The fall semester started up a few weeks ago at Rikkyo University. It was time to put away the shorts and sandals, and step back into my professorial attire, so to speak. Ready or not, the fall season is here. Before sinking in to despair thinking about all of the work ahead, let’s look back to the wonderful eleven days of the 2017 summer choir camp.
As has been the pattern in recent years, I go up with the 50 members of the mixed choir (arriving on Tuesday, Sept 5) and return with the 30 members of the women’s choir on Friday, Sept. 15. It IS a long time away from home, but I have grown to love the time I spend in Katashina Village. My room is always the same small six-mat tatami room. The schedule is always the same, and weather is always the same mix of rain and sun. But the choir members and the repertoire are always new, so I never tire of the time with them. I do get tired, of course, but not tired of the routine. Walks in the mountain air are always refreshing. I like to check on the older houses – this one has been abandoned, that one has been repaired, the road has been repaired or it has deteriorated. Life changes very slowly in the village, so the things I observe are minute changes.
Former choir members undoubtedly remember shopping at the “oshare-shop” (our nickname for a the only store in the village). This year it was closed for the duration of the mixed choir’s time, due to a death in the family. Snack disaster! I wound up driving down the mountain to the nearest convenience store to help with the snack refills. Other than this shock, things are much the same they have been for the past 15 years, aside from the size of the choir.
Here is a photo blog of the 2017 camp. Enjoy!
1. the mountains surrounding our village. This was taken from a spot just above our location.
The weather was extremely changeable, as always. There were quite a few rain days, though we had enough sun to enjoy playing in the river and taking walks.
2. Food. Super, superb, fabulous, delicious. Are there enough superlatives here to convince you? The owner of the place we stayed caught fresh river fish for me for no fewer than five dinners, and all were deliciously prepared. The students’ food was also great, with tons of fresh village produce at every meal. Speaking of meals, all are taken sitting on the floor, as you can see in the photos below.
3. Following the last rehearsal of the week, the students take photos by section. Here the four sections of the Mixed Choir.
SOPRANOS (their leader, Aizawa Yumeno has a nice couch!)
ALTOS (kept in line by their leader Kikuchi Hanami)
TENORS (led by the long-suffering Takashima Riya)
BASSES (their leader, Oe Yuta, prefers classical poses)
The we have the entire choir, with BOSS lazing about as usual
When the week of the mixed choir camp finishes, most members go home on the bus. A few lucky members who belong to both choirs get to stay on for the next session. We have a wonderful free day in between the two camps. This year we had iffy weather, but managed to get in ice cream in the village, a walk around the must-see spots, and a raid on the only convenience store in town.
Saying goodbye to the mixed choir:
And then celebrating the birthday of our fabulous women’s choir student conductor, Kitazawa Aoi. This “cake” was made solely of ingredients found at the local shop. Bread, pudding, and who knows what all!
Ice cream and village walking
NO – we didn’t actually go into this, the only pachinko parlor in the village – just had a good look
The following afternoon the Women’s Choir arrived, and work resumed. Here are the last day group photos:
SOPRANOS (led by toughie Sugiyama Rin)
ALTOS (Kitazawa Aoi does double duty as their leader)
And the entire Women’s choir, including the ever-popular accompanist Kantani Yoji
And, finally, some miscellaneous photos. Mainly of walks I took alone in the area surrounding Katashina Village
I already miss summer camp! Can we please turn back the hands of time?