留学生インタビュー

Please tell me why you went to study in Japan.

I've always been a musician, originally a flute player, and I became curious about the shakuhachi after I read a line in a book which introduced the instrument as "a bamboo clarinet." I was disappointed at first that it was actually "a bamboo flute," because I thought "bamboo clarinet" sounded more exotic. I started practicing the shakuhachi as a hobby when I first went to Japan and taught English in Kobe in 1986. My first teacher was Nakamura Shindo sensei. One and half years later, I returned to Australia, and studied Ethnomusicology at Monash University with my masters thesis on the gaikyoku repertoire of the shakuhachi. I also started studying Japanese in earnest, in order to be able to talk with Japanese musicians, and to read material on the shakuhachi in Japanese. As I was finishing my Masters, I applied for Japanese Government Scholarship to study shakuhachi at the Tokyo National University of Fine Art and Music (Tokyo Geijutsu University), and was accepted.

Please tell me about your experiences studying in Japan.

Finding an apartment that was willing to accept a foreigner isn't easy, and finding a place where I could practice shakuhachi 5-8 hours per day was really hard. My friend Yuki helped me find a beautiful place in Nezu, Tokyo. Several interesting people who were studying things like Naga-uta, Shamisen, Shigin and Noh-gaku were living near me in Nezu. The neighbours were fantastic, but I promised not to practice before 9am or after 9pm. At the Tokyo Geijutsu University, I learned from Yamaguchi Goro sensei. I also studied privately from Tajima Tadashi sensei, and with the cost of private lessons, regular attendance at evening performances, and sheet music, my scholarship didn't quite cover everything, so I had to teach English one day a week.

What kind of relationship did you maintain with Japan after you came back to Australia?

Shakuhachi has stayed the main focus in my life, and I've kept in touch with friends and teachers in Japan. Back in Australia, I became a full-time performer, and did a lot of interesting work in the 90s. I did collaborations with a Shodo artist, a Nihon Buyo dancer, and Biwa and Shamisen players in Japan. In Melbourne, I collaborated with dancers, musicians, actors, poets, and made many CDs. Over the last 7 years, I have regularly given performances for children with Melbourne based Taiko master Toshinori Sakamoto. This year, I was a guest performer in the International Shakuhachi Festival in New York, and had the honour of composing for and performing with top Japanese shakuhachi artists in Bisei, Okayama prefecture, at the invitation of Yokoyama Katsuya sensei.

What advice would you give to Australians going to study in Japan?

Make friends with your neighbours! Take every opportunity to learn everything you can while you're there, and to go and see things. Immerse yourself in the culture. Whatever your area of expertise, still take some time each week to learn something about the culture. I went to Zazen practice each week, art galleries, local festivals and studied Aikido. Keep in touch with the people who become really special - it's very easy to get too busy when you get back.

Uploaded on 18th January 2005