2010/04/28

Dolls For Boys

Last weekend I decided to go to Osaka, which is one of the biggest cities in Japan, to extend my travelling horizons. Generally I think that every educated person should at least be aware that such thing like culture exists! Moreover I spend all my days in the lab and maybe it’s cool to synthesize a new compound from time to time (no it isn’t) but once the job is over I want to experience all the best what this crazy country can offer. Traditional Japanese theater is one of such things.  Nowhere else you can see this specific kind of performance with all its variations.  I read an ad in the newspaper that it was the last month to see BUNRAKU (a traditional puppet theater), so I hoped on the train to Osaka and one hour later I was in the marvelous, bustling capital of the prefecture.  Many of you probably think that a puppet theater is something like Muppets or Pinocchio (before he became a real boy), but not Bunraku. It’s the highest art, mastered in every detail.  For example one puppet can be moved by even three puppeteers. In Bunraku, the manipulators appear openly, in full view of the audience. This characteristics, which make it completely different from the other puppet theatre traditions around the world, can be said to be the reason that Bunraku is called the most highly developed puppet theatre art in the world. It is said that puppeteers begin their training by operating the feet, then move onto the left hand, before being able to train as the main puppeteer. This process can take 30 years to progress. Moreover a storyteller and a accompanist are inspirable through life so they can learn how to breathe simultaneously and even think as one person!!!! (no questions about their sex life). Harmony between these two musicians is an essential criteria that determines the quality of their contribution to the performance. It’s said that in the future a real Bunraku might disspear so I’m happy that I had the opportunity to watch it (even though one part lasts 4 hours )  During the intermission  my friend and I had chimakiwhich reminded me of Greek dolmades or Polish gołąbki. We were about to consume the green thing when a Japanese lady stopped us, saving our palates. Green leaves give a nice aroma but are not edible! After a great performance  I visisted NHK ( national public broadcasting organization).  

I was shocked when I was asked to participate in the kids show. So here I am in my own puppet theater. 


video



POLISH
LALKI DLA DUŻYCH CHŁOPCÓW
Podróże kształcą dlatego w zeszłym  tygodniu udałem się do Osaki - jednego z największych miast Japonii.  Każdy z nas kto zażył w życiu trochę edukacji powinien być świadomy ze kultura jest elementem naszego życia.  Ja sam spędzam cale dnie na otrzymywaniu nowych związków chemicznych - co może dla niektórym wydać się ciekawa sztuka (dla mnie niestety częściej nudna koniecznością), jednak po pracy rzucam w kat wszystkie naukowe przyziemności i wybieram sie na eksploracje kultury tego ciekawego kraju, której jednym z ważnych elementów jest tradycyjny teatr japoński.  Tylko tutaj można zobaczyć tą specyficzną sztukę, wraz z wszystkimi jej gatunkami.  Przeglądając prasę, natknąłem się na ogłoszenie mówiące o tym ze to ostatni miesiąc wystawiania BUNRAKU (tradycyjnego teatru lalkowego, kliknij TUTAJ by zobaczyć).  
Wskoczyłem do pociągu i godzinę później wałęsałem się ulicami wielkiej, tętniącej życiem Osaki, stolicy prefektury o tej samej nazwie. 
Wielu z was pewnie myśli ze lalki w teatrze to takie kukiełki czy broadwayowskie mupety. BUNRAKU to sztuka o wiele wyższa niż zwykle pacynki.  To artyzm dopracowany w każdym calu. 
Dla przykładu jedną lalkę obsługuje aż trzech lalkarzy.  Dodatkowo nie są oni schowani tylko widoczni przez cały czas przedstawienia.  Wszystko to czyni ten rodzaj teatru inny (wręcz unikatowym)  od wspominanych powyżej, tym samym BUNRAKU uchodzi za najbardziej wyrafinowany teatr lalkowy na świecie.  
Nauka obsługi lalki trwa aż 30 lat (!!!) . Zaczyna się od obsługi nóg, następnie po 10 latach zaczyna się trening lewej ręki , a kończy głową.  Dodatkowo istnieje narrator, który jest jedynym głosem w całej opowieści, a towarzyszy mu akompaniator. Mówi się, że dla zyskania pełnej scenicznej swobody wspólnego oddechu,  narrator i akompaniator przez całe życie pozostają nierozdzielni (nie pytam o ich sprawy prywatne ;) bo wierze, ze może być ciężko).  Harmonia pomiędzy dwójką jest ważnym czynnikiem  determinującym jakość przedstawienia. 
Niestety teatr ten zaczyna powoli zanikać (słaba płaca i trudny pełen wyrzeczeń trening), tym bardziej cieszę się, że miałem okazję doświadczyć tego przedstawienia ( pomimo czterogodzinnego czasu trwania całej sztuki). W czasie przerwy z kolegą skusiliśmy się na CHIMAKI (takie ryżowe gołąbki).  Już miałem ugryźć  przekąskę, gdy grupka Japonek w ostatniej chwili powstrzymała mój ruch. Otóż zielone listki nadają potrawie aromat, ale same w sobie jadalne nie są. Japończycy zawsze pomogą dzikusom z zachodu.  Na końcu mała wizyta w NHK, znanej telewizji publicznej - gdzie pozwoliłem sobie na udział w dość niecodziennym nagraniu do dziecięcego programu porannego.  (FILM WIDEO powyżej)






