My Community Involvement Project this semester is performing the Taiko with Kitanotenmangu Kamiwakakai. Because our group is affiliated with the Kitanotenmangu, the shrine for the god of knowledge in Japan, we are currently performing at Kitanotenmangu every Saturday evening.
When I was looking for CIP at the beginning of the semester, I wanted to join a circle that was fun, Japanese, and relaxed. Initially the mahjong circle caught my attention, but since it would have most of its activities on the other campus, about an hour away from where I am, I could not pursue that further. Then one of my friends came up with the name of the Taiko performing group; because I actually had played the Taiko once when I was in Kanazawa, I thought it was cool to continue it.
The first day of practice was intense. Because often there were people joining in the Kamiwakakai halfway, and not everyone would necessarily come to every practicing session due to other obligations, different levels of experience and skills were expected. As a result, although I did not know any of the pieces the group was playing at that time, I was asked to practice along with them, rather than letting me have a special training session on the side. It was better that way because by doing exactly what the senior members were doing, I felt that I could get used to my new group more easily.
Even though I do not necessarily know everyone’s name in Kamiwakakai, I really do feel that I am part of the group right now. When one of my friends was absent from a practice, people actually cared and would try to figure out the reason; despite the language barrier, people would try to find topics to talk with me; even people with whom I did not have a chance to talk to helped me when I needed something. The Kamiwakakai is like an extended family, where I feel warm, safe, and happy.
I would really like to continue Taiko because it is so much fun!!! But sadly Brandeis does not have a Taiko club……(FYI the head of Brandeis’ Japanese Student Association is actually a Chinese citizen…)
That’s awesome that your group made you feel so welcome, particularly how they let you just sort of jump right in without separating your from the group. Taiko seems so physically intense, I’m curious to know if you’ve noticed your endurance or anything get better since joining?
Yea, I love them 😀 The first few days after my Taiko practice I could not feel my arms lol. I did not particularly pay attention to my endurance. But I think it is definitely a good way to de-stress because when performing, I do not think of anything else. Plus I get awesome omiyage from the Shrine :))))