Kobe! 神戸!

I’m just catching up on photo editing, mailing, etc., so remembered that I haven’t posted a peep about my trip to Kobe late last month. Kobe is one of my favorite cities anywhere – it boasts a cosmpolitan city center, as well as mountains so close to town that you can start hiking within a few minutes, and clean waters of the inland sea just below town. Within minutes trains can whisk you to other parts of the Kansai area – Osaka and Kyoto are easy to get to from here. I was invited to give a recital and masterclass on hymn playing at Kobe International University, followed by a choir festival at St Michael’s Anglican Cathedral the next day. I really enjoyed being in the Kansai area, meeting people in the church music scene, and performing on the elegant Fisk organ at KIU. Here are some photos of the trip, which I made with my “the wife.”

The chapel and organ at KIU (神戸国際大学).  The chapel is a modern building with fine acoustics.  The tower is hollow, and serves as a resonance chamber for the organ.  A two minute walk from the chapel puts you right on the bay, where you can watch sea-going ships sailing back and forth.

University organist Junko Itoh was my host and sponsor.  Thanks for everything, Junko-san!

My assistant for the recital was my “the wife” (also known as Mariko).  She is the best page turner/stop puller there is.

President of Fisk Organs when this organ was built (10 years ago), Steven Dieck was present, and kindly tuned the organ again the day of the recital so that it was in perfect condition.

Here Steve is at work inside the organ

After my last practice session, “the wife” and I walked 5 minutes from the chapel to a seaside restaurant and enjoyed the sunset while sipping wine.  I think I want to move to Kobe and live this lifestyle!

On Sunday I got up earlier than usual and walked up into the hills behind the city.  Here was the morning view.

Before attending the morning service at St Michael’s Cathedral, I “attended” (visited) the shrine near Suwayama Park:

The last event of the trip was an afternoon choir festival at the cathedral.  I think around 100 people participated.  We worked together as an impromptu choir in order to sing the service of Evensong at the end of the workshop.  Presider of the service was Bishop Nakamura of the Diocese of Kobe, and organist was Junko Itoh (I directed the choir).  I have no photos of the day, but did sneak back into the cathedral the next day for a shot of the very pleasing Mander organ.  It is not the best photo, but you can get an idea of its setting.

On a personal note, this trip was very special for me.  In 1980 I visited Japan for the first time as a newlywed.  My first experience of a Japanese Anglican service was at St Michael’s Cathedral.  At that time I was an undergrad organ student with no Japanese abilities.  The cathedral was still carpeted, had acoustical tiles on the ceiling, and an Allen electronic organ in the balcony.  How things have changed!  Now they have a fine English organ, a renovated church with fine acoustics, and a busy music program.  I’m glad I had a chance to be part of the life of the church over the weekend.

Finally, that same summer in 1980 “the wife” took me to see the Sorakuen Japanese Garden near the cathedral.  I posed for the following photo then, so this time we returned for the first time in 37 years for another photo in the same place.  Here you are – a before and after comparison.  Which would you choose – youth or experience?


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