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Notes from Japan, Part One

I remember the sound playing from 林正樹 Masaki Hayashi’s piano in his album: Pendulum.

That day, we were browsing for souvenirs at the Spiral store in Omotesando. Attracted by the CD cover, I picked up the headphones on the counter and started listening to the first track. Since most music stores have closed down by now, I don’t recall the last time I had put on headphones in a music store. I started playing Masaki Hayashi’s first track Flying Leaves and was immediately drawn by its simple melody. Like the sound of rain, it’s calming and gives a sense of serenity. I then skipped through to the other tracks and they were surprisingly equally as good—tracks like Bluegrey Road, Teal and Shadowgraph to name a few. We then purchased the CD and it quickly became our studio’s daily work music.


I also remember the smell from the fresh morning bakery beside our accommodation in 京都 Kyōto.

During our stay in Kyōto, we accidentally rented an Airbnb apartment that was a bit further from the city centre. It took around 15 minutes to walk to the train station and another 10 minutes ride to Kyōto. At first, we were a bit disappointed that we chose such a far away accommodation but our disappointment quickly turned into excitement when we dropped off our luggages and started exploring this neighbourhood. Outside our apartment was an interesting small wheat field (from what I’ve seen in North America, wheat field are at least a few acres big). We tried hard to capture the glowing yellow colour with our cameras but couldn’t. And nearby this wheat field is a very small bakery shop that sells the most delicious and cutest Japanese bakery. I would guess the storefront is only 150 sqft. In fact, the shelve of bakery goods is right at the entrance! When we walked to the shop, we were immediately greeted by two Japanese ladies. Trying to converse, we did our best to say good morning. The ladies, thinking we were Japanese, continued to talk to us for a couple minutes. Being polite, we simply kept nodding and said “はい” (yes). Later, they found out that we had no idea what they were saying and we all laughed.

Filled with bakery in our tote bags, we took the train to 大阪 Osaka that day to visit Tokuhiko Kise from Truck Furniture. It was a year since we last met him in New York. On the train ride, I wondered to myself if the bakery shop made their bread from the nearby wheat field.

Alvin Kwan