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The title is Japanese and means Ancient Moon. This is a jazz piece by Koichi Sugii and is part of  Japanese Jazz and Salon Music from 1936-1941. It was very popular in Japan and even the Emperor HiroHito would request it be played by the Imperial guard, old 78 rpm exist out there for those who might like to hear it. Koichi Sugii (1906-1942) was a Japanese bandleader, composer, arranger, conductor, singer, accordionist and recording artist. He skilfully bridged Eastern and Western styles, combining American orchestral jazz with Japanese pop and Chinese folk music to create a sophisticated and melodic hybrid with broad appeal.

Sugii was born in Tokyo in 1906. His mother sang traditional Japanese music while accompanying herself on the samisen, a three-stringed instrument. An early familiarity with his country’s native folk songs later inspired Sugii to arrange these melodies in jazz settings.

Sugii took piano lessons from a Canadian teacher, and became an ardent admirer of Western classical traditions, jazz, and film music. In 1930, after graduating from Tokyo Imperial University, he was hired by the Osaka merchant shipping company, which assigned him to Buenos Aires. In Argentina the young business executive became fascinated by musical trends, especially the tango. Convinced his true interests were in music, Sugii returned to Japan in 1932 and found work composing and recording for a film studio. In 1935 he joined Sakurai Kiyoshi’s Sakurai y Su Orquesta, a Latin-influenced band which specialized in tangos.

Those years prior to the Second World War were years of great development in Japan and the wealth people enjoyed brought luxury products to Japanese markets and a fascination with Western habits. The brother of the Emperor had a complete Lalique Museum built after a visit in France where he and his wife had René Lalique’s house dismantled and rebuilt in their museum. If you visit Tokyo you can see it, fascinating.

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This Art deco building built in 1933 is part of the The Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum. The museum is located in Minato ward, just east of Meguro Station. The Art Deco building interiors were designed by Henri Rapin and features decorative glass work by René Lalique. It was pure delight to visit it and showed how sophisticated Japanese society is and was then.

Another spectacular area is the open air museum in Hakone outside Tokyo is easily reach by train. Japanese trains are a dream, never seen anywhere anything like it. The  open air museum presents sculptures by Henri Moore, Constantin Brancusi, Barbara Hepworth, Rokusan Ogiwara, Kotaro Nakamura and Niki de Saint Phalle, 120 works in all, the green space was well thought out with trees, and shrubbery designed to bring peace and facilitate reflection for visitors, very much in the Shinto style.

There is more and another incredible find is the Lalique museum, yes more Lalique and  Le Train café restaurant, the actual train transported from France, it was in service until 2001 and was part of the Orient Express line. I was trying to imagine how do you transport a train car from Europe to Japan. You can have tea on board with all the actual dishes and linens, absolutely exquisite, very high quality. Again the train car is decorated by Lalique panels and is exquisite in terms of luxury. Reservations are a must.

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