Joined: 07 Jun 2013
|Posted: 2013-06-11, 04:59 Post subject: an introduction from Tokyo
|Hello to the members in this great forum! My name is Jennifer. I am American, and have been living in Tokyo for almost ten years. I have spent about fourteen years in Japan all together.
Thanks to some searching, and Erin's informative (and inspiring!) blog, I have come across this forum and so many other resources for foreign players of the shakuhachi. I have loved the sound of the shakuhachi for years, and have experience playing the flute for many years in school, quite a long time ago. I wanted to try to play the shakuhachi, but I was too busy taking care of my daughters to be able to commit to a regular practice and lesson schedule. I never forgot; it just got put "on hold".
Fast forward to two years ago, after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. My husband and I returned to Tokyo after a brief trip back to the U.S., and from the start of that school year in April, every time I walked my younger daughter to her kindergarten in the morning, there was an older gentleman playing the shakuhachi on a bench in the park. It is hard to explain some of the stress we felt at that time, but every morning when I heard him playing, I was thankful for being in Japan, and knew that I was not ready to give up on Japan and our life here, as many other foreign families had done after the disaster.
Now that both of my children are in elementary school (school is not out for the summer until July 20th here!), it felt like the right time to set aside my fears about playing a new instrument. Last week, I had my first lesson with my sensei, at a music school in the Shinjuku area. What a dream come true. I will continue with twice/month lessons there, and see where this journey will lead me...for now, I am going to play on a resin flute, with an utaguchi that will be specially made the right size for me. I bought a wooden shakuhachi at Mejiro several years ago, but the size just does not fit my mouth/chin, so it was too difficult to play. (It is in like-new condition, and I may sell it one day soon). Of course I am considering purchasing a bamboo shakuhachi, but want some time to research that decision. (By the way, my teacher also teaches at a university for the arts here, and he said that fully half of his students are women! I honestly had no idea that younger women were playing shakuhachi. Guess I had the impression that a lot of others have even here in Japan: shakuhachi is mostly played by ojiisan in the park. Not true!)
I am looking forward to reading more in this forum and on others' websites. Thanks for sharing so much information here.