Monday, December 09, 2013

Japan: Lake Suwa, Agatanomori Culture Hall, a Castle, and a Pomegranate Tree in Matsumoto.

"One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness;
one only stumbles upon them by chance,
in a lucky hour, at the world's end somewhere."
~Willa Cather

In elementary and middle school, I had a classmate named Steven Matsumoto. I never knew until now that there was a city in Japan that bore the same name.

Electronic Toll Collection, etc. etc. etc.

Clouds and more clouds.

From Tokyo, it took us about three and a half hours to get to Matsumoto. I had the row to myself on the bus, which was nice. Stretching my legs out and melting into the seat next to me without fear of melting onto someone else and disturbing their personal space, is a luxury on tour. The extra room also allowed for extra picture taking opportunities, so you may see this, once again, as a photo dump.

After we made our way out of the city, we saw lots and lots of green countryside.

One of the other perks of touring is that half your pictures are taken through the bus window, which means that at mid-day, you often end up with more of a reflection of yourself than the sight you want to remember.

And other times you set up a really beautiful picture and snap it just in time to see a large concrete wall.

As usual we made frequent stops at rest areas along the way.

This was also about the time I noticed that our bus sign was mis-spelled.

I'm not much of a soda or beverage person. Water suits me just fine. But an occasional Fanta --especially when it's in Japanese--or when it comes in a small cute bottle-- is a special treat.

Not far from our destination, maybe just 30 kilometers outside of Matsumoto, we stopped at another rest stop. This time it was mostly a full on grocery store, with just a few food stands including an ice cream shop. I may or may not have had a cone. The scenery there was spectacular with Lake Suwa in the background. It was much more cold and windy than we expected, but beautiful nonetheless.

Kristen and I with Luke Suwa in the background.

Lake Suwa
Off to the right there were park benches and this little gazebo like walkway. Apparently it's a lover's sanctuary. I'm assuming it should be lovers' sanctuary. :) Unless it's promoting love of self.

Interestingly, the signs below indicated that the smoking area was right over by the Lover's Sanctuary. Blech. No, thank you.

Upon our arrival in Matsumoto, we checked into our hotel. This time, I roomed with Ashley. We were pleased to find out that we had double beds, though they were rock hard.

We also found the perfect clothes line, in my opinion. Too bad I didn't have time to do my laundry and let it dry at this hotel.

And reading Japanese signs and instructions translated into English is always fun.

We had a twenty minute window to find our room, get settled and change into our performance clothes to head out to the Agatanomori Culture Hall for our sound check, recording, and subsequent concert.

Agatanomori Culture Hall in Matsumoto, Japan.
Photo found here.

We received a warm welcome. Just for your information, I added the "s" to the end of the word Artists. But then I kept reading and just had to smile. I love these people.

Inside Agatanomori Culture Hall.

Inside Agatanomori Culture Hall.
The audience that night was so appreciative. They clapped forever and even gave us a standing ovation, something that apparently they just don't do in Matsumoto. One of the festival leaders who accompanied us spent twelve years living in the city of Matsumoto. He said he had never before seen a standing ovation given in the city. What an honor it was to sing for them!

Here is one of our recordings from that venue. Hail, Gladdening Light became one of my favorite pieces we performed on tour.

We stayed after the concert to talk to the patrons as they left. I'm not kidding when I say these Japanese people are among the most gracious and lovely people I've met. I know that I'm lumping them into one category, but I think what I'm aiming for is that the culture is one full of such respect, reverence, and appreciation. Being among these people, who truly enjoyed our music, who were so kind, was just an amazing experience.

That concert rejuvenated me. A good mid-tour rejuvenation was needed.

I awoke the next morning in time to get some breakfast up on the 9th floor, where wi-fi was available along with this lovely view.

The morning air was crisp and the blue sky sprinkled with clouds brought cheer to my heart. We had just enough time to head over to the Matsumoto Castle and take some pictures. Not enough time to go inside (such are the perks of touring...), but seeing the outside was still worth it.

Group pictures are always fun.

 And now for the same moment from two different angles:

Hahaha. I photo-bombed Michael's selfie. :)

Since we had only about fifteen or twenty minutes at the castle, we raced back to the bus. but along the way, I couldn't help but take a few more photos.

Workers at rest.

And who among you has ever seen a pomegranate tree? I sure hadn't until now. I loved it! Oh the simple things that make me happy.

Saying goodbye to one of our lovely Festival Leaders, Shimaco (Tomoko).

The butterfly bus.
Then it was off to Nagoya for a concert and some good sight-seeing. Only a day and a half more in Japan before crossing the International Dateline resulting in two Fridays. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Shauntel said...

They really are the best people in the world, aren't they? :)

Loving this tour.