Cellos probably aren’t an instrument that comes to mind when thinking of a rollicking good time on stage, but Hauser and Luka put on an energetic show, with the former in particular unleashing a dynamic performance.
After a flawless, 2-hour performance, 2CELLOS gave a moving, poignant rendition of Hallelujah (accompanied by the crowd waving mobile phone lights to create a magical light show). This ended up being a final goodbye to a country that has long supported the pair’s career and both artists individually.
This was in spite of the audience clapping and demanding one last encore for more than 10 minutes after the pair had left the Budokan stage, using their mobile phones to film the audience and waving as they departed.
All in all, a fantastic show where the performers clearly enjoyed being with the audience and a wonderful way for them to say sayonara.
Almost as though on cue, probably the most delightful time of the year in Japan–May, when it’s warm, dry, sunny and with the longest hours of daylight–has been generally bleak and glim by its usual standards in 2022.
This year has been subjected a bit to the rule of law: Murphy’s Law, unfortunately.
Still, amid a global pandemic when the vast majority of people around the world are feeling the pinch in some way or another, there have also been plenty of blessings.
When the sun finally started showing its face with a bit of consistency as May drew to a close, it also enabled Japan’s glorious spring to put on yet another one of the fine faces it displays in this season.
And Kangaeroo’s 2022 spring was a little bit special because it was the first chance the Aussie garden got to bloom.
And boy was it special!
Can’t thank the magical Alex enough. His work is bringing absolute delight on a daily basis!
Blessed with great company, brilliant sunshine and time, Kangaeroo got to enjoy the unexpected pleasure of HANA BIYORI.
HANA BIYORI is a new type of botanical garden that forms part of the sprawling entertainment complex centered around Yomiuriland in the Tokyo suburb of Inagi.
HANA BIYORI was a delight simply to see all the vibrant spring flowers in bloom in a pretty park with lots of greenery, water and the occasional spectacular view.
The site also has a magnificent projection mapping show on the half-hour every hour during operation.
Also on site are stores with some interesting house plants on sale (mostly beautiful but overpriced), a Starbucks coffee shop that has adopted a unique, greenhouse-like appearance with some wonderful aquariums (but retained its exorbitantly priced and tasteless menu it offers ubiquitously) and a petting zoo for the littlies.
Absolutely loved the visit, though that was highly influenced by companions and the weather.
Sometimes, little miracles come into your life in unexpected ways. Alex Endo has done that for Kangaeroo.com by transforming a little plot of land in Tokyo’s Tama region into a tiny slice of Australia.
With a well-laid plan going back a few months and a few hours of hard work, Alex took a plain plot of land in a housing estate and transformed it into a “Kangaeroo Corner,” a glorious Australian garden, delightfully designed and rich in Aussie plants. It brought unbridled delight into the hearts of the Kangaeroo.com family.
Alex lived in Australia and became an expert on Australian plants. Once his career as a salaryman was over, he dedicated his life in retirement to spreading the word about the charms of Australian plants in Japan. He has appeared on the telly, written books, gives lessons and actually gardens. Mrs. Kangaeroo.com discovered Alex, asked him to take charge of the Kangaeroo.com garden and, thankfully, he agreed to the request. As the gallery shows, Alex designed and made a garden that exceeded so superb it exceeded all expectations.
To be brutally honest, Kangaeroo had never really been interested in a garden or gardening, but Kangaeroo found the garden that Alex made absolutely breathtaking, became thoroughly engrossed in getting out in the garden and looking after the little plot of delight has now become one of life’s daily joys. Alex’s brilliance shows in all sorts of ways, one of which is his clear love of Australian plants and how they motivate his efforts. Kangaeroo is a clear beneficiary of that. To return that kindness, it’s up to Kangaeroo to rigorously look after the garden, and show some love for it on a daily basis.
It’s worth noting that as Alex and his mate, Takeuchi-san, were transforming Kangaeroo Corner, the neighbors took an enormous interest and came to take a closer look. Chatting with with neighbors later in the week, one even asked if it was OK to bring a friend to come and have a look at what an amazing job Alex had done for the Kangaeroo garden. Considering the neighbors are no slouches when it comes to the gardening game and take great pride in their own plots, it was praise of the highest degree.
Kangaeroo.com is deeply grateful to Alex for his design and hard work in producing the garden, and Takeuchi-san for his wonderful help. Thanks also to Mrs. Kangaeroo for getting the whole thing rolling, and to Mrs. Kangaeroo’s brother and sister for their great efforts and hard work in creating Kangaeroo Corner.
Kangaeroo has lived in Japan since the late ’80s, just as the Showa Era (reign of Emperor Hirohito from 1926-1989) drew to a close.
Japan back then had possibly an even stronger fascination with English than it does even today, especially as it was far less accessible in a slower, less connected world.
But English and overseas meant America and Japan had an obsession for the United States. Occasionally, news would filter through from other powers, such as then recently reunited Germany, France, Italy, Britain and the crumbling Soviet Union and Russia.
