Saturday, June 6, 2015

My last komban in Tokyo...

and I'm recalling the Minamisanriku Polyglot/Aachi Cocchi 'Drawbridge' project:

Here we are, freshly arrived in Minamisanriku on Sunday 24 May 2015. Behind us is the town's temporary town centre: shops and restaurants in portable units.

(L to R: Bernard, Izumi-san, Tomoya-san, Dan-san, Stef-san, and Lang-san, who had driven us all the way from Tokyo. Photo by Mikako-san)

And here we are with our heads in the Octopus-kun, symbol of Minamisanriku. Or maybe mascot. This time you can also see Mikako-san on the left.

There's us performing the show, a 'mega kamishibai', at the Minamisanriku civic centre on Saturday 30 May, at a barbecue party supported by the Australian Embassy and other partners.

Here's Tomoya-san, Izumi-san and Mikako-san, the Asahi Cocchi team, playing music for the kids at the Asahi kindergarten to sing along to. This was the fourth kindergarten we visited last week. At each, we presented drawing activities, then some music and song, and finally a presentation of 'Momotaro: tsugi wa', the mega kamishibai.

One of the great things was seeing the sets of kamishibai cards at the kindergartens (you can see the Asahi kindergarten's kamishibai library over my shoulder). Here, Mikako-san reads/performs a strange little story about Moomins (yes, Moomins) playing soccer with an alien and learning road safety lessons (this story was sponsored by Toyota).

And here's us being rock stars.

A great tour, a great experience. I'd love to return to Minamisanriku.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tsugi wa? (What's next?)

What's next is that I am back in Japan.

That's the view from the 8th floor of a hotel room in Ueno, Tokyo, taken last Saturday night the 23rd of May, after an izakaya dinner with my Polyglot colleagues, Stef and Dan.

The next day we piled into a charcoal-coloured van with our fellow artists, Aachi Cocchi musicians Izumi-san and Tomoya-san, and the director of Aachi Cocchi, Mikako-san. Our tour manager, Lang Craighill, drove us north up the Tohoku Expressway to the town of Minamisanriku.

Polyglot have visited this town twice before,  the first time only months after it was ravaged by the March 2011 tsunami. This time we are working with residents of temporary housing, and then school children at the Iriya Elementary School, to produce a mega kamishibai which we will perform at Minamisanriku kindergartens next week. Aachi Cocchi (it means 'here and there') have been presenting classical music, opera and dance 'cafe concerts' in places affected by the tsunami since 2011 as well. As part of this two week program, called 'Drawbridge: Kids Are The Boss', Tomoya and Izumi have been playing Tchaichovsky, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Piazzola and Disney for the residents and the students, and then providing live accompaniment for the kamishibai section.

Here's Stef, Dan and I presenting a kamishibai introducing us, which I produced back in Melbourne. It was designed to introduce us and also to be able to performed to the chorus of 'Give Me a Home Among the Gum Trees'. There's Mikako-san translating for us, Izumi-san playing the piano, and Tomoya-san looking on.

Here's Dan and I showing the Iriya students the story that the temporary housing residents had given to us in the previous two days: the residents told us the story, and I drew the pictures as they narrated it. Although an elderly lady did need to get up and correct my picture of the peach floating down the river towards the lady washing her clothes.  The peach, apparently, didn't have enough of a bum-like curve to it...

And here's the image I produced back in April so Mikako-san would have a picture to put onto the flyer advertising the cafe concerts for the temporary housing residents. The middle flag is the Minamisanriku flag.