japan programmeWhen the lovely Japanese lady, Michiko Natsumoto, came to my summer harp weeks in the Burren in 2017, little did I expect that this would lead to an extraordinary week of a lifetime!

Last week, I went to Japan – to see the wonderful cherry blossom in bloom – and to visit with Michiko to give some workshops, masterclasses and a concert in her home town of Osaka.  What a welcome I received – and so gracious was everyone I met I was quite taken-aback.  It was really wonderful to meet the many really fine harpers there and to work with them was a privilege.   

Perhaps only about 30% of my audience could understand English – but we had a mountain of fun in the workshops – The way I work with the oral tradition  found a receptive audience – and we triumphed! 

With ‘The Battering Ram’ jig, ‘O’Keefe’s Slide’ (the funky orchestra version!) – the ‘Titanic’ polka set - the Green Glens of Gweedore – or a piece of Carolan – we made the greatest of music that would feature in the best of County Clare! We found a receptive audience – and we triumphed!

 

 

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I had forgotten what to expect with the jet lag!  It kicked in about 4pm every afternoon (messing with my head for the evening activities), and no sooner was I in top form but I was on the way home again.  One week is absolutely not long enough – so, the plan is that I will be in Japan for 4 weeks next year.

Apart from my wonderful students both in Osaka and in Tokyo, I had a few very special events happening in my programme.  On Monday, I visited a High School in Osaka and after my recital, they performed for me and Michiko – what an experience this was!!!!  Completely blown away at their brass band and choir – What an honour it was to be their guest that day.  I will never forget it.  Thank-you to Derek Kelleher from Dublin who teaches English at the school who hosted us. 

 

 

 

 

Unforgettable!   

japan2sm2018 was enormously touched from tip to toe at the tribute you paid to me.  Humbling.  I was deeply honoured.  Thank you to all the school staff and students – and Michiko of course! Another of the great experiences was that in the Centre where my classes were on Saturday, quite by chance a traditional Japanese dance company were rehearsing in another room – complete with their orchestra of fifes and flutes and drums.  We poked our heads in to see their rehearsal – and they gave us a full performance of a 20 minute festival programme.  Absolutely brilliant.  I got it on my phone and have already played it 20 times for friends and colleagues.  What an occasion!  Also never to be forgotten!

Then, I enjoyed the bullet train from Osaka to Tokyo, taking in breath-taking views of Mount Fuji, and chatting to a charming Japanese lady who with really good English learned at school, regaled me with stories about the area and growing up there that was just lovely. And, Junshi!  I did go for the ‘deep Osaka’ experience with a trip down the back streets to local eating places – I adored every morsel.  And, I experienced my first taste of Sushi – and was surprised! It was really good!  I’ll be back for more, for sure! 

 

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Thank you Michiko, and colleague Chieko who was a great support and translator in Osaka.  I’m looking forward to coming back with enthusiasm.  Roll on 2019!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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