Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Canadian Opera Company Presents Rufus Wainwright’s “Hadrian” (October 13, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 2018)


When the curtain rises for the Canadian Opera Company’s world premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian on October 13, 2018 audience members will be the first to experience a sleek and provocative new work. The opera reunites the all-star creative team behind 2017’s Louis Riel, led by Canadian stage director Peter Hinton. With a libretto from Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor, Hadrian explores the life and legacy of the Roman emperor, in the wake of his young lover’s death. The production draws from a number of contemporary influences to transpose Hadrian and Antinous’ story from the pages of history to the here and now, driving home the enduring relevance of this epic, ancient love story. Hadrian runs for seven performances on October 13, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 2018.

“It’s tremendously exciting to give birth to this new work,” says COC Music Director Johannes Debus, who conducts the COC Orchestra through a score with a rich and colourful orchestral palette. “Hadrian’s vitality, elegance, and beauty is disarming, effectively combining orchestral elements to convey the range of powerful emotions throughout the opera.”

Acclaimed director Peter Hinton leads some of the industry’s best design talent in bringing Hadrian’s story to life. Fresh off his work at this year’s Shaw Festival, where his production of Oh! What a Lovely War was called “educating, entertaining, heartbreaking” (Toronto Star), Hinton says one of the biggest challenges in directing Hadrian is two-fold: “It’s about telling a story that people think they know – and telling a story that people don’t know at all.” He adds that Hadrian’s story is unique, consisting of equal parts history, romance, and politics. “There is passion and treachery, love and war, spirits and magic, and a journey through ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt. The opera chronicles this liminal place in history where Imperial Rome ended and the rise of monotheism began.”

Canadian Michael Gianfrancesco has created a sense of fluidity, using a set that changes in scale and composition to reflect an amorphous sense of time. The seasoned set designer says audiences can expect to see traces of Roman architecture that have been stripped of detail and rendered into glossy black surfaces. Gianfrancesco describes it as feeling like “a death space, a place of mourning, memories, and of remembering and recalling history.”

Canadian costume designer Gillian Gallow says that in order to create an extremely modern and high-impact feel, she aimed for a “dramatically Roman” aesthetic. “If we were to do this in a historical Roman sense, the colours would be much more muted,” says Gallow. “But to make it theatrical, the colours we use are more intense, more extreme.” Other sources of inspiration include the gold leaf work of painter Gustav Klimt, a Greek-inspired fashion runway collection from Versace, and the vibrant, graphic imagery of ancient Minoan frescoes.

Hadrian features video projection designed by Laurie-Shawn Borzovoy and lighting designed by Bonnie Beecher. Beecher says strategic side illumination will appear to suspend artists in a sea of blackness. “It creates the sense that they are floating and small in a large world,” she adds. “This, along with video, can have a very powerful effect. The hope is to create beauty, with a heightened sense of time and place.”

Choreography from Denise Clarke adds further resonance to the depiction of a world where all is not what it seems. Dancers are woven throughout the storyline, representative of Hadrian’s desire for his love and also the mythical Ferrymen of the Nile, tasked with carrying souls to the underworld.

Composer Rufus Wainwright has long drawn inspiration from the Romantic tradition of grand opera, a passion that led to his first operatic work, Prima Donna, in 2009. For the internationally acclaimed Canadian-American singer-songwriter, translating Hadrian’s story into a score that reflected the complexity of his state and circumstance was a true labour of love: “My Hadrian…is a surreal romp through time and space, mixing true occurrences with complete fabrication in order to illustrate a vivid ‘creative snapshot’ of what the end of the Classical era may have felt like.” In penning the libretto, award-winning playwright Daniel MacIvor steps into new creative territory; the Canadian theatre veteran says his work on this opera carries a weight that is deeply personal: “As a gay man, not to have known Hadrian’s story felt like I had been robbed of something, of a historical figure that somehow validated my love.”

American baritone Thomas Hampson in the title role and Finnish soprano Karita Mattila as the former empress Plotina make their company debuts.  Their performances are filled with an emotional charge that will be sure to stimulate you.  Hampson’s Hadrian is epic, stoic and aching with adoration that one can not help but swoon over.  Mattila brings girl power to a whole new level as one of Hadrian’s advocates.  Canadian-American tenor Isaiah Bell sings Antinous, with a fervour that will make your knees knock.  Soprano Ambur Braid, is Hadrian’s wife Sabina;  eloquent and effervescent in the same breath.   American bass David Leigh adds a fluidness  to his Turbo, head of Hadrian’s military.   Smile during legendary Canadian tenor Ben Heppner’s cameo appearance as Dinarchus.

