vol.2 Saruri Promoting Jiutamai in Italy


Sayuri Uno

Sayuri lives in Italy. After graduating from a postgraduate course in England, in 2001, she met her Italian husband, a music composer, and got married. In the years that followed Sayuri and her husband moved countries every two years, because of her husband’s business. They worked together to create a fusion of classical Japanese dance and modern music and Sayuri started performing overseas. After shifting her dance style to Jiutamai (a kind of classical Japanese dance), she held Jiutamai performances and workshops in each European country, and she also founded Jiutamai School in Paris (France) and Bologna (Italy).

URL http://www.alya.it/forlivesi/yusa.htm
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sayuri-Uno/273352666113960



Milestones in her life


Graduated from Kyoto Notre Dame University Age 22
Stuyding Abroad Age 23-25
Got a job Age 25
Moving overseas Age 28
Marriage Age 28
Childbirth Age 37
Found what she loves to be/do around age 35-36



What made you decide to study abroad?


Basically, I have longed for foreign movies and life in a foreign country. I lived in Kyoto up until I graduated from university, and I went to a small high school and university for girls, therefore, I wanted to see the world.



Had you thought of working abroad during your time studying abroad?


I wasn’t conscious of wanting to work abroad but, I always had a feeling of, “I want to continue living abroad”.



Would you tell us about “Jiutamai”, that you are spreading abroad now?How did you start? How about local people’s reaction?


“Jiutamai” is a kind of classical Japanese dance which is called “Kamigatamai” or “Zashikimai”. In the late Edo period, it developed around Kyoto and Osaka where it was known as “Kamigata”. Compared to 2stage dance” that evolved in the Edo period –which is now known as the classical Japanese dance, Jiutamai is descended from the way of dance in the Heian period and entertainment of the imperial court which is influenced by no play (traditional masked dance-drama). Keeping maturity by eliminating any extra movement, the sophisticated expression was received as a culture between at middle and upper class people, furthermore, evolved as zashiki-gei (performance in tatami room).


Danced in a zashiki (a tatami room), the movement is designed to dance within the half-tatami mat without making any dust.  It is a unique performance with delicate movements to express the inner mind.


Once when I had learned a classical Japanese dance, I happened to see Yuhou Furusawa’s mai. She is grand Master of Furusawa School of Dance. I and my husband were very fascinated by her novelty, beauty and profoundness of dance, and I became her descendant.


The words of “Geisha” and “Maiko” are well-known abroad. Jiutamai is geisha dance, and they seem to be interested in learning and performing it. Elegant movements are characteristics of Jiutamai and are very popular.



Would you tell us how your interests and concerns have changed since finding what you wanted to do?


I had been involved in English-related work such an teaching English to children, also as a guide for guests from foreign countries at Kyoto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace). I studied at a translation school to become a movie translator, and am a qualified  interpreter-guide. However, I’m a kind of “Soon hot, soon cold” and once I acheive at some level, I try to shift my concern to other.


On the contrary, a classical Japanese dance which I learned as a hobby has accounted for most of my life without knowing that made me feel destiny to encounter it, not so much my intention as something big power. Jiutami is the most difficult work I have ever experienced. I will continue challenging Jiutamai dance throughout life because of its unfinished pursuance of beauty that has had a huge effect on my life and my thinking.



Please tell us your delights, and difficulties in working abroad.


Everyone here is delighted to see a person wearing a kimono (This is the charm of the kimonos!), and I am happy to see them being worn at my performances too. Unexpectedly, there are many women abroad whom are interested in geisha and maiko. I am very joyful to introduce to them Jiutamai, which is considered to be appreciated only in Japan.


I don’t have any difficulties living abroad now. When I teach Jiutamai in France and Italy, I feel impatient and want to use English as it is more familiar to me and sometimes I can’t explain myself in French and Italian fluently. To learn Italian and French more fluently will be my next challenge. As I can’t go back to Japan very often, it is difficult not to dance in my own way without master’s direction when I practice by myself.



Do you feel any differences between living in Italy and in Japan?


I feel Italians values are completely opposite to Japanese values.


The Japanese consider it a virtue to condense words as much as possible and shorten sentences, but the Italian’s way of communication is to lengthen the sentence and even repeat what they are saying in many different ways.  Sometimes, they sound as if they are going to start to argue, but it actually brings then closer to each other. When you talk too shortly, they think you aren’t interested in them and they may have a negative image of you. Also, people here don’t require any formality but put high value on content for communications, it is very comfortable for me because I don’t really have typical Japanese formality (laughs).



