Monday, December 30, 2013

Eve's Eve

A sunny hike up a sandy slope.  An afternoon of friends, family, and a French tart. An evening of singing songs.  A night before the night before a new year.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Everywhere we go, people ask us to play or sing for them.  This morning began with a visit from a friend of Andrew's family who wanted to introduce us to one of her friends, a pianist.   We ended up playing the Prokofiev Sonata for another personal concert, rough after several days of nonpractice, but unjudged and extremely appreciated.  Such is music, waiting to be given and received by all who are willing to make it and listen.  Later in the day we sang songs together.  It is so wonderful to have this thing to share, to paint the backdrop of life.  

Homesick Home

How much do we make and spend?  How much do we give and receive?  It seems that in some places people do a lot, spend a lot, take a lot, live a lot and in others place life has a deeper shade of moderation and consideration.  Sometimes life seems to move so quickly, seems to be quite busy.  Is it because I'm more immersed in being with other people in this life in America?  Have I become so accustomed to my time alone in a country where I can't understand or interact with those around me, where I can't understand the influences being exerted upon me?  This American culture feels so foreign to me.  There are many sides of living.  Nowhere is the same.  Nowhere is different.  All the world is a foreign home.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

American Want

Driving down the highway my eyes are filled with so many things that I had no idea I needed.  Pulling into a shopping center I see so many stores and services that suggest that I need to loose weight, change my hair, get a tan, eat better (healthier, more fit, more local), wear better clothes.  American marketing seems to fill every moment with needs I had never considered.  Am I so unhappy with myself, with the things I own, with the food I eat?   I miss living in a world of blissful ignorance of consumptive suggestions being pushed upon me.  Do they exist in Japan and I don't see them or understand them?  It seems like a different way here, a constant wanting for better, for more.  In lieu of acceptance of something second rate, there is an anxiety to find the perfect thing, to live the perfect way.  I suppose it is its own way of living with its own happiness and suffering. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Interstate 5

A new highway today.  Interstate 5 from Sacramento to LA running through the dusty flatland of central California.  Signs about water rights, signs advertising fruit and nut stands, and a little stop in Buttonwillow for a pupuso (bread with cheese inside) from a Mexican food truck near the gas stations. We have arrived at Great Aunt Ruth's where her daughter and daughter's husband are visiting from France.  He had made a delicious soup, and we chatted with them and another relative who was living and working in LA as a scriptwriter. A long day of travel and another night before our return to San Diego.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Sunrise

We woke up this morning at 5:45 to catch the sunrise over San Francisco.   We started on 8th Avenue walking through the Golden Gate Park in the dark silence of Christmas before dawn.  As we walked through the Presidio Park and up the hill the sky was starting to lighten, and by the time we reached the bridge we could see the birds flying in an endless pink and blue horizon over the ocean.  We watched the darkened city, waiting, until the golden globe peaked over the hill and brought its light down into the valley, rising higher and higher.  

We left the wind on that red bridge and looked back over our shoulders as the morning light made morning shadows on the buildings and hills of Sausalito.  As we walked the four miles back, I called my family in Ohio to check in on their Christmas morning, already well under way.  We found another Christmas morning already partially opened on 8th Avenue as my cousin's daughters had enjoyed the coming of Santa.  We shared in the present exchange, ate a wonderful breakfast, and shared some more Christmas songs before setting out for Sacramento.  

And upon arrival, more incredible feasting and spending time with family.  We played and sang some more music, and once again I'm reminded of how lucky we are to be able to fill a space in such a way.  Tomorrow we will all have the morning together and then back on the road for L.A. and more family to visit.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve in San Francisco

It is Christmas Eve.  Last year I spent the holiday in Japan and this year with my cousin's family in San Francisco. Once again I get to relive the excitement of Christmas through the eyes of her two daughters who sweetly put out coffee for a tired Santa. Today we made gingerbread creations together and then went to a holiday part with the whole family.  Many families from their school were there and everyone enjoyed crab, roasted salmon, fondu, olives, cheeses, nuts, peppermint bark, and a large variety of afternoon drinks.  Andrew entertained by playing Christmas carols on the piano, and everyone sang along, trying to remember the gifts of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  We came home and later in the evening we played some games together and looked through my great-grandmother's recipe book and old books of groups songs and games from the 40's and 50's.  Some things about the way that we spend time together seem to have stays the same.  And others (linoleum parties) seem to have changed.  Luckily, gingerbread is always delicious.

