Emanuel Ringers

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Friday, July 30, 2010

July 29 Shinkansen and Hamamatsu

Thursday, July 29
Well I'll start off by saying that I will never get used to those pillows that have those round bead things in them. Everyone got up early, again, and we had a good breakfast at the hotel. We all said goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Takasu and headed on our way to the bullet train. The bullet train is very fast and my ears are actually popping every now and then but it's definitely worth it. Jessie agrees. But the bullet train is a good way to see the Japanese countryside.
After our first ride on the bullet train we went to the Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments ( my ears are popping right now, we're on the train again). It was really cool and interesting. There were instruments from all over the world in one place.
One exhibit was the Keyboard Instruments Room. There were a bunch of organs, pianos, harpsichords and clavichords from the 1700's ( maybe earlier) to the 1900's. A woman who works at the museum played one if the harpsichords and explained how it worked. They also had an exact replica of one of the first pianos ever made.
Another room in the museum was the hands on room. They had some of the instruments from around the museum that we could actually play. I tried African drums and a Pan flute. They even had handbells! They weren't the ones we are used to. They were like the ones school teachers have with little springs with a piece of plastic at the end.
There were hundreds of instruments and many of them were some of the weirdest ones I have ever seen but they were also pretty cool. After the museum we went back to the train station and ate lunch. I love the food here, all the different kinds make every meal a good one. We then took the train to Himeji and got to take a brief rest at the hotel. It's a nice hotel and thankfully the pillows have a soft side instead of just beads. We took a walk down a long row of stores and had dinner at different places and even got to get a long distance look of the castle, which is being worked on right now so we won't be able to go inside or get a very good picture of it. After that we went back to the hotel and went to bed, which everyone was very grateful for.
Jessie and Luke
Sent from my iPad

July 28 Yokohama and Friendship Concert

Wednesday, July 28
Our last morning at the Seminar House started with a nice morning service filled with prayer, song, and expressions of gratitude toward our hosts. Grace taught Kanto the superman prayer and Luke selected the bible verse. Going with the theme of thanks we presented our hosts with gifts -- scented pillow, jams, and maple syrup (all made in New York) for the adults and American/Japanese flag pins for the kids. After breakfast we hit the road for Yokohama. We stopped at Yodobashi Camera, an eight story electronics store, for lunch. On the basement level there was a selection of different restaurants and stores that we had an hour or two to explore. After a few more train rides and a 10 minute walk we arrived at the hall where the friendship concert was. All the choirs were introduced to each other before rehearsal. Our Kanto friends helped us set up the tables. We had the opportunity to run through our solos and relax in our dressing room before the massed rehearsal. The ladies in charge provided us with box dinners which were delicious! They had fried rice, dumplings, chicken, and noodles to give us some energy before the big concert. At 5 we headed to the performance hall to practice the three songs all the choirs played together: Prayer, Night at the Opera, and In Joseph's Lovely Garden. It went pretty well and we worked hard on any spots the conductors wanted to fix. Eiko translated for us so we were always able to understand what was going on. After we were done, we quickly changed into our uniforms and headed to our seats for the concert. Our solos were eighth on the program so we watched all the other choirs perform. The techniques the other choirs used and the beauty of the music once again, in Eiko's words, put our jaws on the floor. We also recognized many of the songs because we have played them in the past. When the Emanuel ringers were introduced we went on stage hoping that we would play all our notes correctly in front of the large audience. Thankfully our two solos, Fantasy on King's Weston and Meditation on Beautiful Savior, went very well so we were all relieved and ready for the massed pieces. After the concert was over we exchanged thanks and flowers with the other choirs. We all felt honored to be a part of the long lasting friendship with the Japanese choirs. After a quick clean-up we walked to our hotel and went to bed at the end of a very long day.
Eric and Sandra

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kamakura Sightseeing and Fireworks

