Liou's quiet little life...or is it?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hiroki's concert


(left to right: Takako, former secretary at Asahi Kasei, Hiroki, colleague as well as Marco, me!)

Today, one of my colleagues, Hiroki, gave a concert in a small venue in downtown Toyko together with a set of singers brought together for this occasion. It consisted of songs of various musicals, such as "Les Miserables", "Rent" and also Disney movies. It was very enjoyable, despite my initial prejudices against the musical genre. I actually discussed this with Maarten when he was in Japan. In the Netherlands, musical is considered a commercial product, devoid of any artistic content. Whereas in the UK, London especially, musicals are popular amongst everybody and from what I understand offer a vast amount of topics and range in "intellectual level".


So, I was pleasantly surprised by the voices of the singers - give or take a strong japanese pronunciation of english ;) And although musicals still remain a commercial commodity, this holds true for so many cultural things, not the least cinema for example! So I might give up my elitist view and watch one in London one day!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Update


Haven't been writing for a while, so here is a badly needed update about my life in Japan. The coolest thing so far is that my best friend Maarten (you might now him of some of my pictures) came to visit me for 2 weeks. Although I had to work during the day, we managed to eat and drink a couple of beers afterwards and visit Tokyo and do some other stuff during the weekend.

Most importantly we climbed Mount Fuji (or Fuji-san, not the Fujiyama, this is a wrong term only used by foreigners - according to Tadahiro-san, Fujiyama was the original name, this was changed to Fujisan by a new intellectual group, but the original name persisted outside Japan) Japanese say that this is a thing you should do once, but not twice, and I completely agree with them, as it is a rewarding yet tiresome experience.


Actually, the group consisted of four persons, as next to my friend Maarten, came another Maarten (!) , who I visited earlier in May during my trip in Hokkaido, and his Dutch girlfriend (Sietke) who had come to visit him. We just went ahead of the tourist season, starting July 15, and started at a less popular stop. Actually, you don't start from the very bottom, as that would take too much time, or you would have to rest one night in an inn. Instead, we took a train and taxi and arrived at the 5th station (out of 10) around 21.30. Then started the climb, tougher than I expected. As we went higher the temperature dropped, and while you are walking you don't feel this, but the minute you stop your sweat turns ice-cold. Actually, we went too fast, and as we didn't want to wait on top of the mountain for the sunrise, we waited outside of the wind for about an hour. Since we started the climb in a less touristy spot, we only met about 30 or 40 people. But when we arrived at the point where multiple paths converge, the amount of people basically led to a jam, and we spend at least 1,5 hours to get to the top even though it was a smal distance.


Just when we arrived the sun rose, at least that's what we guess, as it was so cloudy that it was impossible to see when the sun exactly appeared. But the cheering and applause of our fellow japanese climbers was as good a signal as any! The climb down was much tougher than up, or at least in a different way. The road was just volcano stone's gravel and our feet would dig in at least 10 cm or more everytime we walked. I guess having climbed for about 6 hours had made us tired already of course! Finally, we arrived at the same station we started from, and the owner of the local shop offered every climber some mushroom soup, green tea and a piece of chocolate. This was very thoughtful and certainly appreciated! Called a cab and after 2 or 3 hours we were back home taking a rest.



Apart from this memorable experience, I managed to see kabuki theatre for a second time with Maarten, eat wonderful sushi at the Tsukiji fish market just next to it, go to a local rock jam in Atsugi, visit my friend from the Vladivostok-Japan boat and visit a wasabi farm with the three of us, amongst many things. But I guess the best thing was that Maarten could come here and now have a good understanding of my life here.