Sunday, October 4, 2009

しょぶ 園 Shobu Flower Gardens summer 2008

This is a beautiful Iris Garden Park (しょぶ 園) near Yokosuka; I visited this Park several times during the summer 0f 2008 and enjoyed every moment.

During one such visit, while walking toward the Park, up a hill and through the residential area, I noticed a man grooming his bonsai trees inside his garage (the garage door was open). He must have had 50 bonsai trees - some very old and valuable - they were all sculpted and pruned immaculately.

I approached him and expressed my appreciation for his care of these small trees. He said that this was his hobby - I thought he was a professional, but as often is true, the hobbiest had a true appreciation for his passion.

Afterwards, I proceeded to the Park, crossing a moat filled with koi. The Iris gardens within the Park were expansive as you will see in the pictures below.

Garden Park Entrance

Iris fields:

The Park is open from 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
Admission Adults 300 yen Children 100 yen

Keihin → Shioiri Station by bus
Get off at middle school 15 minutes walk from Ikegami →

If by car
→ Yokohama Yokosuka Yokosuka road interface
5 minutes



Saturday, October 3, 2009

Kinchakuda Park in Hidaka City, Japan 9/27/2008

The Park is partially encircled by the Komagawa River. I took these photos while visiting on 27 September 2008. Kinchakuda Park in Hidaka City, Japan has very beautiful Cosmos and Cluster Amarylis flowers.

For High Resolution video,
1. Play the video below;
2. Click on "YouTube" in the lower right corner of video THEN the video will then appear in high quality and will be CRYSTAL CLEAR AND BIGGER.

CLICK ON "YouTube" for High Res Video.


Cosmos Field

Kinchakuda Park Garden

Cosmos Field

Cluster Amaryllis

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kabuki-za and Japanese National Theatre (February 2009)

I returned to Japan for 2 months in Jan - March 2009 and it was my great pleasure to do so. I have a few pictures to share, all involving traditional Japanese cultural arts. Performances I attended, dance and music, were with my dear Japanese friends.

The Tokyo Japanese National Theatre dance performances were spectacular and lasted for over 6 hours. Each performance included a single dancer accompanied by four or five shamisen musicians. After the performances, my shamisen sensei and her friends and I enjoyed visiting at a nearby cafe. Then we puzzled our way through the interconnecting train routes to return to Yokohama and beyond.

Although no pictures could be taken of the performances, I did get one cool shot of this exhibit in the National Theatre lobby. One dancer was dressed exactly like this statue, although most dancers were beautiful Japanese ladies dressed in nearly equally beautiful gowns.

The Kabuki-za theatre, located in Ginza Tokyo, is the most fameous in all of Japan. Unfortunately this great theatre is scheduled for demolition soon and will be replaced by a high rise office building.

I attended one of the most fameous plays here in February with my koto sensei and friend Kodama san.

I am posing near one of the many art masterpieces in the lobby of Kabuki-za.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sankieien Garden Concert

Tuesday was a special day in Sankieien Gardens, Yokohama as this day the community was invited to view the harvest moon. The special event on this night was a concert featuring koto, as played by Hiroko Kodama (my koto instructor) and shakuhachi, as played by Shunzan Shitara.

Imagine sitting within a beautiful Japanese garden, watching the moon rise over a temple spire, and listening to traditional Japanese music, performed outdoors by masters of the art; it was awesome.

Pictures and a 10 minute video follow. Click on pictures for LARGE picture.







HARVEST MOON CONCERT VIDEO(Youtube Video 10 minutes)

Night time Garden Scene

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Shrine To Sea

Today, on another tip from my friend, I became part of the Enoshima "Shrine to Sea" festival. Getting off at the Enoshima train station, I hunted for the festival and, after not finding it, gave up and visited the main Enoshima temple.

While visiting the vast temple complex, which was up a hill and far above the street level, I began to hear the pounding, rythmic sounds, of Japanese drums - I found the festival!

Quickly I descended from the temple and joined the happy frenzy marching through the main street. Immersed in the crowd, I slowly walked behind the shrines(two shrines), as did others, listening to the chanting, the flutes, drums, shimisans, and all other joyous celebration.

Two hours later we arrived near the beach, having paraded for nearly two hours in the unforgiving hot sun. These were moments never to be forgotten. Please see the Youtube video I humbly took of the festival - it only captures a few moments, but they are worth watching.

Click on pictures for LARGER IMAGES.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Koto Concert

Having recently become a student of the ancient Japanese musical instrument called "Koto", I was invited by sensei Hiroko Kodama san to perform in the Yokohama 150th anniversary of the opening of the Port.

Joining six of Hiroko-sans other students in Yokohama's Skip Plaza, we played "Red Shoes", a traditional song of Yokohama. Following our song, we were excused, and the concert transformed into a masterful performance of both traditional and cutting edge music played by true artists: Sensei Kodama-san (Koto), Yutaka Handa-san (flute and soprano sax player), and a drummer playing a special Japanese drum (it makes a popping sound).

When Yutaka began playing a free jazz improvisation accompanied only by the koto, I knew another special moment, never to again occur, was then being created. When he took off the sax mouthpiece and began playing only the mouthpiece, the music went way outside anything I had ever experienced. As his improvisation began to close, it masterfully transitioned back into a traditional Japanese piece.

Most of these special moments will never be captured in a blog, and they certainly aren't captured here since I was more interested in the experience than in trying to record it. Again, my special Japanese friends were the real reason this event became beyond remarkable.

Please see the photos and video below for the few moments I did capture.

Sensai Kodama-san Preparing Koto

Paul Playing Koto (Rehearsing)

Star Quick-Study Koto Player

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mt Myojingatake5/17

Great mountain.
Great hike.
It was warm.
I was drenched in rain showers.
My cell phone battery was dead at the mountain's summit.
I was dry and muddy at end of hike.
Took the 2 plus hour train rides back looking like a vagabond but feeling great.
Somehow managed to get a sunburn (not too bad).
Hiked from Sengoku, over mountain, to Daiyuzan.

Please see pictures below - click on picture for large image.

Trailside Mountain Flower

Sengaku Temple Garden

View From Myojingatake