One of the most wonderful things about Kiseki No Hoshi is the way the exhibition space, the planting scheme of which is changed 7 times a year, is used as a venue for music, art and drama. Sure, we also hold such events in National Trust gardens back home in the UK, but where at, say Chartwell, where I worked before beginning the Triad, an opera might be staged beside the beautiful lake on a balmy summer evening, at Kiseki No Hoshi the chosen opera would perfectly complement and reflect the surrounding planting. A tropical planting scheme might play host to a belly dancing performance, while a magical Christmas scene would be brought to life by the silken arias of German Opera.
This Saturday was of course Valentine’s Day and to celebrate Kiseki No Hoshi held a Valentine’s Day Evening Dinner concert. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to join in the fun and to see the museum brought to life by a little classical music and fine dining.
Interestingly, while Valentine’s Day is celebrated over here in Japan just as much as it is in the US and UK, in Japan only women give gifts on February 14th. These are usually in the form of chocolates and are given to all of the important men in a woman’s life, with Honmei-choco, or ‘true feeling chocolate’ given to the truly important man (or men) in her life and Giri-choco, or ‘obligation chocolate’, reserved for male colleagues and the like. Men give their own gifts to women one month later, on White Day.
Anyway, back to the subject of today’s blog…
Kiseki No Hoshi’s Valentine’s Day Dinner Concert took place in the beautifully lit Exhibition Room, currently featuring an Orchid planting scheme…
Before the concert Tomoko sensei took the guests on a guided tour of the museum…
I was fortunate to see some of mine and Phil’s work illuminated at night. Here is a sneaky peak at the vertical garden and ballerina dress which you will be able to read more about in my next blog.
After the tour it was time for the concert – Reiko Tachibana playing an exquisite programme on the violin, accompanied by Kiyomi Uebayashi on the piano. This was our programme:-
Liebesfreud, Fritz Kreisler
Liebesleid, Fritz Kreisler
Greensleeves, arr. Kenji Kanemasu
Tambour in Chinois, Fritz Kreisler
Salut d’amour, Edward Elgar
Meditation de “Thaïs”
Hungarian Dance No. 6, Johannes Brahms
Cantabile, Nicolo Paganini
Danse Espagnole de “La vida breve”, Manuel de Falla / arr. Fritz Kreisler
Libertango, Astor Piazzolla
Londonderry Air, Old Irish Song / arr. Fritz Kreisler
The concert was wonderful and Reiko Tachibana’s beautiful violin playing was a perfect fit for the orchid display in the Exhibition Room. It was good to see a bit of English on the menu too in the form of good old ‘Greensleeves’.
Talking of menus, tonight’s dinner was a rather fabulous six-course affair prepared by Toru Ikeno, the executive chef of the Westin Hotel which is Kiseki No Hoshi’s neighbour at Awaji Yumebutai. French food is by all accounts extremely popular in Japan right now (I’ve been taken to no less than three French establishments so far in Japan) and it seems that many chefs consider French and Japanese cuisines a perfect fusion. Mori-san tells me that Michelin-starred French chefs are very interested in Japanese sake for use in cooking traditional French recipes.
If tonight’s dinner is anything to go by then French-Japanese fusion cuisine definitely gets my vote! I couldn’t resist photographing the beautifully presented dishes as they were set in front of me on the table. Take a look at our menu…
Poisson et Oursin Amouse à la Célébration “ROUSE”
Sauter de Foie-gras “MISO” Sauce de cédrat
Vapeur de Awajishima Poisson Pêche et Ormeau Frit, Bulle d’Agrumes et Sauce de Persil
Filet de Boeuf Grille Sauce Japonais
Delicious! Especially the fourth course – a perfectly cooked (rare to medium rare) fillet of Awaji beef. I think the phrase ‘cuts like butter’ was made for that beef fillet.
The dinner also answered one of the niggling little questions I have had in the back of my mind – when setting a formal dinner table in Japan with all its layers of shiny silver cutlery, where does one put the chopsticks? Answer – in front of plate of course!
When saying (and bowing) my goodbyes at the end of the evening I was invited to have my photograph taken with Kiyomi Uebayashi and Reiko Tachibana, the latter of whose father, Tsuyoshi Tachibana, I had chatted to at the beginning of the evening. What a privilege, even if the photos do make me look somewhat like a giantess!
Oh, and here’s me with the lovely Tomoyo-san who is an endless source of help for Phil and I at Kiseki No Hoshi!