What are your hobbies?


My hobby is watching old Japanese movies and collecting antique kimonos.



If you have any relationships with local women, would you tell us how you feel about their life and work styles?


There are many types of women, so I can’t say about it unconditionally, but women in Italy are very independent of work and mentality. They don’t rely on their husbands. Having their own work, they enjoy their hobbies as well. Regarding women who have children in Paris, they seem to draw the line with their children and treat them as mini-adults.


In Japan, most mothers take maternity leave for one year, but in Paris, most women return to work after just three months. It is also common that they leave the baby with a baby-sitter and go out with their partner. This is not seen in Japan. Italian women have similar opinions.


You are required to prepare mentally to do what you love. How did you step ahead towards your dream?


I don’t have any courage or determination but feel something led me here. It might be my destiny.  I am not just being passive, I always concentrate on what it is that I want to accomplish with my best effort and repeat that process many times. That’s why I am here now.



Do you have any special habit that you are conscious of carrying out in daily life?


I am always thankful, I sometimes forget about it when I am very busy though. I also hope to live my life better than yesterday with satisfaction.



You have an international marriage with your husband. May I ask how you met him?


Yes. When I used to work at Kyoto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace), he came to Japan as a guest from a foreign country. I talked with him a little then. The next day, I received a fax from him. He wrote to me “I would like to talk with you more” and his contact information on it!


I started to exchange emails with him as an Italian friend. After a while, I had a feeling, “He might be my soul mate”. After I had met him three times, I decided to marry him.



That’s a romantic story! Have you ever thought of marrying a foreigner before your marriage?


No, I hadn’t thought about it but I’m sure that I preferred foreigner’s faces more than Japanese ones, when I was a girl. (laughs)



You gave birth abroad, did you find any good points with the hospital and circumstances?


Actually all things were my first experiences, I did not understand it well whilst in labor. It took only three hours for me to give birth. My doctor advised me to bring some favorite CDs and listen to them during labor, but I completely forgot to put on any music in the hospital due to the speedy birth.  The most impressive thing is that the doctor who was scheduled to give me a pain relief injection came into the delivery room with a cup of coffee in a very relaxed mood, and he just chatted with others beside me despite I couldn’t even say “Hurry! Give me a pain relief injection!” because of labor suffering and pain. According to the doctor, he thought that the peak of labor pain had not yet come, however, ostium uteri opened at an unexpectedly fast-pace, he was surprised and gave me a shot in a hurry.


The pain was relieved for a while afterwards, but I had an intense pain in the second, and he injected me again. Just after that (before taking effect), I had finished the delivery. It may not have been a painless delivery after all…It was serious then, but now it’s just an amusing story.



It must be hard to bring up a child abroad. Would you tell us about the situation of child care of the country where you live?


I haven’t felt any difficulty regarding taking care of my son. He is three years old now and goes to kindergarten. His teachers don’t support children as much as Japanese ones (this is my experience, and I guess that all teachers aren’t the same) and they treat children plainly. In most families, both parents work outside, so it is the Grandparents job to drop-off and pick-up children from kindergarten. Regarding medical care, the same pediatrician usually cares for children until they grow up, when they are ill they can see the doctor. I think this is a good system that the doctors know each child from when they are little.



Do you receive child-care support from your husband, family, and society?


My husband hasn’t ever done housework but has been willing to cook, wash dishes, and do laundry from when I was a pregnant. His support is so helpful.  When I spend a lot of time with my son I sometimes don’t have time to do all the housework. His parents live near our house, and I have them to help us when possible.


We don’t receive any child allowance here in Italy. A thing such as lump-sum allowance for childbirth and nursing is very little compared with Japan’s support. The government support is more detailed in Japan, but the unity in families is firmer in Italy.



As advancing of globalization, increasing parents who want to have children learn a foreign language including English in Japan. Would you provide any advice on it if you work on practical method about language and other special educations for your son? Could you give us your comments for the Japanese language education, too?


My son is three years old now, I speak to him in Japanese, and my husband uses Italian. Now, he uses either language naturally depending on the situation. However, when I talk to my husband, I mix languages using Italian and Japanese. My son copies my way of speaking so I sometimes think that I should be careful about it.


When I talk with my husband in English and my son sometimes hears our conversation, even though he can’t speak English I am surprised how a child can really absorb everything like a sponge because sometimes he seems to understand our conversation.


