Three flights, four airports, and a two hour bus ride later and I am finally here! I was very happy to arrive in Mitaka (suburb of Tokyo) on the campus of Japan Lutheran College and Theological Seminary at about 9:00 pm local time on Wednesday. It’s pretty nice when the President of the College personally picks you up at the airport, as did Dr. Naozumi Eto for me!
As I write this it is 10:00 pm in Japan on Thursday, August 27, which means it is 8:00 am on the same day in Kansas. I have literally been on campus here for just over 24 hours and I feel like my flight was weeks ago.
One of the best decisions I made was renting this device:
This is “Pocket WiFi” and basically I carry it in my pocket and it provides high speed WiFi for me at all times. No need to pay high fees to make calls or text when I can use the wireless connection to Skype and FaceTime!
Jim Sack is a teacher here who, with his wife Carol, moved to Japan many years ago as a missionary and have made a life and career here. He and Carol have been extremely helpful to me in the last 24 hours! Jim told me last night that because of the jet lag and time change I would wake up at 3:00 am and that I should go right back to sleep if possible. Well, I woke up at 2:55 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. So, I got up and watched TV for an hour. Not much is more surreal than waking up at 3 in the morning and turning on the tv to see a live broadcast of the Houston Astros vs. the New York Yankees in Japanese. I did go back to sleep for a while.
Around 7 am I woke up, and after figuring out the hot water machine and making my morning coffee I was ready to explore.
This is the chapel on the campus of the College and Seminary
It is a beautiful campus and the folks here have made me feel very welcome. They are hosting me in a two-bedroom apartment that has a kitchen, air conditioning, and a TV. We are walking distance from a Seven-11 so I purchased the makings for a healthy lunch:
After lunch Jim Sack and I set off for Kawasaki-city, where the sixteen member choir of the College was in the midst of a five-day retreat in preparation for their concert this Sunday. These students are volunteers who are not majoring in music. They just like to sing and are dedicated to the group. They are currently in between semesters (school doesn’t begin until around September 20) so for them to give up a week during their “summer” shows great dedication.
We arrived to find Director, Watanabe-sensei, leading them in a vocalization:
She really does a great job with these young people. I was struck by the fact that half-way across the world from Kansas she was dealing with the same issues I deal with. In order to help the students open up and get more resonance she did something I am thinking of bringing back to Bethany
She had them put chopsticks in their mouths!
I then had a chance to work with them for a while:
After a while I noticed they seemed to need a boost of energy so I introduced them to a warm-up we sometimes use to get the blood flowing. As a side note, it is custom to remove your shoes and put on slippers when entering a building so I was wearing slippers. Now, I wear a size 12 shoe and these slippers may have been size 9 or 10. Thus, the portion of the video below where I lose my slipper.
Once we got the energy flowing they sang “Cantate Domino” by Hassler:
One of the more interesting selections they sang was a gospel version of “Hallelujah” fromMessiah. It was lead by a student director:
I was really moved by these young people. They don’t have to be there but they have incredible attitudes and work ethic. The literature they are singing is very high level for a group this size, especially of non-music majors. I was particularly impressed with Watanabe-sensei and her direction of the group and Kawata-sensei, the campus chaplin who is the sponsor for the choir. They are obviously doing great work with these young people. We ended our time together by doing some group building activities. In the picture below I am introducing them to the activity in which we stand in a circle and then sit down on the knees of the person behind them. If any one person doesn’t do their job the entire group falls down. This group did not fall down.
I was very happy to bring gifts of Dala Horses representing Lindsborg and Bethany College to both Watanabe-sensei and Kawata-sensei. Special thanks to Corey Peterson and the folks at Hemslojd:
I was especially moved to be given the gift of a CD of the choir’s past performances and a special choir garment that is only given to members of the ensemble.
I couldn’t let these wonderful students go without giving them something with which to remember our time together. I had Bethany College T-shirts for the guys and specially painted Dala Horses for the girls.
And of course I couldn’t leave without the requisite “selfie” with these wonderful folks:
I was SO tired after our time in Kawasaki-city but I was motivated to see part of Tokyo and had two excellent guides helping me in Jim and Carol Sack. They really went out of their way tonight to show me part of Tokyo. We took the train into Shinjuku Station, which is sort of like the “Times Square” of Tokyo.
Jim and Carol Sack
We ate a wonderful supper and walked around Shinjuku seeing the sights.
I couldn’t have had better hosts. I think I have them convinced that when they retire they should consider coming to Lindsborg. Carol is of Swedish descent and was VERY happy to receive a Dala Horse from Lindsborg with their name on it. At the very least I hope they visit us in our little home sometime soon.
We made it “home” around 9:30 pm and I have been preparing this blog post ever since. I’m going to go ahead and hit “publish” even though I haven’t proofread it because I am so extremely tired that I need to be done.
Tomorrow I have an opportunity to meet with Dr. Eto to talk about possible connections between Japan Lutheran College and Bethany College and then it is time to sightsee and be a tourist.
Until then, Sayonara!