Sunday, June 24, 2012

Another typhoon, kimono fashion show, and the Shinto Directive for the millionth time

So, let's see, what exciting stuff have I been up to?

On Tuesday we had a typhoon, which was honestly kind of lame.  I mean, I guess it got kind of interesting in the evening, but the morning was alternating between lame gusts of wind and occasional drippy rain.  Laaaaaaaaaame.  Oh, and then there was this weird five minute time period when it was hailing.  I don't even know.  Anyway, class was cancelled, but I didn't find this out until I was running toward class through the rain and got hailed by the guard at the gate.  OH WELL.

On Thursday Nellie invited me over to the Furukawa Art Museum (where I'd never been) because she was participating in a kimono fashion show as one of the models!  I had a little bit of trouble getting in, 'cause apparently my name didn't wind up on the invite list SOMEHOW and they were convinced Nellie's name was "Tin-Tin" (what), but eventually it was cleared up and I got in.  The show was actually a joint fashion show/concert, which I was pretty cool with.  They had a guy playing a really old version of the koto, which apparently no one in Japan knows how to play, so they had to bring him in from China.  It's considered one of the hardest instruments to play IN THE WORLD because there are no frets on the neck of the instrument, which means that you have to have crazy perfect pitch and know exactly where to place your fingers.  I can honestly say it was some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard, and DANG, that guy was talented, and was making sounds that I didn't know you could make with a koto.  There was also a guy playing a kind of flute that's normally used as accompaniment to the really-old-koto, who was also very good.
It was kind of funny to compare the two musicians, because the koto player* was IN THE ZONE and didn't pay attention to anyone else and had literally one facial expression, and the flutist was flirting with all the ladies and making all these "oh yeah, I know I'm awesome" faces as he was playing his flute and just generally showing off his mad skills.
Also, the songs they were playing had the craziest names.  I understand that Chinese is an incredibly compact language, but each song they were playing had a roughly four syllable title in Chinese, and in Japanese they were called:
"Dragon flying through the sky and the sea" (okay, I can see how this could be compressed into four characters)
"Drinking with friends, getting drunk, and reading poetry" (...whatever shakes your boat, I guess)
"It is winter and it is cold and the river is frozen and a person is standing there looking at the winter scenery and feels lonely" (...wait, what)
"You leave your hometown to cross the desert to the east and night falls and you climb a hill and turn back to look at the stars over your hometown and you feel nostalgic and sad and lonely" (okay, now I am pretty sure you are just making stuff up)

Anyway, after the concert they had the kimono show!  It was showcasing kimono from Arimatsu which had been dyed using shibori technique, which Nellie could tell you a whole lot about, but it basically involves dyeing the fabric by twisting, folding, or sewing, sort of like tie-dye!  There were a whole lot of lovely kimono (and some of the obi were TO DIE FOR**), and Nellie was looking ridiculously elegant and poised.  (Although, when she came on stage the woman next to me started swatting at her friend and hissing, "IT'S A GAIJIN," because, you know, maybe it wasn't obvious?  I don't even know.)  Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to talk to Nellie afterwards, 'cause I had to leave for class and she was stuck upstairs to prepare for the next show anyway, but it was a really neat experience, and I got to see some gorgeous clothes and hear some beautiful music.

On Friday, we were reading The Shinto Directive in class (again; I swear, I'm going to spend the rest of my life reading that document), and I finally got a chance to be useful, because Sensei asked us to compare the wording in the English document with the wording into the Japanese document, and I am the only person in my group who is even close to being bilingual.  YAY.  We have to write out a translation in modern Japanese based off of the English document for next week, so we'll see how that goes.

On Saturday morning, Yiyi and I went down to the farmer's market at Kawahara and bought SO MUCH FOOD.  Summer apparently means EVERYTHING IS IN SEASON, or at least many things are, which means SO MANY FOODS TO EAT.  Also, an old dude hit on me creepily and made a pun on my name ('cause "deina" sounds like "ee na"; dude, I love puns, but NO, and also PLEASE move out of my personal space).

Otherwise, not much to report.  I'm reading about how some people wanted to turn Japan into a Christian nation so that it could be modernized (this was during the Meiji Restoration) and working on my paper and dying in the heat and eating ice cream.

*Koto-ist?  Koto-er?

**There was an obi with a flowering tree stitched across the back and it was beautiful and I swooned a little.

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