Monday, December 23, 2013

San Francisco Walks and Classical Revolution

When we awoke this morning there was a text awaiting us from my cousin inviting us to come upstairs for pancakes.  We headed to the main floor of her two-family San Franciscan home to find two energetic children, dog, cat, gardeners, cleaning women, my other very pregnant cousin, a plate of apples and pomelo, and a stack of blueberry and plain pancakes made with a 150-year-old San Franciscan sourdough starter.  We enjoyed the effervescent energy of many things happening all at once before taking a walk with her 10-year-old daughter to the Golden Gate Park while my cousin and her other daughter got hair cuts.  After a quick lunch in the kitchen and we all took a walk together to the Cole Valley area for some artisan ice cream (several vegan favors available, along with phosphates and sweet beer chocolate milkshakes), and then headed to the Sword and Rose, a tiny fringe shop in the neighborhood specializing in incense, oils, and crystals to welcome spirits for any need one might have in life.

After walking back to Miranda's home we rested for an hour before heading to the Mission District to play a concert at the Revolution Cafe for Classical Revolution.  The room became crowded as we played, the seats filling with people, the air filling with the smell of marajuana.  Oh San Francisco.  As the other musicians had yet to arrive, we ended up playing our entire program for the intimate gathering, competing with the sounds of the espresso machine, the car horns and alarms outside intermingling with the rhythm of Prokofiev.  At one point the voice of a man outside could be heard loudly pleading, "I need some rolling paper!  Does anyone have any rolling paper??"  After we played for a very attentive audience, a young woman came up to us, her eyes barely open and said, "Man you guys were sick together.  That was so freakin' awesome.  I mean like I can't even believe I just saw that with my own two eyes."  It was a little different from the appreciation of the people at the retirement home, but in a similar way it was good to feel connected and close to an audience.  I always feel so fortunate to be able to perform for people, in just about any place, any state or any walk of life.

We drove home atop and amidst the hills and valleys of San Francisco neighborhoods, viewing the sparkling night skyline from a street called,"Diamond Heights."  What a beautiful city.  So much to explore in all its little crevices.  I wonder if there could ever be an end to it.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

San Francisco

Up the 101 to San Francisco, through rolling brown hills, the solstice sun descending into the ocean.   In the cradle of Salinas, the Americana of Steinbeck emerged in the barren grape vines of the evening and the  stars of an early winter night.  We have arrived in San Francisco.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Concert and Culture

We had a concert today at San Diego State University in which we played a Beethoven sonata and sonatas by Prokofiev and Britten.  An African American Reverend whom Andrew knew through a friend came with some of his family who had just flown in from Baton Rouge.  After every piece he cheered with the full enthusiasm of one who has uplifted a community weekly for years.  I may hire him to attend all my future performances.  

After the concert we all dined together at D.Z. Akin's deli where I enjoyed latkes and others had matzo ball soup.  The waiters wore shirts that said, "oy veh," on them.  And then Andrew and I went downtown for a live production of the Nutcracker with a live orchestra, where people cheered out loud for the dancers, but got up quickly after a few minutes of applause, a different showing of appreciation from Japan.  We walked around the trendy parts of San Diego afterwards, watching people navigate in incredible high heels and imaginative holiday outfits.  So many ethnic restaurants, hip lighting at all the bars, the cool but pleasant air of San Diego welcome on our skin.  So many cultures here.

Tomorrow to San Francisco.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pre-Christmas in America

We played at a retirement home this afternoon for a room of green and red-clad elderly people, all very thankful and appreciative for our coming.  It is so nice to hear "Thank you, we really enjoyed your playing," spoken in a language and in a manner that I have known for years.  After our program we invited everyone to one to sing a few Christmas carols with us.  In sunny San Diego, two years away from my family during this December time, it felt good to spend this afternoon in the midst of their anticipation of the Christmas.

Later in the evening we joined some friends for dinner at a lesbian bar and restaurant, jay walking with the group through Don't Walk signs as one does in America.  It was funny to feel a bit of culture shock in my own country.  Or perhaps it is just the jet lag asking for an early bedtime.  Tomorrow, another concert.  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rainy Day in San Diego

It rained in San Diego today.  This is a city that rarely has anything but beautiful sunny weather year-round.  Andrew and I made an attempt to go to an Asian grocery but being in America, it wasn't meant to be.  We searched through the strip malls of San Diego's suburbs and found only a string of Asian restaurants and Trader Joe's.  But my love for miso and rice seasoning will not keep me long.  It is only persistence that is needed and we will return.

