Monday, April 24, 2006


Bunka is the Japanese word for "culture".

On Saturday, Eiko-san invited us to go with her to a culture recital with her on Sunday. I was pretty psyched! I figured it would be a nice way to spend two hours.

We picked up Eiko-san at 11, after we spent an hour getting ready, because we weren't sure what to wear and Chris ended up having to put on a tie at the last minute. We were both sort of nervous, this was a new thing and we don't have much Japanese and Eiko-san has only a few words of English (NO!, OK, GOOD! BAD! and husband)

We picked up Eiko-san at the BX and went to the Bunkakan (Perfoming Arts Hall) is right out the main gate, next to the library! I felt kind of bad that I had no idea that it was there (or what it was). Chris said it wasn't a big deal, the flyers are all in kanjii and we don't get the native language papers and they don't advertise in the English ones, so it wasn't for a lack of interest, it was more a lack of information.

Eiko-san was worried about where we could park because parking in Misawa is pretty much non-existent, however, we got an amazing park (as Eiko-san said "Rucky!"), directly in front of the hall.

The hall was very nice, in a 70's kind of way.

The tickets were 2000 yen a piece (about 17 bucks) and Eiko-san wouldn't let us pay. She took us to our seats, then we came back out to the lobby where they were selling dance and theatrical supplies. Eiko-san introduced me to one of the dance teachers. He was very elegant, despite being in a gimme cap and work clothes. She introduced me as her student! =)

When we walked into the theatre proper, we noticed:

1. We were the only foreigners. My blonde hair would have stuck out except it was blocked by the woman two rows over that had a two-foot tall hairdo. Seriously.
2. There was a range of dress styles, from sweatpants (the old guy across the aisle) to full suit and tie
--that would be Chris and a few other men)
3. People bring snacks. A lot of snacks. I thought that was strange.
4. The program was magazine-sized. It had 69 entries, which I thought was the list of performers.

For people who produce some of the best techinical equipment in the world, the sound system in the auditorium was terrible (but the seats were comfy)! I don't think they had any kind of mixing board or other controls --they simply turned up the volume. My brother, a gifted musician, will attest to the fact that if *I* can tell something's bad, it is. Really bad.

The perfomance began at noon, with a lovely traditional dance. I wasn't sure if I could take pictures, so I missed a few opportunities at the start, until I realized it was okay.

* * * F I V E H O U R S L A T E R * * *

1. It was not a list of actors in the programme, it was a list of acts. Yes, 69 acts!
2. I was starving, not having had anything to eat since 9am. I'm used to eating every three hours, too.
3. Chris was asleep. He started to snore, too.
4. I had more Japanese culture in one afternoon than in two years of being here!
5. The acts had all started to look/sound pretty much the same.
7. At this rate, the show would be finishing up at about 7:30pm.
8. Now I understood all the bento (lunchbox) lunches.
9. I was ready to cry. Really.
10. And I was unable to ask if would be okay to leave! Damn my English-centric propensities.

Luckily, Eiko-san is pretty damn observant and took pity on us and we left. On the way home, she treated us to coffee and cheesecake. We tried to jump up and pay the check, and she shouted NO! quite loudly, causing everyone in the coffee shop to turn around and look at us. Eek.

Here we are after the show. Chris is doing the Japanese version of "rabbit ears" over my head--it's supposed be the rays of light ( halo) radiating from the buddha's head. And here is me with Eiko-san.

Eiko-san gave me a souvenir-- a beautiful Odori (Dance) purple. She's so sweet. And we played the obi game during the shows--everytime a performer came onstage in a kimono with an obi knot that I knew how to do, she would point it out.

I enjoyed the first 10 acts, but honestly, I'm not going to want or need to see any sort of cultural thing for a while. Possibly ever again.

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