Tuesday, July 27
This morning we had potatoes, ham, and onions for breakfast. After breakfast we had rehearsal for two hours for our concert tomorrow. During the rehearsal both of our groups played our solos for one another and when the Kanto ringers played their solo they were amazing. Then we had yogurt with fruit in it, soup, tofu, and chicken for lunch. After lunch we took six taxis to Zushi station. Have you ever driven on the left side of the road before? What an experience! Then we all picked up our JR passes for the train into Kamakura. Traveling on a train in Japan they have what they call priority seating. The priority seating is the area for people with canes, pregnant women, people with infants, and people with a handicap. We left the train and arrived at our destination, the 121 ton, 13.4 meter Buddha, Amida Nyori, the principle deity of Kotoku- in temple. At the first sight of it our jaws dropped. The Buddha was massively larger than us tiny humans, even Eric! Many of us took the opportunity to go inside the Buddha which was almost as amazing and large as the outside. After leaving the Buddha we gathered at the station only to walk further into Kamkura and arrive at THE GATE, a large red gate that signifies that you are entering into spiritual sacred ground. We walked along the very long strip of path surrounded by an abundance of trees. At the end was a bridge leading to a huge decorative red and gold temple. Its beauty and majesty was overwhelming. Some of us opted to visit the inside of the temple and some decided to shop, though after a little while it was time for everyone to walk the long narrow alley full of small shops. We all met at the train station and took the train home. We came home and had dinner, fried chicken, cucumber soup, scallops. We had a few minutes of off time to pack our bags for our fireworks beach trip. It was dark and windy which made it very hard to light the fire crackers but we made it happen. Some of us swam in the ocean, some of us danced around in circles with our Kanto group singing to Lady Gaga, and some of us had a blast literally, lighting the variety of fire crackers. IT WAS AWESOME! Then we had a slight incident with Adam where he scraped his hand but he's all better now. We came home, packed and caught some very needed zzz's.
Greg and Ashley

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 26, Tokyo Sightseeing tour

July 26 So today we had more toast. We also had potato salad, meat omelet, sausage, salad and we had fruit and veggie juice for breakfast. Prior to that we hosted morning worship, we sang Be Thou My Vision and read from the bible. Today we went to the Tokyo Tower, which was huge, a lot bigger than what I had expected. The view from the top was amazing, you could see everything from up there and the people looked like ants. I ended up walking down over 600 steps to the bottom which was tiring but good exercise. After the Tokyo Tower we went to Asakusa, Nakamisedori(literally translates as inside shop street) with a whole bunch of small stores with some great souvenirs and other stores with really good sweets. The row of shops led to the Senso-ji Temple where we cleansed ourselves with water and covered our heads with incense to give us good health. We also threw coins to pay our respects. We also passed through the Kaminarimon Gate and saw the wind god and thunder god on either side. Most people bought souvenirs to bring back home. In between shopping we went to a restaurant with great food, better than the food in the U.S. The only problem I had was eating the chow mein with chopsticks. It ended up being a great trip to Tokyo. We had a two hour bus ride back to Seminar House. When we got back we had an hour break and some people walked to the beach and went swimming. I went and we were in the water for a half hour and it was very relaxing. We walked back and had another practice and went over three pieces,which went well. After polishing the bells we talked about what we were doing for the next few days and I'm very excited.

Kimberly and David


(Hey this is too dark! we need brighter picture!)

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 25 Hayama Seminar House - Rehearsal Day

