October 16th, 2006

m.e. in nippon

clubbing japanese style

so yesterday was my first day joining in on a club at Ichikawa Jr. High, my largest school. all the clubs are sports clubs except one...the koto club. Ichikawa Jr. High is the only school in the Kanzaki region that has a koto club. naturally, that was what i chose to join (for anyone that might not know what exactly a koto is, here's the wikipedia entry on it, though it's actually not as informative as i would expect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koto_%28musical_instrument%29).

this week, the second-year students are all away on trail week, where they go into the community and work at a job for a week. they don't come to school during that week, so koto club was missing 4 or 5 members. that meant there were extra koto available for me to try it out!

while obviously i just began and am absolutely shit at it, i can tell you that i love this instrument. i also like the musical notation for it. the koto has thirteen strings, which are not named by their notes, but rather by their order. the music is written by giving the string number and the finger it should be played with (no marks by the number mean the thumb, one mark means index finger, two marks means middle finger). you only pick in one direction, and you use the ring finger placed on a string you're not playing to support your hand. there are also lines indicating if the notes should be played quickly or slowly. while Kishiguchi-sensei hasn't said so to me explicitly, i believe you can also use your other hand to pluck strings for a second part on one instrument. what's very helpful is that the woman who helps with koto club is also the english instructor i get along well with. she's super nice, and wrote out a simple folk song for me to practice on ("sakura sakura" actually...i'm sure a lot of you would know it to hear it).

i don't know if i'm gonna be able to practice once the second-year students come back to school, and i'm only at this school for another week anyway, but...i am definately going to try to practice the koto whenever i can. maybe i will get someone to take a photo, hehe.

anyway, i've got class now, so catch you all later.