Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yatsubuchi Falls (八ツ淵の滝)

While staying in Kyoto I went on a fantastic hike with my two Aussie brothers in Kyoto, Alex and Andy.  We went up Yatsubuchi no Taki ("Eight deep-pooled waterfalls") in Shiga prefecture about 90 minutes drive from Kyoto.  We set out from the car at 12 noon and returned 6 hours later after some perilous climbs, refreshing dips and waterfall showers, and some magnificent scenery.  We didn't see another person all day.  We finished up soaking our sore limbs in an onsen (hot spring) on the way back to Kyoto.

Osaka & Kyoto concerts

I had two very enjoyable concerts with talented sitar players this weekend.  Firstly in Osaka, I joined Tadao Ishihama for Calcutta Night Vol 77.  Yes that's right, the 77th edition of his monthly concert at Cafe Amanto, in a 120 year old house in central Osaka.  Tadao is playing really well and we had a lot of fun.  Not only that, but we got to enjoy Tadao's fantastic Indian cooking.  Then the next afternoon we headed up to my old home Kyoto for an afternoon concert with Yasuhiro Minamizawa in famous world music shop, Koizumi Gakki.  In both cases we played together without rehearsal for the first time in 2-3 years, and it was fantastic - that is one of the big pluses for Indian classical music.  We can always play together and create something new within the improvisational framework.  It's such a pleasure for me to come to Japan and play with many talented and varied Indian classical musicians.

 Performing with Tadao Ishihama in Cafe Amanto, Osaka

The delicious meal Tadao whipped up for us - channa masala, potato shimeji (mushroom) curry, cucumber broccoli raita, and lots of puris!

 Afternoon concert at Koizumi Gakki, Kyoto, opened with Yuki's mantras

 Accompanying Yasuhiro Minamizawa in Kyoto

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tenzin in Japan part 7 - videos

I promised to upload some videos of my Japan tour with Tenzin Choegyal and Taro Terahara, but the Teraharas have done it for me.  If you'd like to see the full report (in Japanese) including these videos, please visit the official tour blog here.

Nomad song and flute duet @ Gokokuji

"Tso Marpo" @ Gokokuji

"Heart Sutra" @ Inawashiro Ski Resort

"Agu Tadak" @ Pangaea, Sendai

Aoyamaguchi - "Furusato" @ Pangaea, Sendai

"Olo Chung Chung" @ Chakra, Osaka

Flute duet and Nomad Song @ Chicken George, Kobe

Many photos on my Facebook album.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tenzin in Japan part 6 - Izu and west Japan

Following our concerts in Touhoku and visit to a tsunami affected area, there were still 5 more concerts to go!  14 concerts in 14 days, what an epic journey - Taro informs me that we covered 3121km.  In this last part of the tour, we didn't have much time to visit scenic areas, though we did have quite a few nice baths in various super sentos.  The weather was really very hot!  I think by this time we managed to settle on a semi-regular set list too.  We've taken quite a few videos so I may yet post one more blog from this tour... (You can read the Japanese tour wrap-up including videos here.)

In the meantime, while Tenzin has returned home I will be in Japan until September 13 and have another 10 shows to play, much more firmly in Indian classical music field.

 Sat 6 August Izu, Organic Cafe Chant

Afghan folk duo Chalpasah drove down from Tokyo to see our show, so we simply had to ask them to play as well.  Really wonderful music!

 Tenzin and Keiichi Satow of Chalpasah had a little instrument swap session - rabab for dranyen

 1000 year old tree in a Shinto shrine in Itou, Izu

 Sun 7 August Nagoya, Alphaville

 Mon 8 August Osaka, Chakra

 Tue 9 August Osaka, Avalon

Wed 10 August Kobe, Chicken George - not a KFC copy as the name might indicate, but in fact one of the biggest most famous live houses in Kansai, since 1980.  Wonderful sound system!

