Chiba Girl's High School
Following a day of independent sightseeing, parents and students met to visit two local high schools. Along with our Chiba hosts, we visited Chiba Girl's High School and Makuhari Sogo (Comprehensive) High School (coed). The adults traveled 5 minutes by train from Chiba central to Inage Station and then walked to Chiba Girls’ High School. (The homestay families drove the students and we all met at the school.)
The orchestra at Chiba Girl's High School is one of the best school orchestras in Japan.
(They were travel to Germany in two days and were scheduled to perform a concert in Nuremburg that Friday.) Together, they and MYO rehearsed the Carmen Prelude, the Meistersinger Prelude, and Rhapsody for Orchestra by Yuzo Toyama. Then, Chiba Girls’ played selections from Peer Gynt and a Dvorak Bohemian Dance by themselves, They were indeed very good. So was their director, who conducted most of the foregoing without a score. After the performances we had lunch in the school's tearoom (sitting on the floor). (Lunch was provided by CYO: an egg salad sandwich, a chicken or fish roll in a hot dog bun, and a juice box. We met the high school's headmaster, who had visited the Washington, DC, area and several of the high schools near us in Northern Virginia.
Joint Rehearsal at Chiba Girl's High School
The next stop was Makuhari Sogo (Comprehensive) High School in the Makuhari New City section of Chiba.
The CYO parents drove us all to Makuhari. I drove with my son's homestay family. (They have two sons, The older is studying economics at university in Tokyo while the younger is a violinist in CYO. He had just graduated from high school and will attend the Guildhall School of Music in London.) It turned out that Makuhari High School was adjacent to the Saturday evening rehearsal venue.
Makuhari High School
Orchestra at Makuhari is entirely an extra-curricular activity, unlike the USA where music ensembles are conducted as classes. Orchestra Club meets after school and on weekends.
First, the Makuhari orchestra and chorus performed the Triumphal March from Aida, followed by themes from Pirates of the Caribbean. Chorus Club is also extra-curricular. Then, MYO’s conductor led the combined orchestral musicians in a rehearsal of the Carmen Prelude. (Drew was invited to sit as concertmaster for the rehearsal.) Following the rehearsal, we toured the high school. It was towards the end of the school year and things were packed away, but the surroundings did seem very austere. Classrooms were monochrome and not cheerful. We learned that in Japan students remain in the same room throughout the day, with subject teachers coming to them, rather than students changing classrooms on the American model. Although music is not part of the curriculum and is conducted as a club activity, music still appears to be important at the school. Numerous posters and flyers announcing musical events in the Tokyo region were near the orchestra rehearsal space.
Welcome to Makuhari!
I picked up a flyer on the upcoming Tokyo Opera season. (The CYO parents were impressed I knew of the conductor, Seiji Ozawa. )
Joint Rehearsal with Makuhari Orchestra Club
After the visits, we drove to the community recreation center where the Chiba Youth Orchestra normally rehearses. The CYO parents put on a tea ceremony for us there, dressed the MYO girls in kimono, and taught us how to write our names in Katakana characters. I knew I was seeing the real Japan when I noted a rack of personalized mugs in the kitchen area and a posted list of 10 kitchen rules, in Japanese. The CYO parent boosters are very much like parent booster organizations at home for student music, theatre, and sports activities.
Afterwards, we all went to dinner at a very nice all-you-can-eat Japanese buffet restaurant.
(This included salad bar, miso and vegetable soups, curry, chicken, seaweed wafers, and various flavors of rice.) There was more music making by soloists and ensembles after dinner, centered around a grand piano at the restaurant. To finish the evening, we played bingo, very popular in Japan, with little souveniers as the prizes. Reluctantly, we finally boarded a train for downtown and the hotel while the students left for one last overnight with their host families. A fabulous farewell to Chiba and CYO!
Makuhari High School Orchestra CLub
We were back at the hotel around 9:00 p.m. I realized I needed a few things, including more batteries for my camera. The shopping arcade catty-corner to the hotel was closed, but a 7/11 convenience store was nearby. It was very much like 7/11 stores at home. There were some additions, notably in the food and clothing stocked. I found the batteries and a few other items for the next part of the trip.