But to keep with the theme of the challenges and learn more about Japan, I branched out and left behind the rock, j-pop and anime music I was already very familiar with. Instead I searched out traditional music and found a new love, learning a ton of things in the process. I found the koto and the shakuhachi.
Not knowing much about traditional Japanese music, I had no idea that there was an instrument that equated to the western harp: the koto. It's awesome and mellow and beautiful and I want to learn how to play one! Again as I researched the challenge I was struck by the similarities that occur across cultures. Yatsuhashi Kengyu was one of the most skilled artists with the koto, was blind and responsible for almost the singlehanded revival of the instrument. This is similar to the Irish Turlough O'Carolan who was blind, lived during almost the same historical period and is still revered as THE Celtic Harper.
Next I gained some education on the shakuhachi, the bamboo flute. It is also a fascinating instrument. One of the most interesting things I learned on the side was about the fuke sect of zen monks who traveled extensively and played the shakuhachi as a meditative art. Their place in history is extraordinary and compels much more reading. The baskets on the heads of many characters that I have seen in anime, manga and such are now explained as well due to the information about these monks - I've been wondering about this for years!!
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the koto and shakuhachi compositions and have added several cds of them to my wishlist at Amazon.
Japanese Traditional Koto And Shakuhachi Music by Satomi Saeki And Alcvin Takegawa Ramos
Chinese and Japanese Koto Harp and Shakuhachi Flute Music
Traditional Music Of The Japanese Geisha (Digitally Remastered) by Hideo Osaka Ensemble
- Komuso by Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin
In the bento above there is rice covered with scrambled tofu, steamed broccoli, a carved apple piece, cheese letters, a miniature steamed veggie bun, a blueberry sultana tart, carrot sticks with black sesame seeds, corn croquettes with pickled ginger. A row of raw baby spinach leaves seperates the two parts.
This is my daughter's bento for today's lunch, not musically themed. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the shape of a fan with cheese flowers on top, tiny tomatoes, steamed carrot sticks in the heart container, one corn croquette, some blueberries on a pig pick, a wavy line apple, steamed broccoli and one green grape on a hedgehog pick.
We were supposed to go up to visit relatives in North Carolina today but the snow prevented it so instead we ended up eating these in front of the TV watching "Walk Don't Run". (I highly recommend it if you've never seen it, a very good movie!)