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VIMM World Tour Recap 1: JAPAN

THE BEGINNINGS OF A GREAT ADVENTURE

It’s happening! I can’t believe it. It has been such a whirlwind of beautiful activity, new experiences, food, and friends. Some days – when my mind strays from my intention of this trip and the music video project – I wonder what the hell I’m doing galavanting around the world on my own. But, every day I am so grateful to have had the courage to do this. I want to keep growing. I want to encourage the unfolding of a fuller expression of myself – personally and artistically – and allow that to expand who I am able to serve through my life’s work.

I’m grateful for what is already turning into such an intense examination of connection, comfort, and relationship. What a lesson in embracing the uncertainty. What an opportunity to examine how I show up across such a range of experiences and with such a beautiful mix of people – a question of , “Who am I in this world?” or, maybe more accurately, “Who do I want to be and how do I want to show up?”

My gear + ukulele, pre-departure

I have always felt like a bit of a shapeshifter, energetically speaking, because I am very in-tune with other peoples’ energies in any given moment. Sometimes I find myself lost in the current of surrounding energies and I forget to infuse my own energy/vibration/voice into the mix. This has been a gradual journey of awareness for me. Sometimes I simply enjoy being the Observer of Life. Oftentimes, I very much enjoy participating in silence. But there are also very clear times where I catch myself drifting a little too far away from my shores, so to speak.

I’m sharing this with you because part of my personal journey on this trip is to be more conscious of my own presence in social settings. I’d also like to expand my appreciation for the Art of Conversation, even though I find much can be discovered through observation as well. With the inner work I’ve done to date, I’d say the “observer” in me is linked to about 70% contentedness and 30% old patterns of social discomfort.  ….that scale has shifted considerably in the past 5 years or so. Looking back and noticing those shifts compels me to keep unfolding, because I want to know: what might happen? What will I be more open to experiencing once I do? I can’t wait to find out!!!

JAPAN – september 11th to 25th, 2014

First… my gear is very, very heavy.

I decided against a rolling suitcase because I figured having everything in backpacks would ultimately make for easier transportation. I think this was a wise decision. That said, when I have BOTH backpacks on me I’m pretty sure I’m carrying close to 80 pounds of weight. EEK! The good news is that I only have to carry that much to and from the airport. Once I arrive at my destination, most of it stays at ‘home’.

First Morning in Kobe. Photo by Mika Komatsu.

First Morning in Kobe.

Magical Kyoto

Magical Kyoto

Music Video shoot with Mayasa Yuasa in Kyoto

Music Video shoot with Mayasa Yuasa in Kyoto

Japan gave me my first very good test of my strength with all of this. When I arrived, I took 3 different modes of public transit on foot – including a ferry boat – to get to my lovely friend Mika’s place in Kobe. WHEW! I was sore for days. Haha.

I spent one week around the Kobe area, during which I also ventured with Mika to Okayama, Osaka, and Kyoto. Each city was so wonderful in its own way, and I met so many dancers and exceptionally kind people.

One of my favorite places in that part of Japan was Kyoto. There was this gorgeous river that ran along one of the main parts of town, which, in one area, had giant stepping stones from one side to the other.

Also in Kyoto, we got very lucky to be able to connect with a musician with whom Mika is acquainted, and I was able to do my very first music video shoot with him! He is a wonderful guitarist named Masaya Yuasa. I filmed him on a street corner in Kyoto and then we jammed together a bit after that. I don’t think I could’ve smiled wider during that whole experience. It was just the perfect example of the power of music and dance and its cross-cultural ability to CONNECT.

It was really inspiring, too, to see how Masaya grooved to the Music of Humankind video’s song, “Apex of a Beautiful Day” from Seattle’s own GRAMMY-Nominated band, The Teaching. Not only that, but as this was my first music recording (audio + video) session, I was so relieved to learn that my gear choices and setup seem to work great! I chose to bring with me two UE Boom bluetooth speakers to play the song, and they were (mostly) loud enough for Masaya to hear and jam along. How the audio turns out on my Apogee Mic recordings remains to be seen, once I return to Seattle. it just depends on how all of the environmental elements and sounds come through. But… so far, so good!

Taking the bullet train solo into Tokyo

After a glorious week with Mika in the Kobe area, I caught the bullet train into Tokyo to get situated at my AirBnB rental room.

Tokyo was phenomenal. The dancers, the transit system, the food, the DANCE MUSIC VIDEO SHOOT! I am still baffled at how much activity I fit into those two short weeks and didn’t need to sleep an entire week thereafter to recover. Oy!

I went to the Tokyo tap jam as well as a latin jazz music jam during that week. Both were great fun! The latin jam was such a pleasant surprise, as the musicians had never played with tap dancers before. They were very welcoming and very excited by it! The energy created together that night reminded me a lot of the electric energy of Seattle’s magical music scene that I love (and miss) so much. I also filmed 6 thank you videos in Japan for recent contributors to my online fundraising campaign for the project, which will remain active for my entire trip.

The dance shoot for the music video was fabulous. Mika came into Tokyo around this time and she helped out SO much. We didn’t get anyone confirmed to film the shoot – this is the tricky part because, while I DO have all the gear, I am also in most shots – so she ended up doing most of the filming. She did beautiful work, but I sure wish she could have been dancing in all the shots! I learned something here in that I really need to make sure I get someone entirely dedicated to filming the shoot. The entire shoot was 3 hours in length for the full group of 13 dancers, and then a couple dancers stayed with me about an hour longer to film a few more shots. It was so much fun, and went pretty well for the first time. I’ve got 40 individual short video clips to sort through and analyze before filming in my next country.

With my dear friend, Mika Komatsu on the lookout point at Rokku Mountain!

With my dear friend Mika Komatsu on Rokku Mountain

Tokyo Market

Tokyo Market

On the very last day I was in Tokyo, I felt so lucky to be able to schedule another music recording session with a pianist and accordion player named Kindo. She was just stellar! We, too,

Some of my Japanese Tap Family

Some of my Japanese Tap Family

jammed a bit after, which I’ll share in this post.

Oh, my! And I had a BLAST learning the language! I want to learn more, and I want to visit Japan again pronto. And, also….. the food! I am a big fan. I loved almost everything I tried, and I appreciated how meals seem much more intentional and a bit slower there. I am missing my Japanese dance family AND the amazing food right now.

Onto the next:
AUSTRALIA!!!!

To be continued…

Peace,

JS

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