Knowledge, Wesleyan University Press, 2007
Culture through Japanese Dance (Wesleyan University Press) was
the 2008 recipient of the Society for Ethnomusicology's Alan P. Merriam
Prize, which recognizes the most distinguished, published English-language
monograph in the field of ethnomusicology.
If you're using the book in your class and are interested in a workshop, talk, or Skype session, feel free to contact me! hahnt (at) rpi.edu
Here's an excerpt...
I remember my first dance lesson with Iemoto (headmaster) Tachibana Yoshie
in Tokyo. She took my elbow and led me across the studio, pointing at
the impeccably clean wood floor. Nothing seemed unusual. “See these
marks . . .,” she said, kneeling down on the floor and still pointing
here and there. As I bent down to sit by her side, minute water marks
and nicks on the floor’s surface came into focus. “Those stains
are from all of our sweat and tears here together,” she continued,
sweeping her arm across the room toward the half-dozen onlooking students.
“All these marks are from our hard work together everyday––dancing.”
I looked up from the floor to the students and down to the floor again.
My eyes, now wide open, saw how speckled the floor was. In conversations
"Hatchobori" often becomes a metaphor for our dance lives, relationships,
obligations, and the Tachibana dance tradition.
The above story illustrates how this "house" ("ie") embodies our dance,
and how each of us contributes to the physical form of the house. The
surface nicks and stains are insignificant in themselves, but they are
a tangible result of physical exertion during the process of learning.
They are manifestations of the hours we practice there together, generations
of marks layered upon each other. Dancing bodies created these marks which
are symbolic contributions to the larger representation of the school
body and an instantiation of our strong bonds.
Sensational Knowledge: Embodying Culture through Japanese Dance is
an ethnography offering a peek into some of the everyday life at the Tachibana
school of nihon buyo in order to convey the sensitivities of the culturally
constructed process of teaching. Since childhood, nihon buyo has been
a part of my life. This led me to question how we learn cultural sensitivities
of the body in such a way that they seem second nature, reflecting our
sense of self, as well as how we come to understand the world around us.
The site of my field work was primarily at Hatchobori, the main Tachibana
dance studio in Tokyo where the Tachibana headmasters reside and teach.
The themes in my writing rose from my experiences similar to the one related
above. Each experience encapsulates the essence of our dance household
life at Hatchobori and in the process, reveals the tradition of dance
transmission through generations of dancers. The physicality of transmission
is stimulating. The art, simply, is learned and passed down through moving
bodies. However, this reality unfolds into a deeply complex web of interconnected
impressions enacting cultural meanings.
Research funded in part by the Asian
Cultural Council, a Tufts Faculty Research Award, and the American
Association for University Women.
Iemoto Tachibana Yoshie teaching