#245

2018 Tour Stop #8 (part 1): Osaka and Nara, Japan

After an amazing break in Florence, I arrived at the Osaka airport with Kevin and Michael to be greeted at the airport by Lee Selligman, Din #203. Lee is one of our most dedicated alums, and was so generous in showing us around Japan, translating for us, and hosting Dins in his home.

A smiley and freshly shaven Sam #245!  Photo by Eli Troen #250

A smiley and freshly shaven Sam #245!

Photo by Eli Troen #250

I arrived in Osaka a day early, and had my first authentic Japanese meal: a bowl of hand-made udon with raw egg and tempura. I was so beyond excited to try traditional Japanese cuisine, and the noodles were phenomenal. Michael, Kevin, Syd, and I decided to visit the Osaka castle. Outside of the castle, we met a man who made origami, and he made some for us. If you fold the origami a certain way, it looks like a fish, and if you fold the paper differently, it takes the shape of a traditional Japanese hat. I think it'll be one of my favorite souvenirs from tour!

The next morning, we performed on Japanese national radio at the ABC Radio station in Osaka. In addition to singing two songs from our repertoire, we improvised a jingle for the radio station in Japanese, using part of our arrangement for September by Earth, Wind, and Fire. Later that day, we visited Kyoto, the so-called ‘cultural capital’ of Japan, and went to the Kennin-ji Buddhist temple. Having seen many spectacular cathedrals in Europe, it was a really nice change of pace to view my first Buddhist temple in Asia. In Kyoto, I tried authentic mochi (it’s not ice cream!) and had a fantastic Japanese curry, which is cooked with boiled onions to give it a certain sweetness, in addition to the spicy notes of flavor. I am amazed it hasn’t made its way to the US yet!

Dinny Dins led by fearless leader Lee Seligman #203 through a peaceful Japanese garden in Nara.

Dinny Dins led by fearless leader Lee Seligman #203 through a peaceful Japanese garden in Nara.

Since Brian, Ethan, and Andrew were stuck in Okinawa due to the horrible storm, we had to give several performances with only 9 members: one at the Keihanna Plaza in Kyoto and another at the Osaka International University. We were able to perform pretty well considering our obstacles, even though I had to sing very loudly as the only T1 present. We learned two new songs in Japan: ‘Hana wasaku’ (an anthem about rebuilding after the Osaka earthquake) and an arrangement of ‘Let it Be’ by the Beatles. It was relieving once the three others arrived before our performance at the Hyogo Performing Arts Center. This was one of my favorite performances of tour, as the hall had very live acoustics and the audience was very receptive to our music and humor. Most notably, we were surprised by the Kwansei Glee Club who performed a set of songs in our honor. The Kwansei Glee Club is known to be the best glee club in Japan, and a group that the Dins performed with on their 2016 World Tour. It was a riveting moment!

Kevin #244 and his new and dear deer Friend.  Photo by Eli Troen #250

Kevin #244 and his new and dear deer Friend.

Photo by Eli Troen #250

After departing Osaka, Lee took us to Nara, the original capital of Japan. Deer walk everywhere in Nara and are not afraid of people; in fact, some deer will even bow to you as you walk. In Nara, we visited the Tōdai-ji Buddhist temple, the largest free-standing wooden structure in the world, and went to Isuien Garden. I was amazed by the intricacy of the garden, and how the layout of the trees, stones, and buildings highlighted the mountains in the background. There, we also recreated a Japanese tea ceremony, although it was quite abridged (ours took about twenty minutes instead of the traditional four hours). Following our time in Nara, we made our way to Tokyo for our second stop in Japan.

In Dindom,

Sam Rosner #245

 

 

2018 Tour Stop #2: London, United Kingdom

Dins Kevin Kearns #244 and Sang-o Park #249 figure out that phones weren't always wireless  Photo by Sam Rosner #245.

Dins Kevin Kearns #244 and Sang-o Park #249 figure out that phones weren't always wireless

Photo by Sam Rosner #245.

Hi, everyone, it's Sam. Let me catch you up on a little bit since Iceland. Following our stay in Reykjavik, we flew into London Luton Airport on the early morning of Friday, June 1st and then left for our homestays in groups. I had the pleasure of staying with my friend James, one of my best friends from middle school who lives in Bishop’s Stortford, right outside London. It was so great to see him and his family! After arriving in Bishop’s Stortford with Kevin, Sang-o, and Patrick, we all had our first authentic English pub meal. I dined on a delicious beef and ale pie with a heaping portion of gravy and classic British chips (to clarify: in the UK, chips are thick-cut fries, fries are thinner versions of chips, and crisps are what we think of as potato chips). British pub food at its best is not remarkably complicated but has a hearty simplicity that makes for a really enjoyable dining experience.

    After spending most of Friday getting settled into our homestays, the Dins all met on Saturday to depart for Oxford, where we spent the rest of the evening. The city is made up of intricate and beautiful stone buildings, some dating as far back as the Medieval period. The combination of the historic architecture with modern commercial culture makes for an aesthetic blend of old and new that is really intriguing. After briefly exploring the city, we got dinner with the Oxford Gargoyles, a jazz a cappella group from Oxford University, and then had a joint performance at the Turf Tavern. To celebrate, we had an after party on the grounds of Oxford University, which included the most intense game of Twister I have ever played in my life. At the end of a very fun, albeit late, night, the Dins made our way back to the Gargoyles’ dorms, where we were hosted for the night.

Dins take Buckingham Palace. We were royally impressed.

Dins take Buckingham Palace. We were royally impressed.

    The next day, we headed back to London and enjoyed a free day of sightseeing. I was in a large group that visited Buckingham Palace and on such a clear day, the gold on the gates and the statues was almost blindingly bright. Afterwards, I broke off from the group with Sang-o and Kevin, and visited Westminster Abbey. Although it wasn’t open for the day, we really enjoyed exploring the grounds and viewing the abbey from the outside. While we were exploring Westminster, another group of Dins visited the London National Gallery to the world-famous Monet exhibit. That night, we had dinner with our host families that included bangers (sausages) and yorkshire pudding with gravy.

A picture of the famed London Eye  Photo by Eli Troen #250

A picture of the famed London Eye

Photo by Eli Troen #250

    After more sightseeing and free time on Monday (which for me included a trip to Covent Garden and lunch at a fantastic British curry house), we performed at the Lansdowne Club on behalf of the Harvard Club of London. The building has a rich history - the Treaty of Paris was signed there in 1783! We performed for an audience that included members of the Harvard Club, an alum of the Dins who surprised us during Sh’boom, and our generous host families. That night, some of us went out to dinner and ate Fish & Chips with mushy peas before packing and heading off to bed.

    We woke up early the next morning to perform at the Falkner House, an all-girls school in South Kensington. We performed two small sets: one for the girls in the school, and one for students from a local all-boys school nearby. It was such a pleasure to perform for the kids and their parents, several of whom hosted the Dins. After a great performance, we rushed to Gatwick Airport where we caught our flight to Dublin. Stay tuned for more details on our trip to Ireland!

    To Din-finity and Beyond,

    Sam #245