Welcome back gentle readers! In my last post I promised something a bit different!
In Tokyo living space is at a premium, and very hard to come by. I remember years ago seeing in rental agencies the words “greenery in sight” to describe the fact, not that a flat had a garden, but that from a window you could see a part of a tree, or a corner of a bush!
One of the upshots of this, is that, although the Japanese people love animals, especially feline ones, very few can afford the luxury of a pet. To fill this gap, a few years ago the “Cat Cafe” came into being.
I determined to visit one, and with the help of some of my cat loving friends in the Orchestra we did that very thing!
“The Calico Cat Cafe” is in the Shinjuku district and is a fifth and sixth floor home to fifty cats all in tip top condition, some having lived there from kittens and some rescued. Many different breeds ranging from Maine Coons to Munchkins and Rag Dolls, and lots of others in between. Scrupulously clean and sweet smelling the whole place was a delight, there were many Japanese people there enjoying feline company, stroking and watching the inhabitants, (your not allowed to pick them up), it was bizarre, wonderful and great fun in equal measure. Here then are a few pictures of “The Calico Cat Cafe”!
That evening we played at the Metropolitan Theatre Concert Hall, our first outing in Japan for Tchaikovsky’s fifth Symphony. It was very well received as was Hilary Hahn’s Sibelius and The Lohengrin Prelude. More of a Western style hall, its sound was excellent, and, thanks to the superb playing of our violin sections, the opening and closing of the Wagner floated out into the auditorium like intertwined coloured silk scarves. I can only reiterate my admiration for the Japanese audiences, not a cough, not a sneeze, only rapt attention and thunderous applause.
The next day was a free day so I went off with friends to visit Asakusa -
A fascinating area of Buddhist temples and shops where one can both satisfy the sightseeing urges and souvenir hunting at one and the same time!
Today we travelled to Kokura for a Matinee.
First a cautionary tale. Never get too reliant on technology! Last night I readied myself for a quick getup and exit from the hotel since we were leaving at 07:30. Leaving my iPad and iPhone slaved to my MacBook to charge, with alarms set, I went to sleep. Then at the sound of electronic chiming I leapt out of bed, washed, shaved and started to dress, slightly puzzled by the fact the my freshly washed and wrung out socks were still wet. Glancing at my watch I saw 01:50 on the dial. “Oh dear” “my watch battery has gone flat” however bedside hotel clock, phone, computer and tablet all confirmed the same time…………………….
I had been awakened by email alerts!! Feeling rather foolish, I undressed and climbed back into bed, fortunately I was able to get back to sleep.
On route to Haneda airport one could see Tokyo Bay and the fabulously impressive Tokyo skyline. At the airport a tantalising glimpse of Mt. Fuji and, on take off, a stunning view of the huge urban maze of the city that is home to around 16.000.000 people!
This afternoon alas the last time we shall play with Helene Grimaud. She has been a pleasure to work with, and was gracious enough to grant me a photo opportunity pre – concert to make a shot of her in her beautiful concert outfit.
Many thanks to a wonderful artist and a beautiful lady!!
That’s all for tonight.
I don’t know if I will have the energy for an entry tomorrow night, but keep a lookout.
Thank you to all who made this tour possible, in particular Liz Baines our Planning and Tours Manager, Our ever patient (especially with fools like me!) Orchestra Manager Claire Dersley, Thomas our friend, companion, guide and mentor, Japan Arts, the Wonderful Team in Taipei, Our Platform Staff Pete, Rob and Barrie, my patient lovely colleagues for putting up with my camera and of course the wonderful cheeky Mr Andris Nelsons for being who he is, a great musician and a humble, lovely man.
Look out for more, and thank you for reading!
Goodnight and God bless.