The Art of Nihon Buyo

On October 7, the Japan Center had the pleasure and honor of having Hanayagi Nihon Buyo (日本舞踊) Masters Hanayagi Noriyuki and Hanayagi Kinchiyo here for the elementary school students’ PACT day. Nihon Buyo is a traditional Japanese performance from the Edo period. It incorporates the use of dance and pantomime for entertainment purposes.

Hanayagi Noriyuki was born in Tokyo as the grandson of the late Hanayagi Juraku II, who was one of the two living national treasures in Nihon Buyo. He developed his own distinctive style, which, along with being highly praised, has represented Nihon Buyo as well as all other Japanese performing arts. Hanayagi Noriyuki began his Nihon Buyo career learning from his grandfather at 4 years old. Hanayagi is currently the largest school of Nihon Buyo with over 20,000 master practitioners.

Noriyuki and Kinchiyo gave three performances each to grades 1-5, which received immediate positive feedback from ES students. They performed Echigozishi (越後獅子), Tenarai-ko (手習い子) and Sakura-Sakura ( さくら さくら). Supporting the Japan Center’s mission of onko-chishin (温故知新), developing new ideas by understanding the past, this presentation aimed for the students to be immersed in the rich Japanese performing art of Nihon Buyo, use their imaginations in understanding what some of the movements mean and to find the spirit of Japanese omotenashi (おもてなし), the manners we find in modern-day Japan.

ES students also learned the history of Nihon Buyo and the variety of character movements using the fan and other props. Our guests touched upon how Nihon Buyo movements and manners can be found in other Japanese art forms as well.

Each presentation ended with time for students to ask questions. We had some amazing questions from students in both Japanese and English. The Masters were very impressed by our ES students, as were we. (Mariko Yokosuka and Kyoko Takano, Japan Center Co-Directors)

You can read more about Nihon Buyo on the Nihon Buyo Futaba-kai homepage.

Go Mustangs!

Every September, ASIJ buzzes in a flurry of homecoming week activities focused on school spirit and community building. The week culminates in Spirit Day, a day dedicated to cheering on the Mustangs sports teams, playing games and eating delicious food. Continue reading

Creative Arts Design Center: The Strings Room

Before the opening of the Creative Arts Design Center (CADC), both strings and choir shared a room in the ASIJ Theater. Those days are past as our strings groups now have a dedicated room in the CADC.

With large skylights and white walls, this naturally-lit space was designed with strings in mind. Students now have areas specifically devoted to and created for instruments from large cellos to small violins. Supply storage is also available for items such as strings, rosin and tuners.

The CADC strings room is designed to cater to the sound of stringed instruments. The Bender Plaza also allows for some beautiful acoustics, and students occasionally change their practice venue.

In the new strings room, our ensembles are currently preparing for an active program of concerts scheduled throughout the school year. The four main ensembles are 
High School Advanced Strings, Middle School String Ensemble, Strings and the Elementary School After-School String Ensemble. In total, there are more than 85 musicians playing violins, violas, cellos and the string bass.

String groups provide an educational experience and musical outlet for students who wish to remain musically active by performing standards of symphonic literature and are open to any student with previous experience playing a string instrument in a formal ensemble. In addition to performing on a string instrument, students have the opportunity to share their favorite symphonic excerpt as an in-class presentation and will receive a critique of a live concert performance by the end of the semester. (Milton Crotts, Strings Teacher)

To read more on the CADC, view our past posts: “Welcome to the Creative Arts Design Center” and “Connecting Communities: The Japan Center.”