Today we took off to Japan for the ‘Be The Change’ CD release tour organised by our friends at the Sloth Club. My mother has been traveling to Japan for over 25 years as an environmental campaigner and has written songs and composed CD’s for as long as I can remember. She’s taken me along many times – but this is the first time I’ve written and recorded on a CD (actually I was only 12 when we did the recording – so please don’t judge!)!
The themes of the tour included supporting the Mothers escaping the Fukushima nuclear disaster and calling for an end to nuclear power, awareness about the lifestyle change we need to respond to the climate crisis, spreading hope in trying to keep Japan as a country of Peace and deep ecology (remembering we are actually connected to the Earth (and each other).
I loved being able to perform on stage (been doing this in Japan since I was little) and this time I also got to go surfing!!
There are so many photos of our trip! I’ve put a few in here, but here is a slide show you can look at too; http://youtu.be/nFprGY_EX0Y
22nd of October, 2015
We said our goodbyes and boarded our plane to Japan! I was so so excited to meet old friends and especially eat Japanese food!
After we landed and went through customs, by sheer coincidence – we bumped in to Taka, my glasser from Duranbah Surfboards! Small world! We then met our friend Naoko who took us to Kokobunji to stay for the first night.
I woke up bright and early to meet people from Billabong Japan who took me surfing all day with Nagisa (the U18s girl Japan champ!) I had such a fun day with them! First we checked the surf and surfed a really shallow rock break that wasn’t very good so we went 20 mins south to find and awesome break! I got some really fun ones and there was a couple times where I had to ditch, some sets were quite powerful!
We had an amazing sashimi lunch and took off to find some good shots!
We found a beautiful temple to take some photos in… I found a cat 😽
After taking some selfies…okay, a lot of selfies!
Overall it was an amazing day with the staff and Nagisa. I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon!
The next day, I was excited to find out that I would be able to surf with our friends Naoka, her husband and their cute son, Yamato (who is 2 and a half). We drove off in search of waves and boy, did we find some! I had so much fun! I surfed for a bit then played with Yamato and built sandcastles.
We had an awesome lunch where you cook it yourself! It was delicious!
After our tummys where stuffed, we drove home, had siesta then woke up in time for dinner at Naoka’s parents sushi restaurant! It was incredible! Lots of amazing food! My favourite was scallop, squid and clam mixed with cheese and mayo served in a clam shell! I was really spoilt!
I stayed an extra night at Naoka’s and slept in (which was needed!)
We had a slow morning and left the house for lunch at Yokohama’s 2nd best ramen restaurant… It was definitely the best I have ever had! I even ordered an extra bowl of noodles! We then went for a walk in Yokohama Bay, and there was a festival to celebrate and thank Tokyo Bay. All the stalls were very kid friendly and we got heaps of candy (I don’t need to go trick or treating!).
After sightseeing, we left to go to Totsuka and meet up with mum and Naoko. After I said goodbye to the lovely family, I then went to an event in a solar powered, straw bale built temple – where mum and I sang and talked until 9:30pm, getting a lift from the priest in his silent electric (solar powered car)…only in Japan!
After jumping on the hotel bed, we checked out and headed to Yokohama Station because mum had a meeting with the Sloth Club (I didn’t mind waiting for hours because there was free WiFi!! 😄👍🏽 – finally!)
Straight after the meeting we jumped on a train to the airport and flew to Fukuoka where we met our old friend Nakamura-San – the pioneer of organic fair trade coffee in Japan and a leading anti nuclear activist. We drove to Itoshima for another event at a Green Co-op supermarket where we performed for about 50 people. It was so good seeing more old friends and new!
After the event we drove in another electric car to stay in a replica 160yr old traditional house! How bizarre! Even though it was actually only 14 years old, I was a bit freaked of like spirits (dumb, I know) but it was so retro!
The next morning we went to visit a shrine. It was really beautiful and is known as the most powerful place in Itoshima. It felt like you were connecting with all beings in that little place we prayed at the temple and gave thanks to the gods. By the time we got back to the house it was time to go to the next event – a photo shoot by a photographer who is leading the peace movement called ‘One Million Mothers’ – helping families move away from the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. Taking positive photos of the love in families helps remind people of the most important things…
We went straight to one of the most sacred and important Buddhist temples of Kyoto – the Honenin temple for an event. Lots of kids came along with their parents. It was so fun! We danced and sang!
The next morning we went to an organic, natural fermentation bakery for another event. There were so many cute little toddlers – it was so much fun to play with them! But it was time to keep moving! We jumped on the Shinkansen and headed for the next city. The super fast Shinkansen took us to Nagoya, where we met with our friends who ran a temple where we stayed. The temple was famous for an amazing dragon sculpture. It was beautiful. There were two dragons a male and female wrestling – all carved out of one piece of wood. It is said if we touched on their head would get a better brain…Later that afternoon we went to another event in the city – singing with my mum. After the event there was a big dinner party but soooo late at night! I ate so much food it was amazing! I had to mango smoothies and the food just kept coming but I was just so tired I fell fast asleep and I missed out on the apple sorbet for desert. Mum said she tried to wake me but apparently I just said ‘ouch ouch ouch’.
