Sound And The Messenger
Hello and welcome. Creativity shows itself in a myriad of different ways for me. I intend to get out of my comfort zone on this page, be vulnerable and create. Follow me @soundandthemessenger
Alas the infiltration of more plant based products onto shelves is continually more beautiful, minus the packaging and energy required to sustain such comestibles, but hey there's movement and we like movement! Eventually maybe we'll be able to live off the land as nature intended, but until then let's be thankful for food markets of all kinds and shapes. It's all natural and always changing! With that said, let's get into a new list of new vegan helpers as more are being unrolled daily and me likes that!
Navigating All Things Vegan
It's interesting that a lot of us decide to become plant based in Japan. It was that way for me. My whole life I had been craving the freshest fish that was on the Earth and then when I arrived I became vegetarian eventually and then vegan. Vegan can be an interesting game in Japan. While a lot of the food is very plentiful in vegetables and greens and is quite vegetarian in Japan, it still can be quite hard to find supplements especially for the traveling foreigner. Here are some tips on being vegan in Japan.
It's early sometimes when I rise and after meditation I love being able to pick up my guitar. It's led me on such a wonderful fantastical adventure so far and it's something that only improves with age. One time I was sitting in the Great Divide Music store in Aspen. I used to work there for a brief moment and Jimmy Ibbotson came walking in from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He played a song and I think I played a song for him and he replied that, "songs are like wine as they only get better with age." I think that is the beautiful part of music. It is something that does improve with each day. I personally love the John Denver song "This Old Guitar" as the song does really explain what a guitar is like for the songwriter: It is a friend. I've been in some crazy places with my guitar or the guitars I've owned. One time I sat out on a boardwalk in Australia. I hauled it around to late night gigs in Tokyo as well. The feeling is always new when I pick up the instrument. It might be at a campsite in the early morning when the sun just is rising or maybe it's high in the mountains in some far away hut where I have on numerous occasions hauled the instrument up on my back. Somehow multiple plane rides and dusty single tracks on foot has not rendered the guitar broken in someway. Instead the trips have added flavor to the new music that can be created.
I think in today's society we can look into the world and see ourselves as separate beings, but this is largely a fallacy I believe. More and more I see the connection we all have with one another. It might be the simple observation that everybody at the supermarket somehow randomly decides to check out at the same time, or it might be the awareness of how life is filled with constant coincidence. For whatever reason, more and more I'm noticing things as more of a whole rather than events happening as an individual.
Be the Fungi
As the summer grows late and the trees fill themselves with the last reserves of the deep green chlorophyll of summer, many will hike deep into the mountains of Colorado. They are in search of a hidden treasure that only comes with patience and a little luck. It is the season of mushroom hunting in the mountains.
Japan is either hot or cold with one comfortable day in between. That is what I've found in my experience of living in Japan so far. About a three-hour bullet train ride north of Tokyo sits the lovely mountain town of Yamagata City situated perfectly within Yamagata Prefecture. When July comes into season in Yamagata it is a time of vibrant activity within the town. July marks the season of the Sakuronbo Cherry and the Hanagasa Festival, which celebrates the harvest and the cherries. The cherries are ripe for the picking at this time and it's quite difficult to not eat them as they are exceedingly delicious. The region is famous for its rich abundance of fruits. The quaint town of Obanazawa lies just to the north and yields watermelons, which cannot be stored in any size refrigerator. Every town celebrates their signature fruits and this naturally creates weekly farmer's markets that celebrate cultural events rather than our American practice of simply providing a space for local vendors to sell their goods.
