Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dazed- Day One JAPAN Fri NOV 11 2011

Balcony in Bunkyo-ku
Where did Thursday go anyway? That pesky international date line! I slept like a baby for over 12 hours and awoke at 6am. Like a little kid at Xmas, I got up before anyone else was awake and padded around to the front of the house to look out and see where I was. I was so excited! Not only were my hosts dear friends who never see enough even though they have been visiting us in Boston, every year since the 80s - but,  I thought I would never live long enough to save enough money to see them in Japan. And yet, here I was in their apartment, in the center of one of the many 'centers' of Tokyo, in Japan.  I was so excited!

At the front of the condo their 6th floor balcony looks out at a music school like Berkley College on one side and a tiny pocket neighborhood of single family homes and is just a block from a six lane Haksan-Dori or White Mountain Ave. On this a main thoroughfare, there is a high rise with a roller coaster and huge ferris wheel. It was like Mass Ave or Boylston Street.  But comparison is hard because Tokyo is so huge it could put all of down-town Boston in it's watch-pocket. And Haksan-Dori  is not even the largest or busiest street. In Tokyo, even tho' the streets and sidewalks are full of traffic  ( loads of bicycles ridden by people of all ages) most of the action is below ground in the incredible subway system.

After working the entire 13 hour flight from Toronto I was feeling almost prepared for my 1st talk of four.  And I still needed to create and decide about handouts for a 90 minute lecture and workshop for Mituse's undergraduates at Aoyama Unversity. My presentation had a lot of new material that was not yet formatted for ppt. and was mixed with some existing material. I was really frustrated that I  had not  prioritizing my time better to make life a bit easier for myself.

So I ate breakfast and got right to work. First, I checked my email. I noticed that I had comment on my blog about kamishibai and there was also link from Tim Ereneta in CA about a young kamishibai storyteller, Yuta Sasaki in Tokyo who uses an iPad in his work and who had vowed, with his sensei to make "kamishibai storytelling a normal part of everyday life again." [ Cannot thank Tim enough for being the kind of 'social connecter' that we admire and try to emulate] 

Forgetting my functional illiteracy, I immediately started looking for this young man, Yuta Sasaki's  contact info on google. He had a ton of blogs, loads of video,  great graphics and pictures.  But contact? Oops! All my google and Firefox controls were now in Japanese, including ones that might say "switch language" so  I asked Bruce, who was my guide for the day, to help me. I  knew I had to at least try to contact Sasaki-san after I  read his vow. He was likely a kindred spirit in "promoting the art of storytelling in the 21st century". 

We did not have enough time to find him so I put that on hold and finished the talk, slides and handouts and dressed in time to head out by subway to Aoyama ( Blue Mountain University) via train. Bruce and Mitsue's station,  Kasuga ( spring sun ) is a 2 minute walk from the front door of their apartment building.  The talk went well. After sharing background and a bit of theory I told the students my fave story - Molly O'Donahugh. I asked them to think of their stories and ran the short Everybody Has a Story workshop for ELL students a first time for me. I was excited but too tired to be nervous and basically enjoyed my time with the students so much that we missed the bell.
Next was Mitsue's graduate class where most students were English Lit majors. Professor Allen led a discussion of orality and "versions of stories" and I was invited to tell the Rough Faced Girl by Rafe Martin as an example of a Cinderella story.  Mitsue had a few senior students who were helping us in all aspects from video to making flyers.  Mai, Yu and Shunsuke had just been accepted into the graduate school of Aoyama U so we went out for superb coffee and extraordinary pastries to celebrate. Each student told us an extraordinary personal story, in English. It was a lovely end to the school day. We had a fine dinner, prepared at home by Mitsue. She also found the email for Sasaki-san and I wrote to him in English and she in Japanese, inviting him to meet and/or come to the talk tomorrow. As I still needed to create and decide about handouts for a 90 minute lecture and then the private workshop for teachers the next day, I was up most of  the night again.   The next day I realized, to my chagrin, that all my formatting struggles were fruitless. The use  Japanese use A4 - which is a quite a bit longer and I needn't have gone crazy working to have each story to fit on one page!