Sunday, July 25
So now we have a sheet cake(alot of time versus a sliver of time)worth of time...this morning we got up at 7 o clock. It was a rough morning but we got to spend some time at the beach. It was nice even though we didn't get to swim. Then we had morning service with the Kanto Gakuin choir group. The service was in Japanese and for the most part we couldn't understand a word but it was about the meaning of the symposium theme, Echoes For Peace. After the service we went to breakfast, and we had salad, French fries, sausage, eggs with cheese and ketchup, and really interesting apple juice with a straw. Then there was the toast. This toast according to Chelsea was the best toast she has ever had In her life...literally (no joke). We then had a short break for 15 minutes. We got settled and unpacked during that time.
So then we had a two hour practice for just our choir. The last half hour of the practice the Kanto Gakuin choir joined us to play. Then we went to lunch. We had rice and beef curry, salad and water melon (which Chelsea also liked way too much). After lunch we had introductions with all of the choirs and the alumni, which was insanely confusing. And right now we are writing the blog in the lobby of this place while Kim is trying to give us ideas but failing. So then we had more practice before playing UNO with the kids from the Kanto Gakuin group. During the UNO game we were each paired up with a person from the Kanto Gakuin group. Chelsea and Kim won right before we had to go to dinner. Chelsea's new favorite food was the odd apples we had. At dinner we had egg drop soup with corn, sticky rice, beef and special apples, large shrimp with zucchini, and then for desert we had an orange custard. Grace taught Jun and one of the other girls from the Kanto Gakuin choir how to play three bells in one hand. Then they taught all of us how to play "with our knees" or dancing while playing. Some people went to the beach really quickly before another solo practice. We practiced our solo piece before heading off to finish this blog in the lobby where Kim still fails to give us ideas.
Grace and Adam

July 23 and 24 Rehearsals leading up to our departure and departure day

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday July 19,20 and 21
Our three 8:45 a.m. sharp practices seemed to fly by with all the pieces we had to master, packing the bells with bubble wrap and the excitement inside us growing. After each practice, one could hear the improvement we were making, and we were sounding good (thanks to our wonderful directors). But there are, of course, those pieces that aren't too nice to us and we just smile and play.
Friday July 23
As everyone rolls up to the church at 5:45 a.m., the excitement continues to grow. All the bell cases and suitcases were lined up outside and we waited for the bus to pick us all up. We had a quick meeting, and soon enough, the bus arrived. We had a few (and by that I mean we felt like movie stars) pictures, a prayer by Pastor Paul and then said our goodbyes. We all piled into the massive bus and we were on our way.
Our excitement grew as we arrived at the airport and the trip that we had been distantly planning and practicing for became real. After getting our tickets and checking our luggage, we set out toward gate C121, excited to get on our flight and begin our journey. But almost as soon as we got on the plane we were ready to get off. But the 14 hours of movies, airline food, and whatever sleep we could get on flight C09 was a bonding experience for the group.
Arrival Day and Hayama Seminar House
Saturday, July 24
The plane arrived in Tokyo-Narita at 1:55 p.m. Walking through the airport we immediately noticed the not so subtle differences of Japanese bathrooms, architecture, and fashion. After we passed through customs we made our way to the tour bus, passing horizontally compact cars riding on the wrong side of the road. We had a two hour bus ride with our tour guide, Mr. Shimazu, before we reached the Hayama Seminar House. We were greeted by our hosts, the Kanto Gakuin Choir, who escorted us and our suitcases inside. Once inside the Seminar House we took off our shoes, exchanging them for the sandals inside locker cubbies. We had a quick group meeting, with introductions (from which we got cool japanese name tags), an explanation of tomorrow's plans, and most importantly our room keys. With the jet lag kicking in, we all hit the hay. The Kanto Gakuin Choir showed us to our rooms and taught us how to use our tatami mats, and we were all fast asleep.
Kayla and Stephanie

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Starbucks to the rescue!

We still do not have internet connection at the Hayama House.      We needed to walk to the town and use Starbucks connection.    Everyone is fine and ready to go Tokyo sightseeing in a few minutes.    (by the way if you click on the slide show you can get a bigger and more detailed photos.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

We arrived safely!

We are safely at Hayama.    All are well except for the internet connection which foiled our well planned blog writing on iPad and then transfer on to the Blog.     (no wireless connection... no Blog posting it turned out! )    We have the first blog write up ready and will up load as soon as the connection is established.     Ken

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pre-Tour

Well we are only a few weeks away from our trip. Bells are polished, rehearsals are scheduled, planning continues for our departure on Friday, July 23, quite early in the morning.

Please keep up with us through this blog. The ringers will be taking turns writing and posting pictures from our daily travels. Thank you to all who made this possible for us to attend the 14th International Handbell Symposium in Osaka, Japan. The theme of this years symposium is Echoes for Peace. Thanks to all of you, the ringers will use this opportunity to share their gifts of music with ringers from around the world.