Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Friday, August 03, 2007

Music in the Mountains, Part 2007

Well, I've been there and back again. The 2007 edition of our music club's summer training camp has come and gone.

This year I wasn't given any time for my jazz band to practice. The bulk of the schedule was monopolized by the concert band to prepare for the Prefectural Championship (fanfare with lots of dissonant harmony and complex rhythms), which would happen in the afternoon of the day the training camp ended. Even though I understood the reasons, I was still pretty upset about it. However, I was given a lot of other things to do, much more responsibility than usual, so I didn't really have any time to fret about it. The one afternoon of free time also gwugged and went to make time for more practice, so we were engaged almost the whole time. There was hardly any room to think...let alone take pictures. (Sorry, Agus!)

I'm not going to bother going into blow-by-blow details, partly to avoid another potential scandal (though the spies don't seem to be visiting lately), partly because I've been there before, and partly because there aren't all that many interesting things to talk about. Instead, I'll just stick to a few events and my impressions connected with them.


So here I am, on country roads.

Yes, the expressway would probably be faster.
I've chosen to take the country roads.

Yes, the expressway would probably be straighter,
A much easier path to follow.
I still prefer to take the country roads.

I could have ridden the bus;
I could have laughed with the students,
Stared out the window, taken a quiet nap.
I'm happy here, in my BLUE RAV4, on the country roads.

Next to me is Chuck, my friend and new coworker,
Behind me the wife of the Maestro,
Two cellos, two violins, four clarinets, a sax,
Assorted boxes and bags,
The cargo I'm hauling on the country roads.

How quickly the world changes,
From the sprawling fields of Kashima,
Through the urban sprawl of Mito,
And into the hills, trees, and architecture
Of a place we don't know,
Flashing past us along the country roads.

It's not exactly quiet here;
In two languages, the conversation rolls on by.
On my audio system, like a sort of war:
My Mannheim Steamroller often interrupted
By Chuck's Jonathan Coulton
And my navigator's soulless female voice
Guiding me down the country roads.

Just one stop for rest room, coffee,
And on our way we go,
Through Tochigi's famed rice fields
We soon leave far below.
High in mountains, deep in forest,
Sparkling water flows.
The pin on my navi-map edging nearer,
Our goal at the end of the country roads.

They call this a town, but I see only trees.
Those signs I do see are all brown,
For we are deep inside Nikko National Park,
And we're getting near this mountain's crown.
We arrive at our goal, park the car, go on in,
But the buses and truck are not there.
I'm guessing we've left them two hours behind,
And that gives us some time to prepare.
They're still somewhere out there on the country roads.

And so Mrs. Ogawa, Chuck, and I
Set to work moving tables and chairs.
When the kids get here they'll have an easier time
Hauling all that equipment upstairs.
Chuck is half Korean, maybe looks Japanese;
The clerk shows me his back, speaks to him,
I fear there will be many more scenes like these,
Not much point going out on a limb.
We'll see how this year's summer goes
Up here on the country roads.

Up here in the mountains, on country roads.



  • take me home, country roads,
    to the place, I belong...

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 6:19 PM  

  • Thanks, Pandabonium! ;-)

    I was tempted to throw that in myself, but I thought it better to leave it to someone else.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:56 PM  

  • There are always at least two roads you can take. One is a straight and narrow one, but it's a hard one too. Only strong, people go for it for battle, for love and for labour. The other is a windy wide road; it's crowded with people eager for temptations.

    A Nekrasov.

    By Blogger shlemazl, at 11:11 PM  

  • Alright, how long did it take you to get that all rhyming??? belie your West Coast origins by using the word "expressway" :)

    I'd love to drive through some scenery myself. I really miss driving!

    By Blogger Olivia, at 3:28 AM  

  • Shlemazl
    I guess that depends on what kind of temptations you're referring to. ;-)

    Only the last few stanzas rhyme. As I got closer to the goal, the structure became more ordered, more rhythmic.

    Actually, we say "freeway" in Oregon. "Expressway" is the official English term here in Japan.

    Well, m'lady, if you can't drive yourself, see if you can get someone else to do the driving...such as in those sports cars that pop up on your blog from time to time.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 1:28 AM  

  • LOL good idea. I was thinking the other day that the ex with the Porsche ought to take me for a long drive when he comes back from Brussels.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 1:53 AM  

  • Sorry. I knew it - country roads - was too obvious and would reveal my lack of creativity, but it was all I could muster.

    I really laughed at the clerk talking to Chuck and ignoring you! I would have paid to have been there. Glad you guys got to spend the time together.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 7:41 PM  

  • I really laughed at the clerk talking to Chuck and ignoring you! I would have paid to have been there.

    What was really sad was that we had just gotten out of my car. The clerk came running over and asked me (since I had very obviously been driving) if we were from Ye Olde Academy. When I said yes and started to explain that the buses would be coming later, he immediately turned his back on me and said to Chuck, "Sensei, I'm sorry to trouble you, but if you could, we'd like you to park your car in a different place."

    Chuck seemed to be both embarrassed and enjoying it at the same time. I didn't give him time to say much, though, because I stepped forward and said very deliberately to the clerk's back, "Okay, where would you like ME to park MY car?"

    The clerk glanced back at me over his shoulder and then said to Chuck again, "If you could, sensei, please park over in that section over there, so the car won't block the buses."

    "Okay, I understand," I said even more loudly and deliberately, and shook my car keys for effect as I walked to the car.

    The clerk looked at me sheepishly, bowed quickly, and hurried away. He was awfully polite to me the next time I saw him.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:33 PM  

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