The Birdmachine & Michael Pestel
Tokyo’s bird population has declined drastically in the past 75 years. I’m told that’s due primarily to pollution and loss of traditional thatched roofs where many birds nested. Enter the crows, or kurasu, the world’s greatest synathropes, masters of what we do best: produce garbage. There are upwards of 150,000 of them terrorizing the populace with their brilliant antics and survival strategies. It's no wonder that one calls their flock a "murder" of crows. Enter the Birdmachine, a multiphonic, multi-timbrel musical instrument designed to attract and jam with birds, butoh dancers, and anyone else dedicated to avian sound and movement. That includes crows.
From March 17 to April 9, 2015, I'll be in Tokyo performing and jamming with avian butoh dancer, Taketeru Kudo, as well as with vocalist, Mika Kimura, and expatriate shakuhachi players, Yohmei Chris Blasdel and Bruce Huebner, among others. For his April 4th performance at the Tadao Ando Tokyo Art Museum in Sengawa, Chris has invited me and Mika to join him in an unusual acoustic concert space. The performance with Kudosan at Konno Hachimangu, Shibuya's oldest Shinto shrine, on March 22, is the event that set all this in motion. But mostly, I'll be busy exploring the urban soundscape by visiting places where birds used to sing, places where they still sing, and places whose bird names celebrate a particular species. As a kind of shamanic ornithologist bent on discovering the soul of Tokyo's bird life, I'll invoke an avian past of lost sounds in order to connect with the present. I know the crows will be listening!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Day 9, Wednesday, March 25 – Cherry Blossoms!

On the way to Shinjuku Gyoen, Yuki and I stopped at a vegetarian restaurant near Nakano-Sakaue Station for lunch. Nice yoga studio with flamingoes.

On the train, an ad for a new men's magazine caught my eye. There is something quintessentially Japanese about naming such a magazine "Goethe!" 

The cherry blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen are bursting out! This is my first time here in early Spring. What a treat!

Ki no moto
Shiru mo namasu mo
Sakura kana

Beneath the trees
In the soup, salad, everywhere
Cherry blossoms


Iriai o 
Sor ni osayuru
Sakura kana

Evening temple bell
Stopped in the sky by
Cherry Blossoms


Samazama no
Koto omoidasu
Sakura kana

Many, many things
They call to mind –
Those cherry blossoms


Were it not for sakura
in this world,
our hearts and minds
would not be so serene 
and peaceful.
yononaka ni
taete sakura no
haru no kokoro wa
nodoke karamashi

Ariwara-no-narihira (825~880)
(translated by Takashi Nonin)

mo naki
no sakurabana
hoka no
chirinan nochi

zo sakamashi

There is no one
who views the mountain cherry
may they bloom
after all the others
have scattered their flowers

Lady Ise (translated by Takashi Nonin)

1 comment:

  1. Seeing the cherry blossoms helps me to accept the fact that maybe spring is actually here. Nice photography, Michael. Thank you!