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23 March 2015 @ 11:56 pm
Days 3 & 4: Of sunny days, of sleepless nights, of pros and cons - Sightseeing must go on  
Hello, everybody!

I'm a bit late with this post. ^^" So there's a lot to write. Let's see how far I get. I simply decided to get something done, seeing how I totally can't sleep any longer at 6am. ^^" I always go to bed very early - or more like I simply fall into it and fall asleep at 8pm the latest. So I wake up very early. I'm still feeling the time difference, so I very quickly grow tired again, but I'll try to pull through this entire day so I can enjoy the days more easily. ^^

So, first off, our day trip. We went to Kamakura. :D I really love being there, it's such a nice and calm town. Plus, it's not too far away, so the journey doesn'ttake very long. So, we got going pretty early, around 09:30 and I was astounded, there was a mass of people travelling with us. O_O Wow! And most of them were on the way to Kamakura as well, so the train was pretty crowded throughout the entire way. We were lucky to get seats.

Onnce in Kamakura we visited the famous Komachidori shopping street, where you can buy souveniers, useful stuff, such as umbrellas and bags, lots of food, of course, artcraft and many more things. We enjoyed a stroll and once we reached the end of the shopping street I wanted to check out the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine. We didn't visit there last time around due to lack of time, but this time there was plenty of time to spare.

The shrine was surprisingly easy to find and pretty much about just around the corner. And I was surprised to see that there was an entire park coming with the building, which was perfect for taking a walk on a warm and sunny day. We walked along some of the side lanes, inspected both brigdes that are within the area and checked out a smaller shrine on one fothe side paths. Some early cherries were blooming too, which gave a very nice picture. ^^

We then moved on to something that looked like a view spot towards a small pond with a blooming cherry tree in the center. Along the way we noticed a number of white dots in the distance and while we were wondering what they may be we approached the area and found that there was a spring flower garden exhibited. An entire garden full of peonies. A really beautiful sight, all those blooming fowlers and in so many different colours. I didn't even know there were so many. ^^" Oh, and the white dots we had seen were actually small sunshades, protecting the flowers from direct sunlight. The garden was beautifully maintained - as basically all gardens are - spiked with benches to sit on and enjoy the beautiful nature around you. The garden has several cherrie trees as well, but they were'nt blooming yet. It was still a very nice visit and definitely worth the entrance fee.

So, we enjoyed the flower garden and my mother took about 1000 pics of flower blossoms. Then we moved on to the shrine's main building. Along the way there were several food stalls. My motehr was too wary to eat anything there, but I felt adventurous and got a little skewer with rice wrapped in beef. It was really good. ^^ The shrine is definitely a sight to see too. There's quite a number of stairs to climb, but once you're up there you can view the giant toori that are placed along the street leading to the shrine along with a generally very nice city view.

Sweet Potato and Vanilly soft ice

One of the giant Toori leading towards the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine

Some blooming Sakura

Some impressions from the flower garden:

The shrine area is large, with a number of shops in which you can buy goods and charms. I got two charms that looked cute. ^^ A number of beautifully made wooden carvings decorade the shrine's main building. Several sedan chairs are exhibited, wonderful pieces with gold ornaments and beautiful drawings on them. I checked out a little view spot another staricase up that also held another small shrine with two fox guardians. On our way back we chose a staircase that was a little bit out of the main path, leading just a bit into the woods. It is amazing how calm everything gets as soon as you are away from the main paths. ^^

As we walked back towards the shopping street we felt pretty hungry. Since my mother's stomach was still a bit hard to please we thought what might go well with it. I know this is going to sound very weird now, but we were very happy when we found a German saussage restaurant. I figured that since the saussages must be imported that they would be something my mother is "used to" and thus this food would work fine for her. It did too. But really, the restaurant was such a hilarious experience. They even played German "Schlager". XD I was so baffled. And the food was really good. I really enjoyed that.

