Tuesday, 9 December 2008

My Week Off-2

Dear Cecil,
Still enjoying my week off. Unfortunately the weather's taken a turn for the worse, but, on the bright side, it does make it feel a bit more Christmassy. I heard that the weather is being very festive back in Blighty, that nobody in the North is allowed to drive a car, and people are inviting local ducks into their kitchens, to get warm by the fire.
My gig with Ohta-San was really enjoyable.
I really hope we can start a regular project together, but he is the busiest man this side of Christendom (the East side), so we'll see. He started the second half by improvising in a Turkish "makam" (mode), where the second degree of the scale is 2/8's of a tone flat. This meant I had to do some quick impromptu plumbing of my tuba in order to stay on track. As the head of mine and Bugsy's University brass ensemble used to say, "squeeze and blow and put your faith in Boosey and Hawkes". They went out of business years ago, so I don't know where that leaves us.

Last night I put up my Christmas tree.Apartments in Tokyo are not on the large side, to put it mildly (they don't do high ceilings either. I've got the scars to show). So last year I bought a very small tree. It's cute, and it was fun decorating it, but I think I really need a bigger one. I don't know how you feel about it, but I'm definitely from the "real tree" school of thought. No idea where I'd find one in Japan though. I'll certainly miss my mum's tree this year, taking up three quarters of her living room...

After a few days of relaxation, I'm feeling much better. I can even look at alcohol without fainting, so there's real progress. In fact, my week off the booze is over tomorrow, and I've been eyeing these cheeky little (actually rather huge) bottles of sake, which I've recently picked up on my travels. In this first pic on the left, you can see, from left to right, a bottle from the Fukucho brewery in Hiroshima, and a bottle of dry sake from Yamanashi. The Yamanashi one looks really good, and I'm really looking forward to taking a massive chunk out of it in the near future. By the way, these kind of high quality sake are best drunk cold, and always with some thing to eat. The smaller bottle (75 cl) on the left is a very interesting one for me. Fukucho is not one of the most famous breweries, but I really like the taste. One of their sakes, "Cosmos" was recommended to me at my local drinking hole, and I loved it. 5 glasses later, I ended up chatting with the staff about that brewery. There are around 1,700 sake breweries in Japan. It turns out that the Toji (sake maker) of Fukucho is a woman, which is still very rare here. When I visited Hiroshima with Shibusashirazu last month, we met up with our friend Min-Min, who happens to work at an off-licence and knows an incredible amount about sake (although she herself doesn't drink- what gives?) So she recommended this sake from the same brewery. The Toji's name is Miho Imada. Miho means "rare rice". I heard the name was given to her by her Grandfather, a master brewer. Min-Min told her that an English guy was hunting down her sake, and I was chuffed to find out that apparently she was delighted. I doubt she was as delighted as I'll be when I hit that bottle!
Here's a couple more bottles, hanging around my house, staring at me with come hither looks. on the left is a carton of fairly cheap but good sake from the supermarket. Its name is "Yasashii sake", which means "kind, or gentle sake". It has a gentle taste, and looks after the drinker very well. On the right is a really amazingly tasty sake from Kyoto, called Miyakotsuru Junmai, which I bought when I was there last week with Cicala Mvta. My good friend Kita-San the trumpet-player got well aquainted with a bottle, and found ourselves in an extremely festive mood!

So, that's about all to report for today. My week off takes another exciting turn tomorrow, when I have the rare privilege of visiting the Yamaha factory to look at custom tubas. I know you must be dying of anticipation to hear all about that one (who in their right mind wouldn't be?), so I'll be sure to take lots of photos to share with you!!
Remember to wrap up warm,
Gid x

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