I'm growing closer to another family, growing closer to new music as we quickly put together this program to share with four different audiences.  That beautiful feeling of becoming comfortable with yet another way of being.  How many ways are there to live?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Lunch at a sushi restaurant has yielded definitive results: there is a remarkable difference in Japanese and American horseradish wasabi.  Good too know.  Something to more fully appreciate.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Talking in America

I have arrived in America the land of big salads and diverse social classes.  Everyone is different.  It was nearly impossible to distinguish between the "Visitors" and "Citizens" lines at airport immigration.  The overhead announcers always speak with an accent.  

The morning I left Japan, I pieced together a conversation in Japanese with an older gentleman while I waited for the bus.  He asked me where I was going and when I told him America, he then told me of a time when he went to Kentucky for 2 weeks for company work.  I shared with him that I had lived there and was from Cincinnati.  I was enjoying his presence and interest in speaking with me.  I was enjoying the relative lack of fear I had during the encounter, trying to work with the language, to understand and communicate with him.  

At one point he mentioned Japanese and American food.  I assumed he was comparing them and I said how delicious Japanese food was.  He seemed a little confused and then started mentioning tips and I realized that he hadn't been comparing the food but the dining experience.  I had guessed wrong in the fill-in-the-blank that foreign communication necessitates.  And yet it was ok.  He still wanted to help me with my luggage.  He still wanted to talk to me.  

And now I'm in America and talking is so easy to do with everyone.  Words are so cheap here.  And yet the patience I've had to learn in communication in Japan has slowed my speech, and words come to have a different value.  Right now, they are still worth a lot to me.  In Japan, it is possible to live without saying very much.  And even what I do say doesn't have to be correct, it just has to convey a certain meaning, be that of intention or will.  What words do we choose to use?  In what tone and with what intention do we use them?  How can we give them more value, even in our most familiar languages?  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Last Night in Japan

Tomorrow to America.  May everything be in its proper place.  Japan will stay in Japan.  America will await my airborne step.  I will cease to exist and then be reborn again.  How many lives do humans get?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Until Next Year, Wakuwaku

This was the last day of Wakuwaku.  Instrument demonstrations have been peaking all week and today was no exception.  Santa Baby, Mr.Grinch, and I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas from the bassoons, I Will Survive and Survivor in a brilliant medley from the violins, a fugue on the Nokia theme from the clarinets, Gangnam Style from the trombones, the persistent We Will Rock you from the tuba with an always changing middle section–sometimes a Christmas song, sometimes a quote of another section's presentation–and on and on.  Sometimes it's the music selection and sometimes it's the arrangement that's amusing.  It's one of the funnest things that we get to do and it's really picked up a notch this year.  The kids also seem to really enjoy it and it made me think that it would be a cool idea to do this sort of project for a normal orchestra concert in place of an overture.  A piece composed or arranged by the musicians of the orchestra, displaying their instrument.  It's such a fun way for the musicians of the orchestra to share themselves and their instrument.

After the second concert, a group of HPAC friends fled very quickly for a trip to South Korea where they will eat lots of delicious things and enjoy the magic of Seoul.  I've yet to go and will miss seeing them, but after hugging them farewell and wishing them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my thoughts are settling on the break before me.  The excitement of a routine about to be disturbed.  Wakuwaku, indeed.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Today was my last lesson with Fukunari-sensei until the next year.  It's been two weeks since I saw her and in the meantime I have studied less furiously and my Japanese has had a chance to decompress.  Somehow, this often makes me hear more, understand more, speak more.  But I know that without those study periods there would be nothing to decompress.  The ebb and flow and learning.

And in this decompression, as I'm hearing and understanding more, I could more completely understand what she was saying to me this evening.  Familiar words became sentences, and I was able to appreciate something that I don't think I had previously realized in her teaching:  her careful usage of  grammar from the last few lessons and of previous lessons that I have learned.  At one point in the evening she used grammar that I didn't understand and then took a moment to find it in the book, apologizing that it was something in the coming lessons.  She is so careful and considerate, always checking my face for honest comprehension, always explaining as needed.

