Saturday, April 08, 2006


On snowy days I found it hard to concentrate on my shakuhachi lessons, my eyes constantly wandering to the house across the road. The study upstairs was laden with books, its wraparound windows revealing an elderly man happily reading as he drank his tea. How I much prefered to be there, safe in that cocoon.

During warmer weather I was more enthusiastic about my flute studies, progressing to the point where I played a few concerts. More fun for me was playing during full moon parties held with friends. Usually these were held at the castle ruins in the 'Nog, but my favorite by far happened in the Kyo, under the massive Sanmon gate of Nanzenji. As a handful of friends drank sake and read poems, I sat under a pillar a little ways off, trying to stir the trees with my notes. E-ma Mari stood further away in the dark, singing quietly to herself. I later snuck up behind her to record her singing "Amazing Grace" in Japanese.

I'd always loved this gate. Before coming to Japan, I read a scene in Mishima's "Temple of the Golden Pavillion," where standing upon this same gate, the main character witnesses through a window, a woman opening her kimono to squeeze breast milk into a cup of tea for her soldier lover soon heading off to war. This image has always stayed with me. Incredibly, the first time I stood atop Nanzenji's Sanmon, through an open window of a neighboring house, I spied a tea ceremony being performed by a woman in kimono.

On the turntable: Peter Tosh, "Scrolls of the Prophet"
On the nighttable: Nien Cheng, "Life and Death in Shanghai"

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