Yesterday was the first day that I really, really enjoyed. I woke up early for breakfast and afterward explored the Japanese garden at the hotel. It was absolutely stunning. There were beautiful flowers, a koi pond, a meditation room, a temple… I felt like I was taken to the heart of Japanese culture. I love that the focus here is on the present. Everywhere I look there are indicators of what’s culturally important: even at this huge hotel they take the time and energy to maintain this huge, beautiful oasis. It is a living, thriving reminder to drink in and cherish the beauty of the present and thank the universe for life.
Since I used up my disposable camera at the gardens, I walked with Sabah to a store and bought another. We each got a free sample of some sort of “energy drink for businessmen” (according to the English on the label, which usually doesn’t make a whole lot of sense). Sabah and I got a good laugh about that. Every girl on this tour is a little different and has a different story of how they got here. The thing they all share is a certain energy and dedication that is really inspiring to a younger dancer like myself. Sabah is no different. I felt so fortunate to be surrounded by women who continually encourage me and inspire me. I’m planning to go to Chicago in June to study with Sabah, and I’m really looking forward to it.
Afterwards it was off to the Bullet Train to take us to Osaka. The train can travel up to 120 miles an hour (it’s the second fastest train in the world) and reminded me of really, really comfortable airplane – tons of leg room, reclining seats, and attendants pushing around carts of food. I settled in my seat between Petite Jamilla and Brian, our sound guy, and just looked around, grinning like an idiot. There is nothing like new life experiences to make me unreasonably happy.
Brian had visited fish market in the morning before we left, and he had brought a whole container of sashimi and fresh crab. It was my first sushi in Japan, and it was incredible – there is really no comparison to fish that is only a few hours old. I really wish I had gone with him – Brian compared it to a flea market with fish. He said there were fish larger than a grown man, and men with swords were butchering the fish right out in the open.
After a two-and-a-half hour train ride, we finally arrived in Osaka. The difference between Tokyo and Osaka is like the difference between downtown Chicago and downtown University City in St. Louis – the buildings seem to be less on top of each other here. After Moria, Nathalie, Cecilia and I ate a small lunch in the hotel, Petite Jamilla and I embarked on a quest for authentic sushi — an idea that was hatched (and ,on my end, obsessed over) whilst on the train.
We walked to a street that looked like the lovechild of Las Vegas and Tokyo – tons of casinos, bright flashing lights, and unidentifiable Japanese. One thing I love about Japan is there are vending machines everywhere, just on the side of the street. For a buck twenty you can get these really little cute iced coffees, teas, soda, or water. There aren’t as many signs in English as there were in Tokyo, so we wandered until we saw a giant fish on a sign. Luckily the menu had pictures of everything, so we pointed to what we wanted. We got a sushi roll with tuna, I think, some sashimi (salmon, tuna, and some unidentifiable “meat wad,” as Petite Jamilla and I christened it), some steak with onions, and miso soup. Two words – culinary orgasm. Afterwards, we voyaged to the oh-so-authentic-Japanese 7-Eleven for green tea ice cream (we passed a McDonald’s on the way that was serving a McPork – I laughed so hard).
On our adventure, I had my second really inspiring talk of the night. We had a long talk about dance, and Petite Jamilla offered some really good feedback on my last audition. I love that girl! One idea that she had that I thought I would pass on to any dancers reading this is to keep an idea journal – she showed me her journal, where she pasted inspiring pictures, makeup ideas, interesting costuming, and different fashion styles. I’m looking forward to starting one when I get home.
I got back to the hotel, took a long bath, and collapsed into bed. It’s a big day today – we’re supposed to have a crowd of 2,000. The largest show I have been here for has been 1,500, and it was insanity. Wish me luck – I just want to make it out alive.