Monday, October 24, 2011

Japan Report :)

Just recently, I went on a trip to Japan for my third international music tour :D We were asked to write reports on our experience, and I felt like mine was blog-worthy, so I'm sharing it with you here.

So here I am in Japan, sitting on the couch in my pyjamas, watching trashy daytime TV in a language I can't understand (don't get me wrong though; I find it sort of fascinating). Why? why am I here, and not outside enjoying my time here in this beautiful country? I'm sick. Nose dripping like a tap, scratchy throat and between being stuffed up and drugged up on cold&flu medicine, I can barely think. But, I will give it my best shot.

My host mum Akiko has been wonderful, giving me ginger tea and tissues, and letting me sleep in. It has been quite a hectic week, after all. I won't give you a full-on play-by-play recount of everything that has happened, but I will share with you some observations that I have made since arriving here on Sunday night.

The biggest cultural difference I have seen so far, is that the Japanese really care. About everything. For example, whole teams of people are assigned to keep the streets clean and litter-free. It's their job to make sure that Japan stays beautiful. Even such a small and seemingly unimportant detail of daily life is given such attention. But the Japanese acknowledge just how a small detail can make such a big difference. If this is the kind of attitude that this society has towards the little things, you can imagine how that translates across to every other aspect of daily life here.

The second thing is that Japanese people are full of respect. For each other, for themselves, for the country they live in, and for anyone who comes to visit. I have never felt so completely welcomed into somebody else's home before. My host family, the Kawasaki's, have been the friendliest, most caring and generous hosts. Like I mentioned, while I've been sick, Akiko has taken good care of me.

The country itself is just beautiful to look at. Everything is packed in tight, but no one seems cramped or irritated by the close proximity. Despite the high density population, there is greenery and recreational space everywhere. Their work-life balance is perfect; or at least, as close to perfect as anyone on earth has yet achieved (at least to my admittedly limited knowledge).

Perhaps the greatest indulgence in this country, besides the beyond-amazing food, is that we're here to do what we love. Not only are we here to experience another culture, but we are in a position to give back to the generous community that has welcomed us here, by doing something we all do well. Making music.

It's at this point that I should express my sincere thanks to Shaun Dorney and the LYME staff for all they've done. The opportunity to see another country, and to perform on foreign shores is not something I take for granted at all, and I'm truly grateful for the time and effort they have put in to making this trip a success. I quite literally would not be where I am today without them. So Shaun and Co, I know you'll read this, for all the opportunities, for friendships forged with fellow musicians both Australian and Japanese, for the bonds formed with our new surrogate families and for everything else, I say thank you all, so so much.

To Pam Parker, if you're reading this, thank you for your ongoing support in our musical endeavours also. It means a lot to have our creative efforts recognised by the city's leaders - it's not often groups like ours earn this kind of recognition. I really hope we'll do you proud tomorrow in our final big concert with Hirakata's Brass Band.

Of everything amazing in this country, I have only one little niggling criticism - Hirakata is experiencing an epidemic of wonderfully talented young woodwind, brass and percussion players, but it's definitely missing something...

...Yep. Needs more strings.


Now if you'll excuse me, there's a trashy Japanese game show on just begging me to watch.

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