Sunday, May 09, 2010

Spring Fever

Fukui and Kanazawa, Golden Week 2010

It's been one great happening after the next this Spring. Instead of writing a long entry for each happening, I'm just going to smoosh it all together into one... because I am "namakemono" (lazy). At long last, the Loyal We celebrated the release of our album "Homes." We played our hearts out after a 6 month hiatus. 3 shows, 2 of them as part of Momoko Ando's beautiful film "Kakera" which I'm proud we could be a part of (our song "Box is a Rocket" is in the movie) We had our cd release party on May 2nd at Tsukimiru Kimi Omou in Aoyama. There is a lovely big moon that hangs over the stage, making it seem like endless nighttime indoors. Meanwhile, the sun was shining brightly outside. Our friend and producer of the album, Allon, opened the show with sitar and bright pop songs with satirical lyrics. Lindsay popped into Japan for a week and, in between rehearsals, sound checks, and shows, we revisited some of her favorite hot spots and introduced her to a new one (pun intended.. we went to Chofu's Yukari onsen) After that exciting whirlwind, I headed down by night bus to Fukui with Makoto and Ian and visited the Tada family during Golden Week. Aki, my roommate from last year and very good friend, has invited us to his childhood home several times previously and we've always been unable to go. I'm happy we could finally meet his family and see where he came from. The Tada's gave us the royal treatment. The first night, we were treated to a barbecue feast, Japanese style. We drank premium sake, ate until we couldn't move, and then were dragged out of our chairs into the streets to set off fireworks with Aki's nephew and nieces. The children particularly liked Makoto and kept calling him "Hitsuji-san" (sheep man), a play on words.. his last name is "Tsuji." I never knew he was so good with kids! We all became kids again as we ran through the dark streets playing man hunt. During the daylight hours, we visited some of Fukui's famous sights... Eiheiji Temple(where we found a neat little antique shop and I bought a wooden box over a century old), the cliffs of Tojimbo (where we climbed up and down rocks like little ants, ate squid ice cream, and saw the famous phone booth where would-be suicides can call for help), Echizen, and Fukui-jo, Fukui's castle. We got there a bit late but we could enjoy the surrounding scenery and a nice view of town. Aki's family treated us to another wonderful dinner at a local izakaiya on the second night. Again, I found myself in a food coma, and the boys got quite drunk on several rounds of sake. In the morning, Aki's mother, Keiko-san, outdid herself with an incredible breakfast of sashimi, miso, fresh veggies and pickles, rotten beans "natto" (which I actually enjoyed very much) and rice. We were invited to come back any time, "even without Aki." hah! We said goodbye to Aki and his family and headed off to Kanazawa for a few hours before returning to Tokyo. In Kanazawa, we saw the geisha district (but no geisha sadly) and I admired the architecture of the old tea-houses. We sipped tea and ate sweets at one tea house while looking out into the garden. I got a few ideas for my "future house"... I hope to make it a reality some day when I'm rich and famous. Kanazawa reminded me a bit of Kyoto on a smaller scale. The day seemed charmed as everything we set out to do was managed with perfect timing yet no planning. Finally, we took the train home.. we were very lucky that Makoto had the foresight to book our return tickets ahead of time.. most passengers had to stand for the long ride home.

This year, May seems more fragrant then I remember. The scent of lilacs often finds its way into my apartment at night and I feel "natsukashi" (nostalgic) for Japan even while I'm still here. It makes me sad to think another "sayonara" is just around the corner.