Chinese opera

Mad day today. Started off with my spotting a Tweet (on Twitter) by Kamasami Kong of Tokyo Metropolis Podcast

Looking for someone who went to Eric Clapton’s concert in Tokyo. Did any of you go? I need a report for the MetPod. Thanks!

I replied to his message via Twitter, and shot him an email too: five minutes later he was recording my review of Eric Clapton’s concert, which has since gone out 36 minutes into this weeks Metropolis Podcast.

Listening to it tonight I can’t help but laugh at how much I talk. He barely got a word in edgeways. Also surprised by how crappy the signal is – will have to use Skype next time.

It was an interesting experience, seeing how Kong did it all so quickly. We had a little chat after the interview too, which gave me further encouragement to move forwards with my next podcast.

Following that it was a mad dash to work to pick up the video camera and tripod, then to Shinjuku in the snow to pick up some DVD RAM disks for the picked-up camera (a word of advice – NEVER buy a camera that writes straight to DVD disk and cannot be controlled from a laptop, absolute pants), and finally to Nakano Sun Plaza where the company’s 30th anniversary celebration was to be held.

Mr. D
Friend and colleague Mr. D, one of the nicest folks you could hope to meet in Tokyo, all dressed up for the celebrations.

It was an ‘interesting’ event. I think if you imagine what a Virgin 30th anniversary party might be like, and then invert it, you’d get a good idea. I gather that that sort of thing is quite normal for Japan: lots of thanks, speeches, lots of formality.

I did enjoy the speech by the university lecturer who specialised in the economy of the geisha industry. Learnt quite a bit there, about how they are diversifying and adapting to deal with the modern economic situation.

tiltshift umbrella_3581
A tiltshift Yellow Umbrella, taken from the party venue window

The food was great too. There was an idea that as the hosts we shouldn’t eat or drink until after the guests had left. Whilst all of the Japanese staff stuck to this expectation, us naughty foreigners decided to forgo social norms and be naughty foreigners.

Caw It was nice!

Following that there were another few speeches (pretty entertaining really – the chap in charge of training at a large shipping company gave a short speech in Chinese to demonstrate what he’s learnt when he took one of our courses. I was damn impressed.

Chinese operaThe main surprise came though when I heard that the lady who I’ve sat next to at the office for the past 5 months was about to perform. Perform what? I thought. Turns out that she was a professional opera singer in China before coming to Japan. I was flabbergasted – she was great!

There was a nice sense of groupism by the end of the day. A bunch of us took the same train to our respective homes, each clutching a big bunch of lilies that had been given to the company by its founder. We chatted away like a bunch of gaijin, ignoring the silence around us.

It was especially nice to get a chance to talk to one of the new staff who just started last year. She’s had a real tough time, and a few of us try to look after her. She’s obviously been working hard to improve her English too, as it’s way better than it was last October. I find her inspiring in that way.

Back home I’m shattered. Tomorrow should be a relatively quiet day, I’ll be working till 4pm (editing videos between phone calls I think), then back home to create some loops for the podcast.


It really has felt that life has taken over this week, with routines being kicked to the side in the wake of incessant urgent demands. I hope next week is a little more orderly.


4 Responses

  1. T. and I attended one of these gigs for the company’s 20th anniversary (I think) and, except for the opera performance, it was the same kind of thing. It was lots of speeches, glad-handing guests, not eating or drinking anything until there was nothing left but scraps, and generally just being there to work hard as gaijin candy and not be paid for your time. You could get away with eating before you were supposed to because the current regime isn’t as fanatically obsessed with micromanaging everyone and everything as the “company’s founder” who had not yet sold us all off to the highest bidder and was still in charge of such things.

    The party we went to was clearly a PR event for the company to show off their longevity for clients and not a party for us in any way. This is one of the reasons I declined to attend (though honestly, my back issues ruled me out anyway as standing around for minutes, let alone hours, is out of the question for me). Knowing that Mr. O. was there handing out lilies (and probably taking undue pride in the company’s success) makes me all the gladder that I didn’t go so I wouldn’t have to pretend I don’t despise him for the way he treated some of his employees.

    1. Thanks for saying some things I was thinking but didn’t feel free to say.

      I’m glad I had the videoing and photographing of the event to distract me from the contents.

    2. Ha…I worked as a temp for the Japanese government a few years ago. We had to organize and host a reception at a big convention where we served sushi. I remember some of the gaijin staff asking our Japanese superiors if we should NOT partake of the gorgeous sushi feast along with the guests, and the reply was “atarimae!” (of course). So we patiently waited until the last guest had left, and all that was left was wasabi and green plastic trimmings, LOL!

      Mr. Tame- what company do you work for? I’ve been reading your blog for a while and have been trying to figure it out- seems like an English School like Aeon or something like that. I supppose it’s in your bio somewhere but I’m too tired at the moment to look…

      1. I work for which creates custom-made English and Chinese courses for companies throughout Japan. In addition to creating texts, it sources & despatches instructors, and runs a teaching English over the phone course.