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2008 September 16 Tuesday thru September 22 Monday.

2008sep20_shakuhachi The Autumn Equinox is tomorrow, and the weather this past week has been absolutely gorgeous.   

I love this time of year the most of all. 

I like to spend a lot of time outdoors, both day and night. 

Because it is still warm enough to walk around with bare feet and sandals.   

I like to walk slow, and take my alto recorder with me. 

Which got me to thinking again, about my promise to myself, to get a Japanese ShakuHachi Bamboo flute THIS YEAR, and learn how to play it too.   

I was thinking that I may have to pay from between 20,000 yen to 40,000 yen for a beginner's bamboo flute.   

A bit expensive, but I really want to do this, so I decided to go downtown on Saturday afternoon and buy one.   

The only store which I could find, that had any 尺八 for sale, was the OoNuma Musical Instruments Store 大沼楽器 at 2 Jodori 11 Chome.   

When I walked into the store, I saw a very nice looking shakuhachi with a price tag of 100,000 yen.   

YIKES!    I wonder if they have something a bit less expensive.   They did.

The one I bought, is the one you can see in the photo on the left.   

It only cost 9,000 yen because it is made of plastic.   

A very hard and thick plastic, but plastic nonetheless. 

The black band that you can see in the middle of the flute is the place where you can pull it apart into two pieces, making it easy to carry around in a small bag.

The shakuhachi is not easy to play.   

It has no reeds in the mouthpiece, in fact it has no mouthpiece at all. 

Just an open hole at the top with a very small v-shaped cutout at the front.   

It is like blowing across the top of an open bottle in order to make a sound, only much more difficult.   

I has a total of five finger holes.   

Four on the front and one on the back.   

The easiest sound to make, is with all of the finger holes open.   

Even this took me a good 30 minutes to learn how to make a steady musical sound.   

After practicing for 3 days straight, I was finally able to make a sound with all 5 finger holes covered.   I say make a sound, but not music.   Not yet.   

This is by far, the most difficult musical instrument, I have ever tried to play.  (I have never tried to play the violin or the clarinet, or the trombone, etc.)

I really love the sound of the Japanese Bamboo Flute 尺八, and I am confident that I will be able to make it sound nice, after several years of practice.

I know for a fact that anyone who really tries hard to do something, that they really want to do, will be able to make it happen. 

Even non-Japanese people can learn how to play the shakuhachi well.   

Click here to see a YOU TUBE video of  Todd Barton  playing a song called "AKEBONO" on a very expensive flute.   

I want to become that good too, someday.


Another thing which I bought on the same day, was a book about 15 historical sites of the Jomon Culture, which are in Hokkaido and the North northeast area of Japan 北東北.   

I saw an article about it in the Hokkaido Newspaper a few weeks ago, and decided to buy it right then and there.   

I have already been to most of the Jomon sites in Hokkaido, in fact you can see a photo slide show which I made of the Oofune Site that I visited on 2007 August 9.   

It is located in Minami Kayabe Village which is now a part of  Hakodate City.  Please view this photo slide show by clicking here.

The main purpose of this book is to show the reader how to get to each of these 15 sites, and what they can see once they get there.   

Also, the cover of the book says; "With the aim of having these historical remains registered as World Heritage Sites.   I totally agree.   

The Jomon Civilization dates back from 12,000 years ago up to about 3,000 years ago. 

That is a very long time.   Unfortunately, they did not develop any writing system so we have no written record of their daily lifestyle, and no clue as to what kind of language they spoke.   

Was it the original Japanese Language?   Maybe so.   

The Japanese Language as only 5 vowel sounds, which is a very small number by modern language standards.

I have already studied quite a bit about the Jomon Culture, and will continue to do so from now on.

Human Beings living in total harmony with the earth.

That was the Jomon People.


On Sunday morning of September 21, I went to the KeiMei Elementary School 啓明小学校 to watch their School Arts Festival 学芸会.   

The only reason I went to this event, is because 5 of the students who come to my classroom, also attend this elementary school and they invited me over and over again to come and see them perform. 

So, I made a special trip out to their school, to see them on stage.   

I enjoyed it very much, but the sound system wasn't very good, and I couldn't understand what the actors on stage were saying.

Finally towards the end of the event when the 6th graders got up on stage to do their performance about the beginning of this school 80 years ago, I was able to move closer to the stage and hear what the actors were saying.

It was a lot more interesting for me than the previous performances of their younger classmates.   

The event was finished at about 12:30 and I quickly got back into my van, so I could drive on over to the next event that I wanted to attend, on that day.


The next event that I wanted to go to was a free outdoor music stage, right in front of the Marui Imai Department store on the pedestrian shopping mall 買物公園, that was scheduled to start at 12:00 and end at about 17:00.   

I couldn't find any free parking, so I drove my van back to my house, and walked from there back into town. 

I arrived at about 13:30, just in time to hear a Rolling Stones Cover Band crank out some wicked sounds, at high volume.   What a treat!

In total, there were about 13 different bands, playing different kinds of music.   

The photo on the left is of a band called "Hauling Scrap" which was probably the most dynamic of all the bands.   

Also, it was one of the youngest of the bands in terms of the member's ages.

About half of all the other bands were composed of older guys about the same age as me.

There was a large crowd gathered around for each performance, with people drinking beer and dancing to the music. 

A very peaceful and enjoyable afternoon, with not one policeman in sight.

I met many people near the stage area, whom I have known for many years, and I even made a few new friends as well.

I play music too, so I can really appreciate what goes into making a band sound good.   A lot of practice.

It has been several years since I have played on stage at one of these events, but I hope to do so again in the very near future.   

Nowadays I am concentrating on the electric bass guitar the most, of all of the instruments that I can play.

Oh yes, let's not forget that I just started learning how to play the Japanese Bamboo Flute 尺八 only 3 days ago.   

It will most likely take me about 3 years to learn how to play even one song, well.   

Yeah, so what!   I have enough time to do that too.

Lifelong learning is my greatest pleasure, now that I am 52 years young.

There is always something new to learn.   






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