Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pre-Pyongyang: Japan and China

After two weeks in Japan and China, we leave tomorrow for North Korea. The "we" includes about 260 New York Philharmonic orchestra members, staff, board members, patrons and international media. Today, I'm blogging from Beijing. Tomorrow, from Pyongyang.

In the last week, we've attended Philharmonic concerts in Shanghai and Beijing. On Tuesday, the concert will be in Pyongyang. The Ping Pong diplomacy of 1971 may -- or may not -- be emulated by the Philharmonic diplomacy of 2008. Nixon visited China in 1972. Will our new president visit North Korea in 2009? The pundits will have fun with that one for months to come. But in the meantime, Donna, I and the other 258 visitors are in for an experience that we'll not soon forget.

Prior to our arriving in China, we spent a week in Japan. So before we get to the serious stuff in our next blog, here are some random photographic impressions of our stays in Tokyo, Kyoto, Shanghai and Beijing.

Tokyo architecture gets groovy

noodle house
Where we ate noodles in Tokyo -- different architecture

Famous mountain shot from the bullet train on the way to Kyoto

overhead wires
Kyoto is beautiful -- in parts. Underground wiring is not yet widespread

Kyoto temple

Pedestrian tunnel to I. M. Pei's Miho Museum in Kyoto

Bridge at the end of the tunnel

Entrance to the museum

Inside the museum

Donna inspecting kiln at ceramist's studio

Geisha who entertained us at dinner in Kyoto

She was a very appreciative audience

All geishas are not created equal -- the one on the left is the musician

zen master
Our Zen Master

Gorgeous bamboo forest in Kyoto

More bamboo

Shinto gates -- many thousands of them

Do these gates remind you of a recent public art work in Central Park?

Contemporary Shanghai architecture

And more

The beautiful old architecture of the Shanghai Bund

And more

Crickets bred for fighting at the cricket market in Shanghai

A champ gets a closer inspection

And food for the other critters sold in the cricket market

Famous large wall outside Beijing

Donna checking for approaching Mongol hordes

She may have spotted one

Beijing's Temple of Heaven

Dancing outside the Temple of Heaven

And ribbon dancing

And exercising

And practicing street calligraphy

Not only cute, but they speak fluent Chinese

Cloisonne bowl in early stage of fabrication

Cloisonne bowl about half-way done

Cloisonne horses

cctv odel
Model of Rem Koolhaas CCTV tower

cctv constr
CCTV tower under construction

cctv constr2
Another view of the construction

nestegg model
Model of the "Nest Egg," the main Olympics stadium

nestegg constr
Nest Egg under construction

An indelible memory of Beijing


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