Tag Archives: music

Costumers Don’t Eat Gummy Bears

I sat in the auditorium for the final dress rehearsal of Tokyo International Players’ Big River. I was looking for costume problems, but instead of problems, I saw this.

blue dress

The dress, apron and cap, all made by me, were worn by a woman with one of the finest voices I’ve ever heard, the kind that enters your ears and then kisses your soul. And she is just one note in the score of talented people who orchestrate the life of this play.

When the rehearsal ended, I returned to the dungeon below the stage where we elves work our magic. Kazuko, Jeanette and I were consulting when a woman entered, bearing the largest bag of gummy bears I’d ever seen. She offered them to us but I smiled and said, “No, thank you. I don’t much care for gummy bears.” My colleagues nodded in solemn agreement. The woman narrowed her eyes and said, “You’re all costumers, aren’t you? Everyone else said yes.” We three exchanged glances that felt like a secret handshake.

I’m not sure what that says about costumers, but it reminds me that those of us below the stage are very much a part of the magic that happens on it. I am honored to be involved in this production.

Big River runs through Sunday evening. Definitely worth a look-see.

Voices in the Trees

Meditation is reaching into my psyche and teasing loose unexpected and wonderful sensations. It’s like following a path through Hansel and Gretel’s forest but instead of leaving a trail of crumbs, I’m collecting a trail of treasures someone left along the way.


The other day, when I was walking in the park, I looked up into the trees and they suddenly took on an almost surreal clarity and vibrancy. I could see the outline of each leaf and sense the nuanced differences in the gradations of their greens. Each one was unique. I experienced a profound connection to those leaves; it felt like I could name each one and describe its personality.

Alfred Greenleaf likes chocolate ice cream and once shoplifted a packet of colored pencils. He still feels guilty about it.

Wendy Leafblower dreams of one day going skydiving. In the meantime she crochets tea cozies and is addicted to reruns of Friends.

Howard Leafmealone is something of an introvert and wishes the other leaves would give him some space.

Brenda Longleaf is self conscious about the length of her veins.

Merry Greensleaves wishes she was a needle on a Christmas tree.

George Mapleleaf is something of a sap.

While that babel of personalities was revealing itself to me, at the same time the voices of the leaves seemed to be humming a gentle melody with layered harmonics, the autumn breeze smelling of sunshine and playing a woodwind accompaniment to chirping crickets and the last of the summer cicadas.

It was as if all of those layers of life and energy and music had always been there, just under the surface, but I had never noticed them.

What other wonders are waiting for me just around the next bend in the path?

Golden Week

This year, the first ever Cinco de Mayo festival is being held at Yoyogi Park to celebrate Golden Week. Oddly enough, it’s today and tomorrow and not Sunday, which is actually May 5th, but let’s not split hairs.

There was food from all over South America, but the bilingual signs were in Japanese and Spanish, and beyond “pollo” and “cerveza” my Spanish is limited, but I managed to procure a turkey quesadilla (is that authentic?) and a can of sugary, not-very-pleasant fruit soda. The quesadilla was yummy; I disposed of the soda.

On the stage there was a rather cheesy dance that is supposedly traditional on Easter Island. That was followed by a couple of really dreadful French Canadian folk singers. The less said about them the better.

I was ready to pack it in, but then a band started setting up, and they appeared to be a bunch of white guys in navy uniforms.

It turns out that’s exactly what they were. They came from Yokosuka naval base.

Orient Express

I didn’t recognize many of the songs, but they did work in Beat It and Livin’ on a Prayer with an encore of Johnny B. Goode.


Their lead singer was a tiny Asian looking woman with an extraordinary pair of lungs.

It was one of the best concerts ever, and it was free,  but I was stumped. What were Canadians and navy personnel doing at a Cinco de Mayo festival?



Turns out, Cinco de Mayo is not that big a deal in Mexico, but is widely celebrated in the US. Forgive an East Coast girl who’s lived in Japan for most of her life for not knowing.





Figuring nothing would top that, I decided to move on, and discovered not far away, in front of Tokyu Hands, a horse doing magic tricks, but he had the oddest hooves I’ve ever seen.

There was no explanation of why it was a horse. Wouldn’t a kangaroo or an orangutan have done just as well?

Ours is not to question why.

Having had about as much fun as I could handle, it was time to head home, but there was one final treat in store.



On weekends and holidays, the neighborhood bakery makes cinnamon yum-yums, and one of those with an iced coffee rounded off the day nicely.

But there is one final question in my mind. They call them “Cherokees”. As far as I know, there are very few pastry confections in native American culinary culture. If anybody can explain that, I’ll sleep better tonight.