Nov 21, 2013
Welcome to Niigata! Japan/South Korea Tour, November 21, 2013
Patrick G. Jordan, viola
Tuesday was a beautiful, mostly sunny day for a bus ride through the mountains west of Tokyo on the way to Niigata. The colours of the changing leaves and the general juxtaposition of nature and agriculture was a nice change from the sometimes brutal urban landscape that is Tokyo. As the mountains fell away, we entered the rainy plains of Niigata Prefecture, the largest producer of rice in Japan.
The city itself is an active shipping and fishing port on the Sea of Japan. The marriage of all that rice and all that fish makes Niigata a city very well-known for its sushi. A little research and a little reconnaissance turned up a very good place near our hotel, where a small group of us were extremely well taken care of. Beyond the sushi, which was served in the form of kiwami, the special Niigata presentation that aims at a harmonious presentation of the best of the season, we also had a delicious sashimi plate and perhaps the best soup I have had in any sushi establishment.
Mr. Bach's welcome in Niigata. Photo by Patrick Jordan
This is my third trip to Niigata, and my enduring memory of the place is rain. I was not disappointed on this trip, and devoted Wednesday morning to catching up on various odds and ends of work, rather than joining some colleagues for a stroll by the seaside. Although my visits to Niigata have been during November and late June, the wettest times of the year, a little research revealed that Niigata has 269 days of precipitation/year, making it something like the Vancouver of Japan.
The hall we played in, one of the several beautiful halls at the Niigata Performaing Arts Centre, was for the purposes of the Galileo programme, even a step up from Yokohama. The lighting possibilities were even better, and there was another excellent crew for our production team to work with. The show looked and sounded amazing. The backstage area maintains the tradition of visiting acts signing the walls, and Masako-san found some coloured markers so we could do the same. Tricia Ahern gave Tafelmusik a proud presence, and I think everyone enjoyed the slightly naughty delight of writing on the wall.
Patricia Ahern recreating our signature, backstage at Niigata. Photo by Tom Georgi
Having slept not terribly well last night, I managed to get an early walk in without getting drenched. When it was time to go, the sun finally peeked out, reminding me of another departure from Niigata, years ago. Washington McClain and I were waiting to get on the bus to leave after several rainy days in the city, and the sun came out just as we were departing. I said to him, “Hey, look at that!” and he replied, “I didn’t think they even HAD one of those around here!” Dear Wash….
Mr. Bobblehead Bach and all the signatures backstage, Niigata. Photo by Patrick Jordan