MLA/MUS 675X: Music and Culture: Japan Wind Orchestra
January 20, 2020
Good morning from Japan! It’s been a lot of sightseeing since I wrote last, so I figured I’d pack it all into one. Our past few days have been going through several religious sites, specifically a lot of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. The first place we visited, though, was neither of these. We stopped at Himeji Castle on Saturday. It is one of the oldest castles in Japan, and we got to explore all around it. It’s known as the White Heron Castle due to its coloring. From the top, there are amazing views of the nearby city. It has an extensive history that involves several power changes and re-modelings, but the original building is mostly intact. At the top was a shrine where you could offer coins and a prayer if you wished.
That night was our first night in Kobe, and it was my first experience with what you may call the Japan city life. This is the tight streets with neon lights and lots of street vendors and difficult navigation if you are an out-of-towner!
After wandering for a while, we ended up at a Burger King (the only one I’ve seen thus far) and I got my fortune told via a Whopper. If you purchase a Fortune Whopper there, they will assign you a bun color combination randomly, and they offer explanations for what each of those fortunes mean. My Whopper with two white buns means “little luck.” Yikes. Well, the Whopper has spoken, and it’s better than “no luck.”
The next day, we visited the Golden Shrine. With its beautiful reflection pond, it is impossible to take a bad picture. I purchased a wooden bracelet there and took lots of pictures. It was absolutely beautiful.
Next stop was a bamboo forest, which was likewise stunning. The trees were so dense, and there was a beautiful river right next to it. I had the best noodles I’ve had on this trip at a shop nearby, and many of us (myself not included) purchased green tea items, as this is the area where the green tea is the specialty.
The next day was the Great Buddha Temple at Nara, which had so many amazing statues of the gods, where you could again offer coins and prayers. There are also holy, free range deer all over this temple complex. My friends and I split a feeding packet and fed as many of the deer as possible. It was a surreal and amazing experience.
Yesterday, we visited another shrine, this time back in Osaka where we started. This one has a beautiful bridge associated with it, which was unfortunately under construction, but we still got some nice pictures. After that, we went to a reconstructed version of old Osaka, where I didn’t take any pictures, but it was cool to immerse myself in the older time period.
Today is our last full day in Japan, and we will be playing a concert tonight. Thanks for reading along with me! I will probably make a final report about the concert tomorrow or after I arrive home, but I hope you’ve enjoyed following me along!
About the Japan Study Tour
THE TRAVEL DATES
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.