Hoku Kaahaaina: Koto

So…My CIP. As a quick summary, I have koto lessons once a week with Gabri in Yamashina since we both live relatively close to each other. Thankfully, Gabri’s host mom is friends with Imoto Sensei, our teacher, so that made planning a bit easier.
After my initial participation in my CIP, which consisted of two lessons and a rather informal concert in the space of one week, the pace of koto lessons has certainly slowed down. The next planned concert isn’t until sometime in February, yet Imoto Sensei has already chosen a song for us to play by then. I’m not sure if that means that we are only going to be practicing this one piece for the next few months, or if we play this one until it is as good as it is going to get and we get additional songs. I’m hoping it is the latter, or else I will not be very amused by the time February rolls around.
As for the actual lessons themselves, they are so-so. First of all, I have no memory for Japanese formalities, so I am always at a loss for whatever phrases are expected out of my mouth at the beginning and end of every practice. Perhaps I will remember one day, or I should just improvise whatever I think sounds appropriate. Continuing on, Sensei reminds me very strongly of my childhood piano teacher, and I have a feeling it’s because I feel like I’m being treated like a child when I make a mistake or can’t understand exact details of whatever she says. (Oh, the fate of every person who can’t speak the local language.) I likewise respond by acting like the child I’m being treated as by being as uncooperative as possible. Really, there is just something about Japan that brings out my worst character traits. Anyhow, I am again grateful that Gabri is there to handle the situation with her superior Japanese language skills and social grace while I seethe in the background until I start feeling magnanimous again.
Nevertheless, Imoto Sensei is certainly a character. Because I didn’t bother learning how to ride a bike until coming to Japan, I was practicing my biking one day and I happened to be in her neighborhood since she lives about five minutes away from my house and I was familiar with that area. She must have seen me almost run into a neighbor of hers on my bike as I was turning the corner of her house, since the next thing I knew, she was making me do laps around the neighborhood and critiquing me on how good my left turns and right turns were. She also invited me to accompany her and her husband to a Buddhist ceremony at a shrine on a holiday instead of having koto lessons, so that was nice. Overall, Imoto Sensei is probably a rather generous person who very much means well, but can’t help trying to correct mistakes or weaknesses.
As for the involvement part of the CIP, I do feel like I am literally more a part of the community. I get greeted on the street by the Ojiisans and Obaasans that saw me at the mini-concert at the temple and having Sensei so close makes my world seem a little smaller.

3 thoughts on “Hoku Kaahaaina: Koto

  1. I empathize with the language plight! And your reaction to that is totally natural, I`ve felt like a kid being led around by the hand here too sometimes. But I`m glad your CIP has given you a sense of community, it sounds really rewarding!
    What made you decide on koto?

  2. I’m sorry that not remembering the right phrases is frustrating; I find myself in a similar plight all the time. I am also sorry that your teacher made you do laps on your bike so that she could critique your turns. Although I will admit the image did make me giggle. At least you will have come out of this experience with both amazing koto-playing and bicycle-turning skills! 🙂

  3. @Angela – I chose koto because I miss playing an instrument since I stopped playing viola after starting college. I had played one instrument or another regularly since about the second grade, and I wanted to fill the instrumental void in my collegiate life.

    @Rachelle – Ah, yes, the ceremony of Japanese culture. So far, I have managed to utter something that makes sense for the past two weeks. And I guess I can turn somewhat properly on my bike…