Blog and Book Reviews

Good Things to Remember Everyday 10/16/18

October 16, 2018

Recently I changed my long time routine. I quit reading books when I am in bed before going to sleep. From my very young age I always carry a book to go to bed, and read it. Instead I gently close my eyes and start remembering good things happened that day. Tasty fruit at breakfast, Beautiful blue sky, Fun articles on a newspaper, Having fun solving the puzzles on a newspaper, Short, but nice conversation with my neighbor or the clerk at the nearby supermarket, no traffic, students came to lesson with preparation (!), Spotted a beautiful flower while driving, Nice remarks in email communication, Good drama to watch on Japan TV (!), Good jokes with my colleagues at school.. etc. We have something good to remember each day. When we are about to sleep we can’t worry. We can’t be stressed. Our task is to have a good night sleep for tomorrow.

Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

A Movie “The Old Man and The Gun” 10/15/18

October 16, 2018

This movie is based on David Grann’s 2003 New Yorker article about Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford), a criminal expert (!) who robbed many banks, escaped from prison on at least 18 separate occasions (he escaped from San Quentin at the age of 70….), and went on his final crime attempt at the age of 79! That is amazing numbers to achieve. Tucker keeps the gun, which mostly sits unused in his well-made jacket pocket, but he is a good nature and well-mannered man even at the bank confronting the teller to give him money!! He is a charmer! It is a perfect movie for Robert Redford. I can’t imagine anyone else would do as well as Redford. He is a movie icon. He has a charisma. He still has, at the age of 82 (!), a smile which will melt our heart. Sissy Spacek (a woman who loves him despite of his profession) and Casey Affleck (John Hunt, who is a detective to try to catch him, but actually he becomes to  be captured by Tucker’s charm) have perfect roles as well. They fit into their characters naturally. Great acting! I have heard this can be Redford’s last movie before he retires from the movie business!! You will have a great time with this movie. Be charmed!

 

 

 

恩田陸 チョコレート・コスモス  朝日新聞社 10/7/18

October 7, 2018

恩田陸3作目!これも、期待通り。前回読んだ本は、デイープな音楽家の本だったけれど、今回は更にデイープな俳優のお話し。これも多分(私は俳優業を営んだ事がないので、想像だけど)、俳優という業をはるかに超えた人物を登場させる事で、ドキュメンタリー調でなく、ファンタジーとなり、成功しているのだと思う。主人公の飛鳥は、すべてにおいて超人間。その周りに、天体ではないけれど、いろいろな星が周り(キラキラの星もあれば、暗めの星座もある)、物語が生き生きと進む。”演じる”事に憑かれた人々の、”演じる事”を究極’に求める、終わりのない旅。そこにちょっと参加させてもらって、”演劇”の世界を見せてもらった。

Movie “Science Fair” 10/1/18

October 1, 2018

What an energy!! Being young is just wonderful! The film picked 9 brilliant high school students from all over the world to follow their path to come to ISEF (The International Science and Engineering Fair). I really did not know anything about ISEF! It is a huge event. And many high schoolers think ISEF is the key point to be accepted by the good universities. 1700 students are selected from 78 different countries to come to the fair. Each student has different back ground, financially and ethnically. But their goal is to win the BEST in the fair which comes with $75,000 cash prize with many awards. All 1700 students are amazingly smart and quirky! And they work very very hard to prepare for the poster presentation in front of the distinguished judges. They are nervous. They are excited. It is a wonderful film. And it is very entertaining!

 

