Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Last day in Japan, Sydney trip

Last Day in Japan
On my last day in Japan, I went with Taro & Yuriko to a nice sushi restaurant in Chiba-ken. It was also their 10th wedding anniversary. We had some pretty fantastic sushi! One plate of sashimi was particularly fresh - how fresh? The fish it had been cut from was displayed on the plate with a skewer from its tail to its head, and every now and again the tail would twitch! It was bloody good though. :-)

Australia: Winter
I arrived back in Brisbane on July 21, and on July 25 headed to Sydney for a week, meeting a few musicians and hanging out with my cousin Ed.

Sky over The Gap

Sydney sky

Practising with Adrian McNeil (sarod) and Pt. Ram Chandra Suman (tabla) in Sydney

View from my cousin Ed's family home in Bungendore near Canberra

I also met and practised with Colin Berryman (sitar) in Blue Mountains near Sydney

Tomorrow I fly to Melbourne for 10 days, and hopefully there I'll be able to meet lots of musicians and friends too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Japan Tour 2007: Acknowledgements

Writing to you now from Bangkok, having just arrived after 3 months in Japan. Before that I was in India for 3 months and in a few days I'll be back in Australia after 6 months away...

This year's Japan tour was a big success and I had a fantastic time the whole time with so many friends. On previous trips of course I played a lot of music with many people, and felt friendships developing through that music, but this time I really felt warm friendship with so many people and sharing music with them was an added bonus. Through this I found a deeper love of tabla and music. There are so many people to thank, so without further ado...

Thanks so much to my various hosts all around Japan: Martine & Fuku-chan (Tokyo), Taro & Yuriko (Chiba), Bon-jin (Niigata), Rie (Niigata), Chris (Chichibu), Takasitar & Kei-chan (Hachioji, Tokyo), Sugimoto & Shoko (Kakegawa, Shizuoka), Nishi-Izu Autocamp during Dance of Shiva, Tadao & Ishihama-san (Osaka), Steve & Teruyo (Kyoto), Minamizawa-san (Kyoto), Kousuke (Ayabe), Michelle (Kyoto), Yasu (Kyoto), Alex & Hana (Kyoto), Jimi-san (Horado, Gifu), Christophe & Ayumi (Shiga), the night bus to Kyushu, Kamura-san (Kokura), Amigo-chan and family (Fukuoka), Chikako-san @ Cafe Rinya (Kumamoto City), Ravi & Masaki-san (Annapurna Farm, Kumamoto), Makoto-san (Nishihara, Kumamoto).

Many thanks to my co-performers: Masa Mbira Zvakanaka Sakurai & Shun (mbira - Earth Day @ Yoyogi Park), Taro Terahara (bansuri) and Yuriko Terahara (tamboura) (Niigata, Greenhouse, Izu, Oto-kin), Kenji Sakasegawa (tabla), Eric Mandala (various world), Takasitar (sitar), Tim Hoffman (vocal, shakuhachi, koto) (Greenhouse Golden Week Gathering), Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh (sitar - Shizuoka), Takaaki "Maha-kun" Kuno (ghatam - Oto-kin), Tadao Ishihama (sitar - Osaka twice in one night, Kyoto, Osaka), Hiro Minamizawa (sitar - Ayabe), Yasu Fujibayashi (sarod), Shuhei Ozaki (sitar), Junichi Osako (sitar), Yuji Hiromoto (tabla) (Shanti Nilayam event in Kyoto), Setsuo "Jimi" Miyashita (santoor - Shanti Nilayam and Nagoya), Koki Yoshida (sitar - Nagoya), Christophe Rossi (sitar - Zuirenji and EiUnIn temples in Kyoto), Hide Iwai (sitar - seven concerts around Kyushu), Takuya (Beatles songs on guitar - Kyushu)

Thanks also to Nobuo Sugimoto (sitar - Shizuoka), Hiro Okazaki & Yuji (tabla & sarangi - Osaka) and Carlos Guerra (bansuri - Kyoto) who gave of their time and hospitality to practise with me.

And a big thanks to the hard-working event organisers (and venues): Masa Sakurai (Earth Day 2007), Rie-san (Rin-Sen-An Temple, Niigata), Chris Case (Greenhouse), Pooja Sardeshmukh and Taj Group (Shizuoka), Tirikita-san (Dance of Shiva in Izu), Yuriko & Taro Terahara (Otoya-Kintoki), Tadao Ishihama (Salon de Amanto), Kousuke Matsumoto (Ohgiya Kaikotei), Yasu Fujibayashi (Gaea), Koki Yoshida (Cafe Dufi), Eric Mandala (Hati-Hati), Painukaji, Christophe & Ayumi Rossi (Zuirenji and EiUnIn temples), Hide Iwai and Michi (Kyushu: Brick Hall, Kumamoto International Hall, Gallery Ado, Annapurna Farm, Bonga Curry, Makoto House).

