc, and was a great way to sample several aspects of Japanese culture in a small area. 

初来日の人を案内するのは楽しいことで、彼らの目を通して、日本をフレッシュな観点から見ることが出来ます。東京都内の有名な観光スポットはほとんど避けました。逆に、近所の盆踊り、自宅の屋上から花火大会を見る、大宮の氷川神社、などのような混まないスポットをターゲットしました。唯一の旅は2泊3日の金沢旅行でした。新幹線に乗りたいから、そして、伝統的なお城、日本庭園、茶屋街などのある街でしたので、もっとも適した行き先だったと思います。

Here are a few of photos from the visit, as well as 2 route maps from a couple of 100 km rides Russ and I managed to fit in.  Russ-Kim-Lindsey: if you are reading this, you must return before too many years go by! 

写真は以下の通りです。

PHOTOS

Meiji Shrine, Tokyo


Hikawa Shrine, Omiya


Shaved ice to cool off at Hikawa Shrine


Reading the messages, Hikawa Shrine


Rare blue sky at Kanazawa Castle


Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa


Guides being guided at Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa


An attractive couple in the Chayagai area, Kanazawa


Museum of modern art, Kanazawa


Russ sits only where it is appropriate


Imperial Palace East Gardens, Tokyo

And now for the rides!  (Isn’t this the part you were waiting for?)

Russ and I were able to get in four good rides over the two weeks of the visit.  Two times were 100 km routes; one around the city, over to Disneyland, up the Edo River, and back home.  The other was out to Kawagoe City via the Arakawa and Irumagawa river dike system.  Both were great fun.  Warning: if you ride with Russ be prepared to pump those pedals.  

100 km ride around Tokyo


We rode around Disneyland


Russ at the Imperial Palace


Kawagoe ride map


Break time at Kawagoe

 

 

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Poor blog! かわいそうなブログ!

Oh, poor blog, you have been badly neglected of late.  The ease of posting on Instagram, Facebook and Flickr has led the editor of “The View” down the garden path to the land of time frittered and blog neglected.

In all seriousness, a blog can be a difficult thing to keep going.  I have been posting off and on here for over ten years now.  At times I had a message I seriously wanted to get out, while at other times I simply wanted to share something beautiful, humorous, or interesting I saw through my camera.  Some days I turned evangelist for cycling.  But there is a problem with a long-running blog.  What one can honestly write about is quite limited.  I should rephrase that – what I can write about is quite restricted, for reasons of social position, employment status, etc.

I could change the purpose of “The View,” I suppose.  A political blog?  There is certainly enough going on in the world about which I have an opinion.  But that’s just it – who wants to read another opinion?  Everyone and their dog spouts off on Facebook in an ever-narrowing echo chamber of similar opinion.  I suppose “The View” will continue as is; an unpredictable mix of posts on music, cycling, Japan, photography, etc.  Perhaps I’ll even give a subtle hint of a real opinion on political matters now and then.

Regular readers are probably wondering “what got into him today?”  Maybe its the weather?  After sweltering for weeks we are finally enjoying a dark, somewhat cool, rainy day in Tokyo.  That change in the view from my window seems to have changed “The View,” even if for only a short time.

TOPICS MUSICAL

End of the semester!  Educators love this season, when students  (my apologies, all) struggle with tests and reports, and we slide slowly toward the summer vacation.  Before truly escaping campus, though, all the music for the Rikkyo Chapel Choir’s fall season had to be chosen.  Interested?  Here is some of the rep you will hear if you come to a concert or service in the campus chapel (see the list below).  Here are a couple of things rep list that you might find interesting. (unfortunately, we won’t have the composer Gjeilo improvising with us, but we do have his own written-out piano part for “Ubi caritas,” which is quite lovely.

Mixed Choir

  • Tallis: O nata lux
  • Mudd: Let thy merciful ears
  • Attwood: Teach me o lord
  • Elgar: They are at rest
  • Stanford: Magnificat & Nunc dimittis in G
  • Gjeilo: Ubi caritas
  • Dove: Seek him that maketh the seven stars
  • Anglea: Jubilate Deo
  • Morgan: Ai ga subete

Women’s Choir

  • Sumsion: There is a green hill
  • McDowall: Missa Mariae: Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus dei
  • Casals: Nigra sum
  • Howells: Magnificat & Nunc dimittis in D

UPCOMING POSTS

1. A report on the Rikkyo Chapel Choir’s first-ever CD release.  It’s available now, and I’ll give information on how to get a copy, and perhaps put a track on the blog for listening.