Hadrian marks the second COC production for the powerhouse creative team behind 2017’s Louis Riel: celebrated set designer Michael Gianfrancesco, costume designer Gillian Gallow, and lighting designer Bonnie Beecher, all led by boundary-pushing Canadian director Peter Hinton. Joining the team for Hadrian is projection designer Laurie-Shawn Borzovoy (the COC’s Bluebeard’s Castle/Erwartung) and choreographer Denise Clark.  Ensure that you grab tickets before Hadrian’s close on October 27, 2018.



FNLROM at the ROM October 19/2018 – Ticket Giveaway

Another week and another amazing ticket giveaway for FNLROM at the ROM on October 19/2018.  Simple! Please sign up to Thirty Four Flavours Facebook, Twitter, or email subscription to enter the draw. When you have signed up please send me a Facebook message, a tweet or email ( telling me what you are excited to see at #FNLROM by October 18, 2018.

Here’s the scoop!

A subjective documentation of the unfiltered human experience as seen by Toronto artist Sean Brown, with art direction by Umbereen. Throughout the Museum, these images – entirely captured with an iPhone – express the artist’s assessment of existence and purpose in hopes of closure, reconnection, or context.

About the artist: Sean Brown is a Toronto-based artist, fashion designer (NEEDS&WANTS), photographer, and creative director (Daniel Caesar). His mantra: Research, Travel, Design. Sean’s work does not revel in the realm of instant gratification; instead, his ability to transform progressive ideas into intriguing, stimulating, and tangible realities. CURVES is a reflection of study and process, and the endless possibilities we can entertain once we are humble enough to accept room for improvement.

About the art director: Umbereen Inayet, is a national award-winning artistic producer and director, currently an Artistic Producer for Nuit Blanche Toronto. With over a decade of experience working with artists and studios such as Ai Weiwei, Director X, Creative Time, JR, and eL Seed, Umbereen has explored a vast spectrum of the human experience to create public artworks for all.

About the co-creative: Eric LaChance is an artist currently operating in fields ranging from space and product design to photography and film.

Explore the chapters of the project as explained by artist Sean Brown:

If the world as we know had ended, this is how it was remembered… –Sean Brown

Why Am I Here?
An exploration of earth’s natural wonders demands a sense of humility.

In No Particular Order
A colourful retrospective of the impact mobile photography has had on my output. While I’m often vocal about my love for vintage and analogue equipment, I’ve been very selective when pairing that love with technological advancements.

My Time On Earth
The power of the moving mobile image is in its composition, simplicity, and engagement with the human experience. These vignettes were all shot on smartphones and are unedited. With a still, you feel a need to add a layer of imagination to process the image; video allows for a more immersive experience.

Don’t Quote Me On That
Once this project was complete, I had a hard time categorizing it. I would send it to my friends (without context) and ask them to describe their impressions back to me. The best we had come up with was “conversation and composition”: an audio journal of my travels and candid conversations with loved ones and strangers that I’m trying my very hardest to keep off of the World Wide Web. I’ve always felt that it’s unhealthy to be fully set on your opinions and ideals. I try to parallel my approach to the creative with my approach to life. There needs to be room for error, room for growth, room to teach, and a vast amount of space to unlearn. I don’t know if I believe in the concept of a genius but I think we’re all capable of genius moments in our processes. But I could be wrong, so don’t quote me on that.

Room for Reverence
The world can be unstable. We can all use moments that help us step back, detach, and acknowledge we even exist. Nature has always made me reflect on my own existence. This is a collection of sunsets on loop during live piano medleys by composer and producer Alex Ernewein.

The final installment of the project is a space to reflect. Soundscapes and moving images exist on loop to encourage and further curiosity.

This is the world as I discovered it, as I saw it, and as it was left behind…  –Sean Brown

Wild Toronto
From towering Toronto trees and bats above you to the fossils beneath your feet, take notice of nature in our urban environment.

The following galleries will be closed this week during #FNLROM: Sigmund Samuel Gallery of Canada, Daphne Cockwell Gallery Dedicated to First Peoples Art & Culture, and all Level 3 galleries.


