One of the main activities of the third day of our field trip on Ishigaki Island was the visit to Yaeyama Commerce and Industry High School. It is located in the south part of Ishigaki City, near the coastline. The school is a large multi-floor facility, which has a really interesting architecture and design.
A group of students and members of the teachers’ committee met us at the entrance of the school with a welcoming greeting. All of the school representatives appeared to be kind and positive people. Because of this, everyone in our group immediately got into a good mood, as the atmosphere of the meeting was very comfortable.
Together, we proceeded to an assembly hall, where different performances and rehearsals are being held. Once we got arranged and sat down, one of the students of the school delivered a welcoming speech and announced that members of the Art club of the school are going to perform a special musical number for us. The performance included dancing, singing and playing traditional Okinawan music instruments, such as Sanshin – an Okinawan and Amami Islands traditional musical instrument.
As you can see from the picture, Sanshin has a body, neck, and three strings. It is wrapped in snakeskin, which makes every instrument have a unique texture. Sanshin can be compared to an American Banjo or Central Asian Dombyra, due to some similarities in design. It is also considered to be a precursor for the three-stringed traditional Japanese musical instrument Shamisen.
Thus, the performance had started. Members of the Arts club demonstrated the spectacular level of dancing, singing and playing on instruments. We were captivated by the play, and it was a really valuable insight into a local culture. After the performance ended, students of the school told us that we will be given an opportunity to participate in a similar performance that was shown to us, by trying to play Sanshin, as well as learning some of the dance moves. Our group was divided into those who want play the instrument and those who want to learn the dance. Each one from the Sanshin group received an individual instrument. I was a part of this group, and learning some of the basics of playing Sanshin was a really interesting and unique experience for me. Students and the Arts group supervisor helped us to learn. Everyone was very supportive and patient. After the rehearsal, we joined together with the dancing group and performed a short version of the play, along with the members of the Arts club. At the end of the performance, everyone joined in dancing, as we celebrated our meeting.
Saying goodbye, we expressed deep gratitude to all members of Yaeyama Commerce and Industry High School for their hospitality and excellent performance. As a sign of thankfulness, we prepared a present on behalf of our university and the NipCA project. We had a great time at the school, and I wish all the best to the students and professors that we met that day.