Category Archives: Japan

Kodo Delivers Superb Concert Again

Yumi and I went to the Kodo concert in Vancouver this evening. We’ve seen them several times, and this show was another fantastic event.

While they used to focus on the sheer stamina and physicality of extreme, marathon taiko drumming, this tour is more nuanced with more story-telling.

It worked well. Close enough to their ripped roots to satisfy hard-core fans, and different enough to demonstrate that they are not creatively stagnating.

Also a bit more humor, which is fun.

Good show!

Celebrating New Year Japanese Style in Burnaby, BC

I love celebrating New Year Japanese style.

We tape the entire Kohaku Red (Women) vs White (Men) NHK song extravaganza to our PVR, and watch it at our leisure over the course of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It’s always a bit over the top, a tish maudlin, and with few actually gripping or moving performances, but it’s a fun way to stay somewhat in touch with contemporary Japanese music and culture.

The food is great. Sushi, sashimi, chawan mushi, and a couple of bottles of choice nihonshu (sake) shared with friends.

Ringing the temple bell at midnight at Tozenji in nearby Coquitlam is always fun, too. Out with the old, in with the new.

Returning home at a crazy hour and cooking and eating toshi koshi soba for long life and prosperity.

Here’s Yumi’s Japanese-Canadian fusion tableau in our foyer:

New_Year_Tableau_2014

Love the ‘Before and After’ Show from Japanese TV

I enjoy the “Before and After” show on TV Japan. Yes, it’s a home renovation show, but with Japanese construction, architecture, and interior design.

Often the show is about some 50- or 75- or even 100-year-old house, with a lone grandmother living there. The architects do amazing jobs of refurbishing these old homes, and a common theme is preserving as much of the past as possible while incorporating as many modern amenities as budgets permit.

Much of what is torn down is reused, and often in emotionally powerful ways. Japanese construction features extensive use of beautiful wood, much of which can be reused or re-cut.

The architects also honor the departed. For example, items from a late grandfather’s workshop may be incorporated into the modern decor.

A favorite rock in the garden takes a new place of honor in the restyled greenery.

Was a deceased family member an avid ink painter or photographer? A favorite piece may be used as a template for a much larger decorative feature.

Perhaps the house used to be fronted by the owner’s business — a sushi counter or noodle shop — and elements of such are maintained and used in creative ways.

And since these houses are often being improved for elderly persons, many shows depict creative solutions to barrier-free issues.

Japanese homes tend to be smaller than North American ones, so often unique space-saving solutions are thought up.

It all adds up to compelling story-telling that educates and warms the heart.

Lauren Was Before My Time, But She Evokes Memories in My Life

Lauren and Boggie. That’s what most of us remember. But recollections of them together are framed by where we saw them on the big screen. And that brings back memories. . .

I think the first place I saw this movie aside from small-screen TV may have been an old theater In Takadanobaba, Tokyo.

Back in the 1980s Takadanobaba was a haven for students, local and foreign. Cheap dorms, cheap cafes, cheap bars and a dingy, cheap movie theater that ran amazing series of foreign films. The theater is likely long gone by now.

Oh, gosh, my mind is tickling at the answer, but it’s not quite there.

“Waseda Shochiku”? Something like that. Anyway…

I’d walk by the theater every few weeks and sign up for series of Bunuel and other Euro masters. Saw a lot of stuff in many languages that I didn’t understand, but the lighting, the photography, the acting remains in my mind to this day.

it was a perfect place to watch Sam play it again.

Hot damn, a Google search says it’s still alive? Hard to comprehend, but wonderful.