Kaya iky
Spins an eclectic soul-disco-house sound. A vinyl-only DJ and producer, Kaya’s sound stems from Montenegrin roots and time spent living and studying in Prague, and is influenced by his open-ended library of world music.

Domanique Grant
A unique combination of talent and whimsical fierceness, indie-pop singer Domanique Grant’s music pulls you into personal moments that make you feel like a guest invited into the world that she creates. Her lyrics explore the meaning of home in urban cities like Toronto and remind audiences to connect and feel something real again.

Conor Cutz
An open-format DJ and entrepreneur hailing from Toronto. Known for his turntablist background and ability to read any crowd, Conor redefines the role of a party DJ through style and sophistication. He currently holds residencies at some of Toronto’s most notable venues including The Four Season’s Hotel, Brooklynn, SOHO House, and more.

Alex Ernewein
Alex started playing piano at the age of eight and has picked up a number of instruments since then. He went to Humber College for piano and has played in most Toronto live music venues including Massey Hall, Danforth Music Hall, Opera House, Great Hall, Orbit Room, The Rex, Poetry Jazz Cafe, and others. He has toured with Daniel Caesar and was a part of the production team on the album Freudian. Most recently, he toured with Charlotte Day Wilson. Alex currently runs his own studio in Parkdale and spends his time producing for artists both in Toronto and in LA.


Liko’s Hawaiian BBQ
Local Hawaiian grinds – we bring da islandz to you!
Delicious Japanese street food specialized in fried chicken.
Mnandi Pies
Hand crafted Zimbabwean-style pies made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Vegetarian options.
Tita Flips
Elevated Filipino street food. Vegetarian, gluten-free, and lactose-free options.
My Crème Caramel
French desserts handmade from scratch. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
STK Toronto
Indulge in the savoury pulled braised beef from modern-chic Yorkville steakhouse STK Toronto! Gluten-free option.
Feed the 6
Culinary fusion inspired by the city of Toronto. Gluten-free options.
Patisserie Kirin
Brings you delicately handcrafted French-style opera cakes, with a unique Japanese flavour twist, and One Shot: The Nespresso of Ice Cream. Sorbet ice cream/lactose-free options.
Delight Bite
The best fresh Mexican food. Vegetarian, vegan, & gluten-free options.
Modern Asian food drawing inspiriation from Canadian and Asian classics. Vegetarian and vegan options.

Date & Time

  • Friday, October 19. Event runs from 7:00 – 11:30 PM




ROM Membership

ROM membership is your best value! Join now and save on selected programs and events.

FNLROM Oct 12/18 – Ticket Giveaway

Happy to spread the good vibes of FNLROM at the ROM this weekend!  Thank you to the Royal Ontario Museum for the hook up!  I would like to give my one of my readers a double pass to FNLROM on Oct 12/18.  Here’s what you get!  All you need to do is tell me why you want to go and I’ll hook you up!

Yassin Alsalman, known by the artist moniker Narcy (formerly The Narcisyst), is an Iraqi-Canadian musician and multimedia artist.. As a former member of the group Euphrates, he is considered a pioneer of Arab hip-hop. In 2017, Narcy’s directorial debut with indigenous electronic group Tribe Called Red featuring Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) earned a Juno Nomination for Best Music Video and won the MMVA Video of the Year. He has directed the Talib Kweli feat. Anderson Paak video “Travelling Light” and filmed with Kaytranada, Jay Electronica, Dave Chappelle, and Spike Lee.

Maya Killtron
An accomplished vocalist, DJ, and violinist. Her playful style and funk-pop beats have landed her features in Noisey, Huffington Post, and Complex, with multiple singles charting on Hype Machine. Maya’s live show has been billed as “explosive, energetic, & unshakeable fun”, bringing the dance party to audiences around the world. Maya Killtron’s highly anticipated full length solo record, Never Dance Alone, is set for release in 2019.

DJ Mix N Match
Scratching, blending and cutting his way through sets, Dj Mix N Match brings a level of unparalleled energy and showmanship to his performances that set him apart from the pack. Combining the latest hits from a number of genres like hip hop, house, RnB and top 40, his crowd-pleasing sounds have landed him a weekly residency at Bloke Nightclub in Toronto and a monthly residency at Moomba Theatre in Montreal. While he’s garnered recognition for his regular live-to-air hits on the popular radio station Z103.5, DJ Mix and Match’s live acts are the biggest draw. He has opened for heavy hitters like Drake, Future, French Montana, Zeds Dead and Diplo, to name a few.

