Monday, December 31, 2012

Akemashite Omedetou

In the same way that Christmas cannot be missed in America, the magic of New Year's Eve fills the air here.  The holiday lights still brighten the trees in the courtyard of HPAC in these all-too-slowly lengthening days of winter.  The shops in the mall dropped their sleepy gates one by one, the shoppers filtering out of the corridors towards warmer gatherings of family and friends.  Preparations for days of rest, of family, of friends, of temple visits, ringing bells, street food, good wishes and good will.  This morning we biked to Nakayamadera, a beautiful temple close to my home in Takarazuka.  As the morning opened in the bright winter sun, vendors were setting up their booths, cracking hundreds of eggs in preparation for the desserts and savory foods to bring in the New Year, putting out colorful banners, glowing against the blue sky.  Lightly peopled, the temple smelled of 30 yen incense and sounded of clunking bells, rung by those with wishes for now and for the coming year.  In the way that a concert hall can hold magic in the silence of sound, this collective preparation for a period of rest rings in the clear winter air, heralding a New Year.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day Before the Sylvester Concert

Tomorrow night we are performing a concert for the New Year called the Sylvester Gala Concert.  I had originally assumed that this referred to a wealthy patron who sponsored the event, but after several references using this term outside of the concert context, I realized that "Sylvester" is the term the Japanese use for the New Year.  Thanks to Google and Wikipedia I learned that it has Germanic origins in the December 31st Feast Day for Pope Sylvester I (315-345).

In honor of the Sylvester, our concert will have a lot of Taiko drumming and Rossini arias from Barber of Seville sung in Japanese.  Context; always something made new.  We rehearsed with the Taiko drummer this morning, a man transformed into pure energy when in action.  It's incredible the feats of which a body is capable and how this has the ability to focus the mind with such force.  It's amazing to hear his sound and power, and then to see him reduced to a human being while backstage, looking over the score.  How many years of training brought him here?

The term Sylvester has obviously taken on new meaning in Japan since its Catholic origins.  This is a concert to celebrate Japan, Hyogo Prefecture and HPAC.  It is doubtful that anyone thinks of St. Sylvester here.  We will be singing the Hanshin Tigers fight song embedded within the Radetzky March, instead.  Whatever the provenance of the traditions we have and the terms we use, the place to which they bring us belongs to the moment in which we live.  All the things before us conspire to bring us here.  And it's incredible that they do, but here we are.  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Borrowed Biking to Rokko-san

This morning's rehearsal didn't even last an hour.  A sunny day greeted us and after a few changes of plans, Andrew and I found ourselves on borrowed bikes, headed toward Mt.Rokko once again for a hike above Kobe.  We followed the river to Nishinomiyakitaguchi and then the train line to Ashiyagawa where we had read about a hike up to the top of Rokko-san (mountain names are followed by the honorific "san," i.e. Fuji-san, or Mr. Fuji).  After biking and hiking our bikes up the mountain, we came upon a cluster of shops and restaurants and locked them to some poles, continuing on foot.  We ascended some rocky passes, unsure of where we were, the sun reminding us of our borrowed time, until we decided to sit over Kobe and the bay.  We flew down the mountain on our bikes, giving back the tired we had accrued on the way up.  Somewhere on the way home it caught up to us again and we barely stayed ahead of it to make coconut rice and panko coated fish for dinner with mochi for dessert.  Another yummy day of exploring.  

a friendly stray cat of Rokkosan

using a chain to help us up the rocks

where we stopped to enjoy the view

waterfall at the beginning of the hike

little restaurants  in the woods along the way

yummy!  coconut rice, fish, and sauteed onions and mushrooms

Andrew is eating one of these red bean seaweed mochi;
 so many new tastes in Japan

Friday, December 28, 2012

Police Report

A koban is a police station, or small police "box."  I went to my first one today in order to report the theft of my bike.  Sparsely "decorated" with desks, austere maps of the area, posters of wanted people and crime fighting ads, a man in a green jacket took the magnetic sign on top of one the desks and stuck it to the side as we sat down with him to file the report.  I wondered the purpose of the desk before we took a seat at it, or the name of the officer whose space we were temporarily using.  It hung there in a very old-hat sort of way while we went about our business.

