Rebecca’s Reflections

Yukio and the Flying Plum Tree

Yukio and the Flying Plum Tree

It happens every time I introduce students to the ill-fated 9th-century exile, Sugawara no Michizane. In the midst of describing the wrongs he incurred, his heart-broken ox, and the flying plum tree, I nearly burst out laughing. It’s not that I relish Michizane’s...

Watching Sumo with my Father

Watching Sumo with my Father

“Watch, he’s going to salt his hams!” my father called out to me. He had the sumo match on the TV in our Fukuoka living room. It was November 1976. We’d been in the house on Torikai for several months now. Occasionally we’d watch reruns of “Bonanza” together. It was...

Dancing Dōjōji—Finding the Demon Within

Dancing Dōjōji—Finding the Demon Within

Part Three: The Dancers’ Practice Session “We practice at the Kokin-en. It’s close to the Funaoka Onsen,” my friend instructed. Funaoka Onsen is well known in Northwest Kyoto. Many consider it the best public bath in the city. The name “onsen” means hot spring. But,...

Dancing Dōjōji—Finding the Demon Within

Dancing Dōjōji—Finding the Demon Within

Part Two: The Choreographer and the Secret Lessons I can’t tell you her name. I promised to keep her Nihon buyō lessons confidential. That sounds odd, I suppose. It’s not as if she is stealing secrets or trying to profit off the hard work of others. The lessons she...

Dancing Dōjōji—Finding the Demon Within

Dancing Dōjōji—Finding the Demon Within

Part One: The Tragedy of the Maiden Scorned I’m not a theater professional. But I love teaching about Japan’s classic theaters—Noh, Kabuki, and Bunraku. One tale among all others captures students’ imagination, “The Maiden of Dōjōji,” a story of monstrous...