The Sidewalk Crusaders
Don’t miss Toronto’s hottest busking band, who will bring their brass sound off the street and onto the ROM’s dance floor.

U of T Jazz Stars of the Future
Featuring students of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music.

CRANE Project
Meet members of the CRANE Project, an international, interdisciplinary research team using technology to enhance our understanding of archaeology in the Near East.

Digging the Greeks
Join our experts as we dig into Greek history with the help of the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens.
Program Partner: Consulate General of Greece.

The following galleries will be closed this week during #FNLROM: Sigmund Samuel Gallery of Canada, Daphne Cockwell Gallery Dedicated to First Peoples Art & Culture, Patrick and Barbara Keenan Family Gallery of Hands-On Biodiversity, CIBC Discovery Gallery, The Bat Cave, Gallery of Birds, and Samuel European Galleries.


Liko’s Hawaiian BBQ
Local Hawaiian grinds – we bring da islandz to you!
STK Toronto
Indulge in the savoury pulled braised beef from modern-chic Yorkville steakhouse STK Toronto! Gluten-free option.
Feed the 6
Culinary fusion inspired by the city of Toronto. Gluten-free options.
Patisserie Kirin
Brings you delicately handcrafted French-style opera cakes, with a unique Japanese flavour twist, and One Shot: The Nespresso of Ice Cream. Sorbet ice cream/lactose-free options.
Delight Bite
The best fresh Mexican food. Vegetarian, vegan, & gluten-free options.
King Catering
Specializing in Caribbean cuisine with a North American twist. Halal options.
Hot Bunzz
Meet the Toronto version of the traditional Asian bao, a creative artisan bun stuffed with international street food flavours baked into an on-the-go format.
Phancy Food
Your favourite childhood dishes dressed up with a modern twist – elevated comfort food. Vegetarian options.
Ice Volcano Ice Cream
Freshly made ice cream using 100% Canadian dairy and made with liquid nitrogen. Served with special Ice Volcano presentation!

Date & Time

  • Friday, October 12. Event runs from 7:00 – 11:30 PM




ROM membership is your best value! Join now and save on selected programs and events.

The Art Gallery of Ontario: Anthropocene (September 28, 2018 – January 6, 2019)

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Canadian Photography Institute (CPI) of the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) co-present Anthropocene, a major new contemporary art exhibition that tells the story of human impact on the Earth through film, photography, and new experiential technologies. Co-produced with MAST Foundation, Bologna, Italy, the exhibition is a component of the multi-disciplinary Anthropocene Project from the collective of photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. Organized by the artists in partnership with the three organizations, Anthropocene will run at the AGO and NGC simultaneously from September 2018 through early 2019.

The Anthropocene Project is based on the research of an international group of scientists making a case to formally change the name of the present geological epoch from Holocene to Anthropocene – the “Human Epoch”. This name change—a controversial idea currently under vigorous and passionate international debate—would represent a formal recognition and acknowledgement of what Burtynsky, Baichwal and de Pencier call the “human signature” on the planet. This scientific research has greatly influenced Burtynsky, who has been investigating human-altered landscapes in his artistic practice for 35 years, and directly relates to themes explored in the ongoing film and video work of Baichwal and de Pencier. The exhibition adds to the first retrospective of Burtynsky’s works titled Manufactured Landscapes (2003), organized by the NGC, as well as the three artists’ trilogy of films—Manufactured Landscapes (2006), Watermark (2013), and Anthropocene (expected 2018)—as a major vehicle to raise awareness of these important issues in sharp, visually compelling detail. Visitors will come away with a lasting sense not only of humanity’s collective impact on the planet, but also their individual impact.

“Climate change is a global phenomenon that cannot be ignored. By bringing together contemporary art with environmental science and anthropology, our two museums will lead a global conversation with a uniquely Canadian perspective about matters that impact us all,” said Stephan Jost, the AGO’s Michael and Sonja Koerner Director and CEO.

“Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal, and Nick de Pencier are Canadian artists who are at the very forefront of their fields,” added Marc Mayer, Director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada. “These exhibitions demonstrate the power of art to engage us aesthetically and intellectually on issues of pressing concern.”