A friend from HPAC so very kindly offered to come with me to help with the Japanese, and I'm not sure what I would have done otherwise.  So many questions and such thoroughness, lasting nearly 30 minutes.  Detail given to my job (a musician, what kind, where, clarity and more clarity needed on this point), confusion about a combination lock, one which has no key.  My name and address written several times by this officer but then for some reason in a certain place, it needed to be written by me.  I can't write kanji.  Telephone calls to other offices; is it ok if someone else writes it for me, is it ok if I write it in romaji.  Finally I was allowed to put the numbers of the date on this form as well as my name and address.  And for clarity, the officer dictated my own phone number to me, digit by digit.

A very thorough job and perhaps it will lead to the recovery of my bike.  It's hard to say what will happen with these thoroughly filled forms and their thorough eyes.  Perhaps they will see my bike, and perhaps they will give me a call.  Perhaps I will be able to answer and ride away, carefree once more.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Andrew and I had planned to go to Nara today but in the spirit of doing things spontaneously, we decided to accept an invitation to go with some friends to Uji, a small town about 30 minutes south of Kyoto.  Uji, land of green tea.  We enjoyed green tea soft ice cream with macha powder shaken on top and stopped into a cafe for premium macha, mochi sweets, and azuki (red bean) soup with mochi in it.  We also visited the beautiful temple of Byodo-in, with artifacts from 1000 years ago when it was first built.

We walked along the river of this quiet town and happened upon some pictures of fire with birds before stumbling upon the actual birds sleeping through the day in a little pen.  After a little googling I discovered that they are part of the cormorant fishing that takes place in Uji in the summer.  Fishermen hold metal baskets of fire over the side of the boast to attract fish to the surface.  The birds swoop down to catch them, the metal rings around their necks prohibiting them from partaking in their bounty.  It looks quite incredible and I'm thinking to make a return trip this summer to this beautiful and delicious little town.

bell in Byodo-in temple

river lined with fishing/party boats used in cormorant fishing

picture of cormorant fishing

sleeping birds, waiting for the winter to pass

tea by the river

zenzai, azuki soup with mochi and a small dish of salty seaweed

premium macha and green tea mochi

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Numeric Communication

Today my friend and I departed on quest to find a blank key for his American friend's Nissan Maxima. My heart was filled with hopeful skepticism that we would be able to do this, but after not one, but two closed Nissan dealerships, we happened upon a third within the same half mile that was open for business.  Armed with the words for "key," "car," and the like we offered our smiles and apologies to the staff at the desk and presented the factory cut and parts number.  And then the impossible slowly became possible.  After telling us it could not be done, it miraculously became feasible, and after 20 minutes, a computer translating program, smiles and bows, and only 2400 yen (less than $30) two keys will be delivered to my door sometime around January 14th.  Amazing.  The power of numbers which can index something like a specific key.  How many words are saved?  How much communication made possible?

What if we could just present the world with numbers like this for communication?  I supposed we would all become walking Dewey decimals.  Our identity would be like books (I'd probably be somewhere in the 780s which is Dewey for music, with a more specific cutter number, for example) and the topics of conversation could follow the same system.  There would be 10 broad categories, and each additional number would narrow the topic accordingly.  Alphabet letters could be used as well.

The relative ease of the exchange this afternoon may also have been aided by some sketching and hand gestures and a steady pursuit of the goal by way of patience and politeness.  But the idea that concepts can be filed away in a such a simple index of understanding certainly has some temptations.  I'm just a little concerned about how music would sound.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Thanksgiving

It's Christmas, but all day today I've felt like it was Thanksgiving.  In a secular country where people have to work today, church services don't even have the option to mark the holiday.  And what is left is a feeling of gratitude.  Christianity celebrates the coming of something long awaited, but here that something may just be the moment in which we live.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve.  In Japan, Christmas is a couples holiday, perhaps more akin to Valentine's Day than anything family oriented.  There are hearts and Santa lingerie in the stores, couple specials and Christmas cakes in restaurants and coffee shops.  It's a different sort of tradition from the years that I've spent with my family but I'm very happy to have a number of good friends with whom to create new traditions.  As a connection between my past and present, I received a very thoughtful email from my aunt, telling me of her Christmases away from family and the traditions and relationships she made in those times.  

