2010.11.10: Okazaki Jazz Street + Obara
This post spans a week of pictures, bringing me back up to date. Some fairly significant things happened -- I turned 28, I made quite a few new friends, I met up with some old ones, I acquired a bicycle for use in Okazaki, and I did some more Aichi sightseeing. Let's get to it!
The Okazaki Jazz Street opening dinner show, a fairly exclusive event featuring some of the headlining performers the night before the festival actually began. Nao-san was kind enough to reserve two tickets for me and a friend. The music was great, the venue intimate, and the sake local, delicious, and free -- although the meal was a high-grade bento, which means everything was served pre-prepared and cold. I'm not sure I'll ever get used to eating fried breaded pork cutlet cold. We sat at a table with Taeko-san and some of her friends, including a gentleman who brought along a Japanese edition of my father's Angel in Black he had just finished reading. (As did I just before this trip!)
After the event was over, I went with my friend Chris back to my old Japanese school's bar. Yes, our school had a bar, and I don't mean a bar where the students liked to frequent. I mean a bar that is a part of the school, on the school grounds, run by people who work for and attend the school. It was strange to see the place filled with new faces, but I was happy to get to talk to Declan, the manager of the bar, and I even made some new friends.
The next day, I went to the Noh theatre on the Okazaki Castle grounds to volunteer at the festival. Here I am hard at work.
I actually did work quite a bit, managing the lines to get in, and got a lot of practice dealing with customers in Japanese. But during the actual performances, I didn't have much to do. Picture time!
The gate to the Noh theatre.
Me with my fellow volunteers (although this is not even half our team -- the rest were inside.)
Next I practiced surreptitiously taking a photo from the hip like a creepy old man. Suzuki-san was my (more or less) (okay, less) willing test subject.
A small garden opposite the Noh gate.
The performance on the Noh stage.
And here I am on the stage after clean-up. Not many people get to stand there!
Seen on highway 248 in Okazaki. I think I've taken a picture of this guy all three times I've been to Japan. It's also a good representation of me when I do karaoke.
The 248 at night.
An underground crosswalk, also on the 248.
South Okazaki at night (the view from my window.)
A hilltop house in Obara village, Aichi-ken, Japan. It's fairly common to see hillsides shored up with concrete like this, but at least here they've made an attempt to make it look pretty.
The view from said hilltop. I don't think there's anywhere more gorgeous than a small Japanese mountain town.
Obara is famous (to what degree, I'm not sure) for their cherry blossom trees, which bloom four times a year (instead of the typical once a year in the rest of the country.) They don't bloom quite as full as their counterparts, but seeing the blossoms typically associated with spring juxtaposed with the autumn leaves was quite stunning.
A statue of the bodhisattva Kannon, in the family graveyard of Sugita Hisajo, a female haiku poet born in 1890. Taeko-san saw the graveyard (more of a grove with three small tombstones) on a map and demanded I drive her there. It was the most beautiful of any of the places we went today (or on this entire trip, for me.)
Stairs (the first 88 of 163) leading to Senmi-Yakushi Temple in Obara.
The temple grounds.
I'm not sure what's next on the agenda, but if I do anything interesting, I'll try to get the pictures up before this weekend. Saturday is all day karaoke in Nagoya, then Sunday will begin a three-day trip to Tokyo.