Yokohama: Cups, China Town and Ceilidh.

Yokohama: Cups, China Town and Ceilidh.

Today we loaded up our buses with our instruments and set off for the city of Yokohama, Japan’s second biggest city. Our first sightseeing opportunity was rather special as it was to the Nissan Stadium, which will be holding the Rugby World Cup after the summer.

We all had the stadium to ourselves with private tours by some friendly volunteers. The entire place was very impressive and quite interactive. We even got the chance to sit in the Emperor’s seat and try on the Brazil strip in their changing rooms. Our Piper Daniel had the incredible privilege to play his bagpipes inside the grounds ahead of the cup, a memory I am sure that will stay with us all forever.

Our senior players in the changing rooms of the stadium.

After we had finished at the stadium we traveled through to China Town for a walking tour, which was definitely a tour for the senses. There were so many different sights and smells along those streets with everyone trying to get you to eat at their restaurant. We stayed in China Town for our lunch which was a real treat.

Then it was time for our first of two performances of the day, at Minato Sohgoh High School. What struck us the moment we arrived was how warm and lovely the people in the school were. The running order included a short rehearsal (we only need a short one because the orchestra is THAT GOOD), a set from our group, a ceilidh with the students and then they were going to give us a performance from their band. They completely adored our performance and were clapping along enthusiastically, and so were we when it came to their performance, which was astounding! The real highlight for most came from the ceilidh where we all took hands with the students and taught them the dances. Everyone had a ball! The students also gifted us with many souvenirs, cakes, and sweets. At the end of the visit, it was hard to separate the two groups because of the bonds they had so quickly made. The students even ran after our busses out of the school.

It was now time for the second performance of the day with an evening concert at the Yokohama Country & Athletic Club which was founded in 1868 by a Scotsmen. The club is used by many expats to Japan from far and wide, and we had a great turn out to the concert. A contact there that has been invaluable to us is a lady named Morag who was a Leader of the orchestra. To say thank you for all of her help we presented her with a Peace Tartan Scarf. After our concert, we put on a ceilidh which this audience was also really excited for and they did not disappoint us with their effort.

What has been fantastic about today is the friendships made through our music and the exchange in music and culture. It is totally true – music has no language and it is so very special that we all have the opportunity to meet with strangers, across the world, and create very real and lasting bonds through what we love to do.

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