My friend and I went to Kobe today and he showed me some of the things that he discovered on his trip there a few days ago.  A deserted mall of glass doors and mirrors through which we passed to reach the trailhead of a beautiful hike.  We went up a steep incline of waterfalls, mountain shrines and little rest stops to arrive at the top of Mt.Maya.  Awaiting us was a beautiful view, a heavenly glass greenhouse and cafe with herb cookies and samples of delicious tea.  We managed to descend to Kobe in time to get a bowl of ramen which warmed our hands enough to manage the chopsticks by the time we were finished eating.  A quick jaunt home to grab some towels and meet some friends and the bus stop for another culinary adventure and the onsen.

Italian food in a Japanese restaurant on Christmas Eve.  They served tea and fish row garlic bread as we waited, deciphering the creative font of kana and kanji on the menu.  We returned to the pervasive cold of the day to walk to one of the most magical things in Japan.

Onsen are public baths, divided between male and female.  Everyone cleans themselves quite thoroughly and ritualistically before entering the many different pools of water.  This evening we were greeted with a ladies special, a pool covered in rose flowers.  Outside, in the walled and partially covered area under the stars were multiple hot baths, some with muddy water unfiltered from the natural spring from which it rose, some with jet streams, some stone-lined, some with wood floors.  And then the steam room, and the dry sauna with salts to rub over your skin, and the dry sauna with a television.  And everywhere, women and children naked and natural, so natural that the presence of clothes became an absurd memory.  Children squatting over the water to pick out rose pedals, grabbing their mother's legs, leaning on them, bodies steaming as they walked between the hot pools of water in the cold outdoors, the hot water relaxing the most deeply clenched muscles of the body, allowing a special kind of vulnerability, sharing something with one another.  I can't help but feel that this is an essential part of the communal feeling in Japan.  That strangers can do this so comfortably and naturally with one another.  

Perhaps this will become a new Christmas Eve tradition.  
hike on Mt.Maya

mountain stream
Andrew in the glass greenhouse

macha sofuto kurimu after onsen

Christmas tree in the lobby of the onsen

Andrew with Santa

onsen spring

Christmas cheer from family

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Loss and holding on.  Every bike looks like my bike, and even garden hoses bear resemblance to my old lock.  Two days ago my friend didn't come home on time and my worry covered so many corners of projected memories.  Seeing the world as it is, in the present moment. The habit of taking things for granted, taking people for granted.  And the cultivation of being with them as fully as possible that we may never need the reminder.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Karma

Goodbye to Christmas at HPAC.  Last night that I will be there with the Christmas lights.  After our concert we went to a German Christmas market at the Osaka Tower followed by group Karaoke filled with stock movies to accompany our voices and the songs we sang.

Christmas lights at HPAC

Christmas tree at the German market

Nutcracker at German Christmas market

The huge entertainment complex where we sang Karaoke-
each floor has a different type of fun, bowling, arcades, billiards.....
An unfortunate turn of karma has come during this merry time of year.  I turned the other way when the rain poncho went missing from my bike basket this past week, but it seems that the carrier of my poncho, my trusty steed, has also been claimed by the winds of Nishinomiya and the HPAC street level  bike parking.  Japan is filled with people.  People are people and opportunity is opportunity and a bike is a bike that anyone can ride.  Perhaps the only difference in Japan is that my bike is registered and insured and that once I manage my way through some unknown hurdles, I should once again have two wheels to call my own.

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Father's Piano Playing

Today I realized that our conductor is in fact also singing and playing piano with us.  His Billy Joel easy voice and dancing fingers seem trained solely by years of the desire to play and sing this music.  This may or may not be the case, but from it I was taken back to a time when I was very little, sitting on the floor next to the piano bench while my father played through fake books, or worked out arrangements on the piano, his own piano playing self-taught.  I remember the way he would sing along, his voice marking the song, his words and his breath filled with the excitement of R&B tunes, jazz standards, songs I was not yet ready to know or remember.  Such an overwhelming feeling.  Is it because of this memory, so far away?  Perhaps everyone feels this way.  But regardless, I'm thankful to have a touchstone which reminds me of one of my favorite times and experiences in my home, lessons of love I didn't know I was learning.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Pops in Japan, the beginning

