This morning we had the chance to visit Nijo Castle, which is very different from any castle we would see at home. This castle was made mostly of wood, and the front gate was very colourfull compared to our wooden door at Edinburgh Castle. It was a shoe’s off tour of course, yet the floors were originally constructed to squeak and sound like birds, that way those of importance new if somebody was walking through. The interiors were emptier than what we are used to too as traditionally in the meetings rooms there would have been no furniture. At the end of the tour, some of us tucked into some matcha ice creams.
Then it was a scenic hour drive to Uji where we would be performing in the Culture Centre. We had a short rehearsal and were provided lunch by the Kansai White Heather Dancers, who were really happy to see us. As the adults waited for the doors to open, we were amazed at how many people came early to queue up to get the best seats for our concert and the amount who arrived in tartan. One man in particular from Uji was in full kilt, sporran and a saltire drawstring bag – he really enjoyed showing us all his stickers and souvenirs from Scotland he has collected. One other member of the audience that was in full kilt was a man from Queens Park in Glasgow we had moved to Japan 40 years ago yet still spoke in a thick Glaswegian accent. That was a fun little reminder of home.
The concert itself was completely outstanding. The reception from the audience was excellent and we even had the auditorium jumping up for HOY. A standing ovation is always special for the orchestra but particularly with this concert; the locals singing along to the Japanese Folk Song was lovely to hear. In the audience was a local school, Kunijima High School all neatly presented in school uniform on a Sunday!
Normally when we are hosted for a performance we like to give some gifts to show our appreciation and today we presented Professor Yoshito Ohta of Kyto University with a Peace Tartan Tie. However, we were presented with a highly heart-warming gift from the Kansai White Heather Dancers. We have been given a hand man garland of cranes and when it is assembled properly it makes a stunning saltire, and we were also given a big bag of individual strings of cranes and origami umbrellas – there was even enough for the orchestra. The amount of time and care put into this gift made it rather emotional and something we will treasure forever.
After the concert was not the usual post-tour slump as we had the fantastic opportunity to be an audience to some Wadaiko Drumming by the school who had enjoyed our own performance. Suddenly those quiet pristine young people were changed and transformed into brightly dressed and fierce drumming warriors. The performance was very high tempo but not just drumming – every piece was an entire theatre performance with acting and dance. Each song was a work out yet they remained poised, uniform and smiling. They even had a piece that was re-enacting a famous ancient battle and somehow regardless of historical knowledge we knew exactly what had happened on that day. It was a real tour highlight.
After being waved off by another school it was time for a little snooze on the bus before heading back to the hotel for some dinner and an early night because tomorrow is a BIG DAY.