Becoming Musical Prodigies (Sort Of)


I mean, I’ve been playing piano since I was three. Does that count?


This Monday was Sports/Health Day in Japan. Instead of studying for Midterms (which we all should have been), we decided to take a day trip out to Yokohama to watch a traditional music concert. Azumi’s grandmother has been playing koto since she was a little girl, and the other SA girls were really excited to see and hear a bit of tradition in a modern setting.

With Autumn in full-swing (the temperatures have dropped from mid-90 F with 100% humidity to mid/low-60 F with 50% humidity), some of the summer foods like cold soba and somen have begun to disappear and are being replaced with “warmer” dishes. One of my favorites is nabe (a pot filled with meat and vegetables simmering in a pot). This particular restaurant served 鴨 (かも, duck). f16801_tokyo_kamo-nabe_tamlynkurata

Upon arriving at the venue for the concert, there was a large exhibition table set up for shakuhachi. It looks like a clarinet, but the mouth piece is very similar to a flute. They were offering free shakuhachi made out of PVC pipe to those who could master the instrument in three simple steps. Want to know how? Follow along: f16802_tokyo_shakuhachi-table_tamlynkurata


Step 1: Play the plastic bottle


Step 2: Make a sound on a shortened form of the instrument



Step 3: Make a sound on the full instrument

Only Azumi and I were able to successfully make sounds, so we are now the proud owners of our own shakuhachi.


Demonstration by a long-time shakuhachi player


Show time! This is the curtain


Mrs. Nishizawa and her group performed 嵯峨の歌


The performance was amazing!

Mrs. Nishizawa invited us backstage to meet the other performers and stand next to a koto (which is over 6 ft tall).


While I definitely should have been studying today for my midterm, this was a much-needed break from the crowded streets of Tokyo with its large billboards and business suits. Sometimes we need to take a step back and breathe.



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