HGC East Asia Tour: Day 22


Wakei Juku in the morning

The day after the Kioi Hall concert, we took an early morning bus to Tamagawa University. To put this trip into context, the Glee Club had visited Tamagawa with the Radcliffe Choral Society as part of the 1967 Asia Tour. They performed to a large audience who had crowded into the school gymnasium, and all of the students and faculty in attendance enjoyed the concert so much that the founder promised that he would have a music concert hall ready for the Glee Club when they next returned.Now, fifty years later, that was about to become a reality.

We knew very little of this when we left Wakei Juku for Tamagawa. All I knew was that the University had put a lot of effort into our homestays, and that we were going to do some cultural activities with the students.

When we arrived, we dropped our stuff in a room and were given an agenda and a nice gift pen. We then split off into our culture session groups. Some people went to a tea ceremony, others to calligraphy and koto lessons, and my group went to a discussion with the Tamagawa students about different markers of adulthood in Japan and the United States. There were a good number of primary education majors; one of the girls at my table was going to start teaching kindergarten in April. We mostly agreed that financial independence and living on one’s own were good markers of adulthood.

After the culture sessions, we met up for a lunch party with the university students and the Tamagawa staff. It was incredible both in terms of the quality of food – scallops, fried chicken, Wagyu beef, tea, coffee, and sushi – and the quantity. The Glee Club’s appetite is well documented, but even after an hour and a half, there was still food left over.

img_3064We went from lunch to our sound check at the newly completed concert hall. It was only a couple months old, so everything looked very clean, but the hall was also a good space for a men’s choir. Sound check was quite brief, and then we hung out backstage to wait for the concert to start.

It was an afternoon concert, so we were in our semiformal outfit. Unfortunately, there were quite a few members who had forgotten various pieces of their outfit, so we were not quite coordinated. However, we sang well, and the staff and students enjoyed our performance.

Next, it was our turn to be in the audience! We went straight from the stage to our seats, where we say original film footage of the Glee Club’s first visit to Tamagawa and the ensuing reception. It was amazing to see college students from 50 years ago in the same place as us. After the video, the Tamagawa Taiko Drum and Dance group wowed us with their grace, theatricality, musicality, strength, and joy of their performance. They were all quite talented, and I enjoyed getting to clap along with the taiko drums.

After the performance, our hosts picked us up and brought us to dinner. By chance, one of the other Glee Club singers ended up at the same restaurant as me, but we didn’t interact much as both of us were busy getting to know our hosts. My host was a professor at the Tamagawa College of Education, and she had brought her two daughters to the performance. We talked a good deal about education, and what my life was like at Harvard. One of her daughters was in high school, and she showed me pictures of the violin she was making, which was cool, and the other daughter was only ten, but she had the same name as my youngest sister! They sort of reminded me of my sisters, but both a couple years younger. I also learned a few words in Japanese from them, which was helpful. Their apartment was only a twenty minute trip from the restaurant, so I was settled in comfortably quite early in the evening.


Flower Arrangement at the lunch party

My host drew a bath for me, which was a good way to relax after a pretty long day. I worked on a blog post and learned about everybody else’s hosts through the group message, and then went to bed.


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