Kieran also visited Japan in March. He shares his experience with us here:
With bleary eyes and heavy legs, Colleen Kenyon, Roy Arbuckle and I walked into BierVana, the Irish bar right down the street from our hotel in Akasaka. On the first night of a week of shows celebrating St. Patty's put on by Irish expatriates and Japanese enthusiasts, we were jetlagged. Yet I soon found the best remedies over the next few days were not our tidy little hotel rooms, but the excitement of performing in front of excitable crowds that gathered for a glimpse of Irish dance and music. Bringing the Trinity brand, message, and tradition to a people and culture on the other side of the world is a unique, and uniquely rewarding task, and the enjoyment of doing so soon overcame any sense of exhaustion. The tender love and guidance of our hosts Eiko Sugawata, Reiri "Ray" Kojima, Hisanori Kato and Toshitake Nakamura as they whisked us around Tokyo and became good friends didn't hurt, either!
The morning before our first show at an Irish bar in Shimbashi, Colleen and I jumped on the Tokyo subway and traveled to the 2010 tour's stomping grounds in Shibuya (the Times Square of Tokyo). We also explored the back streets that featured some of Tokyo's hottest fashions - including a store selling over a thousand fitted hats and another with a thousand variations on spiked, studded black leather boots. I enjoyed reconnecting with Colleen during the walk, too - it had been five or six years since I had seen her last! After wandering around, we returned to Akasaka and got our stuff together for what would be the first of several shows in Irish bars, a high-end fashion mall in Omotesando, the Yokohama parade, a press conference, and the Emerald Ball over the next few days. Most of our shows were comprised of treble jigs, solo sets, and treble reels. Throughout each, Colleen and I were carried by the strong voice, guitar and bodhran of Different Drums of Ireland's Roy Arbuckle. Roy's stream of situationally appropriate stories, coupled with his Northern brogue, also ensured that we were never at a loss for laughs or conversation during the tour.
One of the highlights of the trip for me took place during an interview with a representative of the Nikkei newspaper (Nihon Keizei Shimbun). Katsuhito Oguchi addressed my background as a student of international security by asking how dance and music fit within my studies.I responded with the standard answer, that the 'low politics' of cultural exchange could be an important medium for bringing people from different places and traditions together, and Trinity was particular well suited to do so in Japan through the subtle beauty and power of its dancers and choreography. Then I realized that, sitting next to me was someone who had lived and pioneered this sort of cultural interchange for years. Upon hearing Roy speak eloquently about his experience with Different Drums and the divide in Northern Ireland he had worked to overcome, I felt a deeper appreciation for what our performances meant for an international audience, and what they should mean to we who perform.
Although the venue provided by the promotional tour is different than that of the summer, I'm excited to return with the whole troupe in July, to share in this effort at cultural exchange that Trinity has practiced and perfected over the years. I can't wait to join old friends in that effort, to reunite with friends made this spring in Japan, and to get over that jetlag again soon.