Japanese Drummers

Kaze no Saiten (風の祭典) Drummers

Yesterday my friend Masumi invited me to go and see a Wadaiko (Japanese drums) performance by young men with Down’s syndrome or other severe handicaps. Their mothers were also part of the troupe. I was impressed to see them  play the drums powerfully and with such gusto! They were all enjoying themselves so much.

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Aono-san and his Mom

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Kageyama (center)  really seemed to be enjoying performing. Such an outgoing guy! He even gave me a kiss on my cheek spontaneously.(Aono-kun on the left)

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Shintani-san

I thought Ms. Shintani was really good at the drums. I found out that she had lived near me when I first came to this area. She remembers me because there were few foreigners living here then.

I realized that these women formed the troupe for their sons but that it has also empowered them and created an opportunity for the family to make a positive impact.

These women must be my age or older and yet they had so much vitality and spirit! We were caught up in their joy, too!

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Kageyama-san, mother and son

I hope you all keep on practicing and performing. I look forward to seeing  your show again!

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Emcee, Nagai-san (who is also raising a son with Down’s)

Afterwards, we had tea and zenzai at Masumi’s house! Thank you for inviting me!

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Always in a good mood! Yuki-kun, Arigato!

Yuki-kun didn’t seem to mind a house full of people!

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Wajima-nuri Lacquerware (antique)

Country Schoolhouse

Nika Elementary School, Takehara (Japan)

Nika Elementary School, Takehara (Japan)

When we were on our way to the Wood Cafe, we passed an unusual looking school building. Later, we were invited to visit it on our way back. It turns out there are just 14 students in this elementary school, yet each grade is represented.

When we arrived,they were having the school lunch. All the kids and teachers were sitting at one long table and eat the same hot lunch. It didn’t look so appetizing but the kids were chowing it down without complaint!

School lunch!

School lunch!

Nowadays even the lower grades get some training in English so I started off with an easy , “What’s your name?” Everyone spoke right up and told me their names as wella s ” NIce to meet you!”

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The kids didn’t seem shy, nor surprised to meet a foreigner. When I first came to Japan (40 years ago) kids would point rudely and say “Gaijin!” (Foreigner!) or “This is a pen” to me for some reason. Glad to see the kids behave better these days!

With five students form Nka Elementary

With five students form Nka Elementary

I was able to ask what grade they were in and their favorite subjects. They eagerly posed for photos and I was surprised how open the school was. Soon, it was time to go to class, so I waved goodbye. I heard they have a very unique pool at the school so I asked to see it! The principal, Mr. Higashikawa, willingly took us out in the cold (though he had no overcoat) to see the pool!

Principal Higashikawa-san lets me feed the fish!

Principal Higashikawa-san lets me feed the fish!

It seems that rainbow trout are kept in the pool from November to May, and used for tsuribori, fishing from a stocked pond.

First thru Third grades

First thru Third grades play wadaiko drums

Walking back to the school, I heard the sound of drums from the gym. I asked if I might take a peek. The kids were using their recess to practice wadaiko or Japanese drums. Wow! They were really good! The signals each group gave one another and the energy and seriousness which even second or third graders beat the drums was amazing.

Playing wadaiko

Playing wadaiko

This is not something usual at primary schools in Japan,but I sensed that this tradition had been going on at the school for some years. All students were involved and seemed to love doing it!

Ten-year-old drummer!

Ten-year-old drummer!

I felt privileged to meet all the kids and to hear their music! I would like to go and hear them perform on stage. Perhaps they will play at the Tondo festival coming up this month!

I loved talking with the kids though I kept my Darts’ rule of only speaking English. Perhaps they won’t remember me, but I will always remember them. My personal favorite is Manami, but all of the children were very so appealing!

Manami

Manami

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Mugging for the camera! Twins plus one!

Thanks again for letting me visit your school!