He is better at a Japanese than Italian now but will learn and improve Italian in kindergarten in the future, and it is difficult to keep Japanese. I hear from some mother friends who reside in foreign countries that they gave up Japanese language education for their children.


I know an international couple, who resides in the foreign countries, and a mother (she is Japanese) always talked to her child only in Japanese, and her child who is 10 years old now is a wonderful bilingual. Mother’s exceeding efforts and patience are beyond our imagination to keep it constant. It isn’t so easy to maintain bilingual up until a child becomes an adult and studies voluntarily.


I haven’t planned that I have him learn something yet, and we now live in tri-lingual, Italian, English, and Japanese circumstance in daily conversation. I open Jiutamai school at home and my husband is a harpsichord player, and he sometimes enjoys playing it with our son (he merely beats the keyboard of it freely though). I am satisfied with him to become familiar with cultural circumstance naturally.



What do you value besides languages for bringing up your son?


I would like to nurture and cultivate his mind, and it’ll become a treasure for him in the future. I hope my son to have healthy, stable positive mind and humor for having consideration for others like me.



By knowing the different cultures and people, did you find any change in your thought, mindset, or value?


It may be a big change that I don’t consider the formality isn’t important now.



Do you have some goals and challenging in the future?


My son is still young and I am not good at doing multi-work. So currently I focus mainly on raising my son and have a little time for Jiutamai.

As he grows up, I would gradually like to make more time for Jiutamai. With advancing age, it is said that a dancer can express profoundness and beauty in Jiutamai. I feel various suffering and joy in daily life that help me grow.  It would be wonderful and is my goal, to reflect these feelings in Jiutamai dance.



Do you have any future life plan?


I would like to keep spreading Jiutamai abroad till my child grows up. When I become a grandmother, I have a desire to teach a few familiar students in the small tatami room of a Japanese house.



Could you give us a message for women who are interested in living, home-stay, and working abroad?


Have as many experiences as you can, and meet many people!


Sayuri teaches Japanese culture abroad whilst raising her child. That gives us her active impressions.  She was born and raised in Kyoto and therefore has an elegant and gentle personality. Ladies in Kyoto are considered as slow-tempo and elegant (Hannari atmosphere).


Thank you for sharing your wonderful story, Sayuri-san!



Vol1. Mezzo-soprano Opera singer Yuka Matsuzaki


Yuka Matsuzaki

She was born in Niigata prefecture, Japan. After studying vocals at Showa University of Music, she became a mezzo-s soprano Opera Singer of Tokyo Nikikai Opera Foundation. “Become the person you truly wish to be by connecting your heart and voice” Founder of Voice express

URL: http://singyukaring.jp


Milestones in her life


Found what she loves to be/do Age 16

Graduated from Showa university of Music Age 22

Debut as an opera Soloist Age 26


You are a fantastic opera singer now, but what made you decide to become one?


That was the beginning of everything, when I entered the chorus club in the autumn of my first year in high school. One day, a chorus club teacher (also my music class teacher) asked me, “If you haven’t found what you want to do in the future yet, why don’t you try vocal music?”


Then I was moved by their powerful and great voice without the use of a microphone and still remember that I strongly felt, “This is what I want! I want to sing like them!”


Would you tell us how your interests and concerns have changed since finding what you wanted to be, an opera singer?


As my case might be rare, the chorus club teacher ignited my potential passion for music, and that I found it what I wanted to do from that day. Looking back, I always had been looking for “something”. I basically love music, but I have no knowledge and experience in the music field. “I just want to do it”. This is the only feeling that led me to my dream. To my surprise, my passion for singing increased day by day.





What gives you happiness, delight, and difficulty as an opera singer?


Well, I feel so happy when I receive applause and smiles, sometimes tears, various impressions and reactions and when I can share the time with audiences.


Furthermore, I have had deep feelings of delight recently when I practice by myself and I have a new awareness through singing, since finding myself with music in my daily life. As time goes on, I have changed my feeling to singing.


I’m sure it will be changing in the future. Nothing is hard for me for now. I can concentrate what I love to do, so even if I get troublesome, I forget it shortly (laugh).


By the way, I am usually asked, “Do you have any difficulty keeping your physical body and throat in good condition?” Actually, I don’t have any restrictions on myself and enjoy drinking some alcohol. All I do is to take care in the dry winter air. I am not so nervous about it. I enjoy singing everyday, and it is the key to keeping my best condition.


Italy is the home of opera. Were you interested in foreign countries before you encountered opera? What is opera to you?


