These last two weeks began with a tea ceremony with Professor Aoji. This was a really great experience. There were about 20 students from KPU (Kyoto Prefectural University) who met at Prof. Aoji’s private temple. There, under the experienced supervision of his mother, a traditional tea ceremony was celebrated in which some students had fixed roles. For me as a European, it was challenging enough to sit on my knees the whole time.
After the tea ceremony, some students gave a small concert on the piano and flute at the highest artistic level. When the Japanese tackle something, they always do so with high standards, appropriate commitment and impressive results.
On the same day, a parade depicting the different eras of Japanese history was held in Kyoto. From the second floor of the temple, we were able to watch the entire parade very well, which lasted about 1 1/2 hours.
Another highlight of the last few weeks were two classical concerts to which I was invited. At one of these concerts, school classes each played two classical pieces, first with their respective teachers, then after detailed instruction from a professional conductor under the direction of the conductor. It was very interesting to see how he corrected and instructed the students and even though he spoke Japanese, I understood a lot through his body language. The difference between before and after his class was surprising. We then had dinner in a nearby hotel, where it turned out that the conductor
even spoke German. All in all, a very inspiring and interesting evening.
Halloween is celebrated much more widely in Japan than in Germany. On the evening of October 31st I went, disguised as a German tourist, to the nightlife district of Namba, where it felt like the whole of Japan had gathered. The area is very crowded even on normal days, but I had never experienced it as crowded as it was that evening. All the people were dressed in often very elaborate costumes and crowded through the narrow streets. At times it was so packed that you couldn’t move unless the whole crowd was moving. With such a number of people in such a small space, mass panic would almost be inevitable, but here too it was shown how well organized and considerate the Japanese are. There were law enforcement officers everywhere to ensure that the crowd moved in the right direction and that no panic broke out. I still didn’t feel comfortable and after a few beers and nice conversations I went back home.
Every Wednesday I go to Kyoto and meet up with two or more KPU students! They study German philology and therefore also learn German as a language. They then show me attractions in Kyoto, such as various temples and shrines. Recently we visited the Imamiya shrine, where you can pray for health. Afterwards we stopped at a very nice mochi restaurant (1000 years old) right next to the shrine, where green tea and traditional mochi were served. Thanks to my friends from Kyoto, I keep getting to know places that I would never have found otherwise.