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A glimpse of Japanese discipline and ingenuity at work. This place is actually the city's filtration plant (where they make drinking water from ground water)-- open to the public and to tourists as well! They show off what they do for the world to follow their example. I think it is the 'discipline' part that is lacking in those countries being left way behind, ehem...
Written Sep 7, 2006
Midway between Kyoto and Osaka on the JR and Hankyu lines is the city of Takastuki. It is a surprisingly cool bedroom town to these two cities as it has a very active live jazz scene all year round. At JK Cafe and JK Bird you can find live bands at least twice a week. Just to give an idea of the competition: The sign up for bands is over two months in advance despite the lack of guarantee and meager pickings from the pot. But the bar and cafe are great places to play and better to sit in and listen. No cover charge, decent acoustics and great seating.
The height of the year, however, is in Golden week, May 3rd to the 5th when over 400 bands converge on the small city to provide hundreds of free live shows in dozens on indoor and outdoor stages throughout the city. Like most jazz festivals it is not just jazz: there is every genre from alternative folk & world fusion to acid jazz, blues and full swing bands. Maybe a bit too much gospel for my taste, but there are some fantastic acts. Japan boasts some of the most talented players in the Jazz world now and many unrecognized musicians and bands would shine in a line up between Keith Jarrett and Spiro Gyra. Last year, the largely unheard of band Three Peace gave a whole new exprience to Hendrix's Cross Town Traffic, each musician pushing new boundaries.
Okay there are the mediocre and flops too, but guaranteed many highly talented bands.
The outdoor stages in the parks also host various flea markets, a mix of hand-me-downs and high craftmanship: search out especially the home-made stand-up basses stall if you're a lover of stringed instruments. There are plenty of eating establishments including a good and reasonably(rare) priced Indian restaurant and tons cafes scattered about, as well as outdoor beer and food stalls.
It is a wonderful scene as you can just wander into almost any cafe or bar on any street and into live music for free, or lie out in the park and catch the golden week rays while listening to a mix of bands. The tall windowed, darkwood bars, the free acts and freedom of a civilized nation that allows drinking in the streets add to an international, European feel. This is now one of the largest jazz festivals in Japan. Don't miss it. A great way to enjoy Golden week --avoiding going away and getting caught up in traffic.
Dress Code: There is no dress code--this is a free, fun loving festival!
Updated Mar 20, 2008
Address: >30 stages btwn&South of JR&Hankyu Takatsuki stns.
This is a mountain-biking trip that, after five attempts, I managed to create a trail that takes about 8-hours to complete, is about 100-kilometers long and you have to be MAD.
Written Apr 19, 2009