蜜蜂と遠雷 恩田陸 幻冬舎 9/28/18

September 28, 2018

恩田陸さんの「夜のピクニック」がとっても良かったので、それじゃあ、直木賞を取ったこの本も、と軽く手に取った本。ところがどっこい、何とピアノコンクールを題材にした、超大作。音楽にしたら、ワーグナーのオペラである。まあ。言ってみれば私の専門分野。冒頭で、コンクールの審査員の一人が、演奏者に対して非常な嫌悪を催す一節があるが、私も自分の分野であることもあり、「何だーー。知ったかぶりして!」というような、反応をしてしまうかと、思ったのだけど、この作者、大物である。コンクールのドキュメンタリーではなく、完璧で高貴な小説なのである。緻密な取材、インタービューをもとに(浜松国際ピアノコンクールを基盤にしているのは、間違いないと思う)、完璧なフィクションに仕上がっている。音楽のビジネスの現実的な部分を根本に、とても素敵なファンタジー。音楽コンクールを使って、人間の深淵に臨み、愛を語らい、葛藤を描く。「演奏家」である事の真実を、小説家がこれほどまでに描けるのか。。。びっくりするぐらい、「演奏家」の真実にも触れている。しかし一番大事な点は、相反するようだが、究極的に非現実であるところだ。。私の知る限り、登場人物達は、余りに素敵すぎ、大天才すぎる。でも、それで良いのだ。だって、これは、小説だから。それも、とっても素晴らしい一冊だからだ。

A Movie “Kusama: Infinity” 9/21/18

September 21, 2018

Yayoi Kusama, a 89 years old Japanese artist, is the top-selling female artist in the world. Her exhibitions are often sold-out. She speaks in Japanese in this movie and I hope the audience can feel the nuances in her Japanese in the subtitle. Her speaking manner is quite unique, but totally sincere. Kusama went through a hard journey from a conservative family (but wealthy) in Japan to a radical life in USA in 1960’s. She overcame countless odds to bring her artistic vision to the world. For the last 40 years she has been living in the mental institution in Tokyo, and commutes to her studio everyday. She has been well taken care by people around her. But for decades, her work pushed boundaries that often alienated her from the art world.

Before coming to US she was an underdog against everything in Japan, a life in a dysfunctional family that discouraged her from a creative ambitions, sexism in the art establishment, and mental illness in a culture where that was a particular shame. After coming back to Japan from US in 70’s she was also alienated because of her scandalous activities. Now she is a “Princess of Polka Dots, and has achieved the international fame. She has her own museum in her home town (she could not go back to her home town for many years because people simply did not accept her radical attitude). I love her arts and I was deeply moved by her sincere talk in the movie. When I went to see this movie at Laemmle there were only 3 of us… I hope many more people would see it.

 

恩田陸 夜のピクニック 新潮社 9/17/18

September 17, 2018

中々、良い小説ですよ!高校生活最後の経験として(一年生も二年生も参加しているが)、夜を徹して長距離を歩き、そこでいろいろ話し、経験し、学び、次へのステップへの道筋を見つけるという、体育系でもあり、文科系でもある、総合小説。私自身も最近、女子中学時代の友人4人と、一泊旅行に行き、中年で似たような経験をした。旅を共にするのは、時間の共有だから、話しが沢山出来る。そして、学生時代(それも中学時代)の友人となると、カッコつける必要なし!今更化けても、意味がないのだ。すっぽんぽんで居られるのは(温泉入浴も入れ)、大変気持がよい。バカ話しの合間に、バスで隣に座った時など、相談事をしたりする。景色も良いし、食事も最高(私達の場合は!本の中の高校生達は、苦行である)!情報過多、インターネットに振り回される毎日を忘れ、こういう「時間」を共有するのは、人生の真の喜びだと思う。私はこの中学時代の友人達に、いろいろな場面で、そっと助けられて来たし、これからも、私の人生の大切な一部分になる事は、間違いない。「夜のピクニック」はそういう意味で、老いも若きも、楽しめて勇気をもらえる小説だと思う。是非お勧め!恩田さんの本、他も読んでみます。

