15 October 2017
Princessing the rest
There was more on the Diamond Princess and there was more that I missed. The ship was based in Yokohama, close to Tokyo. In passing, the Ocean Terminal was a fascinating construction of flowing timber floors and green lawned roof and surprisingly effective at processing cruise liners. This is big business. But that's out of CJ's purview. There were several Japanese folk acts, pairs of shamizen players, that Japanese three-stringed banjo-like instrument played with a hand-sized pick. Two women at one port; two men at another. There was a Esashi Oiwake was a Japanese folkloric show out of Hokodate. I missed the original but caught it on cabin-TV after the event. Very staid, settled, perhaps ominous to our ears. Diane Kichijitsu presented a traditional Japanese storytime routine that she amusingly called "sit-down comedy" as Japanese comedians seem to sit and mime activities. The joke was largely based a purported readiness to ask one's age. She was nineteen, it seems. A polished performance and worthy of a decent laugh. There was guitar/vocalist Jelord Pentacase and a few other that I missed, not least classically-trained violinist Katei and magician Daniel Ka. But the stars of my trip, perhaps, were the trio in the Hutorok restaurant/bar in the Russian town of Korsakov. This was a tour. I tend not to take tours (they are expensive and you are herded in buses like cattle) but you couldn't get off the ship independently, so a tour it was. This one drove an hour to see a square and a church and an ice-hockey stadium, but culminated in a meal of Russian goodies - blinies, pirozhki, rassolnik and the like. And vodka. Everyone in traditional dress, of course (nothing like the streetscape) and the entertainment as the star attraction: Russian songs, step dances, solo balalaika playing Hotel California and Bananarama and quoting Smoke on the water. Memorable and musical and amusing. The trio was Yura Vatutin (balalaika, vocals), Olgar Kyznetsova and Anastasia Veselkina (vocals). Much fun. Then a few last memories. One was a museum of music boxes in Otaru, the Otaru Orgel Museum. Thousands of music boxes of all sizes and types and designs for sale, but also a room housing a fascinating collection of music playback machines, not least an pipe organ played with a pianola role and a pianola-like machine playing large removable metal disks. And the finale, the Pop choir. It's my second on a ship. It's a just a few pop songs, sung unison unless you can find a harmony. This one performed in the atrium with a too-loud a sound track but it was fun and it fills the time and saves me from just a few more beers.