Extra special thanks to Chris, Alex and Hana for memorable times.

Also extra special thanks to anyone whose name appears more than once above! :-)

And of course thanks to all the folks who came to listen to, enjoy and support our music!

Much gratitude to God, Guru-ji, Mum and Dad, and the spirit of tabla for giving me the opportunities to have this kind of life.

Sincere apologies if there's anyone I've missed.

I slept in 22 places, performed at 22 events with 21 musicians playing at least 12 different instruments in 10 prefectures from Niigata to Kumamoto. Wow! Japan is great. And I really really love tabla!!!

皆様ありがとうございました!!!また来年よろしくお願いいたします! :-)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ei-Un-In: Final concert in Japan this year

Some photos from Kurodani Ei-Un-In, where I had my final concert of this year's Japan tour, with sitar player Christophe Rossi. Over the last few years, it's become a tradition for me to have my "final" concert at Ei-Un-In, a beautiful temple in Kyoto which often hosts Indian classical concerts.

The garden of Ei-Un-In

The stage for our concert

with Christophe Rossi (sitar)
- thanks very much to Christophe and Ayumi for organising this beautiful event.

I'm now back at Taro's house near Tokyo and tomorrow morning fly to Bangkok. I arrive back in Brisbane on the evening of July 21st, and soon head to Sydney for a week and Melbourne for 10 days, where I'm hoping to meet and practise with various musicians and work towards a broader network in Australia. I'll be making a post wrapping up this year's Japan tour in a couple of days...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Kyushu concert photos

More photos from my recently completed tour of Kyushu with Hide Iwai...

Playing at a home concert in Fukuoka (last Tuesday) - thanks to Amigo-chan for having us!

Our main concert, at Kumamoto International Hall, last Thursday

Hide @ Kumamoto International Hall - nice smile, hey?

Some people commented that it was really nice that we smiled at each other so much.
(Don't tell anybody - everytime we smiled it's because we made a mistake!)

Part of my tabla solo @ Kumamoto International Hall - something strange going on here, not sure what...

I found Kyushu to be quite spacious compared to other parts of Japan, and the people to be very warm, open and a little wacky. Really nice! It reminded me a bit of Australia. Thanks so much to Hide Iwai for inviting me to Kyushu and organising this tour. We had lots of fun travelling around Kyushu, visiting various onsens (see next post) and meeting really nice people. Thanks also to Chikako-san of Cafe Rinya for giving me a room this week.

Our Kyushu schedule was:
  • Mon Jul 2 - arrive Kokura, concert @ Brick Hall in Moji
  • Tue Jul 3 - home concert at Amigo's house in Fukuoka
  • Wed Jul 4 - bus to Kumamoto, settle at Cafe Rinya
  • Thu Jul 5 - concert at Kumamoto International Hall
  • Fri Jul 6 - concert at Gallery Ado (candle-lit)
  • Sat Jul 7 - free concert at Annapurna Farm (organic farming community workshop weekend), Gekkatei Onsen
  • Sun Jul 8 - concert at Bonga Curry
  • Mon Jul 9 - rest at Cafe Rinya
  • Tue Jul 10 - visit Mt Aso, Jigoku Onsen, home concert at Makoto's house in Nishihara
  • Wed Jul 11 - last onsen visit, back to Rinya
  • Thu Jul 12 - shinkansen to Kyoto

Hell Spa

On Tuesday we went for a drive to volcanic Mt Aso and Jigoku Onsen ("Hell Spa")... Here's a Google Map link of the area. Unfortunately it was very cloudy so we couldn't see the volcano, but here's a photo I found on the web. This page has the onsen's official photos. It was an interesting onsen - very sulphurous smell, and several baths separated by short walks. We soaked for about 2 hours all up...

