Kanazawa to Fukui

After quickly packing my things and rushing to the lobby I had to figure out a way to contact Kurumaya sensei, who had already been waiting for me at Fukui station for more than half an hour. Because my UK phone company had told me that I couldn’t make any phone calls in Japan, I tried to call Kurumaya sensei from reception, but the receptionist apparently entered the wrong number. It took me a while until I understood that I wasn’t speaking to Kurumaya sensei at all but some random local person. Poor man – I don’t think he spoke any English and my Japanese is atrocious at the best of times (incomprehensible otherwise). As it turns out I can call mobile numbers here after all, so 1 minute later (and £4 the poorer) a haphazard mashup of English and Japanese on both sides worked to let Kurumaya sensei know what had happened. Continue reading →

Malta to Kanazawa

My plan was to start lessons with Kaki sensei in Chichibu as soon as possible. However, Kurumaya sensei (Neil and Miyuki’s teacher, hence my ‘grand-teacher’) invited me to perform in his concert on 21 July in the Fukui Newspaper Wind Forest Hall (福井新聞風森ホール). That’s an big honour of course, but the question arose: what about rehearsing?

So there were some hectic and lengthy phone calls from the breakfast table in Malta to Kurumaya sensei. Luckily Miyuki was there and – as always! – offered her tireless help in coming up with a workable plan. In the end, I had to be in Fukui on 6 to 9 July for rehearsals, go to Chichibu after that and return on the 19th for the concert. Continue reading →

Malta Internatinal Arts Festival (2/2)

To answer some important questions first:

  • No, I didn’t eat a rabbit burger, I was too busy eating delicious Maltese/Italian pizza before living mostly off rice and fish for the next months.
  • Yes, there are many stray cats on Malta, very skilled at relaxing and getting food of tourists (especially Fi).
  • Yes, Malta is very busy and the buses are often overcrowded.
  • Yes, in the times of the looming gloomy Brexit it was nice to see so many EU flags everywhere. (Malta, the smallest EU member state, just finished its EU presidency at the end of June.)
  • Yes, the view from the hotel room was spectacular.

Malta Hotel View.jpg

Continue reading →

Malta International Arts Festival (1/2)

Rather than going to Japan directly, I went to Malta first to play a concert with Mugenkyo at the International Malta Arts Festival. We were booked to play a full concert, so had to take a lot of equipment. Unsurprisingly, the most difficult challenge to playing taiko abroad, in particular as we are based on an island, is transporting the drums. After plans to take the van turned out to be unrealistic, because of the distance and the number of ferries needed, the decision was to optimise the amount of equipment and fly – not an easy task for a full show.

While it is still quite straightforward to take nagados as checked luggage, transporting an odaiko on a plane is nearly impossible, not so much because of the size but because of the standard maximum weight of 32kg. So, for the concert in Malta, taiko maker Dave Samuels from Arran modified one of our existing odaiko to make it fit for purpose. Which means: we now have an odaiko for going abroad!

Malta equipment.jpg Continue reading →