And the fun resumes – 秋学期始まったよ!


The fall semester started up a few weeks ago  at Rikkyo University.  It was time to put away the shorts and sandals, and step back into my professorial attire, so to speak.  Ready or not, the fall season is here.  Before sinking in to despair thinking about all of the work ahead, let’s look back to the wonderful eleven days of the 2017 summer choir camp.

As has been the pattern in recent years, I go up with the 50 members of the mixed choir (arriving on Tuesday, Sept 5) and return with the 30 members of the women’s choir on Friday, Sept. 15.  It IS a long time away from home, but I have grown to love the time I spend in Katashina Village.  My room is always the same small six-mat tatami room.  The schedule is always the same, and weather is always the same mix of rain and sun.  But the choir members and the repertoire are always new, so I never tire of the time with them.  I do get tired, of course, but not tired of the routine.  Walks in the mountain air are always refreshing.  I like to check on the older houses – this one has been abandoned, that one has been repaired, the road has been repaired or it has deteriorated. Life changes very slowly in the village, so the things I observe are minute changes.

Former choir members undoubtedly remember shopping at the “oshare-shop” (our nickname for a the only store in the village).  This year it was closed for the duration of the mixed choir’s time, due to a death in the family.  Snack disaster!  I wound up driving down the mountain to the nearest convenience store to help with the snack refills.  Other than this shock, things are much the same they have been for the past 15 years, aside from the size of the choir.

Here is a photo blog of the 2017 camp.  Enjoy!

1. the mountains surrounding our village.  This was taken from a spot just above our location.

Katashina Village 片品村

The weather was extremely changeable, as always.  There were quite a few rain days, though we had enough sun to enjoy playing in the river and taking walks.

2. Food.  Super, superb, fabulous, delicious.  Are there enough superlatives here to convince you?  The owner of the place we stayed caught fresh river fish for me for no fewer than five dinners, and all were deliciously prepared.  The students’ food was also great, with tons of fresh village produce at every meal.  Speaking of meals, all are taken sitting on the floor, as you can see in the photos below.

The annual spaghetti refill line

3. Following the last rehearsal of the week, the students take photos by section.  Here the four sections of the Mixed Choir.

SOPRANOS (their leader, Aizawa Yumeno has a nice couch!)

ALTOS (kept in line by their leader Kikuchi Hanami)

TENORS (led by the long-suffering Takashima Riya)

BASSES (their leader, Oe Yuta, prefers classical poses)

The we have the entire choir, with BOSS lazing about as usual

When the week of the mixed choir camp finishes, most members go home on the bus.  A few lucky members who belong to both choirs get to stay on for the next session.  We have a wonderful free day in between the two camps.  This year we had iffy weather, but managed to get in ice cream in the village, a walk around the must-see spots, and a raid on the only convenience store in town.

Saying goodbye to the mixed choir:

And then celebrating the birthday of our fabulous women’s choir student conductor, Kitazawa Aoi. This “cake” was made solely of ingredients found at the local shop.  Bread, pudding, and who knows what all!

Ice cream and village walking

Just hanging around the village

NO – we didn’t actually go into this, the only pachinko parlor in the village – just had a good look

The following afternoon the Women’s Choir arrived, and work resumed.  Here are the last day group photos:

SOPRANOS (led by toughie Sugiyama Rin)

ALTOS (Kitazawa Aoi does double duty as their leader)

And the entire Women’s choir, including the ever-popular accompanist Kantani Yoji

And, finally, some miscellaneous photos.  Mainly of walks I took alone in the area surrounding Katashina Village

I already miss summer camp!  Can we please turn back the hands of time?

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Already September? もう9月?


I am not amused

It is September.  It is also raining and cold (by Tokyo standards).  Not only this, but work has resumed. I shouldn’t be complaining, however.  August was a wonderful month, the first half spent with visiting family (see August 16 post), and the second half spent in relative freedom.  I managed to do three long rides in late-August, two of which were made with Rikkyo choir graduates.  So, before I run down to work today I’ll take a few minutes to share three good rides, their maps and some photos.


1. Solitary city loop.  

I did this ride on my own, leaving the house around 5 am with no goal in mind.  I wound up in Shinjuku in time to enjoy the dawn in Central Park there.  Riding alone and rather high on coffee was the cause of many a selfie.  Fortunately for readers, few will be posted.  As you can see by the map, I go lost in Shibuya, made a wrong turn near Tokyo Bay, only eventually finding the way to Odaiba.  After that it was simply a matter of riding up the Arakawa River to Kawaguchi City and then home.  A fine 92 km ride with many photo ops along the way.  Here are a few shots from the day:


Dawn in the Shinjuku skyscraper district

My bike dwarfed by the skyscrapers

Selfie inviting windows


At the Kaigakan 絵画館の前で

Dwarfed again – Tokyo Tower


Rainbow Bridge from Odaiba

2. City Loop 2, with Kaneko Shuichiro

This ride was taken with choir graduate Kaneko Shuichiro, who recently bought a nice Dahon folding bike.  The route was his idea, so I got to see areas of Tokyo unfamiliar to me.  It was a really hot day, so sweating and drinking, sweating and drinking were repeated throughout the day.  Heat aside, blasting through famous areas like Omotesando and Ginza on little bikes can’t be beat.  We were even treated to rain and a festival – the Asakusa Samba Festival in the Asakusa area.  If you ride, you will discover.  No plans needed.  Photos:


I enjoyed the heat more than KS – at NHK

One of many bridges on the Sumida River – in the rain

Car and Shinto shrine color match

Asakusa Samba Festival

At Ueno Park – I try for a serious look, but…

…Mr Kaneko forced me to laugh

I did eventually tire of the heat


3. A ride around the Miura Penninsula with Kawasaki Hirotaka

The last big ride of the month was taken with “Jas” (also known by his real name Kawasaki Hirotaka).  The loop around the Miura Peninsula is one of my favorites.  It has everything – sea views, seafood, hill climbs and long descents, and easy access by train from Tokyo.  I was up at 3:30 am, rode down to Ikebukuro Station at 4:30 to catch the train toward the coast.  If you are an early riser like me, this is a great way to beat the rush hour crowds.  Jas met me at Yokosuka, and we rode toward Kamakura from there.  He is a serious rider, and I should state honestly that I had to work to keep up with him! 30 years difference age shows up in many ways – most obviously in one’s average speed.  A great seafood lunch helped with energy levels, and the ride was completed by 3 pm.  We were blessed with perfect weather (if hot), while parts of Tokyo were being pummeled by torrential rains.  Lucky!


Bike bagged up at Ikebukuro station

My Bike Friday at Yokokusa harbor

Ready to start the ride

Lighthouse at Jogashima

The coast at Jogashima

Lunch at Misaki

Bikes bagged up on the return train


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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 partner, 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?  Why not have a look at the ryokan’s homepage?  Click on the American flag to change to English.  Lots of photos.  Website is HERE


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!


By the way, to get to Izu Okawa I rode express trains called Izu Odoriko, or Izu Dancing Girl.  I thought it an odd name for a train, but only found out after returning home that the name is taken from a short story by Yasunari Kawabata.  I bought an English translation and the original Japanese and read the story immediately.  The story is set in the Izu area, and gives an idea of what life must have been like a century ago.  Highly recommended!  




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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.  


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. 


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! 



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.


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


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