I'm enjoying the emerging of understanding under her watch.  To listen to Japanese for an hour and feel the frustration of the past melt away, to be excited to practice conversations rather than anxious.  Reflecting on the path this has been and continues to be, I think I will have a resource of understanding for anyone who finds a difficulty in expression.  I know that there is more in me than I can say and it takes a lot of patience to allow it to come to fruition, though it never fully will.  Perhaps this is true of everyone.

I appreciate the culture of lessons because I think it is a space that encourages this expression.  There is an exchange between the teacher and student encouraging the pulling out of something that hasn't yet been realized.

And I'm grateful to be able to have such a wonderful example to carry with me in the future.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Japanese String Quartet

It is deeply satisfying to find a sympathetic curiosity and desire in others.  A group of Japanese musicians at HPAC is playing in a string quartet for the sake of playing in a string quartet and I get to be their cellist.  I feel so lucky.  We can just barely speak to one another, but our violist lived in America for two years and is able to translate when needed.  They have a fair amount of English, I have some Japanese and we're all interested in learning one another's languages.

Today they learned the English words for "secondary theme," "development," and, "recapitulation," and I learned their equivalents in Japanese.  We say measure numbers in either language, hands to show crescendos and diminuendos, voices to sing a phrase idea.  If they explain an idea in Japanese, I listen and try to understand as much as possible.  If I don't get enough, I say, "Wakaranai, " (I don't understand) and they try to explain it in English or our violist explains it to me.  If I speak in English and they don't understand, our violist translates or I try to explain in another way or use gestures.  It's a really fortunate opportunity to be practicing a language in this way.

It is also rewarding to reclaim ourselves in the midst orchestral playing where our voices contribute a relatively small portion and a conductor controls what we say.  It is a reminder that we can practice our art on our own terms, discover the beauty of a Haydn quartet, enjoy a piece unfolding itself as we listen and play it together.  It's a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ode to Bucho

HPAC is a governmental institution and it is hard for such an organization to take risks or try new things.  I can't possibly see through the language and organizational barriers that make things the way they are, I can only experience the barriers as they are expressed to us through a translator in a small meeting room.

I'm very grateful for all that our orchestra office does on our behalf, translating our artistic requests into practical concerns, carrying the matters of the 5th floor musicians down to the 4th floor where the financial and logistical decisions are made.  It must be a very difficult position in which to be and I think we're very lucky to have them.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Last Shodo and Last Kaneko-san of 2013

Somehow the hours in shodo class passed even more quickly this morning.  There is something very meditative about it.  It is so easy to fixate on the lines on the page, to try to mimic their curve and direction.  But somehow they come more easily when I invoke the breath of my teacher as I remember her making the examples.  I wonder how my learning would be different if we had the tool of language.    How much more would I know?  Is it the way?

Because I've had concerts the past two Sundays, this Monday became a Kaneko-san day.  Before meeting him, I worked on my homework and ate my lunch of left-over okonomiyaki while listening to Christmas songs in the sitting area near the grocery store.  Apparently it is a universal radio channel.  I wonder if most Japanese people know the words.  How would that change the way they feel about these songs and Christmas in general?

It was good to see Kaneko-san today.  "Do you know what 'asatte,' means?" he asked.  Yes, I said.  It's a very common word, one that we've probably used many times, meaning the day after tomorrow.  It was probably in the first 50, if not 100 words I learned.  He then drew a diagram of the words "ototoi,"(two days ago), "kinou," (yesterday), "kyo," (today), "ashita," (tomorrow), and "asatte," (the day after tomorrow), so that I would really understand.  I agree that it's pretty cool that the Japanese language has words for these things and it seems like it says something about the nature of the way time is felt.  We don't have that in English.  However, I was confused as to why he felt he needed to say it.

But then I realized that teachers are people, and sometimes we teach what we want to teach rather than what needs to be learned.  It was a lesson for me to feel the pinch of frustration in this moment, to release it, and to be able to move on, to listen to him explain something that is seemingly redundant and unnecessary, but to see what more could be learned from his explanation.  As a teacher I was happy to notice it, that in the future I can try to understand what it is that my students need and whether I am guiding them towards it.  I appreciate Kaneko-san's thoroughness in all these matters.  It is a far better thing than to be left with doubt in my abilities to keep trying.  He always praises my essays, even though I can't imagine how confusing they must be to him.  When I think of the past things I've written, my experiments with grammar, I am very very thankful for his unending kindness and patience.