Small shrine hall

View upon the shrine's main hall

View over Kamakura from the main hall

German style food :D

It wasn't too late yet, so we thought a visit to the Daibutsu might still work out, but somehow I got lost along the way - because I absolutely need to, at least once per day. >< At any rate, we came along some interesting shops and stuff and then decided to go back. The train wasn't very full on our way back ,which was nice. Back at the hotel I thought htat since it was still pretty early I could just rest a bit and then go out for some shopping. However, as soon as I placed my head on the pillow I was out and didn't wake up before midnight. And then I only got up to brush my teeth before going back to bed and sleeping again until 4am. I felt quite awake then, but stayed in bed, just resting until morning.

Which brings me to yesterday that I started very early. We still took our time to eat breakfast and stuff. We only left around 10am, going straight for the theater. Yes, the show would start at 1pm only, but things need to be planned. First, the trip to the theater took us almost an hour. (Seriously, Tokyo is HUGE!!!) And then when you're there, there's so much to do. You need to take pictures. You need to stand in line for some goods. You need to buy goods and then you need to place them somewhere. Then you have to find your seats... All of that takes massive time. So we were just about good with everything.

Oh and since I mentioned the seats before... I was told that our seats were on the first floor and being used to big concert halls I assumed that means a "stand" seat. I was mroe than surprised to find that no, we were not sitting on a gallery place, but in the fourth row of the ground floor. *___* I almost fainted. Because... we were right in front of the stage. Well, the disadvantage of the seat were the booming speakers that were really loud when the music turned up-beat and sometimes the sound mix with the mics wasn't exactly the best, so it happened that voices were drowned out by the trompets, but that was really only occasionally. Other than that I was as close to Koichi as I'll ever get, so I just enjoyed that.

Theater decoration

This year's poster

Huge collage

About the show - what can I really say? SHOCK is still awesome, Koichi is still awesome, Yara is awesome and I was totally at awe with basically everything. But let's go bit by bit.

Cast: I was very suprised to see that Matsuzaki and Tatsumi weren't in the cast. Koshioka and Fukuda from 4U remain. They are now the seniors to the younger crew. How time flies, really. ^^ I have to admit that I don't know all of the younger crew members. I do know Takayoshi Kishi, who was already aprt of the show last time I saw it and he's very capable and seemingly one of the Juniors that Yara realyl likes. Koichi pointed him out during the ending speech, thanking Kishi for continuing the show after being involved in the accident several days ago. He only had a nimor injury, but just the shock can do things to you, so I think it's pretty amazing that he just kept going. I didn't see Yamamoto, but everybody was doing a great job.

About Yara, his acting is fantastic and he puts his everything into it, throwing his body into it, spitting and sweating - and at the same time he looks composed throughout the entire performance. His dancing skills are unmatched too, of course. Just watching him makes me want to dance. ^^ His singing was really good too, but it'll alwas be no more than "nice" when compared to Uchi. No matter what "Higher" is definitely Uchi's song, he just blows you away when he sings it.

I still haven't found out the name of the girl acting as "RIka" this year. She's mentioned in no English erports and I can't get her name from the Kanji. >< I might try again later, though, because I really liked her acting (though quite composed), her singing and her dancing.

I almsot fell over when I saw Ishikawa Naoki. His hair has grown over his shoulders. O_O it suits him, though. ^^ The theater owner was once again played by the wonderful and talanted Maeda Beverly. Her skils are amazing, really.

