Sunday, September 14, 2008
Emiko Sakai, a percussionist who has joined us before ( remember the Kasama Festival ) drove out to the beach to be with us and really let it rip!
Of course, Last nights kick-ass show would not have been possible without the talent and great efforts of guitarist Thomas Mayers who has been learning our songs ( and helping us make new ones ) at an astonishing pace.
Anyway, we were all really CONNECTED last night and Michael and I were very satisfied. Even Hase G was in good spirits! And that says something!
We were happy to have lots of friends ( and family! ) come out for the show!
We will be back at Nalu Toy Box on October 25!
stay GROUNDED IN GROOVE
Saturday, September 06, 2008
They are Tsukuba`s indefatiguable BIRD-CHASERS, who can be seen, shadowy figures in the twilight, wherever the STARLINGS happen to be nesting (usually somewhere around Tsukuba Center) . As the large flocks of birds start arriving, further darkening the already darkened skies, our heroes are there waiting.
The flocks, interweave and mingle, and then alight and test out the safety of potential places to spend the night. This sets the men into action. They rush towards the trees which the birds have come down to and then proceed to do their job - which is to SHOO THE BIRDS AWAY. To do this, they have for the past few years been using a contraption first developed and tested in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture, which emits a vey loud and terrifying sound-an amplified versionof the starlings very own DISTRESS CALL. Vigorous hand-clapping has also been used to good effect.
Recently, a new weapon has been added to the BIRD-CHASERS arsenal. Years of trial and error experimentation have shown that the plastic umbrella bags used for covering WET UMBRELLAS before entering the department store can create a highly disturbing sound. This is done by vigorously rubbing two ends of the bag together, in the manner of washing socks or underwear by hand. The effect of noise produced by this action on the human ear is not unlike that elicited by a hand slowly scrathing a chalkboard.
With the distress call, clapping and bag rubbing, the birds soon clear out of the trees they have settled in(plenty of people hurry to get away from the racket as well)and fly away- to NEARBY TREES! Undaunted and showing true Japanese Spirit, the bird-chasers dash off in pursuit. The same pattern is repeated again and again.
Trying to get an interview proved to be a tiring experience (and good excercize!) . I ran with one man, and then another. Constantly on the move, never giving up the chase until complete darkness has set in.
It's a never-ending battle and these guys are fighting it for us. The pavement around the plaza has been so dropping -free recently that you could walk on it bare-foot. Thanks.
You can find them again tonight, tomorrow or the next day in the elevated plaza between Seibu and the Okura Hotel. Be there at dusk. Ask the flocks come in you will hear the blaring distress calls. If you have the energy, you can help clapping, or even better-bring your own umbrella bag.
The TenGooz had a good practice the other night in preparation for their beach-side, surf competition gig.
We start at 8pm on Sept. 13 at Nalu Toy Box
We hope you`ll be there.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Tokyo University's seismograph, the only one in the vicinity to have survived the first violent spasm, recorded nearly 2000 more shock waves over the next 3-day period. Over that time, much of the Shita-Machi area of Tokyo had burned down, leaving more than 200,000 dead. Though Tsukuba lay beyond the reach of what came to be called The Great Kanto Earthquake (Kanto Daishinsai) many native Tsukubans and Ibarakians have heard from their grandparents how at that time the sky glowed red to the south at night, and was darkened in the day by drifting smoke .
Tokyo burning and Mt. Tsukuba since 1923, September First has been a day to commemorate that tragedy and also to remind all those residing in this disaster prone land of the need to be ready for any possible scenario. Thus, this day is both shinsai kinenbi (震災記念日, Great Kanto Earthquake Memorial Day), with its annual service at Yokoame Park in Sumida Ward (where the greatest number of victims perished), and Disaster Prevention Day (bosai no hi, 防災の日), on which you might see firemen leading schoolchildren in evacuation drills (though you are more likely to see this on Sept 2nd as the 1st is the first day back to school!), and plenty of safety tips offered on TV. You might want to take a look at Tsukuba City's advice for earthquakes. It is both informative and amusing. We are instructed to hide under a desk, secure an exit and turn off the gas and electricity among other things, all at the same time! We are also rightly warned not to listen to rumors, which is an important lesson learned from 1923 when rumors of Koreans poisoning the wells led to the slaughter of large numbers of Koreans by rioting mobs, and the subsequent suppression of Socialists (who were said to be egging on the Koreans!)
I don't mean in any way to make light of this subject. Though it's been a long time since 1923, the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, which had Kobe burning helplessly for days, and more recently the Earthquake in Niigata Prefecture (a few years back) which has left people living in shelters TO THIS DAY, show us that there is still a long way to go in terms of preparedness and prevention of death and destruction. I don't want to seem pessimistic, but the BIG ONE WILL COME SOMEDAY. Sometimes it's as if you can FEEL the pressure building up on the tectonic plates. It probably would be a very good idea to read up on how to prepare.
As you know, earthquakes are not the only threat. In fact, this area has had much worse luck with flooding over the years. That is one reason why, to the astonishment of many foreigners, most Japanese don't complain about the concreting over of ALL THE RIVERBANKS. For centuries they have been living in fear of unpredictable rivers and flooding. For them, concrete means progress and security (and it seems to have worked this year!). Tsukuba City also offers some tips on dealing with typhoons, floods and fires.
Before the disciplines of geology and seismology were introduced to Japan, there was a very CURIOUS understanding of the cause of earthquakes, which has a STRONG CONNECTION to Ibaraki Prefecture.
The trembling of the earth was believed to be caused by the slashing about of a giant subterranean CATFISH (namazu). In order to keep this very dangerous fish restrained, the God of Kashima (Kashima Myojin) pressed down on its head with a heavy stone called the KANAME ISHI (要石), which can be found to this day within the precincts of Ibaraki's most important shrine, Kashima Jingu. This protective stone became especially popular after a terrible earthquake hit Edo in 1855. That disaster struck in the 10th month, during which it is believed that ALL THE 8,000,000 Gods of Japan leave their own shrines and go to Izumo (Shimane Prefecture). It thus became a firm conviction among most Edo-ites that the earthquake had occurred because the God of Kashima had been away and unable to keep the giant catfish under control. The people beseeched the God to be more vigilant after that and the catfish and kaname ishi became popular subjects of devotion.
God of Kashima Subduing Catfish
The stone, which now protrudes slightly out of the ground, is still considered by believers to keep Kanto safe from earthquakes.
The TenGooz are too busy getting ready for their BIG BEACHSIDE GIG next week
to prepare for disasters. We will have to think about crowd control considering the fenzy we are planning whip up with