And now it is only a week away until I get on a plane to California.  These were my last shodo class and my last Kaneko-san of 2013.  One of the many reasons to look forward to 2014.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Concert at the Yoko Tadanori Contemporary Art Museum

We played Haydn's Sunrise Quartet and Ravel's String Quartet at the Yoko Tadanori Contemporary Museum of Art in Kobe today.  After they served us salad and pasta in our dressing room I decided to take a quick walk through the exhibit.  It was so refreshing to look at art again.  I'd forgotten how wonderful it is the let the mind rest in the eyes.

We played our concert in the lobby.  Performing takes practice and this was our first time doing it together.  I would love to keep working with the group, to continue to add to the trust and sensitivity that we have already so quickly established.  I think chamber music in particular has a way of connecting performers that work together over time.  I'm very grateful to the HPAC office for agreeing to add more chamber music concerts at this museum and other venues, to be working with us to augment and enhance our musical experience at HPAC through chamber music.  And I'm very grateful to the other three members of the group that bravely (and crazily) agreed to learn these two difficult pieces in only a week.  The endeavors of living.

While this is self-descriptive, it also happens to be the name of the exhibit.
Bernice, Janis, me, and Keita
(Thanks to Maeda-san for the picture)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Quartet and Okonomiyaki

Ravel in the morning, Haydn in the afternoon, divided by an okonomiyaki lunch.  A day of music making in Japan.  Sugoi.

Keita, our violist, sharing his cooking skills.  
He made some delicious okonomiyaki.   
Bernice sharing her extra seaweed flakes with me.  

In addition to cooking well, Keita also has the ability to eat a lot.
We were all impressed.  

Janis is taking the picture.   (Thanks Janis!)

Friday, December 6, 2013


There is a lot of time in the world.  The Japanese care and courtesy seem to breathe it.  To believe that there is time is an act of patience, and so much more is possible with patience.

Today I returned home and reached to open my mailbox only to discover that the metal door wouldn't open as it usually does.  The hole where one can put a lock had been plugged by a small twig exactly the proper diameter to fit.  It had three little buds on it, like a trident.

Who put it there?  Perhaps someone concerned about the opening and closing of my box in the wind.  Perhaps the mailman who crammed my hot water bottle delivery inside.  Someone had the care to care for my mailbox.

It's nice to live in a place that takes care of itself in such a way.  It invites like behavior.  Taking time to make things better, having the patience to do things properly.

I hope I can remember this patience and courtesy throughout life.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Thought of Abe

Today a friend of mine told me that one of her foreign friends living in Japan might have the opportunity to meet and even assist with an interview with Shinzo Abe.  The mind boggles.  What would you ask Shinzo Abe?

As a non-Japanese person, Shinzo Abe looms large in the daily news, but isn't really a part of my consequential reality.  What would it mean to me to meet him?  He is a likely quite a historical figure for what he is doing in Japan, but I feel I only know half the story.  I suppose I could pretend to be more fully informed by asking about the subsidies given to farmers, the tariffs imposed on foreign rice, how the government will appeal to ani-nuclear energy activists in wake of Fukushima, or how they will find an affordable source of renewable energy in Japan.  I could lead him on a conjecture of the intentions of China or North Korea or maybe I could ask why those little islands are so important.  I could press him on the rewriting of Japanese history books, and the new trend towards nationalistic pride in Japan.  For all of these questions I would be left a deer in headlights, the sounds of politics and economics in Japanese blowing past my comprehension.  It would be best to stick with something manageable.  To learn as the Japanese have taught, to follow their gentle example, to ask questions that have been asked to me.  If such were the case, I would likely only be able to ask him if he liked Japan and what was his favorite food.

It's a funny thing to be an outsider.  Sometimes it feels like I'm living in a movie or an amusement park. Everything is so real, but is it really?  How connected am I to these concerns, in what ways do they effect me while I live here and in what ways will they effect me when I leave?  Rice prices will rise, rice prices will fall, one country will offend another, the environment will require stewardship.  These issues will always exist, they will always rest in someone's hands.   In some ways, the simple questions, the ones that are often asked of me, may be the most important.

Are you happy here?  Are you eating well?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Life Forces

The first recurrence of Wakuwaku is upon us with a new conductor to lead us in the quest to fill young hearts with the joy and excitement of music.  It's amazing how much a different conductor and a few different players in the orchestra can effect the sound and message of the music.  I wonder if I could ever get tired of observing different energies on the podium, how different bodies and gestures and words create different outcomes.   There seems to be no end to the possibilities and it's an inspiring reminder for the importance of each person to find their own personal expression and share it with the world.  What more can we learn about this music that we had never heard before?  What more can we learn about one another and the world by our shared presence?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What We Need

What is it that we need and how do we come by it?