I couldn't believe that I was in India. Looking over to my left was an alarm clock blinking 10:30 am. At this time the TV was still on, its introductory screen slowly coming in and out of actual sound in the room and my consciousness as well. I had flown into the dark, bustling city at 3 am just hours previously. It seemed that Chennai didn't need sleep, but I definitely did. Hundreds had lined up outside the airport to take guests to places around the city. I had found my connection somehow and then there was a taxi ride on a dirt road surrounded by rush hour traffic. It was dark all the while, although something in the air sensed the early day was beckoning itself in. The flight previously had been equivalent to about two days of flying. The experience was possibly close to being flushed down a toilet and arriving in another world. "Was it possible to be water logged by time?" I felt that right then. Outside people were now working in the blazing daylight. I was in the cool interior of a room. India was packed tightly around me, but there was no judgement. Everybody lived together, weaved in together, made sense together. This was apparent and it was new and unique. I was there to attend "The Oneness Partners Course" with Oneness University. It was a process that I had started four years prior. A deep Chennai sun blossomed slowly over the sky lighting up the world for millions of people as they began another day in their life. I just happened to be present as well in that part of the world. My life was weaving in with India I realized right then.
It's 10 PM on a Wednesday night and I'm again walking the streets of Tokyo. A steady rain pours down on the road and the drops are light and more like a spray than a rain. As usual, I have my guitar in one hand and a pack on my back. It seems too much, but I feel like I'm missing something when I leave the house without the guitar and so it's there like an extension of myself. The train that was supposed to come never came and so I struck off on the road and now my feet feel the pavement and slowly I'm starting to regret the decision. Overhead a train passes over me, its pale yellow lights putting yellow sparkles onto a road, the pavement drenched in the spray that has been slowly accumulating. Even the streets somehow seem soaked to the bone. Then as if the passing train signals a transition in time, almost as though there was a check point to be passed, I see the sign for Heiwajima Train Station glow overhead. I had been looking for a hot spring in Tokyo City for some time and a place to stay that was cheap. There are the international hostels of Tokyo, which house the foreign night owl, but I wanted to find something more local and preferably something with hot water. When I had conducted the search online Heiwajima Onsen had popped up and so here I was answering the call at 10 PM at night. The station "Heiwajima" translates to "Peace Island" in English. I had walked across the sea of buildings and had arrived!
Upon returning from Japan in 2013 I wondered what I would do next. For four years I had lived in Japan and then I found myself walking down the same streets that I had grown up on. In many ways, it was a revisitation to the beginning. The local grocery store had an opening and so I dove in. I needed a way to make money and it was a way to find my feet once again.
It's another hot day on the coast of Fukushima and it's late summer. I'm in a car and driving deep into a jungle that I thought I could not drive into. Mark has told me about a music festival that happens in the summer in the mountains of Fukushima. I don't know what to expect. An already skinny paved road gradually grows more thin threatening to disappear under the foliage and we turn left onto an old dusty dirt road that creeps its way further into the jungle. Mark and I have been meeting and rehearsing on and off for a couple months now and he has invited me and so I am there with him. He has been introducing me to the music scene in Japan and for that I feel very grateful. The dirt road winds up the mountainside and then curves around sharp turns for the next 45 minutes and then I hear music. I don't expect to hear music but I hear music. It seems to be coming from the leaves of the trees. In fact it could be doing so, but I know it's not. At that moment, I am reminded by my mothers story of how she had told me about a friend who had been hiking in the Swiss Alps. They had been in the middle of nowhere and had rounded a bend to see a green field with a helicopter landed and with the band "Yes" practicing in the middle of the field. I felt I was in a similar experience. Soon the trees opened up to a thousand people camped in the middle of a field with numerous stages set up in the background. There were artists selling their wares and different DJs lighting up dancing in different spots. Our car found a place among the bodies and undergrowth and we filed out of the van. Mark would be playing his own DJ set later that evening and I heard that I would be able to play some music as well.
Using Your Noodle to Surf
I remember the noodle houses in the train station at Abiko Station in Tokyo. I'd arrive when it got dark and the white bright lamps would be attracting moths that would dance around each light seeming to celebrate their own traditional Japanese affairs. It was humid and during that train ride I was usually packed in like a sardine with all the other passengers. Many would pile in at Ueno Station and the people on the outside would get pressed up against the glass. Arriving at Abiko station was perfect as the cool breeze complimented with the freedom of the outdoors and proved to be dual relief from the moments that had ticked by previously. It was on these occasions that steam rose up into the high ceilings of the train station platforms and gave off the smell of boiling noodles and breaded delicacies.