The next morning I slept in and the next event started at 10:30 so I had to get a move on to get ready!
We had delicious home made miso soup and home made ume boshi with organic veggies for breakfast…healthy and made with love.
This event was organised by a mother’s group who promoted natural parenting – so there were heaps of babies! Yay!! It was so cute to see them toddling around between the temple drums and bells and sacred things – exploring and inquisitive. It was so relaxed and friendly for a temple!
After the event the head priest drove us to the central station for our 3 hour bus trip to the mountains of Nagano, the ‘central alps’ of Japan.
Waiting at the bus stop were 5 very funky friends playing drums and other instruments to welcome us! This was going to be a great experience – I could tell! One of them was (Ayumis daughter) – a 16 year old who became my best buddy for a couple of days. They took us straight to a 100% organic apple orchard, (where I could play with another baby!) – picking apples and learning about organic apples!
Next, we dashed off to the hot springs! In Japan, you don’t wear anything in the public hot baths (the men and women are seperate) and there are an assortment of many deep, sper sized spa pools with jets and bubbles and different temperatures and the water comes from deep inside the mountain…we looooove Japanese hot springs!
Our place for the night was called ‘Ima koko’ (now here), with a teepee in the front yard and instruments of every kind around the place! We got straight into some rhythm and dancing! Dinner was ‘shabu shabu’ (means you ‘swizzle’ thinly sliced bits of meat with lots of veggies) of wild deer. Yes, wild deer. These young people have been helping the local community deal with one of its biggest problems – being over run by deer who are causing erosion and destroying crops. They no longer have any predators, since all the wolves have been killed, so – rather than just killing and leaving the deer (like the farmers used to do), they are now using every part of the animal to support the local community and help the natural environment get back in balance.
We said a prayer thanking the deer and had a big, hearty dinner.
We woke to a beautiful autumn morning with a mountain chill in the air – put on our layers of clothes before going up the mountain. Our hosts led us on a blind walk to a lookout over the magnificent Japan alps – literally breathtaking!
Next it was a visit to ‘Oshika’ village – the heartland of alternative culture in Japan, a long established community now threatened by a super fast train line that wants to blast holes through all the mountains just to be able to ‘save’ half an hour or so on the train commute from Tokyo to Osaka. Come on – isn’t life fast enough already in Japan?
We had delicious udon lunch then played in the afternoon light of autumn leaves before going to the next event space – a 160 year old traditional house. Ayumis daughter asked if I would like to dress up as a bee to be part of the performance. Ah – ok! Feathers for eyelashes, hessian headdress – we would be fluttering around the place reminding everyone about the importance of bees and the huge problem going on now with bees in Japan (and the world) almost disappearing. It was so much fun!
We arrived in the forest cabin late at night and crashed under as many layers of futon we could find to keep warm!
Today Mum was leading a deep ecology workshop with about 30 people in this beautiful forest, with deer, monkeys, bears and a clear mountain stream – such a great place to be. Because the workshop would all be in Japanese, I could take the day to wander around the forest, do homework and my blog and enjoy the natural hot springs!
Back in the Tokyo city, greeted by a drizzly grey morning…we ventured out for a couple hours to do a bit of souvineer shopping before getting back on the crowded train to get to the ‘Soil and Peace’ festival in central Tokyo.
It’s the heart of the concrete jungle and there were police around with road blocks stopping ultra right wing, noisy black trucks from cruising the streets.
The festival was an oasis of Earth loving people from all over Japan, with organic food stalls and hand made Eco products, lots of kids playing on bamboo climbing structures and concerts and talks all based around sustainable lifestyle themes.
I joined in Mum’s concert to a huge crowd who looked so happy to be there. We were joined on stage by a guy in a round ‘Earth’ costume as well as a polar bear – giving a plug about the upcoming climate change actions in time for the Paris meetings.
As usual, apart from singing, I had the most fun playing with the kids and babies – there was a baby goat we could feed and pat!
It was the last day and it was pouring with rain! We squeezed on the bus with all our luggage, then on the train to get back to city! But Mum still had an event and meetings to go to, but I got to hang out with my new friends from Billabong Japan!
We said goodbye to our good friends – like family really – from the Sloth Club and made a plan to come back next June for 6 weeks…this time more slowly and with more surfing!
What an amazing whirlwind journey! There were so many new impressions; people, tastes, sounds, scenery and experiences – hopefully this gives you a bit of an idea!