March 27, 2013 at 11:25 PMWhat an honor it is to be in the city where the Suzuki Method all began, and continues to be nurtured. This is my third trip to Matsumoto -- the first was for the Suzuki World Conference in 1999, the second with some students to attend the Suzuki Summer School in 2005. It never loses its charm, however, and each visit is a new adventure.
I arrived by Shinkansen (bullet train) from a visit to Kyoto where we did a whirlwind tour of six temples and the district of Gion. At the station, we were met by a conference volunteer to help us find our hotel and registration. Our lodging is at the Hotel Iidaya, directly across from the station. It is a traditional style Japanese hotel, with small rooms and o-furo (baths) in each bathroom.
We walked to the Performing Arts Center to check in to the 16th Suzuki Method World Convention .. everything is done by Qr code scan on iPads.
After getting our conference bag, and materials, we walked to the Matsumoto castle for some welcome events, which included performance-art calligraphy, sword-fighting, and Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging). We also got to tour the castle, one of the oldest and most magnificent castles still standing in Japan.
Later that night was the teachers welcome banquet. Dr. Koji Toyoda and other dignitaries, including her Imperial Highness, pounded open a ceremonial sake barrel to officially open the conference. We even got to sample the sake ourselves! We were treated to an enormous buffet of many Japanese delicacies, including a sushi station! It was great to run into old friends from the states, and meet new ones from all over the world!
As a part of the ceremonies, we were presented with a live performance by a local Taiko drumming group. The sound resonated throughout the building and in our hearts. We were reminded of the reason we all are here, with a video of Dr. Suzuki playing one of his original pieces. Everyone applauded as if it were a live performance.
My most special moment of the night was running into an American woman, now living in Japan, who was my guide when I came with students to the summer school. Her son had been given viola so my viola student would not be the only English speaker in her orchestra. From that experience, she told me, her son began playing viola as his maininstrument, and now there is a small but mighty student viola contingent in Japan. That made me feel both humbled and proud.
Japan is truly an amazing place, and my second home since I was an exchange student here in high school. I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring.
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