Thursday, May 03, 2012

Celia's Cultural Education Journal

I have 3 cultural goals for my first four years in Japan… other than the obvious goal to “communicate well in spoken and written Japanese.” I have started a journal about my progress, so from time to time I'll be posting short updates here on our blog. But first, let me introduce my three goals.

My first goal is to play the shamisen and accompany myself singing. I’m now able to play easy songs on the shamisen, and I’ll probably start working on songs I can sing as well. Although the shamisen technique is in some ways quite similar to cello and viola da gamba technique, the style is quite different... and I still struggle with hitting the right string. Singing will be even more of a challenge. I’ve been trained to sing Bach, but Japanese music styles such as Minyo and Enka do not sound anything like Bach.

First time playing my made-by-daddy Shamisen (in Hawaii!)
Modeling my shamisen and yukata (casual summer kimono)

My second goal is to put on a kimono by myself. When I bought a yukata last summer, I did not leave the store until the shop owners were satisfied that I could properly put on the yukata and tie a chou-chou-musubi (butterfly bow) with a hanhaba (half width) obi. The basics of a kimono are similar, but more complicated. Also, the obi is stiffer and wider; a variety of musubi (bows) are possible, but it’s much, much more difficult. Right now I'm learning to tie a taiko musubi, the standard musubi which is always appropriate.

First shot at putting a yukata on someone else. This is a chou-chou-musubi.
Kimono wearing class
First successful taiko-musubi!
My third goal is to prepare matcha and perform the tea ceremony. I’ve had a couple of opportunities to participate as a guest in the tea ceremony, but as for preparing and serving the tea, I’ve not yet started. This goal requires the completion of goal 2—many tea classes require the participants to wear a kimono.

Guests for tea ceremony (2 years ago)
I have a number of reasons for choosing these particular goals. First, they are things that I like. I have loved tea for as long as I can remember. I also love hospitality, with which serving tea is intimately connected. I love kimono—I love seeing other people wear kimono, and I love the way I look in one. I also love that wearing kimono gives me good posture. And I love shamisen. It’s just so cool…

Second, learning Japanese traditional arts is a way to meet people. There are classes that anyone can join. I can meet up with fellow kimono enthusiasts to go out together wearing kimono. And older ladies love that I’m learning the things that their daughters aren’t interested in.

Third, learning Japanese traditional arts will give me opportunities to introduce Japanese culture to our friends and family when we are home in the US... and a great excuse to have tea parties! I envision myself inviting friends for tea, complete with kimono demonstration and shamisen performance. We can also do presentations at churches and prayer meetings and such. I can talk about some of the many things we like about Japan… and also about how to pray for the church and the people of Japan in general.

I'll be working hard to accomplish these goals and to learn more about Japanese culture! 頑張ります! Check back soon, since I'll be posting about my first shamisen performance. :)

1 comment:

MJ Cossel said...

Those are some great, rewarding goals! I would love to see you do all three together as you expressed.