Which brings me to Koichi. If he knew how I was feeling I'm sure he would be quite unsatisfied with himself. However, there was just no hiding that he had caught a very bad cold. None of his sniffing, coughing, or choking on stage was an act yesterday. During the first scene he had some severe trouble pitching the notes, he didn't even aim for some of them. They switched to playback for the rest of the entry and backstage scenes. I don't know what they then did to him backstage, but the balcony scene worked a lot better. Still, throughout the play Koichi had difficulties, especially with higher notes. I have no idea why they didn't simply leave the playback on. But well, that's Koichi. ^^ To top it off, it seems his right leg is giving him some trouble too. You won't notice if you don't have an eye for it, but since I do, I couldn't help noticing that he kept avoiding putting his entire weight on that leg for too long, he especially avoided all outside turns of the hip and whenever he could he would avoid big steps, keeping his movements small and centered. It can't be anything severe, but his movement is limited. So, altogether, I felt sympathetic towards Koichi just sometimes, but mainly I adore his constitution. You would never see him showing any kind of trouble on stage, though. Or that he is troubled, for that matter. He acted the same way I've seen him do before and his joy is heartfelt despite all the difficulties.

The play: What about the play? Well... they had some minor changes. They changed some of tha magic parts for the first show - not the one with the car, of course. There's a new one that lets Yara appear on stage. They got rid of the one with Rika under the hood, which isn't axactly a huge loss and instead went for a better trick to let her appear in the car. ^^ Backstage scene and balcony scene are pretty much the same. They always do something nice with Maeda-san during the impro-scene before the balcony scene. The Broadway park scene is the same too.

Then this year's big change: "The world Adventure" got replaced. I really liked the song, but I think it was a good change. The new song is cheerful and brings about a really good mood. There were some small changes in the Jungle scene. They got rid of the "Koichi and doubles appearing and disappearing between walls" act and got in a new choreo. <3 The solo parts remained the same. Second backstage scene was slightly adapted. First, the main conflict between Koichi and Yara has a musical component now, bringing in a part the song that they sing in Act II and that brings Koichi's spirit back to hte theater. It feels quite fitting. Koichi's character seems to be portrayed a bit more desperate, too, which works in favour of the character. THen the big fighting scene and the staircase. That always takes my breath away, no matter how often I see it. Just incredible.

On to Act II, Koichi's first song and the Shakespeare nightmare are the same. The Backstage scene at the Off-Broadway theater seemed a bit "empty", which took me a bit by surprise, but really does something to give the scene mroe gravity. The Off-Broadway theater is pretty much empty - of actors and visitors. Koichi did one really good job with the improvising part. ^^ Upon picking up his own picture he went "Now look at this handsome guy". He then "hid" himself behind his picture, pretending to be invisible. It was all really good fun. On to "Higher" and then the revelation scene. No changes here. There's one of the Juniors, though, who was really incredibly cute. Even Koichi said so after the boy had told him "welcome home" and Koichi pointed out that he would cuddle him, but he was rather tall so it would look weird. ^^" The second Japanesque show did not have any changes either - not that it would need any. It's fantastic, really. "Yoru no umi", fantastic as always with beautiful screen play. The closing scene had some new features. First of all, Koichi moves back down the stairs to sing with everybody. I really like that. Furthermore, they are singing a variety of songs that were sung throughout the play in an adaption that suits the "main song".

The closing speech was a bit short, but that was okay. Koichi must have been wiped out and no more than 11/2 hours later the courtain rose again for yesterday's second performance. It is downright amazing that they can do this. ^^ To wrap things up, I had a wonderful time during SHOCK yesterday and it's really always worth seeing.

We made our way back to the hotel to eat some curry rice. Once we were done, it was already past 6pm. Not much more you can do, so we just bought some water and sweets and the ngot back to our room. I then took a shower and had something to drink and just about half an hour later I was out again, fast asleep. Which brings me to this very moment. It's 8am, I've been writing for about two hours now and now i'm about to finish. Despite the weather forecast it seems that it's quite sunny outside. We'll see if we want to visit Nikko today. It's a pretty long trip and the internet weather says snowy for the area. I am not equipped for that. O_o Well, we'll see. As an alternative, we can spend the day strolling around Tokyo for some shopping. ^^ This is it for now. Edit: pics are up. ^^
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