Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Volleyball & Taiko!
It has officially been one week since I started the Yamasa Institute JLCP program. The first few days seemed to go by slow, but I am already going into my second week! The next two weeks are sure to fly by fast. Next week we are going to Tokyo for a three day "field trip", but us students get to choose the places we would like to visit. I would like to go to the Ghibli Museum if we have a chance. There was talk of going to Tokyo Tower, Asakusa, and the "Ninja" restaurant, so we'll see what ends up happening. A few of us were also thinking of staying in Tokyo during the weekend and I'm sure that will probably happen.
Last night, my host otousan and I went to volleyball practice. He is on a volleyball team, and all of the players are probably in their late 30s to 50s. There were four women there, including myself, and the rest were men. I think there is even one member that is probably in his late 50s or even early 60s! He is really good, that is what I learned from watching him. I think he was my favorite player on the team, apart from the "coach", because he looks much older yet he has the movement of a twenty year old. Talk about being fit. Good for him! I hope when I am that age, I will still be able to get my groove on...It had been so long since the last time I had played volleyball with an actual team. I used to be on the volleyball team in junior high school. Being at the practice brought back so many memories of my my short-lived stint as an "athlete." For our warm up, we ran some laps, did some stretches, and practiced volleying, attacking, receiving, etc. Afterwards, we did janken to form two teams. I was on the same team as my host dad. Everyone was really encouraging throughout our games. I had a few good saves, which I was proud about. My host dad is amazing at volleyball. He had so much stamina while playing! For me, it was a great experience to play volleyball again, and also to practice my Japanese conversational skills. I'm glad that I went, and as we were leaving, someone told me, "Mata Mokuyobi!"
Today was probably the best day I'd had in a while. The JLCP group had the chance to do Taiko drumming. We had a professional Taiko drummer, Miho, teach us an entire song, and by the end of our lesson, we were rocking out! Miho explained to us how to hold the drumsticks, bachi, which is with three fingers (sans the pinky finger). Your thumb should also be straight along the drumstick. The big drum is called miyadaiko, while the smaller drum is called shimeidaiko. We received a paper with a type of music "score" written on it, which was the song we were going to learn. There were four sections to the song and we had to practice each section's rhythm before actually playing the drums. She made us practice each section several times so that we had the hang of it. Each section had a different and distinct beat to it. I can only imagine how much practice real Taiko drummers have to do to perfect each song. After learning each section, we then proceeded to play two different beats at the same time (one side played one type of beat, while the other played another type of beat). It got trickier and trickier as we progressed, yet I loved the challenge! I was determined to memorize the song completely and play it confidently. Our practice took about two hours, I'd say. Towards the end of our lesson, we had to perform the song as an entire group, and then in just groups of three. I loved seeing everyone get into the drumming, and I could tell everyone was absolutely stoked. It was so cool to hear the sounds being produced just from one practice alone. Now I really, really want to join a Taiko drumming group, so I am going to seek out one in the near future. By the end of the lesson, we were tired, sweating, and had used muscles in our arms that we didn't knew existed. I'm sure tomorrow everyone will be feeling a little sore. Although I've only gone on two field trips, people have told me that this, by far, was the coolest experience that they had had so far in terms of cultural activities in the course. I'm glad that I was able to be a part of that experience!
And as an added bonus, here's a couple of videos of the group playing, and also one of myself busting out my Taiko drumming skills: