Friday, May 20, 2022
Outlook.com
Last Page

Tokyo Diary

It’s an elaborate ritual of politeness, this bowing, and meant to convey much more than people from other countries can imagine.

Tokyo Diary
Tokyo Diary
outlookindia.com
2016-11-16T11:53:19+05:30

My wife and I have come back from ