Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Day 52/365: It has arrived...

...and sounds proper

So today was the day. The bass clarinet arrived. Actually, it arrived last week, while I was out of Tokyo on a work trip, just as I expected it would. And then the shop closed for five days...

So today was the first chance I had to go and collect it.

There is a question for all expats I suppose, just how much are you willing to get involved in local communities, local activities outside your work sphere, particularly when there is a limit on your time in country. I suppose when it comes to community, I practice what I teach and try to get involved. And as you will know, dear reader, music is pretty important to me. One of the hardest things about leaving Brisbane was taking leave from my bands...

I sold up all my instruments before I left, the thought of them sitting idle for five years was a bit hard, and not right for them either. I expected at some time to get involved in another group here in Tokyo at some time. And as you might recall that happened last December, not long after I ordered the new clarinet, which turned out it was going to take three months to get here...

Here's a few unpacking pics. 

One of those annoying people with a big case on the subway

Here we go...




Big shiny bell

Altogether now

All the keys

That bell

Top down
And notwithstanding we've had one small concert already, now I can turn up with my own instrument, purchased, practiced and, with a little more work, ready to go. I mean, it is ready to go, it is in fine just needs a little breaking in, I need to get used to it and it to me. 

We're in for a fine time and it is nice to have something to do outside the usual (long) work hours. 

[Camera : iPhone6s, 2.32pm, 4.59pm, Canon EOS M5, 4.14pm-4.44pm; 21 February 2018] 

Day 51/365: the anticipation is...


Back to the office, but I took a different track today. I have two options for getting to work, depending on which bus I take. They go in opposite directions but I get to my target station with about ten minutes difference. So when this morning's bus driver didn't wait even though I reached the bus itself, even if not as far as the front door, I figured it was an opportunity to go in the other direction. 

And why not. The blossoms are blossoming on the other side of the road...

Bloomin' marvellous really

Why are we waaaiiitting?

...and like me, the pigeon had to wait a couple of trains before the right one came along. A slight disadvantage in taking this alternate route. But it was OK, today was just marking time before tomorrow...the anticipation is agonising. As I tweeted today, almost as agonising as the three month wait for my PhD reports to come though...what's tomorrow you ask? Just something I've been waiting for for three months. What is it you ask? ...

...tune in tomorrow. 

[Camera : iPhone 6s, 12.40pm, 1.19pm; 20 February 2018] 

Day 50/365: Back in the office...

...the work continues

The only difference is that the corridors are rather empty. I have a few articles to plan, conference papers to submit, a commentary or two due to complete. Oh, and a couple of responses to student appeals on their grades...follow the simple instructions, you'll get the marks you believe you deserve. I have to say, I never had the courage to question any grades I received, even when the didn't add up to what I expected. I always just put it down to poor performances in exams. (Turns out, I found out much later, I should have queried some but that time is long past...) I did ask how I could improve my work, but that was never in a challenging way. 

Ah, the young people. 

So work continued, the scenes outside continued but at least I got to put my newly acquired cup and mug to good use. 

Sky art

Yellow tugger, keeps on going

Coffee tastes different in a new mug

Beer is better in pottery

A good test run for many a beverage to come I suspect. 

[Camera : iPhone 6s, 12.17pm, 6.17pm, 10.12pm; Canon EOS M5, 2.17pm; 19 February 2018] 

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Day 49/365: Off to Little Edo...

...down the track

Yesterday I went down the track one way, heading towards the city. Today, I stepped onto the other platform and headed 'up country' to Kawagoe, known as 'Little Edo' or 'Little Kyoto' for having kept its charm and appearances from another era. All the old-style buildings still stand and offer a range of products. The township is famous traditionally for its sweets and cakes and more recently its local beer, Coedo. (I strongly recommend the black porter from previous trips; I'll be trying the newer pilsener soon.)

Naturally it is a spot for a bit of photography as well as eating, drinking and finding just the right little trinket or similar. 


Stained glass detail

Old-style shops

Western modernism influence

All the things

The bell tower

The bell tower on closer inspection

A soy sauce soft ice cream, yes, soy sauce

The sign leading to the street where you'll see the bell tower

Late lunch, early dinner : tonkatsu with Coedo porter

Old and new


The soy sauce window

New with the old


Puppet on a string, or a nail



Hello Kitty a la Kawagoe via Edo

The Chamber of Commerce

Off the main street


Famous sweets and trinkets

Lots people visit here these days. It is not the first time I've been here but certainly the tourist aspect has ramped up over the years. That's good and bad, I guess. Mostly good I suppose. 

Good day trip, just thirty minutes in the opposite direction. 

[Camera : Canon EOS M5, 2.57pm-3.05pm, 3.23pm-4.32pm, iPhone6s, 3.12pm, 3.46pm; 18 February 2018] 

Day 48/365: Waza 2018...

...and the traditions

You might recall from last week, dear reader, that I headed down the track to check out the annual traditional arts and crafts exhibition at the local department store. Artisans from all over come together to show off their wares as well as show off their skills as they do their arting and crafting on-the-spot. 

You get to speak to the artists, they tell you little stories about their pieces, and you promise yourself all over again to go off to different prefectures around the country looking at arts and crafts...

'waza' is the word used to describe their skills and artistry. 

Camellia-inspired pottery

With a special purple glaze...

...which is 'top secret'

A pen rest, but purchased for the musical note

No lacquer pendants from Toyama this year, but this bottle and can opener should be handy

All the arts and crafts

...and you spend money. Of course. This is the primary purpose of the exercise. One of the exhibitors remembered me from last year and we had a bit of a chat and I promised, again, I would visit her in Toyama one day. 

I now have some nice drinking vessels. They always come in handy.

[Camera : Canon EOS M5, 4.25pm-5.23pm; 17 February 2018] 

Friday, 16 February 2018

Day 47/365: And so it begins...

...there's always another bus

There is still a chill in the air, but the plum blossoms are starting to emerge. Everywhere. And the blossoms at the park near the bus stop warranted closer investigation. 

I was due to get to work, but the one small luxury we have when there are no classes and no meetings is that those late nights spent marking can be recovered just a little with a delayed start on another day. Bit like a bank really, build up a little savings for a rainy day. 

Rich red


The cherry awaits

Lighter plums



All in a line



All the shades

Buds v petals

Sliding into it

And although it wasn't raining, it was a little overcast for the pics. I took a little while longer than I expected, I might have missed a bus (or two) but there's always another bus and these blossoms won't be around for that long.

I got to work. I worked. So begins the rigours of the non-teaching time. 

[Camera : Canon EOS M5, 12.24pm-12.31pm; 16 February 2018]