After an amazing break in Florence, I arrived at the Osaka airport with Kevin and Michael to be greeted at the airport by Lee Selligman, Din #203. Lee is one of our most dedicated alums, and was so generous in showing us around Japan, translating for us, and hosting Dins in his home.
I arrived in Osaka a day early, and had my first authentic Japanese meal: a bowl of hand-made udon with raw egg and tempura. I was so beyond excited to try traditional Japanese cuisine, and the noodles were phenomenal. Michael, Kevin, Syd, and I decided to visit the Osaka castle. Outside of the castle, we met a man who made origami, and he made some for us. If you fold the origami a certain way, it looks like a fish, and if you fold the paper differently, it takes the shape of a traditional Japanese hat. I think it'll be one of my favorite souvenirs from tour!
The next morning, we performed on Japanese national radio at the ABC Radio station in Osaka. In addition to singing two songs from our repertoire, we improvised a jingle for the radio station in Japanese, using part of our arrangement for September by Earth, Wind, and Fire. Later that day, we visited Kyoto, the so-called ‘cultural capital’ of Japan, and went to the Kennin-ji Buddhist temple. Having seen many spectacular cathedrals in Europe, it was a really nice change of pace to view my first Buddhist temple in Asia. In Kyoto, I tried authentic mochi (it’s not ice cream!) and had a fantastic Japanese curry, which is cooked with boiled onions to give it a certain sweetness, in addition to the spicy notes of flavor. I am amazed it hasn’t made its way to the US yet!
Since Brian, Ethan, and Andrew were stuck in Okinawa due to the horrible storm, we had to give several performances with only 9 members: one at the Keihanna Plaza in Kyoto and another at the Osaka International University. We were able to perform pretty well considering our obstacles, even though I had to sing very loudly as the only T1 present. We learned two new songs in Japan: ‘Hana wasaku’ (an anthem about rebuilding after the Osaka earthquake) and an arrangement of ‘Let it Be’ by the Beatles. It was relieving once the three others arrived before our performance at the Hyogo Performing Arts Center. This was one of my favorite performances of tour, as the hall had very live acoustics and the audience was very receptive to our music and humor. Most notably, we were surprised by the Kwansei Glee Club who performed a set of songs in our honor. The Kwansei Glee Club is known to be the best glee club in Japan, and a group that the Dins performed with on their 2016 World Tour. It was a riveting moment!
After departing Osaka, Lee took us to Nara, the original capital of Japan. Deer walk everywhere in Nara and are not afraid of people; in fact, some deer will even bow to you as you walk. In Nara, we visited the Tōdai-ji Buddhist temple, the largest free-standing wooden structure in the world, and went to Isuien Garden. I was amazed by the intricacy of the garden, and how the layout of the trees, stones, and buildings highlighted the mountains in the background. There, we also recreated a Japanese tea ceremony, although it was quite abridged (ours took about twenty minutes instead of the traditional four hours). Following our time in Nara, we made our way to Tokyo for our second stop in Japan.
Sam Rosner #245