So this unusually long, hot summer has come to a close at last, and chilly autumn mornings and long, snowy winter evenings that I associate with life in Sapporo, are on their way again, providing the perfect opportunity for a coffee fan like me to find refuge in a one of the many excellent coffee shops that dot the Sapporo landscape. Over the next few weeks I would like to introduce some of my favourite city coffee shops: great places in which to hide from your boss and spend a relaxing hour with friends or a good book…
The first café I’d like to introduce is a relatively new one: The World Books & Café.
Located on the 5th floor of the Ohsawa Building (South 1 West 1), the World Café is, in some ways, still a work in progress.
From its name, you would expect a bookish atmosphere, but World Café goes well beyond the expected, offering a huge collection of books – mostly travel themed. The only drawback (though understandable), is that you can’t take them to your table to look at over a cup of coffee.
The staff is very friendly and service is what you would expect from a city café. The first night I visited I had risotto and seafood pasta with a basil sauce, and the staff at the bar made a Cinzano rosso and dry ginger ale just as I asked, though it wasn’t on the menu. To my thinking, the food was just a little salty, but otherwise it was tasty and there was plenty of it.
A final thing in its favor is space! Unlike many other coffee shops in which you almost sit on your neighbor’s lap, Word Café offers plenty of room and a nice choice of table size.
So if you’re looking for a quiet place to spend an hour, give The World Books and Café a try…you might even see me there!
Do you ever get tired of listening to Johann-Sebastian Bach and Metallica? I sometimes do. Luckily, every summer in the heart of Sapporo, we get the chance to experience a different flavor of music at the Sapporo City Jazz Festival.
I don’t think I need to tell anyone what jazz is. Everybody has heard at least once in their lives Louis Armstrong’s syncopations or Ella Fitzgerald’s scat improvisations. Yet a little known fact about jazz is that while it’s probably the most popular of music genres, it’s also the least well understood. You don’t believe me? Try asking your friends: “Do you like jazz?” I’m sure 90% of them will tell you they do – just because it’s uncool not to. Then try asking them what artists they like and what their favorite recordings are and you’ll get a very evasive answer, if any at all. By the way, I’m one of those guys.
To help me remedy this, I took my very good friend Tomoko, a long-time jazz enthusiast, to the Sapporo City Jazz Festival under the white marquee in Odori Park (West 2).
The Sapporo City Jazz organizers put together a wonderful array of talent each year, and it was difficult to choose who to see. A number of Japanese and foreign artists appealed, but we finally hit upon the Chinese all-female group, “Beijing”: the girls don’t offer a traditional jazz sound, rather they are part of the movement to “sex up” classical music that started with Vanessa Mae and which has spawned a string of girl groups across the globe.
The string-based quintet (they seem to have left 2 of their 7 members behind) strutted and posed their way through selections from a range of genres; the Hollywood standard “My Favorite Things” to Carol King to Japanese pop tunes to Vivaldi. Interspersed with these were a selection of original pieces that included the soaring anthem (used as the campaign theme song for the 2008 Beijing Olympics) “2008飛翔” and the delightful “Start”.
Fashionable and hi-tech, the girls presented a slick, well-produced show that pleased both the ear and the eye, and none of the girls would seem out of place on the cover of a fashion magazine. The one fault, according to Tomoko’s practiced ear, was that the nuance of their music was sometimes lost behind poor song choices and the over-powering synthesized accompaniment. Personally, I think the group could stick to what they do best a little more, and not play quite so much to pre-conceived audience tastes. It was their original work that was the highlight of the evening for me and, truth be told, I found some of the other material a touch disappointing. Nevertheless, it was a great evening and if you have the chance next year, you should definitely give it a try!
Let me also take a moment to praise the event in general. The White Rock Stage was excellent, and though it doesn’t have the acoustics of a concert hall like Kitara, on a hot sultry evening it was cool and pleasant to feed on Jambalaya and Chicken Gumbo, and wash it down with a glass of white wine.
The organizers should be applauded for making Jazz, in its many styles, accessible to the people of Sapporo and I look forward to the 2011 version of the festival, where maybe I can re-acquaint myself with the girls from “Beijing”. Hope to see you there!
OK, hello everyone and welcome to the opening of the Wordwise Blog.
You might be thinking that this is going to be just another boring language school blog with teachers and staff trying to sell their school and encourage you all to buy lessons.
Well, that’s not the case. This blog is actually for you!
The aim of Wordwise is to help the community to get along a little better in an increasingly multi-cultural community, and to that end we offer language lessons as well as translation and proof-reading services. But, enough about us.
What we want from you are your questions, ideas and comments about language learning, travel and general cultural experiences. Even if you have no plans to ever visit us here in the Ikeuchi Building, we encourage you to add your questions and we will do our best to provide answers: and if not us, maybe other language learners out there might have the answer you are seeking.
If you would like to have your say and blog something yourself to advertise an event or if you have something you’d like to share, just email us at [email protected] and we will see what we can do to help out.
So enough from me for today and I really look forward to hearing from you . . . so add your comments and questions and let us help you!!