Mugenkyo, the UK's best-known and longest-established taiko drumming ensemble, rarely seem to play in the Bristol area. Their 10 year history of concerts throughout the UK, Europe and Japan, with tight playing and theatrical performances, makes them well worth going to see. There's no Bristol concert in their tour schedule at the moment but they will be performing at the Playhouse, Weston Super Mare on Friday 10 May 2013.
And if you want to compare them with a Japanese taiko group, who are guaranteed to put on a spectacular show, the Yamato Drummers from Nara will be playing at the Bristol Hippodrome next Wednesday 27 February 2013.
JapanesePod 101, Busuu, Nihongo Master... these and many other Japanese language learning web sites are jostling to take your hard-earned cash from you in return for the promise of an easy way to learn the language. I've never got as far as paying for any of these but I've given some of them a free trial run. What I've noticed about all of them is that if you decide to take the plunge and pay for their services, it's best to have a strategy. They all offer a short period of free use initially. With some of them you can continue with a free account but what's available will be very limited. To get the full service, you have to pay. This is where the strategy comes in. They may offer you a discount on the full price at the end of the free trial period, but if you hesitate to take it up they will almost always follow this up with the offer of an even cheaper deal. Wait even longer and they may reduce this again and again.
The only problem with this kind of brinkmanship is that eventually the special offers stop and you're left with only the full price option. So how do you know when they have offered you the best price? The answer is to check the site out with a different identity. Give yourself a new name, set up an email account in that name and use it to try out the site. To cover your tracks even more effectively, use a different computer so your IP address is different too. Once you've discovered their marketing strategy, you can secure the best deal using your true identity. It may be a little sneaky, but it will definitely save you some money. Or maybe, like me, you'll decide that the best option of all is to use some of the many good free sites online instead.