Legally, there’s often quite a lot wrong with public nudity and the consequences are extremely high if you are a public figure, a member of a popular boy-band (SMAP is like N’Sync circa ’98, we’re talking pop-u-lar), and live in Japan. Last weekend Tsuyoshi Kusanagi scored three for three when police found him loud, drunk, and nude in a Tokyo park. His reported defense at the scene: “There’s nothing wrong with being naked.” For once I found myself agreeing with Tokyo mayor Shintaro Ishihara who felt there was no need to blow this incident out of proportion. However, what is phenomenal is that the Japanese public insists on it. Continue reading
Category Archives: Music
In the women’s dressing room, a concerted kimono effort was taking place. As if my entrance had startled a flock of birds, layers of kimono flapped in the air and floated down around the necks of my fellow koto players. Two helpers per woman kept the wings up while the wearers’ arms slipped in, the fabric was wrapped and tied, and a third helper stood on a stool behind, up-sweeping the hair in a fashion that screamed prom. Butterfly clips and sparkling feathers adorned the sides of these up-dos. Here, it wasn’t kitschy, it wasn’t tacky. These women, ages 17 to 60, looked elegant in kimono passed down from their grandmothers who wore them the exact same way. Continue reading
On Saturday, Melissa and I had the great fortune to attend a piano recital at the high school where she works. We don’t see live music as often as we would like to, and this opportunity, which had come to her unexpectedly, was one of those experiences that is enjoyed somehow sweeter for it comes out of the blue.
I have been living in Japan and taking koto lessons for 6 months. I have a students’ concert in one month and here I am, full of mistakes and cold reading the last part of “Sakura Saukra” in practice with my teacher, Mizutani-sensei. She gets the patience award. Big time. I take lessons weekly in her traditional home. She serves me tea and we bow with an “Onegaishimasu” before we begin the first song of the lesson. Continue reading
We’ve only known her for one day and we might already Ω her. Capucine is a four year old little girl who lives in France with her family. She is a riveting storyteller and skilled actress. Her mother has been posting videos of her on Vimeo.com for over three years. Now, that which was probably an effort to keep Miss Capucine in touch with friends and relatives has made her a global sweetheart. Our friend Bonny sent me a link to this video—THANK YOU—it made my day. Continue reading
On Monday, I played Jingle Bells on the koto. Mizutani-sensei tuned it on a traditional Western do-re-mi scale and sounded out the sheet music’s title in katakana. “Jinguru Beru,” she said and beamed at me. I had been playing Sakura Sakura and other Japanese folk songs whose names in Kanji I could not read. Jingle Bells seemed unsuited for the koto, but her eyes were excited, like we were in for big fun. Even with the new tuning, I had to play in funky half notes. This was hard for me and I kept losing my place on the vertical sheet music. I could tell I was disappointing her the same way I disappoint other Japanese people when I don’t know something about American pop culture. Like when my supervisor was shocked to learn I haven’t seen Bad News Bears and that I don’t own any Police albums.