Many more photos on my Facebook album.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tenzin in Japan part 5: Tsunami zone

After our Sendai concert we had a day off, in a manner of speaking - just a 9 hour drive south to Izu!  But first we visited Matsushima, a beautiful seaside area just north of Sendai.  Low-lying areas of central Matsushima were "merely" flooded, because it was largely protected from the March 11 tsunami but the offshore islands, but nearby areas were suffered massive destruction.  Touristic central Matsushima was fully restored to normality and we enjoyed a delicious seafood lunch, but 5 months after the tsunami the areas we saw nearby are far from clear.  I am posting these photos because there is a lot of discussion and fear about the nuclear disaster, and I feel everyone is forgetting the terrible suffering caused by the tsunami along 800km of east Japanese coastline.  This area is quite far from the radiation zone.

Tenzin in Japan part 4 - Touhoku

From Nagaoka, on to Inawashiro and some very special concerts. Inawashiro is in Fukushima Prefecture, unfortunately best known now for the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster after the tsunami on March 11.  Much of the coastline was destroyed by the tsunami and then of course the area within 30km of the nuclear reactor was evacuated.  Many of these refugees are staying in hotels in the skiing and lake resort town of Inawashiro, which is protected from the radiation zone but a mountain range.  We played 3 free concerts in Inawashiro for refugees, before heading on to Sendai city in Miyagi Prefecture.

Wed 3 August Inawashiro, midday hotel concert: We were joined for all of these concerts by Eri Yamaguchi (vocal) and Masaaki Aoyama (throat singing, guitar), who combine to be "Aoyamaguchi", singing traditional and original Japanese folk songs.

Wed 3 August Inawashiro, afternoon garden concert

 Thurs 4 August Inawashiro Ski Resort. This was a very emotional concert, especially Aoyamaguchi's song "Furusato" (homeland), which had many people sobbing.

 Aoyamaguchi joined us for our still unrecorded finale, the very beautiful "Aum Mani Padme Hum"

 Lake Inawashiro

 Background radiation reading in Inawashiro.  This level is typical of many places around the world.  We can't be sure about soil and hence vegetable contamination though...

Thurs 4 Aug Sendai, Pangaea

Many more photos on my Facebook album.

Tenzin in Japan part 3 - Niigata

After Saitama the Snow Lion gang moved on to Nagaoka City, Niigata, where we had a concert in Gallery Mu-An for the opening of an exhibition by our friend Kie who has some wonderful paintings of Dharamsala and Varanasi.  The following day we attended the Phoenix Fireworks Festival, said to be Japan's biggest fireworks festival, started 6 years ago after Niigata suffered a massive earthquake. You can find the official (Japanese) blog report including this time in Niigata here.

Mon 1 August: Gallery Mu-An, Nagaoka City, Niigata.
Yuki Taniguchi opened the concert with some Sanskrit mantras.

 This painting by Kie was based on a photo of Yuki-chan.

 Tenzin in front of Kie's award-winning painting of Tenzin's home town in India, Dharamsala.

Gathering at the Phoenix Fireworks Festival - we were joined by Masaaki Aoyama and Eri Yamaguchi who performed with us in the next few concerts.

While waiting for the fireworks we had a big 90 minute practice session.... until "please stop playing music now" was announced over the loudspeakers.

Many more photos on my Facebook album.

Tenzin in Japan part 2 - Saitama

From Tokyo the Snow Lion crew headed north to Oppe Gallery in country hills of Saitama.  Those funky country Japanese know how to party and we had a lot of fun with Kin-chan and the gang up there. You can find the official (Japanese) blog report including this time in Saitama here.

 Sun July 31: Saitama, Oppe Gallery - In most concerts, Taro and Tenzin performed a beautiful flute duet along with Tibetan nomad song.  (Check out "Tibet: Awakened Heart" to hear both kinds of music.)

 Megumi is a big fan of Tibetan music and learnt some songs from Tenzin. 
(Please correct me if I've got the name wrong!)

 This party was actually the night before the Saitama concert.  Lots of Japanese chang and silly dancing until 4am!  After this Tenzin promised not to drink for the rest of the tour!

Many more photos on my Facebook album