Co-curated by AGO Curator of Photography Sophie Hackett, CPI Associate Curator Andrea Kunard and MAST Curator Urs Stahel, Anthropocene will include several distinct elements created especially for the museum installations. The exhibition will feature new Burtynsky photographs illustrating themes such as resource extraction and climate change. In addition, high-resolution murals captured using cutting-edge photographic technologies will provide striking viewing experiences. Measuring approximately 25’ wide by 12’ tall, these murals will deliver a visceral sense of scale, and allow viewers to examine—in exquisite detail—the intricacies of human incursions on the Earth.

The exhibition also includes a number of powerful high-resolution video installations that document the progression of human influence according to research categories of the Anthropocene Working Group scientists, including terraforming, extinction, anthroturbation (human tunnelling) and technofossils (human created materials, such as cement and aluminium). Through innovative augmented reality features, visitors will also be able to experience places and practices we are all connected to or responsible for but do not normally see.

“Our ambition is for the work to be revelatory, not accusatory, as we examine human influence on the earth both in planetary scale and geological time. Humans now change the earth’s system more than all natural forces combined, and we want to bear witness in an experiential way to these lasting impacts. The shifting of consciousness is the beginning of change,” the artists emphasized.

The simultaneous installations at the AGO and NGC are a rich pair of distinct experiences with certain key works appearing in both venues. Further details, including dates and subsequent venues, will be forthcoming. Follow #AnthropoceneProject for updates.

Anthropocene is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada and co-produced with the MAST Foundation, Bologna, Italy.

Review: Rupi Kaur ‘the sun and her flowers’ and ‘milk and honey’

the sun

and her flowers

this is the recipe of life

said my mother

as she held me in her arms as i wept

think of those flowers you plant

in the garden each year

they will teach you

that people too

must wilt




in order to bloom



milk and


milk and honey, rupi kaur’s debut collection of poetry and prose, is a #1 new york times bestseller. it was first self-published in november 2014. the self-published edition quickly topped north american charts. its grassroots success lead to andrews mcmeel publishing releasing it under their name on october 6 2015. the book has since been a runaway success finding a home in the hearts and homes of readers across the world. milk and honey has sold over 1.5 million copes. remained on the new york times bestsellers list for over a year and has been translated into over 30 languages.

‘milk and honey’ is the experience of violence. abuse. love. loss. femininity. the book is divided into four chapters. each chapter serves a different purpose. deals with a different pain. heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.



I’m super busy these days as I literally just started Grad School last week and working two jobs. It’s a busy time but a great time.

I have been meaning to pick up Rupi Kaur’s poetry for awhile. But I’ve been avoiding it.  Far be it for me to dive into it’s content now when I’m too busy to ‘go there’.  After seeing the above clip, I realized – it’s time.

Being a South Asian woman, I’ve not only grown up with some deeply emotional pangs around self worth, self esteem and where I see myself in this world.  Then let’s throw in growing up in Toronto in the 80’s and 90’s and feeling the ripples of racism, isolation and worry.  I’ve been through a lot and to say that I’m a fighter would be an understatement.

I’m a warrior. But I’ve had to earn my keep and lose many battles on my journey.

I felt a wonderful symmetry with ‘the sun and her flowers’ and ‘milk and honey’ with my own life. I lingered on poems like ‘the type of lover I need’, ‘commitment’ and ‘the middle place’.  Poems that are brimming with emotion related to relationships, loss, grief, love, forgiveness have come to me like a wave.  A wave I wasn’t sure that I was ready to be washed ashore with.

It was comforting to know that Rupi also had a similar journey as a South Asian woman and has been on the ground many a night wondering if it was going to swallow her in one gulp.

I cried many a time during the course of reading both of Kaur’s works. You can’t help it.  Her words are carefully constructed, sparse, worth dwelling upon and delicious.  I read both works over the course of a long weekend.  Too much?  Oh yes, but I needed the permission to face my ‘stuff’ as I head into a period of new growth in my life that is academically based but also emotive.  Indeed transformational but not life changing.  I still have work to do.  I appreciated the gentle nudge, and hey everyone needs a nudge or two when they are immersed inside so much change.

Feeling so thankful for my life, thankful for where I am and what it took me to get here. When you dwell on ‘the sun and her flowers’ and ‘milk and honey’ – tell me what her poems open up for you.

Happy Fall!