Well, I was very interested in foreign countries before I happened to know vocal music.


I have wanted to study abroad and learn foreign languages since I entered high school. I still keep this in my mind since I started to study opera. Opera is a drama of voice. I said it a little bit before, but I am really interested in “the energy of human’s natural voice.”


Opera is always challenging beyond my ability. I am now an opera singer, but I was a shy girl who couldn’t even imagine singing in front of audiences before. I am now playing a role and singing on the stage since the encounter with music and opera. I feel that I am expressing myself beyond my ability.


Opera was born overseas.We somehow imagine that it is like a non-Japanese actor acting in kabuki  – to play a role as an opera singer. Are you conscious oft it? Do you have any special feeling when to express your role as a Japanese singer?


That’s true. I have a sense that we, the Japanese, play roles on opera stages and that foreign people learn and play kabuki.


I have always faced vocal music (song) by asking myself the role of singing opera as a Japanese singer. Japanese soccer and baseball players are getting popular around the world.


If I try to leap onto the world stage like them, I need to believe beyond my ability in the music world and have wider visions and skills as an opera singer. Furthermore, I feel that Japanese “emotional” and delicate expressions are beyond language differences, even if I sing a song in Japanese.


I’m sure we can share it with each other.


Your weblog and newsletters give a clue to your character and sensitivity. In the art world, sensitivity is certainly required. Do you usually make a conscious effort to cultivate your sensitivity?


I haven’t cared about cultivating my sensitivity, but I usually try to do interesting things. I like to see, hear, and talk directly and “experience everything live.”


How do you spend your private time?  Do you have any hobby?


I spend my time  being comfortable and re-charging my energy besides working time. I like to visit somewhere I am interested in, see favorite photo books while listening to healing music in my room, read books, refresh relax . A comfortable cafe nearby has opened recently, I spend a nice time drinking and talking with friendly shop staff after song practice and rehearsal. I have had time recently to think about the relationship between my town and myself. I have various hobbies such as visiting art museums and galleries and playing DJ (Disk jockey) for now.





You are required to prepare mentally to do what you love. How did you step ahead towards your dream?


In my case, the passion for singing was everything.




All fear disappears before performing by concentrating on my favorite things. I am very nervous on many first experiences certainly, but that’s why now I feel much more confident in myself with passion and challenging. So I can tell you that there are two big keys to help your dream come true. One is if you can take time with passion even if you need a long time, and the other one is if you really love yourself working on what you really want to do.


If opera doesn’t exist in the world, what would you like to do then?


To tell you the truth, I have also been interested in photographs before I started to sing. And also interested in movies as well. However, as I researched photograph techniques and technical terms, I started to give them up and decided that they might not suit me. Sometimes I imagine what it would have been like if I took them on seriously as a  teenager! (laugh.)


Do you have some future goals and challenges?


Beyond the art genre as an opera or classical music singer, I would like to try some collaboration with various artists and make works and hold concerts. London culture has inspired my sense since my teens, and I’d like to go to London and do a live performance in an art gallery. While I perform as an opera singer, I also hold breath and voice lessons and workshop to get comfortable daily life and seek ways of expressing individuality for my students. I would like to keep spreading these activities all over Japan.


Have you planned and managed your life consciously so far?


Yes, I have. I always have had a strong future vision, “I live as a singer absolutely.” I have observed predecessor’s behavior and attitude toward music. What I am conscious of learning from them is always to put in words what and how I want to tell and express, and what I should do to achieve that. Valuing and dealing with ongoing matters of daily life, I bear in mind to take a vision forward to the next step.


Do you have any life plans in the future?


I would like to keep singing as my life work to express “Music is for life.” It would be wonderful if I would become a symbol person who links world to world by music into later life.


Do you have any messages for women who would like to have their dream come true?


I’m still on the way my dream, but I have experienced and realized that the first step is always “to tell someone your dream.” Just put your feelings into words if you find something fascinating you, want to do, and wish to do. Don’t hesitate to tell anyone and try to act it out with courage. Something special would be waiting for you!



Yuka-san, thank you for sharing your wonderful story!



About Interview


Women have several turning points in their life compared with men. Those are school, career, marriage, childbirth, raising children, and finding your life work. The lifestyle of women is not only one style.
You may discover an ideal life style from Japanese style, which you cannot find in your country, and vice versa. We introduce many women’s lifestyles by interviewing women from around the world.
Hope you will depart to the new world from here.