Saturday, September 30, 2006

Wildlife around the ice palace!

In winter, the other members of the TenGoz usually refuse any invitation to my home, always coming up with a convenient excuse to avoid the frosty drafts and icy floors.
Summers though also put off many friends because of the plethora of creatures residiing in and around the house!
Last week, while hiking through the ancient Malayan rainforest, I couldn't help mentioning to european fellow hikers gawking at the plant and wildlife, that they would be much more astonished by a viait to my place in Tukuba!
Here is a beautiful spider which guard my front door. The rear is protected by this 2meter long snake which usually spends the afternoon sunbathing on top of the tool shed.

Well, it's time to start packing up for tonights gig. We haven't rehearsed in a while. Let's see if that has a good or bad effect on our show.
Only time will tell.

Avi Landau

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Taman negara adventure!

Hello again,faithfull TenGoophiles ! How have you been?
Hase G and I were at the studio last Sunday, putting the final touches on our upcoming album, Its Time! After the recording session I had to head off to Abiko to catch a rakugo performance by my friend Tonraku. Rakugo is traditional Japanese comic story telling and its a great way to learn about traditional Japanese culture. The dinner box was also excellent and i was invited backstage after the show for some sashimi and fruit.tonraku performs in Abiko every 3rd Saturday. Let's go again soon.
The next day, I set out for Singapore,as the first step in finally getting to one of my dream destinations,Taman Negara, an ancient virgin rainforest in the center of the Malay Peninsula. Though I had been to malaysia several times I still hadn't made it to the great reserve,home to adundant plant and wildlife and hunting ground for a tiny tribe of aboriginal people.
It was great to be back in Singapore, a place many visitors,for some reason, call sterile and boring. For me,it is
a place of wonder and discovery, and no matter how many times Ive been there( about 20) I never get tired of it.This time as usual I stayed in my favorite of the city states neighborhoods ,Little India, where I found(and recorded) some great temple musicians and partook of the splendid south Indian fare.
On Tuesday, I boarded the so called Jungle Train and spent the next 8 hours slowly moving Northward over the Malay Peninsula, reading, writing and enjoying the scenery.stayed overnight in a town called Jerantut where the hotel I stayed at(what great luck!) provided all the info I needed for my sojourn into the jungle.
The next morning, an hour by bus and then a 3 hour motorized canoe trip upriver to the park.
Met lots of good people, and saw lots of wildlife. Monkeys, sambar deer, mouse deer ,widboar,eagles,etc. Also did a cave excursion and found myself completey covered with bat dung!
I hope to go back again for some longer more strenous hikes.
If anyone wants to know more about Taman Negara, how to get there,etc, please send me an email.
Back in Singapore after a harrowing overnight train journey in which i was saved from the frosty air-con by a blanket of newspapers, I went right from the Woodlands immigration terminal to the Sungei Buloh wetlands Resarve where
I enjoyed the mangrove swamp and immense monitor lizards sunning on the extensive trails.
Hope to post again soon.
Avi Landau

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Climbing Mt Fuji and 5 hour rehearsal!