2. Cycling reports!  Many to share!  Get your chain greased up and brakes tightened!

3. Photography.  As always, very few days go by without me taking pictures of something or another and sharing them on SNS.  Sorry blog!  Many photos coming.

Posted in Choral ~ 聖歌隊関係, Church music ~ 教会音楽 | 2 Comments

Empty Tokyo 〜 誰もいない東京

I went for a walk at 5 am this morning.  It was a typically dreary day in the rainy season.  Strangely enough, not a single one of the 13.5 million people living in the 23 wards of the city were to be seen.  All asleep?  Abducted by aliens?  Did everyone decide to take a vacation this morning?  Proof of the empty city is to be found in the photos below.

今朝、5時頃散歩に出かけました。典型的な梅雨の朝でしたが、不思議なことがありました。東京23区の人口は3000万人以上と言われますが、一人も見かけませんでした。全員が旅に出かけた?寝ている?信じ難いでしょうが、以下の写真をご覧ください。誰もいない東京は不思議ですね。

Empty street near home

Empty restaurant

Empty Ekoda Ginza

Empty train tracks

Empty alley 1

Empty alley 2

Empty Ekoda entertainment district

Empty university

Empty park

Empty shrine

Oddly enough, when I went back out at 9:30 am, all 13.5 million people had returned to the streets.  It was an odd day in Tokyo, that is for certain.

 

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

Freedom! (for a short while) – 自由です!

Orchid in my garden

The Rikkyo University All Saints Chapel Choir’s annual Rainbow Concert went very well yesterday.  The choirs sang to a packed chapel, and (as always), responded to the presence of an audience by surpassing their previous best.  We had a wonderful audience to sing to, as well – silent during the singing, and enthusiastic during the applause.  Thanks to those who sang, and those who listened.

立教大学チャペル聖歌隊のレインボーコンサートが無事に終了しました。チャペルは満席状態でした。毎回のことですが、聖歌隊のメンバーは暖かい拍手に反応し、リハーサルの時より上手に歌った気がします。ご来場して下さった方々に感謝しています。個人的に興味深い事もありました。私は聖歌隊の6代目の隊長ですが、5代目の﨑山裕子氏(現学院オルガニスト)と4代目のジム・ドーソン氏が会場にいたので、現存聖歌隊長が全員揃いました。更に、2代目の隊長のカール・ブランスタッド氏が残して下さった資金のおかげで聖歌隊のCDを作る事が出来ました。歴史を感じさせられた日でした。

It was also a pleasure for me, as conductor, to have former choirmaster Jim Dawson, in the audience.  University organist Yuko Sakiyama directed the choir between Jim and my own tenure, so all three living choirmasters were in the chapel at the same time.  Another thing on my mind was the virtual presence of the second choirmaster, Karl Branstadt.  His generous gift to the university for the purpose of supporting the choir some 40 years ago provided the funding for the choir’s newly released CD.  Don’t you love living history?

Now for some FREEDOM!  I have been working six and seven day weeks in preparation for this concert, so now am heartily enjoying a few days of total freedom.  No mail to answer, to rehearsals to plan, no classes to prepare.  So how did I spend the first day?

コンサートが終了し、今週の練習は休みにした結果久しぶりの連休をたっぷり楽しみました。メールに対応せず、授業の準備をせず、数日の完全自由を楽しみました。1日目のプラン:
1 コンサートの翌朝:何もしない
2 午後のコーヒー1@近所のレトロ喫茶店
3 床屋で散髪、床屋さんと楽しくおしゃべりする
4 午後のコーヒー2@別のレトロの喫茶店
5 近所のお寺で写真タイム
6 夕食@近所のネパールレストラン
刺激的だったとは言えませんが、自分なりに満足しました。皆さんも自由の日に似たような過ごし方をしていますか?

1. Lazy morning doing nothing of interest

2. Afternoon coffee No. 1 at a local retro coffee shop

3. Haircut and gossip session with my barber

4. Afternoon coffee No. 2 at another local retro coffee shop

5. Neighborhood  temple visiting with camera

6. Dinner at a local Indian restaurant with “the wife”

The above is how I relax after a taxing season.  How do you spend your free day?

Photos from my temple visit

Temple gate in rain

Weathered temple steps

Jizo (Buddhist image)

Another (much older!) Jizo

Chrysanthemum

Dry flowers

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