Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Soju Kai Recap by Heather Porter

Our friend Heather Porter posted a recap of Soju Kai’s March 24 lecture/performance ‘Healing in Noh’ on her blog ‘Hanamichi’. An excellent recap with great photography by Heather Jackson.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Healing in Noh @ Nagomi Tea House

On March 24 Soju Kai presented a lecture/demonstration at the Nagomi Teahouse in Seattle’s International District. I recently began writing a monthly column for the Hokubei Houchi (North American Post) newspaper entitled ‘Tales from the Noh’. During our first meeting there, we were pleasantly surprised to discover the Nagomi Teahouse downstairs, a beautiful and intimate space.

We chose as our theme for the presentation ‘Healing in Noh’, and focused on specifically on healing through sympathy as expressed in the Noh play ‘Atsumori’. Kumiko opened the performance with a celebratory chant from the play ‘Tsurukame’. I then spoke on the music, movement and chant of Noh, as well as its history and esthetics. Kumiko demonstrated jo-ha-kyu, then danced a section of the play ‘Yuya’.

The presentation also featured backstage photos of Kumiko’s father Yoshio Negishi, a licensed Noh performer. Masks carved by Kumiko’s mother, Yukie Negishi, a Noh performer and accomplished Noh mask carver, were modeled by stage performer/dancer Yuuki Hoashi.

The performance continued with a staged reading of my retelling of the play ‘Atsumori’, as published in the Summer 2012 issue of the journal Parabola. Kumiko’s sumi paintings of scenes from the play were also featured.

The performance ended with a video clip from a live performance of ‘Atsumori’, danced by Hideo Fukuhara, Kumiko’s uncle.

Photography courtesy of Heather Jackson.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Like most bookworms, I tend to see TV as a distraction. Why waste time watching TV when there are so many good books lining my walls just begging to be read? No great sacrifice, really, since 98.9% of what's on is unwatchable. Recently, however, I happened onto a new show that- dare I say it? - I watch religiously.

I originally gave 'Vikings' a try because I love Icelandic sagas. I've read a dozen or so, mostly Penguin classics, and I thought maybe the new series would therefore be at least mildly entertaining. So far (three episodes in) I've been very impressed with just how true to the original culture and history the show is.

I get most of my televized history from lectures on C-SPAN. I loved the History Channel when it first started broadcasting, but lately it seems to only have marathon showings of Pawn Kings, a sort of rustic Shopping Network glorification of pawn shop shoppers, so 'Vikings' has been a very pleasant surprise.

Hopefully the show will be a big hit. I don't care much for spinoffs, generally speaking, but if a publisher or two wants to hop on the bandwagon, maybe they'll finally release some decent audiobooks of some of the sagas. That, if it happens, would be a rare example of commercial forces working in my favor.


Sunday, March 3, 2013


I'm currently working on a novel, a new version of the Mahabharata. My influences are many, including 'The Tales of a Thousand Nights and a Night' and Indian cookbooks, but the strongest influence (aside from the Mahabharata itself) is the Japanese Noh theatre.

Sumi ink painting of Draupadi by Kumiko Lawrence.