Tag Archives: japanese culture

I love my Saturdays

The weekend’s coming up again soon. I’m loving my Saturdays because I get to see my friends and do fun things with them. I really wish I could split myself a la Naruto so I could see all my friends, but alas, I can not.

Therefore last Saturday, I could only do two out of three: go to the Nihongo Center Foundation Open House with Drew, and attend the first Human Heart Nature Summit with Fristine, Lornadahl and my Tita Rose.

I was late in meeting Drew, who patiently waited at the MRT station. The NCF was a jeep’s ride away, and was already in full swing when we arrived. There were various exhibits, lectures and activities guests can participate in, including an aikido demonstration, origami lessons, tea ceremony basics and a trivia booth. There were also a few items for sale, and for Php5, you can rent a cute hat for a photo op.

You can also rent and wear a yukata for the day. Drew agreed to wear one after I said I will, but the girls’ yukata had a long line, and I didn’t bring mine.

There was also food available. They looked yummy, even if they were packed in styrofoam boxes.

We spent less than two hours there. Headed off north so Drew could go to Gilmore and I to Ateneo.

The 1st Human Heart Nature Summit
I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to attend because I wasn’t able to pay for the tickets. Imagine my surprise (and glee) when I got a message saying that tickets would be sold for half the price! Instead of paying P500 for two, I got to pay P300! What luck!

I arrived shortly before one. I picked up my tickets and purchased the mineral make-up at only P215. Haven’t used it yet, so don’t expect any reviews.

Fristine was already inside, and I got to hang out with Lornadahl. We saw Bryan McClelland, the guy who makes bamboo bikes. Tita Rose arrived shortly after and we went inside.

Suzy Andrada-Abrera, a Human Heart Nature dealer herself, was one of the lively hosts of the program. Anna Meloto-Wilk, her husband Daniel and HHN spokesperson Rachel Grant all said a few words. Daniel also introduced members of the HHN team who are from various GK villages. As they told their stories, I couldn’t help but tear up. Awards were also given to the best performing HHN branch and dealer.


My beautiful friends

HHN also introduced the “One Heart, One Community” program, where 100% of the proceeds from the company’s best selling product will go to the community who provides the main ingredient for that product. Imagine, ALL the proceeds go to them and not Human Heart Nature. Wow.

The program lasted until 5 PM. There was also a search for the next HHN ambassador, as well as a very rousing performance from the Ryan Cayabyab Singers. Tony Meloto, founder of Gawad Kalinga, said a few words as the program ended. It rained while we were inside, making the air cooler as we stepped out to head our own ways. There were various booths outside, other organic producers, NGOs and groups.

It was definitely a success. Until the next summit!

Drumming the night away: Wadaiko Yamato

I remember hearing about Yamato: Drums of Japan from my cousin Miel a few years back. Japan Foundation Manila invited them for a performance and she was able to attend. I’ve been wanting to see them but I somehow keep missing the schedule and ending up hearing about it after the event.

Thankfully, through the power of social media, I was able to learn about it early on. I called JFMO to reserve some seats for tonight’s performance (July 10) and dragged various family members to go with me. Partners in crime: my sister Oski, Miel and her boyfriend Vero. Did I mention that this is for free?

Yamato, or Wadaiko Yamato is a performing group of taiko drummers formed in 1993 by Masa Ogawa in Nara, Japan. Ogawa was originally part of another wadaiko group but left to form Wadaiko Yamato. Initially, the group had ten members, five men and five women. While it wasn’t unusual for women to play in such a group, the female members of the Wadaiko Yamato play the same drums as the male members.

In an interview with BBC some years ago, Ogawa said that Japanese drums have a similarity to African drums, where they were used mainly for communication either amongst the people or to their gods and ancestral spirits. Western drums are mostly instrumental in fuction. Wadaika Yamato tries to combine both. (You can read more about the interview with Ogawa here)

We arrived just minutes before the performance began. There was already a huge crowd inside so even if we had reserved tickets, we weren’t able to get seats. No matter, since Sky Dome’s structure made it possible to view the stage from any angle (so long as someone doesn’t stand in front of you). Flash photography was prohibited, although there were marshals asking people not to take pictures at all. After I got told off after taking several pictures, I turned it off.

It’s not my first time to hear a taiko performance, but obviously, it was my first time to hear them live. The first strike of the drumstick on the surface of the drum is unforgettable. It reverberates deep down, you just don’t hear it, but feel it as well.

For nearly two hours, we were treated to a world class performance by excellent artists. It wasn’t just a musical experience, but also a visual one. The Yamato performers moved along with the beat of their instruments, and even had entertaining skits that had the audience laughing and participating.

It wasn’t just all drums too. One of the performances had the female members all playing shamisen, a three-stringed guitar-like instrument that is played with a bachi (think of big guitar pick). Another performance had the male members playing with small cymbals, while in their encore number, one of the female players had a flute.

Watching them perform would give you an idea that it wasn’t just a matter of hitting the drums. For one, the muscles on the drummers’ arms would tell you that it takes a lot of effort. Each member, including the females, would definitely need to have have strong arm muscles to be able to play tirelessly for nearly two hours. And it wasn’t just the arms. They moved around the stage, jumping and dancing. Sometimes they’d carry the drums around while playing them. I tell you, the energy that’s flowing from them will make you feel like you’ve performed as hard as they have after the show.

I’m stoked that I was able to get the chance to watch them. If they come back, I’ll definitely go see them again.

Tanabata festival

July 7 is the celebration of the Tanabata Festival in Japan. Tanabata means “evening of the seventh,” and is a Japanese star festival adapted from the Chinese one called Qi Xi.

Today, Japanese celebrate tanabata by writing their wishes on small pieces of paper and hanging them in bamboo. In some cases, the bamboo, wishes and decorations are burned after the festival.

Last week, in celebration of this, I went to a lecture at UP Diliman. Titled “Hajime no Ippo” (no relation to the manga/anime of the same title), it translates to “first step, according to Hanayama-san, our lecturer. It was basically an introduction to the Japanese language, composed mostly of greetings and such.

Afterwards, we were given tanzaku, pieces of paper to write our wishes in, and we wrote our names in Katakana. I discovered that though I had the characters right, the way I originally wrote it made it sound wrong.

Later, we had a tea ceremony and I got to taste it. It wasn’t bad, odd tasting at first, but it tasted ok.

If you made a wish, I hope it comes true. 🙂