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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The end of a long project – オルガンプロジェクト終了しました

2014-04-01 sakura (104 of 115)Last Saturday (July 12), the opening concert of the Fisk organ at Rikkyo University’s Niiza campus marked the end of many years of work to upgrade the chapel music facilities and instruments.  Makiko Hayashima gave a brilliantly planned and played concert on the Fisk that demonstrated it’s multi-faceted personality.  As she explained before the concert, the organ may well be similar to the organ 19th-century French builder Cavaille-Coll would have built had he lived another twenty years.  It has a strong French Romantic character, yet has the brilliance and upper work of a French Classical-period organ.  Playing works by Couperin, Bach, Franck, Widor and Franck, Hayashima showed that this music all sounds great on the instrument.  A capacity crowd of 350 braved intense summer heat to enjoy the afternoon. 先日(7月12日)、立教学院聖パウロ礼拝堂(新座キャンパスチャペル)にて、オルガン奉献コンサートが無事に終了しました。これで、長年のオルガンプロジェクトが(一応)終わりました。早島真紀子氏の話と演奏を通して、フィスク社オルガンの素晴らしさをゆっくり味わうことが出来ました。早島氏によると、フランスロマン派様式だけでなく、古典的な面もあり、演奏会の曲目を選ぶ時、そういう多機能性を見せるために頑張った、ということです。さすがに、クープラン、バッハ、ロマン派時代のウィドールやフランク、そして現代派のメシアンの作品などそれぞれの時代にあった音を再現されました。大変感動的なコンサートでした。チャペルは350名の出席者で満席状態となりました。暑い中、来てくださった方々に大きな感謝を伝えたいです。

I was too busy to take many photos on the day, unfortunately.  Here is a file photo of some of the people who were on hand from Boston for the recital.  Left to right: Nami Hamada (who voiced the organ), Katsuhiko Kawachi (who assisted both Rikkyo organ projects), Steven Dieck (President of Fisk Organ), Masae Sato (Rikkyo Niiza High School organist) and Mrs Kawachi.  Hamada Nami, Kawachi Katsuhiko, Steven Dieck, Satoh Masae, Mrs. KawachiI regret that I didn’t get a single good photo of the recitalist for the day.  Perhaps a photo of a few of the people who attended the post-recital party will suffice? (left to right: Kawachi, me, Sato)2014-07-12 Fisk party (11 of 13)

The other part of the organ project that was completed this month was the re-installation of the Beckerath organ.  I created a web album of that process, so please have a look if interested (the link is on the right side of this page: Rikkyo Organ Project IV). 新座オルガン奉献コンサートだけでなく、前に報告した通り、以前に池袋キャンパスチャペルに設置されていたベッケラート社オルガンのリメイクと再設置が完了しました。そのプロセスのウェブ写真集を作成しました。見たい方はこのページ右のRikkyo Organ Project IV のリンクをクリックして見て下さい。


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Gentle reminder – TOMORROW! – いよいよ明日です!

hayashima10018261256_2e92c16534_mNow that we are safely through one lightning strike (on the chapel bell tower at the Niiza campus) and one typhoon (which turned out to be a dud in Tokyo), it is time to remind you that tomorrow the new Fisk organ on Rikkyo University’s Niiza campus will be dedicated in a concert by Makiko Hayashima.  Here is the program:


Fisk Concert

Doors open at 4:00 pm and the recital begins at 4:30.  Admission is free.  Ms Hayashima is one of Japan’s top interpreters of the French repertoire.  I heard her practicing the other day on the Fisk (which is a very French-sounding instrument), and the combination of her artistry with the inspiring sounds of the organ were quite something.  Except for the heat and humidity, one could imagine being in a French church listening to a 19th-century French organ.  Please do come and experience it for yourself tomorrow.



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Rikkyo organs featured in UK magazine “Choir & Organ” – 立教の新しいオルガン特集:イギリスの雑誌 “Choir & Organ”

co_july_august_2014_-_low_coverAn article I wrote about the two new organs at Rikkyo University for the UK magazine “Choir & Organ” has been published.  It is available in either print or online e-magazine formats.  The cover features the Rikkyo Niiza campus chapel’s Fisk organ, which can be heard on July 12 (Saturday, 4:30 pm) in a dedicatory recital performed by Makiko Hayashima.  The publisher’s website is here.

私の書いた記事がイギリスの雑誌 “Choir & Organ”の7月号に掲載されました。記事の内容は学院の両キャンパスチャペルに設置されたオルガンの選定プロセス、各楽器の詳細、などです。英語のみの雑誌ですが、興味のある方はオンライン版、またプリント版を購入出来ます。出版会社のウェブサイト。(オンライン版はアップルのNewsstandで購入出来ます)

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