The Nihon Fukushi University Bunka Hall was once again the site of this morning’s activities, as the students continued to polish the pieces they’ll be performing Saturday afternoon. First, the Rakko members presented their arrangement of Chichibu Yatai-bayashi, a regional festival music made famous by the groups Ondekoza and Kodo.
Next, they performed “Raku,” which TOMODACHI participants learned from Rakko members in Pittsburgh last year (and have been working on ever since). After this demonstration, the Pittsburgh students joined the Rakko members on the stage to refine their performance of the piece. With the solid foundation they’ve established over the last year in place, the Pittsburgh students were able to move beyond the rhythms and movements and focus on the subtleties of “Raku.” Alongside the Rakko members, they worked to take their performance to a new level that is enjoyable not just for the audience but also for the performers themselves.
A run-through of “Matsuri Daiko” then followed, to make sure the piece was ready for the groups’ joint performance at the end of tomorrow’s concert.
The Pittsburgh students then had some time to work on the three pieces they’ll be performing tomorrow. By now, they have grown used to the drums and performance space, and are ready to show tomorrow’s audience what they’ve learned since the TOMODACHI program started last year.
Lunch then followed, with the Pittsburgh students once again eating the bento provided by their host families.
Everyone then traveled to the campus’ Japanese style room - complete with sliding shōji doors and tatami mat floors - to participate in a tea ceremony performed by Iwadachi Fumiyo-sensei, who not only was responsible for coordinating this year’s TOMODACHI trip to Mihama but has regularly traveled to Pittsburgh for a number of years to participate in cultural education programs sponsored by the Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania. Students learned about the history behind and processes of the tea ceremony, all the while also finding out a little more about how the type of tea changes the tea ceremony.
After a morning of hard work, it was time for some fun! From Nihon Fukushi University, the group traveled to Minamichita Beachland & Toy Kingdom, an aquarium/amusement park located just a 15-minute walk from the university campus. After immediately going to see a dolphin show, the students dispersed for a few hours around the park. Japanese and American students gathered together in groups to feed penguins, pet seals, and observe the various aquatic life that live at the park (plus play at the Toy Kingdom.)
Several hours later, the group reconvened at the exit of the park, and everyone walked back to the Nihon Fukushi University Bunka Hall. After discussing tomorrow’s plan (including the concert order), the day’s activities were concluded, and everyone went their separate ways to rest in preparation for tomorrow’s festivities.
For more pictures from the day's activities, visit the Pittsburgh Taiko Flickr page.