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.
For this trip, these constant last minute plan changes are at least this: a constant. It’s not all bad though, because I had to book might flight quite late, and at that time Emirates offered the cheapest flight, which is always nice, including the stop in Dubai Airport. Even better, I had a whole row of seats to myself!
I arrived at Narita airport only at 6 pm, so there was not enough time to go all the way to Fukui. Instead I spent my first night in the Kanazawa Central Hotel. (Kurumaya sensei’s favourite hotel in Fukui for visitors is the Fukui Central Hotel – coincidence or providence?) It also meant my first journey in the new Hokkuriku shinkansen, meaning: legroom!
For some reason, when I go to Japan, I’m always booking the first hotel for the wrong day. Last time a day too early, this time a day too late. Although the friendly receptionist was confused at first, a phone call to his superior later I had a room, and it was no problem at all. He even spoke some German – a rare occurrence in Japan.
I don’t like being late. And I thought: ‘Japan will be great, people are so punctual!’ I was to meet Kurumaya sensei at 9:44. I woke up at 10:10, heavily jet-lagged sleeping through two alarm clocks. Checkout was at 10. Of course I missed (the already paid for) breakfast. And of course I got a phone call from reception at 10:21, reminding me of the time. So … my start in Japan could have been smoother.
To be continued …