Electro-Pop, Hip-Hop, Psychobilly and Opera: ROM’s New Season of Friday Night Live Presents Musical Talent Like Never Before

Discover emerging talent and experience established artists every week this fall, when the new season of Friday Night Live (#FNLROM) launches at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). Kicking off on Friday, September 28, 2018, #FNLROM transforms Canada’s largest museum of art, culture, and nature into Toronto’s hottest 19+ social event. This season the Museum is thrilled to present the sights and sounds of local and internationally acclaimed artists, lively bands and DJs, and a range of delicious food and beverage vendors.

September 28: Fashionology

Tonight’s fashion-themed fête invites guests to immerse themselves in the futuristic worlds of Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion and Philip Beesley: Transforming Space with complimentary access to both special exhibitions. Electronic pop act For Esmé dazzles the crowd with bright, feminist anthems, and SugaCayne Designs presents their latest cutting-edge carnival costumes.

October 5: Pumpkin Spice

Montreal-based Janette King blends soulful vocals and an upbeat production style for an unforgettable experience to kick off the Thanksgiving long weekend. DJ Lissa Monet mixes musical legends across genres with Caribbean sounds, and DJ and producer Cozmic Cat brings her global house beats to the Silent Beats dancefloor, where listeners can dance to the beat of their own choosing.

October 12: Dig It!

Known for his influencing on the Arab hip-hop scene from Montreal to Dubai, Narcy brings his talent to the #FNLROM stage. Maya Killtron impresses audiences with live strings, horns, and powerful vocals, and The Sidewalk Crusaders play tunes ranging from pop and funk to film and video game themes. The CRANE Project’s international research team meets with guests in honour of International Archaeology Day.

October 19: The 6ix

Experience the art, culture, and nature right at the ROM’s doorstep, with soon-to-be announced programming.

October 26: Wicked

Revel in the monstrous and macabre this Halloween at #FNLROM! Guests come face-to-face with the biggest and baddest eight-legged creatures, with complimentary access to ROM’s feature exhibition Spiders: Fear & Fascination. Psychobilly band The House of Haunt puts on a hellish theatrical performance and Scarlett LaFlamme Burlesque presents Monsters, strutting the line between scary and seductive. The most unique costume party in the city also features magician Rayn Magic, acoustic covers from The Jestr Trio, and beats from DJ Craig Dominic and Johnny B. Goode.

November 2: Vox

Celebrate the power of voice with the Canadian Opera Company! The Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio brings the opera experience to the ROM with a set list of operatic favourites and contemporary picks. DJ Sandy Duperval blends house, soul, and her own powerful vocals; expressive soul singer Chelsey Bennett performs; and Witch Prophet creates a hip-hop, jazz, and soul-infused soundscape. Teiya Kasahara explores the reliance of conventional opera roles on gender and sex stereotypes with a performance of THE QUEEN IN ME.

November 9: Fact or Fake?

Co-founder and former member of A Tribe Called Red Ian Campeau delivers a powerful combination of art and activism as Deejay NDN, and Del Hartley performs a unique hybrid of modern R&B and ‘70’s soul. The Blue Crane Agency Showcase presents R&B singer-songwriter LIZA and Montreal-based soul-pop performer Shay Lia. ROM experts invite guests to explore real and fake objects across cultures and time, and learn about ancient Egypt’s greatest female pharaoh and master of political spin, Hatshepsut.

November 16: Mic Drop

#FNLROM partners with Northside Hip Hop Archive, the home of Canadian hip-hop history and culture, and MARTK’D, a community movement creating a unique platform using art and sneakers, to host the biggest hip hop party in Toronto.

November 23: Lit!

Celebrate the season of light with headlining alt-pop duo The Darcys and their dance-floor-ready sound. Other performances include underground hip-hop and R&B artist Nana Zen, and energetic indie rockers Goodnight, Sunrise.

