Part 1: Tokyo
We took the night bus from Sendai on Friday 29th and arrived in a typhoon stricken Tokyo at 5.30am Saturday morning, with one umbrella between us and three hours to kill before our first engagement -- the national junior high school brass band competition which Gareth's schools was in, representing Miyagi.
We kept ourselves warm and dry in a cafe, pigging out on hotcakes, drink refills and doodling on newspapers.
The brass band competition was really good. We only stayed until Gareth's school Koyodai had played (we felt 5 hours might be too much for us). I was hugely impressed with their conductor who danced, bobbed, crouched, jumped, and gesticulated elegantly. You didn't need to hear the instruments - his gestures expressed the music exactly. I was totally enthralled.
The students were excellent too though and deservedly won silver.
Afterwards we went to a couple of art galleries. The first had an exhibition by the amusing artist Misaki Kawai. So lovely. So fun.
The second gallery was showing a collection of Van Gogh paintings. We were cold and grumpy by the time we got there, and the gallery was packed with people. The show was presented in chronological order, beginning with Van Gogh's earliest works -- sketches, studies and copies of other painings -- which, frankly, were not all that impressive. But by the time we got around to Irises we were awestruck.
Later Gareth and Shoko worked on a last-minute zombie animal poster for Shoko and Sasayu's Halloween party.
Jiizasu (Jesus), owl and the Debiru (devil).
The awesome "I heart NZ" sheep and kiwi.
Sasayu in her adorable ghost costume.
Shinya's minimalistic Kintaro costume (Kintaro is a manga character whose father is an eyeball on a tiny body).
Kohei was a tree.
We played musical chairs and then fell asleep on the sofa.
Then it was time to catch the 7am shinkasen to Osaka ... part 2!