The conductor for our Christmas pops concert seems unaware that he is in Japan; he smells of Hawaii, his home.  "I'm looking to get out of here around 12:30 or 1," he said, "and tomorrow the same and no dress rehearsal on Saturday, we'll just do the concert."  That chopped off about 60% of our scheduled rehearsal.  A concert of Christmas songs and 70s chart, once the drummer gets going little artistic refinery needs to be given.  Disco has a tempo and we're along for the ride.  The last 70s medley (before the encore of White Christmas) ends with "YMCA" and we are to get the audience to do the dance with us.  I'm so happy to be complicit in this endeavor.  It's already fun to watch the orchestra figure out which way to turn the C, but to dance with 2,000 Japanese ticket holders will be a unique lifetime experience.  I'm not really sure why this concert is 70s themed, but I think the relative paucity of the Christmas music is just a part of the Japanese Christmas experience.  At least the 5 foot tree from the HPAC lounge has been moved to the corner of the stage, making it an official Christmas concert.

From the other side of the ocean, I have memories of my father and aunt writing Christmas shows for the local Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo, one in which I sang all "I want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth."  I remember singing in Cincinnati Christmas Pops concerts with my children's choir, once singing in Mel Torme's last performance of "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas."  And playing in Madison Symphony Orchestra's Christmas Pops, R&B arrangements by a local gospel choir and Handel's Hallelujah.  Giant Frosty the Snowmen and Rudolfs hobbling across the stage in tandem with Christmas carols.  Every year, no matter where, the same songs return.  The seasonal splendor and curiosity of a holiday shared by many, in many different ways.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Another Beautiful Kyoto Day

Another truly beautiful day in Kyoto.  There is something about the way this city blends the beauty of nature with the hand of man.  Gentle running waters, careful gardens, delicious food, enticing smells, walkways of mystery and beauty– something pleasurable for all the senses.  And always something more to see, something that keeps one returning again and again.  The alleys are endless, the gardens are ever changing.

Kinkakuji- the Golden Pavilion

dry garden at Ginkakuji- Silver Temple
Garden in Ginkakuji

A quiet shrine we found in the woods, off the beaten path

Philosopher's Path

under the aqueduct at Nanzen-ji

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Local Today, Kyoto Tomorrow

My friend and I stayed local today, exploring yukatas in the thrift store and strange candies in the mall.  Curiosity only takes me so far when it comes to squid candies and the like.  It's a personal hurdle that I'm hoping to overcome by the time I leave Japan; perhaps it will serve me well in other endeavors in life.  For now, mochi and chocolate.  And new cooking experiments–hopefully the first in a line of Japanese inspired culinary evenings.

Tomorrow, a trip to Kyoto.  It's hard to know how much to plan and how much to allow feet, eyes, and stomachs to be the guides of the moment.  So we'll see what there is to see, and taste what there is to taste.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Santa in Osaka

Sipping tea by a window overlooking a river in Osaka's Shinsaibashi.  The pleasure of knowing that food is on the way and the feeling of cradling a warm comforting cup.  And suddenly through the window....

Santa river tour
Even in moments of respite, always something to see.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Kaneko-san's Verb Advisory (Kobe Luminarie)

Lessons with Kaneko-san of are growing.  I'm learning more sentence patterns, understanding more of what he says, learning more about him and he about me.  Today I explained in my essay that I had a friend visiting and by the end of our lesson, 20 minutes past the allotted time, he was inviting him to come to my lesson next week.  Our good will is growing and I'm looking forward to next week.

I also learned that the different ways of addressing one another in Japanese based on status are real.  One of the things in which I would like to be better practiced is informal speech.  It's the way people and friends speak to one another and right now I mostly know a stuffy textbook version.  Today, Kaneko-san spoke the informal version to me in an example and I wrote it down, happy to have it.  Following this he told me the formal one.  I wrote it down as well, for clarity, and continued to use the informal, hoping to get more practice.  Oops, wrong answer.  Uma, he said.  Based on Waku Waku concert narrative I've learned that "uma" is the word for horse, the origin of the hair for bows.  Not knowing how this fit into the conversation, I expressed confusion.  He picked up his knew "Howdy" English to Japanese dictionary and turned to another unexpected word, the one he was actually saying, "woman."  As a young woman, I should use a certain type of speech, the formal respectful one, however I don't think this is the same form that he uses when he addresses me.   I'll have to listen for this more closely in the future.  A hidden confound, a rock in the path to understanding.  And now to clear it as best I can.

