Skip to main content

Zimbabwe x Japan

Today I had a relatively calm workday, if such a thing exists. I spent the morning editing--again!--that dang coffee article. Blech. But I think after one more final final round of cleaning it up the whole process will be done and it can go to print for the day after tomorrow's paper.

But in the afternoon I got to go to a pretty cool story. There's a Japanese office for international cultural exchange, and for five years now there's been an exchange with a group of traditional dancers from Zimbabwe, of all places. They come to Japan for a few weeks and tour around, performing at schools etc. Today they were at an elementary school in Kanazawa called Fudoujishou, which also has a requirement that all its students take lessons in traditional art like the shamisen.

All the students were set up on chairs in their gymnasium:

There were five Zimbabweans, four students and their teacher. They were all pretty young--between the ages of 12 and 15. They performed a variety of dances such a hunting dance, a marriage dance, a rain dance. In between they explained what they were wearing (goat tails and ostrich feather hats) and about their instruments.

The kids were suitably impressed.

Once their performance was over, the elementary school kids played a group piece on the shamisen in exchange:

All in all everyone was adorable and the newspaper had me write a small thing on the importance of traditional classes in school (which I do actually think is important in the same way I think that art, music, and drama classes are just as important as math in American schools).

So, who knows what tomorrow will bring. My family's daughter, Naoko, who I met last summer is in town for a week for some massage therapist convention thing in Kanazawa so that's mildly exciting. Otherwise I'm entering my third week no worse for the wear, but with a craving for McDonald's...


Popular posts from this blog

Taking a Breather

Sometimes when you're in Tokyo, as wonderful as its bustling atmosphere is, you just want to forget you're in the middle of Tokyo.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a guy from Sweden who regularly came to Japan on business and he said that despite how much he loved Tokyo he could never live here because of the lack of green space. Tokyo has its parks, of course, like all major cities, but if you want unspoiled greenery you have to be willing to head at least forty minutes outside of the sprawling metropolis limits. In winter this desire to surround oneself with greenery might not matter as much, but now that spring is seeping into the atmosphere and the upcoming sakura season is on everyone's mind (NHK even puts out an annual "forecast" for sakura!) the neon lights and concrete jungle start to feel a little oppressive.

That's when little hideaways like the Sato Sakura Museum and Kohmeisen come in handy.

The Sato Sakura Museum is a small museum in Nakameguro…

Short Hair, Don't Care: Model Behavior

I like to think I have a wide range of accomplishments under my belt:

Accidentally over-caffeinated myself conducting ethnographic research--check
Read 3+ books in a single day--check
Never (yet) pulled an all-nighter--check
Sung at Carnegie Hall--check
Published a poem--check

But now I can add a decidedly interesting item to that list:
Been a hair model in Japan--CHECK.

It's a bit of a long story.

It all starts with coffee, actually, like many of my adventures here in Japan do. I was checking out a coffee shop in the too, too cool area of Daikanyama (no, seriously, that entire neighborhood is just Too Cool for me, I don't even know why I was there). There I met stylist Yusuke, who asked if I wanted to appear in a PR photoshoot for the opening of his salon brand's newest branch, boy Tokyo, Harajuku. They're (wisely!) making a site to appeal to foreign clientele--it's a smart move because it's really hard to find a place that has stylists who truly are comfortab…

Final Touring Excursions

Tomorrow is my last day. It felt strange to write that sentence, knowing that I've been gone six weeks, which feels like both no time at all but also forever. Even though this is my fifth time coming to Japan (and the fourth for an protracted trip), the coming-and-going is something I don't get used to. Just as I start getting over my "ugh, I just want to go home" hump and settling in, well, it actually IS time to go home.

What have I done the past few days?

Well, on Sunday my host family and I took a drive to Yamanashi prefecture (re: near Mount Fuji) to visit the Oshino Hakkai, the Eight Sacred Ponds of Oshino. According to the signage, when people used to hike up Mount Fuji for pilgrimages, they would purify themselves in the ponds before starting their journey. And having stuck my hand in an (acceptable) corner of the main pond, Wakuike, it was FREEZING. Some other ponds have specific purposes, however. One was for people who wanted a good marriage, for instance.