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“The Y” at Japan

January 13, 2020

MLA/MUS 675X: Music and Culture: Japan Wind Orchestra

January 12, 2020

Today, we felt what celebrities felt when they visit a location full of fans (whoa), and quite honestly, I am at a loss for words.  We visited Gyosei High School. The minute we pulled in, we were greeted by ninety brilliant, kind, extremely talented, and generous high school students cheering and welcoming us with open hearts and arms.  For us, it is rare to see a group of young individuals so excited and passionate, so the wind ensemble was immediately taken back by their exuberant nature.  

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We began the morning by rehearsing independently in a beautiful auditorium.  After we finished our own practice, the high school joined us on two pieces, a traditional Japanese folk tune (comparable to our “America the Beautiful”) called “Furusato” and a quintessential American march by John Philip Sousa called “The Pathfinder of Panama”.  Their skill and excitement left us and Dr. Ripley speechless. Soon after, we ate lunch with our respective sections. I had my first official bento box (very tasty!). We discussed their favorite subjects, video games, and Japanese cultural aspects, and took a very adorable photo…I have never seen so many peace signs in one photo!  Following lunch, we prepared for our afternoon concert. The Carthage Wind Ensemble performed five pieces by ourselves. The Gyosei band performed multiple challenging and gorgeous pieces, stocked full with choreography and special effects, including a technically elaborate arrangement of “YMCA”. Their skill and dedication to the ensemble floored us.  Unlike American high schools, musical ensemble rehearsals take place outside of school hours. Because of this, an intense admiration is essential in order to stay fully committed and dedicated. The ensemble further proved that hard work and an acute love for playing music can result in an incredible outcome. After the concert, we unfortunately had to pack our things and go back to the hotel.

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In all honesty, I teared up knowing this would most likely by the last time I saw my new friends, but fortunately, social media exists to keep us connected. This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime, priceless experience that I am so thankful I got to be apart of. No words could truly convey the way the Gyosei band made us feel. Their relentless positivity will continue to prevail. This was truly an unforgettable experience.

-Meg Larson ’21


Today was the group’s first real day in Japan! We left the hotel early and traveled an hour to the Tokai University Osaka Gyosei High School. When we arrived at the high school, band students arranged themselves in two lines, forming a “tunnel” for our bus to drive through. They all waved to us and jumped up and down with excitement. As we exited the bus they cheered and screamed as they welcomed us inside. After changing into some provided indoor slippers, we went to the auditorium to meet their band conductor and section leaders whom are called senpai. We then had a rehearsal. Afterwards the clarinet section and I were led by the Japanese clarinet senpai to our room for lunch. There we ate with the other Japanese band members who played clarinet. After some eating we all began trying to talk to each other. All of the Japanese girls wanted to know everything about our dating lives! After talking, laughing, and taking some selfies, it was time for the concert. It was so exciting to play for the Japanese students. When Wind Orchestra finished playing, the Japanese band took the stage and put on a riveting concert including singing, dancing, and the YMCA! They were so talented and sounded outstanding. We said our goodbyes and headed back to our hotel. Once there, my friends and I decided to brave taking the Japanese subways system in order to get an Instagram worthy dinner.

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We navigated the subway and walked through some busy streets until we found Rikuro’s Cheese Cake, which is internet famous for it’s jiggly cheesecake that wiggles like jello. Cheesecake in hand, we took the subway back and picked up some other treats at a local convenience store. We ate our “meal” back in our hotel room and laughed about all the amazing adventures we had today. Its only day one and I’ve already had the time of my life; I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings!

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J-Trip Tip #1: 

Don’t be afraid to try something new because you’re not 100% how to get there or what to do when you’re there. If you know key phrases like, “excuse me/please/thank you”, a way to show where you want to go and where you are staying, and a positive attitude, you can get anywhere.

-Maile Riedel ’23


About the Japan Study Tour


Jan. 10-24, 2020


Music Prof. James Ripley

Modern Languages and Asian Studies Prof. Yan Wang


In this study tour, students will be exposed to Japan’s rich culture, heritage, and what their musical performances and traditions. This new context will help them to explore the relationships between music and culture. Students are also invited to reflect on the cultural differences they encounter during their time abroad.


Megan Larson ’21, Maile Riedel ’23