Japan Travel – Tokyo Onsen: Saya-No-Yudokoro


I was looking forward to checking out an onsen whilst I was in Japan. I did some research online and found one that was traditionally Japanese and also not too pricey. I encourage you to check out, Saya no Yudokoro the next time you are in Japan.
Tucked away on a quiet side street, Saya no Yudokoro is an onsen that was once a traditional Japanese home. One would never know the owner of Saya no Yudokoro’s home which was once filled with childhood memories would one day become a place for Japanese and visitors to seek a respite from their busy days at work and home. I came all the way from Canada to soak in the natural hot springs – I was not disappointed.
Fed from a natural hot spring 1,500m under ground, the water at Itabashi’s top onsen facility is rich in sodium chloride, giving it a characteristic greenish-brown colour. But this health-bringing elixir isn’t the only thing worth noting at Saya no Yudokoro: its renovated, traditional-style buildings and zen garden are gorgeous, as is the rotenburo, which is surrounded by lush greenery.
Although you cannot walk in the zen the garden as a guest, it’s wonderful to sit and take in the glory of the trees, the manicured space and ornamental Japanese trees. A memory I will never forget.
An onsen is essentially a hot spring. Because Japan is a volcanically active country, there are multiple onsens located throughout all regions. This results in a natural hot water, perfect for bathing and relaxing. It is said to have several health benefits, hence it is actually recommended that you take advantage of onsens on a regular basis.
Differences between Onsens
Although all onsens offer naturally hot spring water, there are several differences between them. Not geologically speaking, but commercially.
Open Air Baths
This means that the onsen is open air. This means you can enjoy the beauty of the Japanese natural worlds, whilst soaking in a hot bath. These onsens offering open-air baths are the most popular, especially the ones close to Mount Fuji, as you can enjoy breathtaking views. There is no doubt about the fact that these are the most popular onsens in Japan.
Private Open Air Baths
These are perhaps my favourite because you get to enjoy a secluded experience in an onsen, where you don’t have to share with anyone. This is the perfect treat for yourself and your loved one. You don’t have to rush, you don’t have to worry about anyone around you, you don’t have to feel awkward because you need to be naked in front of others. The downside of taking advantage of an open-air bath is that these rooms come with a serious price tag. For a once in a lifetime, I enjoyed myself. I didn’t have to worry about others, running around naked or feeling awkward. I took my time, admired nature and relaxed.
Gender Specific Onsen
These are specific for your own gender. You will only bathe in areas where the same gender is allowed.
The Onsen Ritual
There is an etiquette for using an onsen. And yes, you need to familiarise yourself with this rules and no, you can’t be forgiven for not respecting them just because you are a foreign tourist. Most onsens will have a small “how to” sign at the entrance, but just in case, here is what you need to do.
Before you enter the onsen, you need to wash. This might seem counter-intuitive, but the onsen is not for washing your body, is for relaxation purposes. Besides, the water is always clean and in order to keep it that way, you have to wash before you bath in an onsen. I’m sure you wouldn’t like to enter a hot spring in a hotel, knowing that everyone around you might have skipped bathing for a few days. It’s yucky, hence, everyone needs to wash BEFORE entering the onsen. You need to use a lot of soap and you need to rinse properly. You can use a stool provided to sit down whilst you wash. Make sure you also rinse the stool and the area around you, once you finished.
When entering the onsen, make sure you are delicate about it and you don’t dive nor splash around. Use a towel to cover your modesty until you enter the water. Don’t allow for the towel to touch the water. You can fold the towel and put it over your head whilst bathing.
Once in the bath, make sure you don’t swim. Onsen facilities are for soaking, meditating and contemplating. If your towel slips into the water, remove it immediately and wring it outside the bath, NEVER in the hot springs.
Once you are done soaking, use your towel to wipe off excess water and sweat before entering the locker room.
Most traditional Japanese onsens do not allow for people with tattoos on their premises. This is a traditional nod as tattoos are often seen as associated with organized crime. This could put off a lot of visitors. I will warn you, I was checked to make sure I did not have tattoos before I used the facilities at Saya no Yudokoro.
The Meal
I purchased a delicious meal for my after onsen experience. This experience was the icing on the cake. The meal was a traditional Japanese lunch consisting of sushi, Japanese vegetables, soba noodles, tea and desert. All beautifully curated and fresh. Not only was it a pleasure to eat but it provided so much joy to my heart and my body after the external spa experience. I encourage you to have a meal as well when onsite at Saya no Yudokoro and take some time to enjoy the lovely dining room.
After the meal and your treatments, if you have time – read a book in many of the quiet spaces, have a tea in one of the guest rooms or outside in the garden space. There is even a small grocery area where you can buy some of the local vegetables that are grown onsite.
Saya no Yudokoro, provided such a serene and comforting end to my time in Japan. I hope you make some time for it when you are in Japan and enjoy the comforts that you will be hard pressed to find back at home.