Immediately after landing in Tokyo, pianist Mahani Teave and I were met by the Chilean Embassy in Japan, Patricio Becker at the airport. He hospitably greeted us and took us to our hotel, The Tokyo Prince Hotel. Even though we had traveled many time zones, time traveled days ahead, spent hours on planes, we immediately went to rehearse in a nearby rehearsal studio near the hotel for hours until closing time. We found that The Tokyo Prince Hotel was very strict about (not) practicing in the hotel. And this rehearsal space cost $25 the hour! I have never had to PAY to practice. That was a first indeed. Since Mahani and I had not seen each other since our last concert tour a year before, we had a lot of work to put together our recital which was to take place in 5 days time.
We practiced diligently hours every day, rehearsing separately and then together. And so our days were filled with this one goal in mind. The concert took place at the Sogetsu Hall and was attended by many Ambassadors and Japanese businessmen, as well as the head of Mitsui, our concert sponsor. Our heartfelt thanks go out to these corporate sponsors as well as to the Embassy of Chile in Japan without whose help, our tour would not have been possible. Many thanks also go out to the Tokyo College of Music who allowed us to practice an entire day in their facility free of charge.
While otherwise a nice place to stay, I would not recommend the Tokyo Prince Hotel for a musician. The management did not support any sort of practice. Period. I managed to sneak in 10 minutes here and there before someone would come tell me to stop playing. The most ironic thing ever was after I had found a lounge to practice in, and the “security” came to tell me to stop practicing, I noticed that as I walked out of the lounge and into the lobby, I could hear flute music being piped in blasting through all the speakers!
The only thing I did like about the Tokyo Prince Hotel was it’s location. We were able to visit the Tokyo Tower which was 2 blocks away as well as a beautiful Buddhist Temple which was right next door. I participated in my first ever Buddhist Mass which became the highlight of my stay in Tokyo this time. This was an unexpected treat, as I had just gone exploring on my final day in Tokyo. As I sat down to admire the temple, the ceremony started. I enjoyed every minute of it, from the incense, to the drumming, chanting and meditating. I was in bliss!
It was a since pleasure to see again the Ambassador of Chile to Japan, Patricio Torres and his lovely wife, Cecilia. They invited us to their Residence for a wonderful meal where we met the Ambassador of Japan to Chile, Naoto Nikai and his lovely wife.
In addition, elegant Keiko-san was our thoughtful guide for several of our events during our stay in Tokyo. It was a pleasure to visit with her again.
Tokyo is always a pleasure to visit with it’s gracious, hardworking and respectful people, beautiful temples, and hospitable friends. What I love most about traveling is the exchanges with people. In this case, since it had been our second tour of Japan, it was amazing to see everybody from the Embassy of Chile in Japan again. They had once again provided us with utmost hospitality, gracious kindness. Arigato!! Gracias!!