Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Things I've realized...

I'm leaving today for a short tour supporting my friend Amos Lee in the South.  No, not the South of Japan.  No, not South America.  The good ol' U.S. South!  It's very rare that I get to tour through these parts, so I'm pretty excited!  I think it's been about 5 years!  As I began to pack up my bags again for the road, I started reminiscing about how I packed for my 2 month trip in Japan.... and there were a lot of things I've realized since then.



For one, I brought way too many "activities" to do for fear of boredom:  Every free moment I had, I wanted to go outside, to see friends, to exercise, and yes, to shop!  My sewing project, my mini midi  keyboard, my recording headphones, my sketchbook and colored pencils all took a back burner on this trip.

Secondly, out of the 30 or so DVDs I brought with me, I only watched "Pom Poko", "The Office - UK version", and "Still Walking".  Then guess what I did?

I bought Season 6 of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and a few episodes of "Flight of the Conchords" to watch on my iPad.  Yes... instead of watching the DVDs I dragged all the way with me to Japan, taking up so much space in my suitcase, I bought TV show episodes and watched those instead.  The pattern I noticed is that when far from home,  and at the end of a long day, I crave comedy.  NOT movies such as "Sophie's Choice" or "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" (2 movies I actually brought with me).

Thirdly, I brought way too many books.  The only things I read on this trip were "The Dharma Bums", and lifestyle magazines I picked up from Tsutaya or Tower Records.  Again... instead of reading what I brought with me, I bought more things to take home.

Fourthly.... I brought way too many Lara Bars with me!  As if I thought I'd be stranded for hours with no food and low blood sugar or something!  I brought them with me everywhere, but never wanted to eat them ever.  I was constantly sampling new snacks and treats left and right.  And who needs an energy bar when you can eat onigiri from any convenient store on practically every block?!  So I had about 20 of those to take back home with me.  :/

I also brought way too many vitamins.  Or maybe I just didn't take enough vitamins.  I did not buy more vitamins.

Oh, and I brought too many postcards with me in hopes of writing back home.  In fact, by "too many", I mean 1 too many, because in reality, I mailed 0 postcards while I was in Japan.  And why would I bring my own postcards when I can get fun ones from there??  I approached it all completely wrong....  (I did buy some super cool postcards designed by Yurio Seki!)

For this tour, I'll leave the "projects", survival snacks, and one-too-many books at home, and save some space for more goodies to bring back home.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Desert Nights - "Legends Of The Canyon"

I'm doing a mini performance this Wednesday at Desert Nights at The Standard Hotel in Hollywood.  The performance will be from 7:15p - 7:45, followed by a screening of the documentary film "Legends of the Canyon", with special guest (and hero/friend) Henry Diltz.

The show is free and all ages, so it should be a good time!  


Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Room with a View

Both of my trips to Tokyo this Summer had me staying at the same hotel, and in the exact the same room!  I'd find myself taking a picture of the view from different angles, and different parts of the hotel almost every day.  I was in awe at how the sky and the light reflected on the city changed every day and throughout the day.

I'm already looking forward to coming back in December!  I'll do a separate post on that!

p. a.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"じゃね" for now...

My last full day in Japan was in Tokyo, when a bit of the typhoon hit.  It was misty and cloudy all day.  Luckily, right before I left for the wrap party, the clouds cleared into this magical, moody, emotional skyscape.

The party was beyond words.  So many wonderful people who I met through this experience, and whom I'll never forget were there.  People who have literally changed my life and made some of my biggest, most impossible dreams come true!  Everyone treated me with such genuine love and kindness.  It really is such an honor to have been able to work with this team, this Studio, this film!

The night of the party was Sara Takatsuki's 17th birthday!  Here she is looking adorable with her cake from a few days before.  She is like a little sister to me, who I look up to and respect.  I learned so much from her on this tour.

Here I am giving my long speech at the party, standing in front of the "Good Bye" illustration by Toshio Suzuki!

Everyone I worked with on the tour signed little 'tanabata' with farewell messages on this "still" photo from "When Marnie Was There".  I was so moved by this.

Kaonashi, drawn by its creator, singing "Fine On The Outside"!  After this party, we had a small Karaoke hang, that went until 4am.  I'll never forget this night!  

As the airplane took off, my heart was breaking a little, and I couldn't stop the tears from coming.
I'd only had this feeling before when leaving my family in Korea.  But it truly felt like I was leaving another family, there in Japan.  I don't know when I'll get the chance to see all these beautiful people again.  But I cherish them in my life, and will never ever forget them.

A few hours later, I was greeted with a glimpse of the super Moon across the horizon.

And on a happier note, I'll be back in Japan in less than a month!  haha!  To perform on NHK's "Asaichi" morning TV program, to promote the new theme song I wrote for Season 2 of "Soko wo nantoka", and record a new song with Toshiaki Matsumoto for "Minna no Uta".  I hope this means I'll get to keep coming back again and again!


p. a. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Yohei Taneda Exhibition

I've had the honor of performing at Yohei Taneda-san's "思い出のマーニー"  ["When Marnie Was There"] Exhibition tonight, alongside Takatsugu Muramatsu-san, accompanying on piano!  I look up to these 2 people very much.  They are both one-of-a-kind, incredible talents!

If you've seen the movie already -- or even if you haven't -- you should really see this exhibition while you still can!!  The intricate detail and thought that Taneda-san and his team put into this exhibition is so captivating from start to finish.  Photography is not allowed inside, but I was given very special permission to post photos from the inside to share with all of you!!!  These photos only show a few of the highlights to see when you go in person, and of course it doesn't quite capture all the detail and the actual 'feeling' of being there.  There really is a feeling there... the smell of the wood, the wind in the silo!  Please check this exhibition out in person while you still can!

SPOILER ALERT!!!  If you are planning on visiting the museum... maybe don't look at these photos!  Because it really was so eye-opening to be surprised by every new room, you may want to wait to see it in person first!

July 27 - September 15

Original drawings on display by Taneda-san as well as the Director, Hiromasa Yonebayashi-san.

It really feels like you're there in the Marsh House.

Beautiful hand-drawn wallpaper design

Amazing 3-D replicas of scenes with holograms and day to night changes!

Anna's Memories Room

Here is an original edition of "When Marnie Was There", found in a library in Santa Monica -- of all places!

With Takatsugu Muramatsu-san ~ Film Composer Extraordinaire

With Yohei Taneda-san ~ Art Director and Production Design Genius

From Marnie's Room, with Love,

p. a.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Matsuyama is a pretty special place.  It's name means "Pine Mountain".  How cool is that?!

As we drove into town, we saw this old building that just looked so cool!  We had to pull over and take photos of it.  Turns out it's an old onsen, with a history stretching back over 1000 years!  Dōgo Onsen.  It ALSO turns out that the onsen from "Spirited Away" is modeled after this onsen!!!  

Our hotel was right around the corner, with it's own Onsen as well, which I totally took advantage of, right after this ginormous and beautifully prepared meal.  

 This hotel also has an outdoor Noh Theater!

More old streetcars in Matsuyama

More Ghibli graffiti!

Me, eating more cakes!!!  >.<  This roll cake is special to the area, with Adzuki filling and a slight yuzu taste.

I have to say, my favorite thing about Matsuyama are the skies.  This photo doesn't give you an amazing view of it... but constantly I kept looking at the skies.  They were always so vast, and expansive.  Even at night, in the darkness, they were dramatic and velvety.  I'm so thankful I got a chance to visit this city!

p. a.