Oji and Osaka

June 1st, 2011

Yougendo Guesthouse in Oji was a bit like the Mussel Inn, relaxed garden bar, gorgeous building and guestrooms. Oji is a very small town a bit like Invercargill or Temuka. I was welcomed to the kawai 100 year old converted guesthouse that I would play and stay in for the next two nights. In the garden was a little stage constructed for my arrival, the courtyard ancient ceramic roof tiles, the bar a converted storeroom. Cosy, lowkey, cute. DIY genius.

My room was huge and cool, the house beautiful, with intricate carved panels, painted paper walls and doors, internal garden areas. I set up, played my set to an appreciative audience, fending off mosquitoes throughout and then slept like a baby in the converted storeroom with no windows. I woke up to vacuuming- alarmed that someone would do such a thing in the middle of the night- it was pitch black. My clock read 11am. Unbelieving I looked at another clock. 11am. Still unbelieving I opened the huge heavy roller door. Daylight. My storeroom was the most restful sanctuary I have ever been in.

I could have slept the entire day but opted for visiting the Horyuji- the worlds oldest standing wooden structure. I had only brought a silk dress and a glittery gold and black one-piece for the concerts in Oji- so I cycled in intense heat through Oji’s old quarters in my glittery one-piece. Sun on my back, past fields, wolf-whistle, overgrown grassy parks, past the river and through streets lined with ancient houses, all with exquisite tiled roofs. I spent the entire day at Horyuji. I was overcome with the history- dating back to 6AD- looking at the many faces of Buddha- carved, cast, sculpted from clay, decorated with filigree and beads- they were doing this all those years ago? I swear I could sense the makers in the room and the dancers who wore the paper butterfly wings and masks enacting religious scenes as many as 1500 years ago in the same structure I walked through moments ago. Again, heat, hunger and humility overwhelmed me and I had to hide my whimpers and tears from the other museum goers.

The second show at Oji was better than the first. The audience was full and appreciative. I finished dead on 10pm as the neighbour had an exam the next day. I sat with strangers who spoke little English and mimed conversation again, I taught the two men and two women some belly dance moves and then slept again like a baby in my storeroom.

May 22 was the night of my show in Osaka. I met Masaki at Guesthouse Yougendo. He filmed ‘To Ash’ in the interior garden and we continued filming on the train to Osaka to the bemusement of the commuters. The venue ‘Musica Japonica was in the ‘pink district’. We ate deep fired crumbed veges and raw cabbage and downed some beer.

The show was incredible, the venue packed, and the decor lined with skulls, coloured faceted beaded curtains, red paint and posters indicating a dedicated music venue. The owner had asked ‘Sugami’s’ band to rehearse ‘The Ladder’. I got up on stage and sang my song with an impecable backing band with over 15 years jazz experience…. bliss.

I trained back to Oji and slept another night in the storeroom. The following day I headed for Tokyo via Nara; where I cycled in rain between temples, delightful deer, picnicing ladies and listened to Erykah Badu over a lunch set; and flew back to Malaysia.


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