Piano Studies at Susquehanna University

Chamber Music Exchange JAPAN

"A Window to Japan - Western Concert Music Through the Eyes of Japan" is a new course offering that will start in May 2010. This course fulfills the GO! (Global Opportunities) requirement at Susquehanna. Six to eight Susquehanna University music major students will be invited to join Dr. Niskala and Dr. Tober for a 19-day trip to Japan. We will spend 10 days in residency at Niigata University, embark by boat ferry to Sado Island to experience an area rich in history and local traditions, and then return by bullet train to Tokyo where we will spend an additional 5 days exploring the city, its museums, temples and shrines, and attend a traditional Japanese theatre performance.


WE'RE RETURNING IN MAY 2011! - 2011 Itinerary

Niigata University
Located along the Japan sea side, due north of Tokyo, this university houses a Music Department approximately the same size as Susquehanna University's. We will spend 10 days here, residing in the on-campus guest residence hall in traditional Japanese-style rooms. Susquehanna and Niigata University students will be grouped together into chamber ensembles; all ensembles will rehearse daily and receive coachings from both Susquehanna and Niigata University music professors. We will all meet several times as a large group to learn about each other and each other's cultures, and students will also be left free to mingle on their own and explore the campus and nearby restaurants and shops. We will travel to the town of Koide to perform a couple recitals for kindergarten and elementary school students, and the end of our residency will culminate in a recital featuring all the chamber ensembles.


Sado Island

Sado Island is located about 50 miles off the coast of Niigata city, and is an island steeped in history and culture. Long used as a place of exile for intellectual "criminals" (Noh playwrights, Buddhist priests, artists), one can find many temples dating back as far as the 8th century, in addition to working Noh theatres, Bugaku puppetry theatres, and various local artisans (woodblock prints, pottery, weaving, and Sake breweries). One of the only places in Japan containing no trains or subways, all transportation is by bus, car, or bicycle. A mountainous island, parts of the coastline drop straight to the sea in dramatic black cliffs, while one can also view rolling hills and plateaus of wild flowers, beautiful sandy beaches, and dense green forests.

We will travel to Sado Island by boat ferry and take a private bus tour upon arrival where we'll visit several old temples, a Sake brewery, see the dramatic coastline of Senkakuwan Bay, and walk deep underground through the Kinzan Gold Mine which was first mined in 1600 for the Tokugawa government in Tokyo and in use until the 1980s. Our accomodations will be a Ryokan, or traditional Japanese Inn, where we will be able to experience foods that are all local and in season. During our stay we will also take two walking tours of the town of Aikawa, once the central city during Sado's most populated time in the Tokugawa period. One tour will take us to local artisan shops and another tour will take us to centuries-old temples and shrines in the area.




We will return to Tokyo via boat ferry to Niigata Port and then bullet train to downtown Tokyo. During our 5 days in Tokyo we will visit the Tokyo Edo Museum, attend a performance of Kabuki (traditional Japanese theatre), walk Asakusa Temple and Meiji Shrine, and have two free afternoons to explore the city further. We will also take a day-trip 75 miles north to Nikko to see the Tokugawa Period's Toshogu Shrine and Rinnoji Temple at the Nikko National Park. There is also the option to visit Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market (the world's largest fish market) for those who are very early risers!


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