Sunday, January 06, 2013

Tateishi Gaku

As this is the last year for my daughter at primary school each event is labelled "the last time".  She seems a little sad about this for many events, but very happy about this for others.  The traditional dancing that they have to do is one of the things that fits into the inbetween group.  For three years she has had to play the bamboo flute at festivals that she really has no idea about the meaning of. She has had to squash her feet into far too small sandals and has had to blow into the flute in the extreme heat of summer at the sports festival and the extreme cold of winter at the festival at the local shrine.  
But having said that she has actually enjoyed being part of something that has been an important part of the history of this area.  By the end she could basically get her kimono thingy on almost all by herself.  She became the leader of the flutes and in true Japanese tradition was responsible for teaching all the new flute players what to do (because the teachers change so often here it is important for the children to take the lead role in instructing as the teachers usually have no idea at all....).  She gained a lot of confidence and learnt a lot about how to teach and encourage others.  She finally began to understand a little more about the meaning behind the dance and its role in history. 
Her final performance was part of a festival at the local shrine here.  The atmosphere was far better than the bare school ground, but the 1km round trip walk that it involved in their outfits and her far too small shoes, while continually playing the flute, probably swayed the last time pendulum away from the "so sad it's over" side to the "not so sad to give it up" side. 
Now I just have two more years to complete with my son before I can start the "last time" counting!


  1. I love your blog. We might officially live in the same country but your kids experiences and your garden is so different from mine that they probably barely even share a language!!

  2. Random comment just to black mail you into keeping up with the posting... ;)
    When I was a kid in Australia my town had several season festivals related to the harvests and our history as an agricultural centre. By the time I was about 12 most of the farms were vacant and the festivals stopped happening. I think it's wonderful for children to have the opportunity to be connected to the history and culture of their specific town like this, and I'm sad that the people in my home town didn't make more of an effort to keep the festivals even after the industry died.

  3. Exotic and fascinating. How lucky the kids are to be actively living their heritage.