Day of activity: July 24th 2014
Today was both an interesting and fun day.
The first activity of the day was visiting an elderly’s community centre – a place where people who are 60 years and older can come and interact with each other, or gather for different events. There, the local people had prepared a rather extensive show for us. This show included traditional Japanese dances, magic and ventriquilism (talking without moving the lips). Both the performances and the local people at the centre were very nice, lively and full of energy, and there were no clues of this being an elderly’s centre! What was even more astonishing was the age of the dancers. One of the dancers was 80 years old! This is something I would never have guessed; neither from her appearance nor from the way she danced. The whole show ended with us, the World Campus Japan (WCJ) members, performing Soran Bushi and Hana wa saku. It really seemed like everyone, both performers and audience enjoyed the whole show. Also, during Hana wa saku, some of the locals even had some tears in their eyes, which I found very touching.
After an absolutely delicious lunch buffet made by some of the local people, of which I ate way too much of, we went on to experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. This was an experience that really met the WCI component of hands on curriculum.
The first step of conducting a tea ceremony is putting on either an Ukatta for the summer half year or a Kimono for the winter. So luckily, when considering how complicated and time consuming taking on these traditional Japanese costumes is, we got to wear ukattas (they consist of fewer parts than kimonos). To get a grasp of how complicated this is, you actually have to take classes to learn how to put on kimonos and ukattas! Luckily, we had skilled and nice helpers, or teachers who assisted each one of us in putting on the ukatta. However, it is not only the putting on of the yukata that is complicated; also moving around in these costumes is quite difficult. So this was also something we had to be taught.
When everyone had their yukatas on, and gotten instructions of how to move around in them, the tea ceremony could start. The ceremony consisted of eating something sweet , followed by drinking green tea, and is supposed to symbolise a moment of peace and equality. As mentioned by many of the participants, after the ceremony, a very elegant (there was not only a special way of acting, and receiving the sweets and tea, but also a set way of holding the tea cup and drinking the tea!), delicious, interesting, and for many also painful experience.
Most WCJ days we finish the day’s programme and spend the evening with our host families. Today however, the LOC had planned a pot luck party for us (WCI members and host families) for tonight. This turned out to be a great and fun evening, filled with loads of delicious food. In short, a great ending of a memorable day.