Following this, a trip to Kobe to see the Luminarie, a beautiful seasonal lighting.  We joined a huge (read: huge) river of people, flowing through a perfectly managed maze of closed downtown streets towards a beautiful glow.  Along the way we were accompanied by atmospheric muzak as only the Japanese can do.  Little stalls of delicious goods greeted us at the end and we sampled some ikayaki (grilled squid).

eels in a bag in a tank, yum

the beginning of the river

turning the corner
cameras aimed

more Luminarie

We were here!

the crowds enjoying the festival food

Luminarie, food booths, and people, people, people
covering everything in between

Saturday, December 15, 2012

New Eyes

Several months ago when I first arrived in Japan I was aware, even through my jet-lagged eyes, of seeing things in a new way.  Being unable to read the signs, not knowing what side of the sidewalk on which I should walk, why all the cashiers kept yelling and what they were saying, how to properly decline a plastic bag at the grocery store.  And even then I was aware that this would slowly, perhaps imperceptibly change.  Slowly I would become accustomed to this new place.  Things would start to make more sense as the language and customs slowly emerged like a statue taking form from a rough piece of marble.  The people around me see something, hear something, taste something and feel something that I cannot yet sense.  Perhaps over time I'll see some part of it too and set it free.

Today a very good friend of mine arrived and will be staying for three weeks.  It is his first time in Japan and it is a chance for me to measure the experience of my senses through his untouched, travel-worn eyes.  How does one properly eat onigiri?  Do you hand the cashier your money or put it in the basket?  And how do you receive it?  My answers to these things are far less concrete than I might have expected them to become by this point, mostly responding with the truth that things vary from experience to experience, person to person.  Something about Japan seems to suggest that there is a way to do everything.  There seem to be rules and expectations from the way that bags are taped close at shopping stores to the manner in which the cashier flips the bills to count them.  And yet people are people.  We are all people just living, experiencing and acting as we see fit in the set of variables of any given moment.

There are still so many questions left open-ended to me.  As I look out the bus window, the world still amazes me.  Why is a person acting in such a way, why does a sign say such a thing, why a certain custom, why a certain rule?  My curiosity seems something much larger than Japan.  Perhaps there is no person, no place, no thing, no ritual sacred or profane that makes complete sense to me.  There is nothing that I know fully and it is just the shroud of a new set of words, gestures, and formalities that inspires the reminder to remain curious.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Outreach

We finally performed our Christmas outreach this afternoon at HPAC.  After another lunchtime rehearsal and then a sound check in the lobby of HPAC, I ventured outside to see the various vendors and activities that comprised the event.  It's funny how much there is for me to piece together, how much I don't know about the things in which I participate.  This turned out not to be background music but a staged concert and I think there were other performances that were a part of it, perhaps before us.  And there was a suspiciously Spanish thread running throughout: we played the Overture of Barber of Seville (in promotion for the summer opera) and vendors were selling Spanish tortillas and Japanese Spanish hybrid ikayaki (grilled squid pancake made Spanish by the addition of ketchup and cheese).  And there were Christmas costumes for us to wear, which I felt might have undermined the sincerity of my performance of Sleigh Ride.  I also questioned my stubborn attitude not to raise the pitch of my voice when shouting "Merry Christmas!!!" to the audience.  When told that our voices were low for females, I said, "That's my voice," but then later thought, I'm wearing a reindeer hat.  Hard to know what integrity is in these postmodern times, but I'm having fun with the ever-changing backdrop.  

Serious business, this Christmas thing

perhaps one of the best Santa's I've seen

Christmas at HPAC

one of the AMAZING jugglers that practice in the HPAC square

Spanish ikayaki

it wouldn't be a chocolate pastry without a smiley face

Merry Christmas!  

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Time.  As much as language is an explicit representation of a difference in understanding between American and Japanese culture, I think so too is the way that we feel time.  Perhaps it is far more elusive to translate, far more difficult to feel; perhaps because time is connected to things beyond itself, things such as individuality and a sense of ownership.  Who owns the time in which we live?  Do we own our time when we are alone?  Sometimes even without others we are doing things in their service.  Is that our time?  And what of the time when we are not alone?

