For my CIP I participated in the Ritsumeikan DJ Circle, called “L@bel”. Even though I had almost no DJ experience when I joined I can confidently say that joining the DJ circle was one of the highlights of my time abroad. I was able to grow and improve in a skill that I was very interested in all while being able to communicate in Japanese and participate in a Japanese University Club.
One of the things interesting about the DJ Circle was the fact that senpai-kohai (上下関係)relationship was almost nonexistent. I think one of the best lessons I learned from this is how different social hierarchies in japan are based on the environment you are in. As a new member in the club I had to introduce myself to a lot of the members and if I hadn’t they wouldn’t have introduced themselves to me. But after introducing myself I was able to build relationships with my peers and they were able to help me a lot in becoming a better DJ. Being a circle focused on music it was interesting to see what kind of music the Japanese students used. A lot of them were fans of hip hop and r&b but mixed all different kinds of genres in their playing. I remember one time specifically one of my friends played an older song from the 60’s or so and even then all the fellow members of the club sang along and knew the lyrics, which is pretty rare in America I think.
Practices for the DJ circle are on Tuesdays from 7-10pm at a bar called ルカ in Kawaramachi in the center of the nightlife. It was a great experience to practice with nice equipment at a very cool venue. Usually we practice individually on our laptops as we take turns using the speaker system and turntables. My friends were always very nice about letting me have ample time to practice and encouraging me to take as much time with the equipment as I wanted. Unfortunately, one of the issues with the circle currently is attendance. I was really surprised to see how relaxed the club president was about attendance, but on the other hand because I showed up every week I quickly gained some respect and was able to make connections easier.
I was able to learn a lot more about the hip hop culture in Japan which I’m really interested in. I have many Japanese friends in Boston who grew up in Japan before coming to University in the US and according to them hip hop in Japan is still pretty unknown and uncommon, but within my community of my circle it didn’t seem that way at all. It felt really great to be able to have conversations with my friends in the circle about hip hop, and made me feel a lot more accepted and normal.
I’ll have the chance next month to DJ at our live show and I’m getting a lot of support from my fellow members.
I’m glad that I chose this CIP because not only did I find a new passion in DJing but I made some great friends as well.