That's not a low cloud, it's steam rising from the mountain

A waterfall on the way to Jigoku Onsen

Me in one of the baths at Jigoku Onsen

Another bath at Jigoku Onsen

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Shen and Jimi-san on Youtube

Just discovered a Youtube clip of my concert with santoor player Setsuo "Jimi-san" Miyashita in Nagoya:

Monday, July 09, 2007

Kumamoto: Onsen, rice-fields, rainy season

I've just finished what must be the busiest period of concerts in my life (maybe closely followed by Taro's tour last December). From my round of my concerts in Kansai last week, until my final Kyushu concert on Sunday night, in 11 nights I had 9 concerts, 1 overnight bus trip, and 1 night off. I was pretty tired in the last couple of concerts, but that probably had more to do with post-concert socialising than any energy spent playing music. :-)

My host and concert organiser, sitar player Hide Iwai has all the good concert photos on his camera, so I'll post them when I get a chance in a day or two. For now here are some photos from our trip into countryside Kumamoto on Sunday:

The onsen in Gekkatei Ryokan (click on the link to see their official photos) - really beautiful onsen, this one. The water was a bit slippery and very soft, beautiful garden, nice sauna with tasteful koto music, towels provided and all for 500 yen (A$5) - bloody marvellous!

Outdoor bath at Gekkatei Ryokan

While talking about onsens I should mention a couple of other onsens we've been to this week. First up the Hiagari Onsen in Kita Kyushu - bit expensive at 900 yen, but pretty lush. Very big outdoor area with about 5 different baths, plus another 5 or so baths inside. But the unique thing at Hiagari was the salt-sauna - a big tray of sea-salt in the middle of the sauna, which you rub all over your body. Then yesterday we went to another onsen on the way back from Annapurna Farm (see below), which had a "Penguin Sauna" - a cold sauna! Refrigerated!

Annapurna Farm, where we performed in the farmhouse (peeking out from behind a tree in this photo) as part of a organic farming community activity weekend. Thanks to Ravi-san for inviting us!

It's been raining non-stop since I got to Kyushu - rainy season has come. The long-distance scenery is a bit drab (no mountain views), but the river was pretty powerful. Taken on the drive down from Annapurna Farm.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

5 days, 4 concerts and a picnic

It's the busy end of my Japan tour. My time in Japan is coming to a close but it's going to a new place every day from here on it seems!

Some photos from last 5 days: 4 concerts and a picnic!

Thursday: Kyoto

Thanks to Christophe Rossi and Ayumi for hosting me in Shiga this week.
Their loungeroom, my tabla.

I played with Tadao Ishihama at Mandala Party @ Hati Hati Indonesian Restaurant in Kyoto. Unfortunately for us the sound system and room acoustics weren't well suited to sitar and tabla. I've been loving my tabla sound especially this week, so this was a bit of a downer. Anyway - true professionals, I think we put on a good show.

Mandala & the Tribe @ Hati Hati. Unfortunately Tadao & I had to get back to Osaka so we couldn't stay for Amadoo and Pese Pese (African music).

Friday: Osaka

Performing with Tadao at WORLD MUSIC LIVE vol.1 in Osaka. The event was held in a centre for Okinawan culture (hence all the bottles of awamori behind us). Thanks to friends Kazumi and Nobi for coming along! :-)

In Osaka, this is called "blending in"

Saturday: Kyoto

The stage for our concert at Zuiren-ji temple, Kyoto

The altar at Zuiren-ji

Christophe Rossi @ Zuiren-ji.
This was a beautiful concert - lovely setting, many friends, and Christophe's sweet and sincere sitar playing. Thanks again to Christophe, Ayumi and also to Asai-san of Zuiren-ji.

Sunday: Kyoto, night-bus

It was my good friend and old tabla student Alex' birthday and we had a picnic up near Shugakuin Dam in north-east Kyoto. Lots of cute half-Japanese kids.

Monday: Kyushu

I took the night bus to Kyushu and arrived in Kokura, North Kyushu at 6am Monday morning for a concert that night with Hide Iwai. We have 4 more concerts later this week.

Performing with Hide Iwai @ Brick Hall in Moji, North Kyushu

We were joined by Takuya, a final year high school student and Beatles lover. He sang "Rain" and "In My Life" - nice selection, ne.

Hide, post-gig
Brick Hall is a very stylish yet relaxing cafe-bar-live house in the port area of Moji, North Kyushu, in a renovated old beer brewery built of red-brick. Lots of comfy sofas and loads of space. The building reminded me a bit of Calcutta and the interior was reminiscent of Australia. Thanks to Kamura-san for hosting us!

Coming Up: The rest of my Kyushu tour with Hide, another temple concert in Kyoto with Christophe, return to Australia via Tokyo and Bangkok, and visits to Sydney and Melbourne.