In a week of doing far more rehearsal and preparation for a short Christmas lobby performance than I am accustomed, I feel myself reverting to a feeling of wanting to increase efficiency, cut corners where possible.  I feel myself wanting "my" time.  I think it highlights a difference in time that I have experienced here versus America.  In my head I think of "hoarding time," as an American thing.  It's "my" time.  How do I increase my ownership of "my" time?  How do I have more time?  How can I make this take less time, do it faster, more efficiently, get more out of my time?  Time is money.  I need more time.  I'm too busy, I don't have time.

Here time feels more like a shared commodity.  There is less clinging to it, less entitlement.  Maybe this is what I feel as people take time to care about details.  It seems that corners get cut less often than America, even if it feels inefficient to my normal way of living.  The practice of taking, or rather giving time; a pace that can be as foreign as the language, if not more so.  

What is it to "own" time?  Perhaps even as I am paid to give up the right of my time to another (i.e. "working a job") I don't actually have to hand over this commodity.  If I am present, how can another claim the time in which I live?  And maybe this presence is another thing to learn of this place; another thing connected to time and the way in which it interacts with living life.

It can be a challenge to relax into it, to give up the entitlement and ownership that I've learned for so long.  But I realize the value very much.  It is something deeper than language, a new way of breathing, a new way of feeling.  Perhaps not better or worse, but one that has much to offer as I learn a new way of living.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Seasonal Waku Waku

It's that time of year when Waku Waku meets Christmas.  There have been some lovely arrangements in the orchestra for instrument demonstrations and they just keep coming.  I admit a fondness for the work of a certain couple, a clarinetist and bassoon player, who churn out winner after winner, a new one at every concert.  This morning they blessed us with "Dreidel, Dreidel Dreidel," (which got pretty raucous in the repeat) and "Felice Navidad," (for clarinet and bassoon duet respectively); this afternoon the clarinets left us an unresolved cliff hanger in their rendition of "Sleigh Ride," to be happily picked up by their friends in the bassoon section.  Across the orchestra there is seasonal cheer, intermittently peppered by pop songs, instrument excerpts, TV show theme songs and such.  Of course there are repeat performances and more predictable characters than others, but when the members of the orchestra are let unleashed in such a Waku Waku frenzy, the results will be entertaining.  It's as certain as the obligatory closing frippery of the piccolo solo.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I mistakenly picked up a 98 yen soup spoon without a price label.   The replacement the cashier found lacked a red decoration on the handle from my first choice.  It's ok, I said.  No really, it's ok, it's really ok.  I wasn't too attached to the red dot, anyway.  But after consultation with another cashier, they determined that it would be alright to use the price of the replacement but still give me my first choice in spoon.

Our dear personnel manager allowed me to interrupt to ask her a silly question about where I can find a certain gift for someone.  She spent several minutes looking at different websites, consulting with her office-mate and finally told me that it might take her a little bit to get the answer.  Would it be alright if she emailed me the web address later?  Of course.  And now I am home, and have two different links from her including her personalized text about what each can offer and further offering her help.

And today I had the first of three rehearsals for a 30 minute lobby performance of Christmas music for quartet, percussion, and trumpet.  It lasted 2 hours.  And tomorrow we will spend some time tuning and continuing to make sure that the arrangements work.  The pleasure of rehearsing.

In America, they might have asked me about the cost of the spoon and just not cared enough to check.  They might have just given me the other version when I said it was ok.  I wouldn't deign to expect that a personnel manager would spend her time with such thoroughness, nor would I expect a similar attitude of rehearsals for a Christmas lobby performance.  Likely we'd meet once before for a rushed hour and hope that Santa was watching over us, or at that least no one was listening too closely.  Today, so many little things done with care and consideration.  Sometimes slower than my cultural upbringing, but something very beautiful and satisfying.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Today I went to one of Osaka's famous tourist shopping spots in the name of holiday gift giving.  I'm not sure where it begins or ends but I think I met it halfway or at least somewhere in the middle.  I wonder how many shops and establishments there are and if there is a limit to their variety.  At one point I walked into a quiet covered alley off the main pedestrian way, and discovered a cul de sac of kimono tailors sitting in several isolated shops, each in silence surrounded by their work.  Japan is a land of filled interstices.  Larger than life and everything in between.

Famous Osakan; The Glico Man

one of the many passageways, carpeted with people