Sunday morning provided our first daytime view of ChibaCity. Chiba is a major industrial and port city and high-tech development center directly across TokyoBay from Tokyo. Chiba means "Flowery." In 1974, Fodor referred to it as the "ugly city of Chiba," but I would not be so dismissive for I found much to enjoy here and the people very warm and welcoming.
The Hotel Sungarden provided a breakfast bar each morning, offering both Western and Japanese style selections. The Western breakfast selections included fried or scrambled eggs, French fries, bacon, Vienna sausages, pancakes with syrup, croissants, and assorted rolls. I opted for the Western selection. Japanese breakfast would wait until Kyoto.
After breakfast, my roommate, Paul, and I walked around Chiba.
Chiba Shrine-Serenity in the City
Chiba is well off of the usual tourist route, so we felt we experienced the "real" Japan of today. We saw a neighborhood shrine, residential and commercial neighborhoods, the City Hall, ChibaPort, and the ChibaPortTower with its observation deck. A weekly flea market was in progress at the Port Park surrounding the Tower.
At the Chiba Shrine, I observed practices that I was later to learn more about. Worshipers washed their hands in a purification trough, approached the main building, gave a coin offering in a wooden box, and clapped their hands twice before praying. I learned that clapping hands brings the worshippers and Buddha together.Worshipers then moved to the side of the main hall to ring the gong (in order to get the attention of the kami). Also to the side to the main hall was a board for posting Ema (wishes).
The observation deck on ChibaPortTower provides a commanding view of the city and the port.
I was told that on a clear day one could see Mt.Fuji from the tower. It was overcast, so no Mt.Fuji sightings this day. As I watched a ship put to sea I learned that Chiba is one of busiest ports on TokyoBay. Much of the land for the port has been reclaimed from Tokyo Bay only in the last 50 years. We rode the Monorail from ChibaPort back to downtown. There was time only to experience a taste of Japanese fast food for lunch at Freshness Burger before heading to the concert hall.
Today was the day of the joint MYO-CYO concert. At , patrons were already lined up at Chiba Civic Hall waiting for the doors to open. Chiba Youth Orchestra concerts are apparently a very popular community activity. Chiba evidently has an active community music program as flyers were on display announcing forthcoming appearances by artists from Japan, the United States and Europe.
The concert program:
Dvorak: Carnival Overture
Toyama: Rhapsody for Orchestra
Wagner: Prelude to Die Mestersinger
Bizet: Carmen Suite No. 1
Encore: Bizet: Farandole from L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2
Our Chiba hosts were very gracious. Following the concert, they threw a reception for the students and parents at a nearby hotel. A generous buffet featured both Western and Japanese cuisine. Both MYO and CYO musicians had special music planned for the reception. Each group entertained the other and students from both orchestras quickly got to know one another. Festivities concluded with the Americans teaching their hosts the Chicken Dance.