Monday, January 28, 2008
Felicitations to all!
The TenGooz had there first gig of the year at Hot Stuff last Friday night. Lots of people came out to the show and I hope we were able to overcome the rust acquired over the long layover and please everyone.
We will also begin recording again,in earnest, this week. We will try to lay down our new ballad,which will be used in Ballad in Wood an event which will be held at Capio Hall.
We will also be putting out a remix of a song I wrote with Ascelin several years ago(autophobia).
We will also be driving out to Ishioka to Elizabeth Robless' studio to develop a feel for her sculpture instruments.
Sounds Like a busy week!
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Four members of the TenGooz, Hase G, Michael Frei, A-Chan and myself(Avi) will be making the music at Capio Hall as part of Contemporary artist Elizabeth Robless'multi-media happening-Ballad In Wood.
The interesting thing is that we will mostly to musicating on sculptures which Elizabeth has created especially for the occassion. Much of what happens will be improvised, so we are looking forward to two very adventurous evenings.
I was first drawn into the singular world of Elizabeth Robless' artistic vision several months ago while on my way to the library, which happens to be located in the same building as The Tsukuba Art Museum.
Just as I was about to walk through the doors that lead to the books, I gave a glance to my right. What i saw stopped me in my tracks. I stood and gazed down the long, narrow corridor leading
to the exhibition hall where Elizabeth's works beckoned me to enter, which I did.
I cant recall now what I had wanted to study at the library on that day, but I will long remember what I came upon there in the art museums inner-sanctum.
For that show Elizabeth had turned the gallery into a magical forest, reflecting her powerful inner-light and visions. Darkly hued wooden planks, boards and posts of various sizes,which she had shaped and embellished upon, sometimes ringed by carefully placed pebbles, were arranged on the walls, floor and in the air,suspended from the ceiling.I could at once feel the time,energy and passion that went into the creation of these pieces.
I also found that her works inspired music in me, with many of them looking like newly invented, still-unnamed instruments, begging to have sounds coaxed out of them.It was difficult NOT to beat,tap, or scratch them.
Of course, I was not the only one to get excited. Dance artist Mako Karasawa visited the show on another day and simply could not control her urges. She began to dance among the pieces.
Elizabeth took the cue and started to improvise an acompaniment on various sculpture-instruments.Many of the visitors then present joined in. It was a magical and cathartic moment for everyone there.
It was also the inspiration for the upcomming events.
Feb. 8 and 22
Hope to see you there.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Im glad to inform you that we are back in action and FULLY ENERGIZED after the rather lengthy holiday layoff that we had.
We had an invigorating and encouraging practice session thursday night and we are revved up and ready to go for next Friday nights gig at Hot Stuff.
With other news, my young cousin Noam is in Tokyo on business and I gave him a whirlwind tour of the Eastern Capital (Tokyo). Luckilly for him, that day was Coming-Of-Age-Day in Japan, the day on which all 20 year olds celebrate their official entrance into adulthood.They do this by dressing up and attending a ceremony at the city office etc.
Later most of these youngstersgo out and party for the first time(legally)!
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
In Japan seasonal decorations are not simply thrown in the garbage. They are disposed of respect at a ceremony called dondo-yaki. This usually takes place in the middle of January when it is time to take down all the New Years decorations.
I attended such a ceremony which took place near my house ( a place where the TenGooz have enjoyed many a barbecue) on a frosty and windy Sunday morning.
The first point of interest was that now there are restrictions on what type of gargage can or cannot be burned so all bundles grought for incineration on that day were checked, in a way reminiscent of airport security, for any plastics etc.
The decorations, consisting of sacred ropes, wreaths and last years daruma dolls were piled high in a teepee shape. This was done under the careful supervision of the fire department.
Then you could go to the reception desk and recieve a free omochi-rice cake and a very long slender bamboo pole.
The firemen doused the pile with kerosene and set off the blaze. Fire is always fascinating and the crowd gathered round it were mezmerized by the flames, all holding their long rods with rice cakes at the tips like an army all primed to roast marshmellows.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
The birds will be coming soon,in great abundance. Flocks of migrators will surely be in need of some rest during their amazing journey, and historically they have found this on and around Lake Kasumigaura in Ibaraki Prefecture.
This year,thousands of weary travellers will be caught in deadly nets, which are literally protecting nothing, as the lotus roots have all been harvested, and will die slow and horrific deaths,dangling for days by a wing or a leg.
Now it is January and there are much fewer birds than will soon be arriving. Everyday however, some are being caught. Maurice,Dr. Kasuga and I found hundreds, mostly dead, in just a few fields. Looking towards the horizon we saw hundreds more.
Please contact us if you would like to join us.
We need lots more volunteers.
Friday, January 04, 2008
It involves FUTAMATA-DAIKON(二股大根),which is the Japanese term for a double-pronged daikon radish. These two-legged curiosities turn up at a surprisingly high rate when farmers harvest their daikon crop in late autumn.The abberant shapes are caused by small rocks,hard clumps of soil or fertilizer,insects, or uneven distribution of irrigation water.
The futamata daikon cannot be found on sale in stores or stalls , and in fact, though perfectly edible, they are traditionally NOT eaten. When I asked several local farmers why this was so, they all came out with the same response, in tones implying that I shouldnt have had to ask
such a question-we dont eat them because they look like peoples legs!
Due to this resemblance to the lower half of the human body, local farmers show reverence and do not simply discard these unsellable roots which are not to be eaten, for it is believed that the disrespect of doing so would bring on leg or foot trouble.
What is done then with these significantly shaped vegetables?
In Tsukuba, the rest of Ibaraki Prefecture and in some outlying areas farmers offer the futamata daikon to a type of sekibutsu(sacred stone) called a dosojin(道祖神),the protector of travellers, roads and the entrance to villages. I suppose that I dont have to point out the
connection between travel and legs(oops, I just did!).locals leave futamata daikon and a variety of foot-wear(anything from straw sandals to sneakers) in front of the dosojin to pray for healthy legs feet and lower back.
This week I have found and photographed dozens of plump and juicy offerings which are rustically photogenic.They will be left exposed to the elements and as the weeks go by they will become the dried out and scrawny shadows that you might find next summer.
Let me make one very important point clear.Though the offering of futamata daikon to dosojin is a VERY localized custom and unfamiliar to most Japanese, dosojin stones are generally known and found throughout Japan. They are most famous in Nagano Prefecture, especially around the beautiful town of Azumino.
These dosojin,however, look completely different from most of their Ibaraki counterparts and also have a totally different significance. The typical image of the dosojin is a stone carving of a loving couple, set on the roadside.Making offerings to them can be efficacious for matchmaking and fertility.In Tsukuba almost all the dosojin I have found are simple stones with only the characters 道祖神 engraved on them.
In Dejima and Yasato I have found very special dosojin with graven images of a single one-legged man.This shows further how in this area these sekibutsu are associated with legs and feet.