盛り上がる9月場所! 9/14/18

September 14, 2018

久しぶりに上位陣が揃い、本来の「大相撲」の体をなしている今場所。海外でも大いに盛り上がっています。こちらの相撲中継は、午前12時から2時まで。私の主宰しているロサンジェルス相撲愛好会の皆さんも、必死の応援を連日、真夜中に続けています!稀勢の里と御嶽海の手形を飾り、私も連日祈るような気持ちで、中継を見ています。昨晩、両者とも、余り良い形で負けず、これからまだまだ続く場所が、心配です。相撲というのは、何と厳しいことか!鍛え上げられた巨体がぶつかり、「怪我」をするのが、ある意味当たり前で、それを回避する技も身に着け、「怪我」から回復後も、それを恐れずに、巨体に立ち向かわなければならない。並大抵の根性では、出来ない職業です。ちなみに、宇良は、怪我からの復活で、現在三段目です。。。幕内までの長い道のりを、再度怪我をせず、上ってきて欲しいものです。私の応援する千代の国関も、怪我で確か3段目まで落ち、這い上がってきた強者。40歳目前の安美錦も、怪我だらけだけど、再度入幕を果たすべく十両で必死。それが叶えば、自己の持つ最高齢での入幕記録を破ることにになり、凄いことです!幕下のかなり下位まで落ちている照ノ富士は、現在も休場中。引退はせず、再起にかけているとか。。

中盤に入った9月場所。とても良い刺激が、力士の間に流れている気がします。力士は多くを語らないけれど、それぞれの胸の内は、熱く、かつ複雑だと思います。力士に求められる結果へのプレッシャー。大変なものです。一人、花道を歩き、土俵下で自分の出番を待つ間、孤独ですよね。その間に、精神統一もしなければならない。どういう相撲を取ろうかという、道順も考えるかもしれない。テレビには映るし、しゃんとしていなければならない。すべての力士の皆さんに、エールを送りたいです。

Convenience Store Woman (コンビニ人間)Sayaka Murata (村田沙耶香) Portobello Books 9/10/18

September 10, 2018

I got this book at Hong Kong Airport. I saw the review on “Convenience Store Woman” on LA Times a little while ago, and I was interested in reading it. The translation from Japanese to English is very quirky and funny, for purpose, I think. It sometimes sounds some of bad owners manuals in English we found in Asian products! The Convine (an abbreviation for a convenience store) is totally a Japanese culture! People take it as a sanctuary, a hang-around place, a restaurant (you can find basically everything there), etc.. Things are packed so neatly (as you imagine in Japan!) and everything is done according to manuals. The store opens 24 hours/7 days all year-long, and it is always clean and organized! So the character in this book, Ms. Furukura, loves rules and manuals. In all her life she struggled to fit into the society, and finally she found “Convine” as her comfortable place to be. She feels she is a part of the store. Her life is to work at the store, she tries to sleep and eat well in order to work well at the store. I don’t want to give away everything! You have to read the rest of the book, whether in English or Japanese! I liked the most about this book is Ms. Furukura’s family. They accept her weirdness and peculiar attitude, and simply love her. It is about the Japanese culture, but it applies to everywhere. How do we want to be an individual human-being? Everybody is different.

Beethoven Focus for 2018-19 season 9/5/18

September 5, 2018

I finally came home yesterday! Huh.. I was away for a long period of time this summer, and it is nice to sleep on my own bed 🙂 Lately I carry my pillow (Japanese small one) on my traveling and it gives me a slight comfort though!

For 2018-19 I will focus on Beethoven including, 1) Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 19,  2) 3 piano sonatas, Op. 31 No. 3, Op. 53, and Op. 109, 3) 3 cello sonatas, Op. 5 No. 1, Op. 69, and Op. 102 No. 2, 4) piano trio Op. 70 No. 1 “Ghost”, 5) piano quartet Op. 16, 6) variations on the theme of Waldstein for piano 4 hands WoO 67. I am very excited to live with the great, and to perform different genres of his music. I have never performed a half of above program, and have been having a wonderful time learning them. Some people asked “why this year??” .. Of course the big celebration is coming up in 2020 as his 250th birthday! But I won’t wait to celebrate his music. Every year is a celebration and all of us are blessed by his contribution to this world. My programs will include music from his early period to his late period. We must remember that the instrument “piano” was developing during Beethoven’s time, and his writing for piano was changing accordingly. Also we must remember that his hearing was changing gradually. Could we take his hearing loss as negatively or positively? For instance Beethoven wrote Op. 109 without hearing any note. He only heard it in his imagination. Did he write a same music if he could hear it? That would be an interesting imagination for us to think. There will be a lot to think and imagine this year!

You can find the details of the concert dates in this website.