What’s a Gaijin With a Koto and a Bike?

I have to admit that I have been putting off creating this blog for weeks (if not months) because I couldn’t come up with “the perfect title”. When I found that I have only 30 days left before leaving to Japan, I decided I should start it , regardless how cheesy/crappy the title will be.

Now, the least I can do is to explain what’s really going on here…


“Gaijin” is a Japanese word that simply means “Non-Japanese”, “Foreigner” or “Alien”. Yes, alien. I will be a gaijin in Japan, who’ll most likely (unintentionally?) disturb the harmony these people have been living in for centuries…


Thing is, I am some kind of a musician. Key word is “some kind of”, because I stopped seriously performing a while ago, albeit I finally got back to taking music lessons. I grew up loving music, playing music, studying music and listening to music. After I first realized I was really going to Japan, and before going straight ahead to listening to hard-core Japanese music, and being the Jazz enthusiast I am, I discovered a great, great, great 1964 album by the one and only Dave Brubeck, Jazz Impressions of Japan.

Quote from CD booklet

The tunes in this album are personal impressions from the Quartet’s tour of Japan, Spring 1964. No one in a brief visit can hope to absorb and comprehend all that is strange to him. Sights and sounds, exotic in their freshness, arouse the senses to a new awareness. The music we have prepared tries to convey these minute but lasting impressions, wherein the poet expects the reader to feel the scene himself as an experience. The poem suggests the feeling.

In one of the tracks, Koto Song, Brubeck doesn’t feature a real Koto, but he plays the piano in a way that really emulates the sound of a koto. Good stuff.

Also, did you know that the sen-scale we hear about in Jazz (which is adapted from the tuning of the koto) was made popular by John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner (who actually played the koto)? Yes, it’s true.


Do I really need a picture for that?

Fine… There you go:

They should look more or less like that

The thing about biking is that, I had given up learning it ever since I was 9 or 10 years old. It just didn’t work, and my sister has broke my weakness(es) in biking into a really simple list:

  1. Dina, your sense of balance is impaired.
  2. Dina, you can’t pedal.
  3. Dina, you don’t know how to use the breaks.

Easy to fix *coughs* as you see…

But after knowing that I will HAVE TO bike in Japan, I decided, after 12 years of being safely off a bike, to try again. Over the course of two weeks, I fell off, got covered with bruises, had my knees, elbows and palms bleeding.

But….eventually, I learnt how to ride a bike.

Learning to ride a bike at the age of twenty is not that usual, I guess. I will never forget the circumstance surrounding how/why I finally learned to bike. Call me a child, but it’s something I will always be proud of, probably more than my GPA…

So, does this blog title mean that my year in Japan will revolve around biking all the time, taking koto lessons and being a generally unpleasant alien?

I will post a reply after June 2011…

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sarah El Masry
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 20:32:44

    And I was wondering all the time what did that mean… thank you Dinzzzzz … I love the creativity you devoted in the blog…. ❤ you dear


  2. Leisa Flitsch
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 15:58:53

    Keep up the good work, I read few content on this internet site and I believe that your web blog is very interesting and has sets of wonderful information.


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