Huge gratitude for responses so far…I can do this. I’m doing this.

Here’s that donation button again:

I  have had some generous funding pledges, which I’m humbled and honoured by. Also verbal encouragement. Now just have to keep going.

Here is a picture of a beautiful sunset – I took this whilst in Devon this Summer – the view from one of the beacons and various iron age forts  that surround the area where I grew up. Something inspiring for me to look at as I write (and for you as you read.)

So, next stop today is Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation. Thereby hangs a tale… When I was 22, (16  years ago) I applied for one of their scholarships – and got through the final round, the last 50. I even did a language aptitude test at the home office. I think I was their token arty weirdo, in a sea of business students. In those days I had no sense of myself as a serious musician, but had just finished an eccentric modular degree composed of theatre, performance art (performance art! Who is the world employs performance artists!) and costume design. I think Daiwa were intrigued by my strange portfolio of drawings and paintings and the fact that I had studied some Butoh dance (avant-garde Japanese movement tradition) which had led me to the study of Aikido. My dissertation was called something like ‘The Weaver in the Web – the Feminist Thoughtform, Activisim and Theatremaking’ which to the interviewers, seemed like a breath of fresh air, no doubt. To me, it felt like  I had a 1st class degree in arty impracticality. they asked me what they would see if they came to see me ‘do my thing’ –  a show? A dance? Possibly combined with masks made from latex and animal bones? I wasn’t entirely  clear myself. But now, I am.

Speaking of which, the new album progresses – a very ambitious project, involving many dearly beloved personnel, new friends and old. It’s all in the final stages of recording now, which is an enjoyable stage to be at. Sometimes nerve-wracking but hugely satisfying. Looking forward to another studio session on Saturday.

In terms of trip preparation I can speak enough Japanese to be able to say very politely and with a really great accent that I’m not that good yet but can speak and understand a little, then I can converse basically about food, the time, numbers, money. For anyone ever learning languages other than their own, I recommend watching films, from different eras and styles. See how conventions, slang, accents and body language change. Compare the verbal mannerisms of Yasujiro Ozu’s characters from the post-war 1950s, with Momoko Ando’s slacker teenagers in ‘Kakera’. Also courses by publishers like Pimsleur are good – you get to repeat and refine your accent – makes perfect sense for a singer. I’ve always been someone who’s unimpressed by English speakers who travel but don’t make an effort to learn the language, at least moderately well. The global hegemony of the English language, spread through commerce, religion and imperialism has meant that other languages  and cultures have died and are dying. The Council of 13 Grandmothers know this. Language is soul, is identity, so… make the effort! When I lived in Amsterdam, I learned Dutch, when I visited Thailand for a month, I learned some Thai, France, French….it’s such a joy to get even the basic hang of stuff. People always respond well and I love the moment of ‘hey it’s just like in the book/CD – it works! people sort of understand me!’

Well then , I continue today with phone calls to Daiwa, and others…Tai Chi class during lunch hour helped with appropriate frame of mind.

Onwards, with thanks. (come and holler at me if you feel like it.)

Here’s the Devon Sunset again…at a slightly earlier stage. You can imagine how glorious it felt being there. That’s the same sun that rises and sets over Amami Island. Unbelievable to think about the beauty of the natural world.