November, 2002

This page is written monthly by Harumi Okochi,
and sometimes Harumi's friends join.
We'd be happy if you look at ou
r previous issues.


Listen to the waves, listen to the guitars.

Hi, friends.
Did you know that I am a marvelous painter?
I didn't know it myself until I drew the picture above.
Will you look at the beautiful picture?
If you think this is a hat, you are too unimaginative.
If you say this is a serpent which swallowed an elephant, hum...you are really literary.
But this is an ISLAND !
This is a small island called Takashima in Karatsu Bay, Takashima is an island of GUITARS.
This month, I would like to tell you about this island and the guitars.
I will try to write good English so that junior high students will understand.

Takashima: 5 minutes by water-taxi
Takashima is about 2200meters off shore. It is a part of Karatsu City. About 400 people live here. 90% of them are named Nozaki. 'Nozaki' is a historical name of more than 500 years.
This is Takashima Junior High School.
12 students of three grades are studying.
Karatsu City is going to close this school in the near future. Parents are worried.
Shigeko Niioka, the music teacher, wants to make good memories for the students. She wants the students be proud of the island school.
Three years ago, she made a music band. She taught all the students to play the guitar.
But the school did not have enough guitars for each student.
Kinuyo Ogata, an amateur guitarist, knew this.
She talked to Mr. Tomiyoshi of Saga Shinbun (newspaper).
In August of 1999, Mr.Tomiyoshi wrote an article to ask the readers to send unnecessary guitars to Kinuyo.
In a week or two, Kinuyo's house was full of guitars. Most of them were used ones. One was a very special piece made by the most famous guitarist Yasumasa Kohara. One person sent two brand new guitars without telling his/her name. One mother sent a guitar which her deceased daughter used to play.
People's good will encouraged the students.
The members of 'Sun Shine' practiced hard. Each year,they have held a concert.
The givers were invited, and the mother came with her daughter's photo.
This spring (2002), the school was awarded for its education of music.
This year, for the first time, Sun Shine challenges Japanese traditional instruments, Shamisen and Koto.
Principal Hirakawa, other teachers, and the people who live on this island are great supporters of 'Sun Shine'
This girl plays the Koto.
Koto has 13 strings.
The sound is elegant like a harp.
Another girl also plays the Koto.
Three girls and two boys play the Shamisen.
A Shamisen has 3 strings.
To play the Shamisen, Bachi, an ivory or plastic triangular spatula is used to scratch the strings.
Moving the left hand fingers up and down the neck of the instrument, you make different notes.
Some boys sing Japanese folk-songs.
The lady in red dress is Naruko-Dayu, who is a famous Gidayu artist. She taught the students to play Japanese instruments and sing Japanese folk-songs.
On 14th of October, 2002, the annual concert of 'Sun Shine' was held. It was a beautiful stage.
Many people enjoyed.
I liked 'Siciliana' very much.
The melody and the harmony sounded like a lullaby played by the waves of Takashima.
I hope, just as Shigeko Niioka and Kinuyo Ogata hope, that the students will never forget the highlight of the stage on that day.

Shigeko's deceased husband Junji was my high-school mate. I am sure Junji was listening from the heaven. He must be proud of his wife.
On the Island of Takashima, there is a small, but very famous shrine. Many people from all over Japan come to the Hoto Shrine. They wish a miracle on their lottery tickets. The Shrine has really made some millionaires.
But I wished a different miracle.
I prayed. "Let the school be continued. Please don't take my Sun Shine away!" And I told the God the story of an American movie, 'Music of the Heart'
He has not answered anything yet, but I hope He is listening to the waves and also to the guitars of students.

Special thanks to the students and teachers of Takashima Junior Highschool

Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harumi Okochi
Proprietress of Ryokan Yoyokaku

  Mail to Harumi Okochi