2010/04/21

Tête-à-Tête with Geishas

I had a really crazy Sunday last weekend. At first I missed my hiking tour (those who know me well are probably not surprised ^.^ as I’m ALWAYS late. On the other hand that trait runs in the family and I won’t fight my gens) I thought it would be another lousy Sunday… when the thought came to my mind. How about turning this day into really exciting one. So I followed my rule – try things that you didn’t try before, so first I went to the Nishimi market in Kyoto which is quite big market in the centre of Kyoto and bought this little octopus on the stick – isn’t it kawai (cute)? It tasted good as well. Then I went for a walk to Gion area where all geiko (geisha in Kyoto dialect) live. I hope all my readers know Gion and if not  you just watch or read Memoirs of the Geisha to see where I stroll around from time to time. I tried to find Gion Kaburenjo (the most famous geisha theater) when suddenly she appeared…

 a young apprentice geisha called maiko. I was so stunned that I didn’t know what to say. You can rarely meet them in the streets. They are somehow endangered species which are also quite timid.  I moved towards her and bowed. She smiled delicately. I asked in Japanese if one picture was ok. She didn’t answered but made a pose then smiled again and waited till I finished. After that she moved away with grace. She looked back couple of times at me. I don’t know but I felt a sort of connection between me and her. It’s difficult to describe… but definitely I would pay for her company. Astonished by the young maiko I went to the Kyoto information center where I told the staff what I saw. They were amazed and said that’s really unexpected even for the Japanese. But that’s not the end of Geisha experience that day. The guy from the information center also told me that in half an hour there would be a short geisha performance in the local museum (free of charge) so I should hurry up. This time I saw two real geishas dancing for me (and other 10 people as not many people came) I was kneeling half meter from them. I no better view could I have.


 Also other unexpected things happened that day…I met a couple of really great people and went to the public bath… but I would tell you later the details… all in all I didn’t miss my hiking tour at all and I must say that the last Sunday changed a lot my view on Japan.

2010/04/14

Arigato

I wanted to post another note about my happy times in the Country of Raising Sun, when tragic news came from my country. The president of Poland, the First Lady as well as many political, military and religious leaders were killed in the plane crash in Smolensk (Russia). At first I thought that my country was at war. Then I realized that it was an accident and no one is to blame. It’s difficult to express your grief in the country where not many Poles live. However, many among these who know me, immediately sent their condolences to my mailbox. Some of them only knew that I was Polish and it was enough for them to express their sympathy. I remember I went to Nara the following day and in the one of historical parks I had to fill out a form about myself. When a curator read that I’m from Poland she showed me a Japanese daily newspaper with the shocking news. I don’t know why but somehow she felt I wanted this newspaper as I needed any piece of information about the tragedy that happened in my country.  She didn’t say much but put the newspaper into a big envelope and gave it to me saying that she was very sorry and she hoped that at least the time that I would spend in the park among the nature would help me to focus on something else. It’s funny how much it meant to me. It was like a message “In Japan we know what happened and we are also sorry for you”.  I read some of the Japanese newspapers.  The Japan Times focuses on Poland’s mourning and showed some profiles of those who died in the crush but weren’t as much popular as the president.  It was a very nice thing to do that they decided to introduce readers to the real meaning of the tragedy. Arigato Japan. 

2010/04/01

Japanese Detox


So it has been more than one month since I came to the Land of Rising Sun and so far I'm good. My commitment to study Japanese goes well and I must say that I progress a lot. However after such a long time of reading Japanese, you might feel that you really need a break. So, I decided to buy myself a book in English (I don't expect that I could find one in my native language) to allow my mind rest a bit from  kanji characters. My mom got so worry about my paper entertainment, that she decided to send me some contemporary prose (My mom is a true Bree van de Kamp). The problem is that the post in my country is not fully reliable and sometimes you might wait ages till the parcel reaches your mailbox. I decided to look around a bit to find something here, and again things are not as easy as you might expect. Although book stores are enormous here, rarely foreign books are available (apart from English handbooks for the Japanese). I felt so depressed. For the first time I had such a need for a book in that Sahara dessert of English prose. I asked the holy oracle (google) for help and I found a very nice place called Green E books. It's a second hand shop where you can sell or buy a used book. I received a flayer about the rules of selling used books and the first rule was "no Japanese books".
 Cool. The store itself also has a very friendly atmosphere and you feel really relaxed while browsing the contents of  the bookshelves. I bought my first choice 'Wicked' by Gregory Maguire for a very reasonable price. It was the first time I'm so happy to buy a book and I know it would be special.