Things are different here than in America.  Sometimes, when friends in America ask questions about Japan, they don't realize the freedoms to which they have become accustomed.  The ability to read and write, the ability to speak with anyone around you, the ability to join a community group or even create one.  They don't realize the comfort of being in a familiar space.  They have forgotten the years of learning acceptable behavior through awkward trial and error.  They don't recognize the privilege of adulthood to begin to make your own rules after the natural hazing of growing up.

I think I'm about 3 years old in Japan.  I can walk and want things and I've learned a bit about the world, but I could not survive without help.  But I once could, and sometimes that is frustrating.  It requires a relinquishing to give up certain rights and abilities that I once had.  I think it is a practice for the things that time will naturally and inevitably take from me one day.  Acceptance.

And in this new world, sometimes needs and their solutions transform into something different.  The need to read and write becomes the need to ask for help, the need to buy something at the store becomes the need to put aside pride.  The need to communicate with people becomes the need to find goodwill from a deeper place than words.

What is it that we need?  Sometimes it is something other than we thought.  Sometimes its answer must come from a different place.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Something Old, Something New

Shodo this morning.  Something so new, but slowly, without my noticing, the hours are accruing.  I can see the lines, they are coming into view.

Quartet rehearsal this evening.  Another two hours added to the thousands I've spent.   An old glove and one that I only grow more fond of wearing.

Dinner with friends.  The hours fresh and familiar all at once.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Day of Many

Today was the concert for Beethoven's 9th Symphony with 10,000 singers.  After our morning rehearsal we had about 4 hours to wait until it was time to play the performance so we went for a walk.  I think in 50 years I will have dreams about things that happened today and wonder from where they possibly came.

the doors to the hall (stadium) entrance
man with falcon outside Osaka-Jo Hall

first Santa spotting

a stop at Mister Donut in a shopping center which was having a Peanuts special

a dog cafe
(two people sitting with dogs and a small pile of sleeping dogs in the mid-upper right)

worker in the dog cafe displaying the tempting ball of fuzz to us

We then changed trajectory and headed into the beautiful Osaka park on this perfect weather day.  And there, a Santa race.

running Japanese Santas

Christy getting ready.....

The High Five game has become a favorite game of Christy's.  It seems that "high fives" are not very popular here, so this game largely consisted of Christy running towards running Japanese Santas with a raised hand and them dodging her.  A few of them very enthusiastically got it.  

and there were wooden flute and ocarina players playing Moon of the Ruined Castle and songs from Japanese anime

more running Santas

a Santa family

man with a Santa dog

Santas waiting to get their pictures at Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle in the fall

Santas with Osaka Castle in the fall

Lots of Santas!!!

Some with high heel boots, cat ears, and tails
I took so many Santa pictures.  When would the novelty wear off?

And then we played a concert where thousands of Santas were replaced by thousands of singers.  Nakama Yukie, an (apparently) incredibly famous singer and actress in Japan glowed gracefully in a white dress and single spotlight and read something before we played the symphony.  The lights came up and we began.

We played Auld Lang Syne for the encore while they showed pictures of the choirs' rehearsal process on the jumbotron.  Every singer had a glow stick, which they ebbed back and forth in the dark.  The lights came up and I got to see 10,000 pairs of hands clapping, a wave of sound.  I just stared at the audience, the choir, everyone applauding for each other, we for them and them for us.  I wondered when the novelty would wear off.

Sado-san and lots of other people involved in the production came onstage multiple times for a bow.  At one point the heel of Sado-san's shoe came off and I picked it up as I exited the stage.  Finally, I'd found him, my Cinderella!  (Actually I just returned it to the security outside his dressing room.)

And then there was a party!

Ani starting off the line

Christy got three of the bassoonists (top three), a bass player (bottom left),
one of the office staff, Yamauchi-san (bottom middle),
and our stage manager, Frank (bottom right) to make a pyramid
One day I will dream of falcons, dog cafes and donuts, thousands of Santas, thousands of glows sticks, thousands of pairs of hands clapping.  Lost shoes in Japan, people pyramids in party rooms, and the sound of a thousand voices.  It is still a novelty for me.  I've yet to be filled completely.