This past Sunday, the TenGooz gathered at 5:00pm
once again for a five hour,gruelling rehearsal as part of our preparation for our gigs in Melbourne Australia.Next time you catch our show you'll be surprised at what we've done with Jin Jin as well as some other songs which we have been making changes with.
Let me take this opportunity to recount one of the highlights of summer 2006 and I might add, one of the standout experiences in all my travels. many of you might be surprised by this, but im talking about a climb to the top of Mt Fuji! I know many of you think that the ascent up the
highest mountain in Japan was tainted by piles of trash,huge crowds and boring scenery.That image is what kept from taking the climb for all these years.
Luckilly,my friend and avid trekker taguma San suggested that we do Fuji(she had made it to the top several times) and I unenthusiastically agreed, since I thought it might be good to just get it over with and finally be able to say that I had made the climb. Taguma San wou
ld also be providing logistics and transport which made things sound convenient and a little more tempting.Just before stting off, I started building up a little excitement and convinced my buddy rick Weisburd to join us and fortunately he came along.
Fortunately for the two of us, despite the pessimism and badmouthing of the sacred mountain by numerous people, we found the trip to be dramatic inspirationaland at times thrilling and we found the trails spotlessly clean,convenient facilities and great folks climbing with us.
We set out from Tsukuba by car and due to traffic in Tokyo,made it to the parking lot at the 5th level(half way up)
by 1:00pm. from there we just startd walking.It about one hour between each station(Fuji is divided into ten stations)and we decided to take a rest at the 8th station as the sun was setting.This part of the trip posed the only negative aspect of our climb.For 8000yen you get a hurried meal(there isnt enough room for all the guests to eat at once so we have to take meals in shifts!) and after eating I wanted to sleep for a few hours before making the final assault up the slope. This however proved impossible for me as we had to sleep za ko ne or as we might describe it
sleeping like sardines in a tin!It was impossible for me to relax with a strangers face almost pressing against mine.
So I decided to just sit up for a few hours and set out at 11
By 11 I mean 11pm ! We set out in total darkness using our flashlights to try to avoid misteps. My light burned out after what seemed like only an hour.The last stage proved to be the hardest as the sandy trail made the going slow and the high altitude brought on breathlessness after a few steps.
Before we knew it,though we were at the summit waiting to see the sunrise(goraiko).unfortunately we arrived an hour too early and had to endurefreezing temperatures and extreme drowsiness before the exciting and teasingly slow appearance of the sun.its something i will not forget soon and im thinking I might do it again next year.
care to join me?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Great gig...then off to Mikurajima!

Hi,all you faithfull Tengoophiles! Many of you have been checking the blog for months, only to be disappointed to find that there were no new postings. All I can cough up as an excuse is that so much had been happening with the music,travelling and studies that to tell you honestly, I didnt write because I just didnt know where to begin! After a summer packed with musical encounters and UNUSUAL adventures I realized that I simply have to restart the blog. So.... here we go!
Today I will begin with the most recent events. We had a marathon 5 hour rehearsal,as part of our preparation for our Australian road trip.Before that,on August 26th was our LIVE at Corkheads, where we have built up our most loyal following and have had some of our greatest nights. Though we made some mistkes here and there, the show went over really well.People know our songs and sing along with a few of them, especially Face to Face, Johnny I and Running. We played on till about 1 am and them brought all the gear back to my place and I packed up for my adventure on Mikurajima(御蔵島 if you have Japanese fonts).
Few Japanese people have even heard of this small Pacific island only 200 km from Tokyo,so it is a true hidden treasure.Mikurajima offers 3 major attractions:ancient gnarled trees amid lush and expansive forest,a huge flock
of shearwaters(ohmizunagidori), a pelagic bird which can't take off without climbing up trees to get a jumping start,
and most importantly, probably the best dolphin swimming in the world.
I caught an hour or two of sleep before starting off by plane and helicopter. There is no airport, so access is either by ferry or heli. I got some interesting vies of the Izu islands and landed for a few minutes on volcano devastated Miyake Island. I was dropped off(alone) at the heliport on Mikura and left alone on the landing pad as the chopper headed back home.
To land on Mikura you need to have a reservation at one of the ten or so small guest houses. When coming by ferry, the sole policeman on the island makes sure you have one. He didnt come to greet me at the heliport, so I mozied down the path in what I hoped was the right direction,until I was met by Mio, who had arrived a day earlier by ferry with 9 other friends.
The dolphin swimming was spectacular. The island is unique in that there are ALWAYS groups of dolphins swimming close to the shore.In 4 days we could experience a full range of dolphin behavior.The views of the coast were reminiscent of Polynesia and alone would have made the trip worthwhile.
We also enjoyed a pleasant hike to admire some of the ancient trees, and as usual I drew energy and inspiration from being among and touching such ancient living things.
If you have any qustions about Mikura,please contact me for more details. Its definitely a place you should go to if you enjoy NATURE and getting away from it all!
I will be back with more about my trip to Hokkaido and Aomori and also my climb to the top of MT Fuji.