Friday, January 20, 2012

A year of new beginnings -2012

2012 will be a big year for Soju Kai Seattle. As Kumiko is graduating her training as a licensed massage therapist (she passed the national exam already!), she will have much more time to focus on integrating her art, her music and her profession. Also our youngest son is graduating high school. I plan to return to my writing, composing and performing. We also plan to do more lecture-performances this year. It will be a year of new beginnings!

Speaking of new beginnings, Kumiko chanted a piece from the Noh play “Tsurukame” for the East-West Chanoyu Center’s New Year’s celebration. The East-West Chanoyu Center (formerly called Urasenke Seattle Branch) has served the broader community in the appreciation and study of the Way of Tea since 1981. They have changed their organizational structure as well as their name, and started a new to spread the beauty of the Japanese tea tradition.

‘Tsurukame’ literally means “Crane and Tortoise.” The crane and the tortoise are traditional symbols of longevity in Japan because the crane is said to live for a thousand years, the tortoise for ten thousand. This song is often sung for auspicious occasions or as Hatsu-utai (the first chant of the year). Being given the opportunity to start the year 2012 by chanting this piece was surely a good sign for us, as well as for our long time close friends.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The year 2012 -NHK "Kiyomori"

The year 2012 looks to be an exciting year for many reasons. Among other things, it looks to be an exciting year for – believe it or not – television (!). We’re very much looking forward to the Taiga Drama (a year-long historical mini-series) from NHK (the PBS of Japan, more or less). This year’s program is entitled ‘Kiyomori’ (, and focuses on one of the characters of the classic Japanese epic ‘Heike Monogatari’ (‘Tales of the Heike’). This program will be of particular interest to us because we have translated about seventeen Noh plays that were based on the Heike Monogatari, and are currently working on an epic play inspired by them. This year will be an interesting one for us; Kumiko is finishing up her training as a massage therapist, so we can continue our various projects, including lecture/demonstrations and collaborative performances, as well as poetry, plays, short stories and a guidebook/anthology of Noh plays. NHK Taiga Dramas are well-written and entertaining. We will be busy this year, but we’ll be sure to set aside 45 minutes a week to see their take on the character of Kiyomori. It will be, as they say, time well spent.