||[May. 27th, 2006|03:07 am]
stuff and nonsense
Japan part II. This is going to be difficult because I'm already forgetting some of the great details of my trip. |
So, if my memory serves me correctly, the day after visiting the fish market, Buddhist temple, and mall near Tokyo bay, we woke early and had a wonderful breakfast upstairs on the 33rd floor Brise Verte restaurant. Oh, I nearly forgot. The night before, the percussionists, Dr. Popiel and Jamie the grad student and I all went to Brise Verte to have drinks. At night the restaurant turns into the Skybar and I have to say, my 2,400 yen Mai Tai was well worth the money due to the great view of the city and conversation with my pals.
So anyway, morning= great breakfast. Seriously, our hotel was ridiculously modern and swanky. And that breakfast was great. I became very addicted to pineapple in Japan. It was a mainstay of every meal. So, then we, the members of the Wind Ensemble walked to a nearby train station, took a subway to a main hub within the metro and then boarded a bullet train (the Shinkansen) to Hamamatsu. The train ride was great, and I sat by one of the WEP members Kenny and we had a very long conversation on life in general. It was really great actually, and its been awhile since I've had a really in-depth conversation with someone in awhile.
So, we get to Hamamatsu, check in to our hotel, the Meitetsu, which is still very nice, but a bit of a letdown compared to Tokyo Park Tower. ah well. We still have the high-tech toilets which is nice. We have an hour or so to kill and then off to a rehearsal across the street at ACT city concert hall. The venue was extremely nice and if you have checked out my photo site, you will find a photo of the hall as taken from the stage. I developed a mini-crush on our Japanese stage manager. He was probably pretty old, but since he's Japanese, didn't look that way. Nonetheless, he looked A LOT like Iron Chef Sakai (my favourite) and he was so helpful and nice (though he spoke little to no English) that I couldn't help but tell him 'Arigato Gozaimas' about a billion times. He was cute.
However, the problem with the stage was that the percussion area was built up higher than the area for the rest of the band. This caused many problems, but the ever-helpful Japanese set to work adding on to the stage. At one point I turned around to see a row of Japanese stage crew members all posed at the stage with hammers and it was seriously like a scene out of a movie. These people are so incredibly efficient it's really insane. They were taking notes of where all the percussion equipment was placed and they made sure to have everything set up for us, mallet stands and all when we came to the next rehearsal. They were incredibly helpful and nice. Props to my stage manager (whose name I unfortunately do not know)!
Enough on that. After our rehearsal we went to the hotel and had a buffet dinner of traditional Japanese food. It was great and I became very addicted to dining on raw sobe noodles with soy sauce. (which by the way is totally different there). The food is so much healthier and fresher and it really is great. I then went to bed because I was dying for sleep.
Next day, wonderful Japanese breakfast and then we loaded the bus to visit the Yamaha factory. I could talk about this wonderful company for hours, but in the interests of time, I will just say that our tour was great, Yamaha employees are great, and I fully support the Yamaha corporation's business practices. These employees are paid well, they love their job (many of them are musicians) and they are all offered music lessons and opportunities to play in the Yamaha employee band. Also, Yamaha doesn't fire their employees, but rather if a worker slacks off or continues poor performances, the company merely moves them to a lower position and they won't be promoted. I think that is really great, and when touring the facilities it was obvious that the workers really enjoyed their jobs. The precision that goes into creating these instruments is incredible and these people take a lot of pride in their work. I really enjoyed touring the facilities.
We then left the Yamaha Toyo-Oka plant and went back to Hamamatsu for lunch and another rehearsal. Then, dinner and I went shopping with Patrick Quinn and Chris Reed. That was a lot of fun, though it rained hardcore and we were soaked. Also, many of the shops closed early that evening, but we did stumbled across a very strange shop that sold clothing for strippers. There was a very tacky American flag dress that I found humourous. That was a fun evening.
The next day, I went shopping again with Patrick and this time we brought along the grad student Jamie. We visited a really awesome vintage shop where I scored Glenn a purple velvet jacket for about 6000 yen and then we hit up some small local clothing shops. Clothing is very expensive in Japan, yet is is so awesome and unique. Patrick scored a super awesome pair of pants for the equivalent of about 150 dollars, but honestly, they looked ridiculously awesome. Japanese clothing rules, seriously. There is no shitty clothing in Japan, everything is already 2-3 years ahead of American styles. So that was our morning.
We later had our concert, which was great, and we took photos with our stage crew that worked so dilegently to set up all our equipment and make sure we had enough space on the built up stage part, so that we didn't fall off. I was sad to leave my Iron Chef Sakai look-alike but we shook his hand, (I smiled a lot, and arigato-ed profusely) and in the photo he is giving the peace sign. I unfortunately don't have the photo on my camera, but one of the percussion pals does and that will be treasured. man, our Japanese pals were awesome.
So, the next day, we packed up, hit up the Shinkansen for Kyoto and this time I rode next to both Kenny and Nathan. We catnapped most of the way and then checked into the Kyoto Kokusai Hotel.
Part III to come.