It was rare, pretty close to unheard of, really, for Australia to attract much attention in a Japan then apparently poised to overcome the U.S. as the world’s leading economy.
So unheard of, actually, that when Oz did make news, it was enough for Kangaeroo to grab a copy of the English paper from a kiosk at Shibuya Station. And keep it for more than 30 years!
Paul Keating had just successfully challenged Bob Hawke as prime minister and took over leadership of a country in a deep recession. Here’s how the Daily Yomiuri reported the matter in its lead story for the December 20, 1991 edition.
Paul Keating New Premier Of Australia
SYDNEY (AP) – Australian Prime Minister Bow Hawke’s record eight-year reign ended Thursday when he was deposed by his former deputy, Paul Keating, in a Labor Party coup.
Keating’s victory was the culmination of two years of bitter rivalry between Australia’s two most powerful and charismatic politicians.
Hawke, whose standing with the public and fellow party members had tumbled along with the economy, called a special meeting of the Labor Party’s 110-member parliamentary caucus to decide the leadership issue which has split the party and divided the nation.
In a procedural move preceding a planned confidence vote, Hawke resigned and offered himself for reelection. Keating, who quit as treasurer when he failed in his first challenge on June 3, won the secret ballot 56-51. Three party members were not able to attend.
“It’s a very humbling experience, and I feel the poignancy of the moment,” Keating said as he emerged from the caucus room.
“The thing the government must do is get coinfidence in Australia going again…confidence of the people and confidence in the business community,” Keating told reporters later.
For his part, Hawke seemed on the verge of tears at a news conference but also joked with reporters. “I fought the good fight. The fight is over,” Hawke said.
“If this was 11 years ago, I’d be getting pretty thoroughly drunk,” the former world champion beer drinker-turned-teetotaler said when asked what his immediate plans were.
“I leave the prime ministership proud of my accomplishments. The Australia of 1991 is a profoundly better place than the one in 1983 that I inherited…more tolerant, more compassionate, more competitive.”
Hawke congratulated Keating and vowed to support him.
Keating launched his bid for leadership claiming Hawke had promised to stand down as prime minister after the election in March 1990.
That would have given Keating enough time to settle in before leading the party into the next parliamentary election, which legally must be held by 1993. The party winning the most seats also win’s the prime minister’s seat, with the party leader becoming the prime minister.
Among Keating’s first duties will be to host U.S. President George Bush’s visit to Australia on Dec. 31-Jan. 3. He also faces the daunting task of healing the deep wounds that Labor has suffered from the leadership struggle.
Calls for more forceful leadership have become increasingly strident as the economy wallows in recession. Figures released last week showed that unemployment climbed to 10.5 percent in November, the highest since World War II.
The Labor Party, already suffering from sinking popularity, has fallen further behind in the polls in the weeks since the opposition coalition announced plans for a major revamp of the tax system.
Hawke recently fell behind opposition leader John Hewson for the first time in opinion polls. The man who once boasted a 75 percent approval rate has seen it plunge to around 25 percent.
The party has badly missed the 47-year-old Keating in a Cabinet role. While viewed as somewhat cold and sometimes brutal to antagonistic questioners, his uncompromising and forthright style as treasurer won respect from the international finance community.
The leadership issue has been simmering since Keating’s first challenge on June 3 and came to a head last Thursday when a group of six Cabinet ministers, all strong supporters of Hawke, met with their leader to suggest he quit.
Keating would go on to lead Australia for the next five years, including an election win that was totally unexpected and increased Labor’s majority in 1993. He became a strong advocate of Australia fostering closer relations with Asian nations, including Japan, and remains so to this day. Keating lost the prime ministership to John Howard in 1996 and Australia would lurch strongly to the right and cling ever closer to the Anglosphere in a trend that remains pretty much unabated to this day. Keating’s pro-Asian stance would also usher in the racist Pauline Hanson, a polarizing figure and apparent far-right extremist when she emerged on the scene as a member of the Liberal Party in the mid-1990s, her views as leader of her own party, One Nation, are now regarded as almost mainstream. Indeed, Mark Latham, a former Labor Party leader once strongly likened to Keating, has become her closest and most outspoken political ally. Howard was strongly criticized as prime minister when he refused to condemn Hanson’s racism.
Hawke and Keating would patch up their differences and resume their strong friendship, which held until Hawke died in 2019. The recession that ended Hawke’s leadership and led to the Keating era was over the quarter the news reported above. Australia’s economic growth would continue uninterrupted for over 110 quarters until the pandemic hit.
Japan and Australia have since 1991 built an extremely strong relationship that it becoming even closer as the two countries deal with the looming threat of China.
Nonetheless, news of Australia remains a rarity in Japan, largely relating the annual bushfire season and occasionally a prime ministerial or sporting visit. But Australia is an undisputedly more significant presence in the Japan of 2022 than it had been in 1991.