Friday, April 30, 2010

The Old Kabuki Theatre

It's Friday and Allan has been in Korea for a week. He'll be back on Wednesday, cinqo do Mayo.

Yesterday, my Tuesday English group took a fieldtrip to Tokyo to see the Kabuki Theatre building which will be torn down soon and replaced with a new structure. Kabuki is the traditional Japanese stage performance using only male actors.

Our first stop in Tokyo was a demonstration of block printing (ukioye). Using a series of carved blocks, a picture is created. Paint is applied to the block, then a paper is laid over it and the paint transfers when the page is rubbed.

The room was a gallery with a series of prints showing views of Mt. Fuji and famous Japanese bridges.

After the artist demonstration, audience members were offered the opportunity to try the technique. You remember Brian and I did block printing in Kyoto, so Ayuko gave it a try while Emiko and Toshiko watched. Our fourth member, Momoko, was unable to make the trip.
Ayuko did one block (one color). It was a set of ocean waves and it looks pretty good, don't you think?

Next was a quick stop in a Japanese paper store were I couldn't resist some fat-cat note paper and a package of postcards.

At the theatre, a number of people (myself included) were photographing the traditional Japanese building. It's just 50 years old, but is no longer earthquake sound. The final performances were sold out for weeks, and the last took place Wednesday night.

I think some part of the entrance will be saved or reproduced for the new theatre.

It's a little sad when traditional architecture is destroyed and replaced with some glass and metal structure (which becomes a traditional structure itself when enough time passes).

The new theatre will be 29 stories tall.
This is the theatre billboard.
In the Ginza district, we did a little shopping and had lunch.

These unusual roses were on display outside a flower shop.
In a store called Wako and I spotted a nice bag for a mere 287,000 ¥ (that's over $3,000).
We did some window shopping, including Mikimoto. Do you recognize that name? Think naturals pearls - very expensive natural pearls.
Then came tulip art. There were three blocks of 'green' images done with tulip petals.
Fortunately, since they were so large, each had a small poster showing what it looked like, electric cars, recycling, save the earth, environmental stuff.

Finally, we got to the Hama-rikyu Garden. Toshiko fixed me up with an English language audio guide (the brochure called it a 'ubiquitous communicator') and we walked some more. Below is a three-hundred year old pine tree. It has 'tree crutches' to hold up the branches.

Today, I went to the mess (dining room) for ribeye steak and lobster tail. It was 'Spouse Appreciation Day' and my friend Chris' husband Randy Christ stood in for my spouse. The lunch, including baked potato, salad, soup, drink and dessert was $4.25 (can't beat that with a stick).

Tonight is dinner out with our Friday night group. Allan is not with us, so we are having Indian food (he doesn't like curry, so this is a good time to get some).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friends, co-workers and sakura

When we got home from our U.S. trip, the sakura (cherry blossoms) were in full bloom.
The following Saturday we went to Kamakura with the Russell family to get some exercise and enjoy this beautiful walkway leading to the shrine.

You've heard about Gene Russell by now. He's an industrial hygienist who shares an office with Allan. He and his wife, Raeni have seven children, Ryan is away at college, Noah stayed home to study, and the youngest five joined us for our outing to Kamakura.

Here are Gabe, Allan and Gene on the path to the shrine. We didn't actually enter the shrine. Allan and I have been there twice and haven't gone inside. Although the sakura are only in bloom for about two weeks, it is a major event in Japan. So this walking path was the main event for us on this day.

And here is Ben on the same lane. Once we reached the shrine, we headed down the shopping & eating street. Remember, the Japanese are not big on naming their streets, so I just call this one the Kamakura shopping & eating street. We had great Japanese food (is there any other kind?) Then we headed back to the Russell home. They actually live in two adjoined apartments, one is sort of headquarters, where Mom, Dad and the younger kids sleep and the family is home schooled. The other is the recreation center, where the older boys live, and have every electronic device known to mankind. I'm thinking that Dad gets the toys for himself, but shares with the kids. The family lived in Italy at one time and Raeni (Mom) made homemade pizza dough, and we had pizza. But before dinner, the men played RISK (the Lord of the Rings version).

Becca, Boaz and Elijah in Kamakura

If you're browsing anywhere in Japan, there are usually some ladies in kimono. I still enjoy seeing these ladies around, not that I forget I'm in Japan, but it's nice to see these beautiful robes.

The weather was terrific for our outing, but the following days were wet and cold. One day, I'm cold, so the next day I wear a jacket and it gets warm. Then I dress warmly and it's cold and wet. I never know what to wear. In Florida, we say "Don't like the weather? wait ten minutes". Here it's "I'm always dressed for yesterday".

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A CONUS visit

What the heck? CONUS - that's DODspeak for CONtinental United States. Allan had to go for training, so he spent the weekend prior with Richard and Laura, who threw one of there amazing bashes. Bill and Elaine, Jeff and Cindy, Rachel and Marc and a mob of other friends and family visited.

Three days after Allan left, I had a 28 hour journey from my house to the Ferraro's, but managed to get out of bed the next afternoon and hit the road to Merritt Island. A few days later, Debbie Herman had an open house so I could see friends from Lakeland, and I might have convinced a few to come see Japan.

Chris Ferraro gave me a Macy's giftcard for my birthday, but wasn't able to come and help me spend it, so Jean stepped in. What are friends for? Andy & Jean gave me a birthday party and my birthday request, which was chili and cornbread. I rarely get it, because Allan doesn't like either item (so Andy made him a BURGER).

Open House - Diane, Deanna, Vicki, Lizzy, Debbie, Raisa

We spent the first night of Passover at our usual place, with the Lebowitz's in Tampa. The following day we had lunch with Henry Schreiber and Allan's brother, David who drove from Key West.
It was a whirlwind (or was it a tornado?) from which I am still recovering. I flew into Orlando, spent most of my nights with Bruno and Chris Ferraro. It was great to see Joey and Sam again. They both look good and seem happy, so I feel good about that.

We returned to Japan on April 3rd. We flew separately, as I bought my ticket and the Dept. of Defense bought Allan's. His flight arrived 2 hrs. after mine. We missed dinner the first three nights, because we fell asleep before we could prepare or eat it.

We weren't ready to get back to our schedule, but 'Come Monday' (to quote Jimmy Buffet), we both had work to do. It will take about 5 days to adjust to the time change (I hope).