Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Japan, Week 10

10 - Noh Theatre

Late again! Moreover, we're getting to the point now where it's not even because I'm busy having a tremendously Japanesey time, but rather because, however society paints us, being a student really does require doing a lot of work... This grows ever more depressing when, back in England, my whole peer group is just about finishing up; handing everything in, throwing concluding parties and ceremonies, and starting summer jobs. Some people I've made good friends of over the past two years will be moving on altogether, and I'm reminded how soon the comforting rug of full-time education will be pulled from under me.

We need not dwell on that quite yet, however. By my count, two exciting things happened to me this (well, last) week. The first was that, on Thursday, I rose at 4.15 am to go for a run with a friend. The sun currently rises at about ten to 5, and it gets earlier every day. I wanted to experience the refreshment of being awake before everything, even the sun, safe in knowledge you never could be in England, that it won't rain if the weather says it's not going to. So we went to a nearby park, and of course there were lights on already. This is Japan, they were probably still studying from the night before. But the streets were ours for about half an hour, and still half an hour later the normal rules did not apply; I received a couple of 'Ohayo Gazaimasu's as I jogged past. Obviously I was thinking incredibly deep thoughts, such as how far I'd have to go before I reached the circumference containing a different supermarket's customers, as we runners do. You can blame my mother entirely for this kind of thought process, in another life I too would have studied Geography.

After a while the sun rose, and its heat was immediately felt. It's already been pointed out several times (mostly by Australians) that I am far too British, and there's nothing I can do but agree. The humidity doesn't really kick in until June, and I'm already complaining about it. The healthy behaviour of the morning was made up for by a breakfast visit to McDonald's, and still the whole day was stretched out ahead of me.

Interesting Thing No. 2 occurred on Sunday. There had been another hike planned, but unfortunately the trails we take would have been too dangerous even in the moderate rain forecast. Aforementioned Britishness keeps me bold in the face of these types of undesirable weather conditions though, so I took a trip to Nagoya, umbrella in hand, to revisit the Noh Theatre I had located with my family.

'Nagoya Noh Theatre'

The theatre itself. Surprisingly modern, I'm sure I'm not the only person who expects everything in Japan to be old.
There was some free theatre going on that day. From what I could make out (I'll be much more knowledgeable on the topic post-dissertation) the day was made up of many different acts, rather than one play, and audience members could walk in and out as they pleased. Noh is almost excruciatingly different from Western-style theatre. The focus is on form; the perfection of every step and every chanted note, rather than structure. This means that everything moves very slowly, and I'd compare the style to a traditional ballad, try and understand what's going on there if you're not fluent in the language! But it was fascinating to see, and interesting to observe that there were many different groups of people in attendance. Older generations, who were probably there for the entertainment, groups of middle-aged women, and even some families with quite young children, who I suspected were imploring their youngsters to appreciate their nation's culture.

I gave myself time to peruse a few shops on my way back. I took great enjoyment from a visit to the Japanese 'Lush', and its lack of language barrier. "Oh you like the smell of it? Buy it, that's all you need to know!" I now own some terrific ocean-coloured soap.

Walking back to the station in the rain gave me a sense of serenity. I don't spend much time in my own company in Japan, and walking in the rain is one of those small pleasures for me which lets me know I'm still doing okay. As the rain keeps falling, so too will I keep completing these essays, as probably goes some proverb or other.

I would promise you darling readers a post on time next week, but I'd hate to break it. So let's all just be fairly optimistic about the whole thing, shall we?


Oh, trusty converse. You are full of holes now, and I doubt would be suited to a UK climate any more

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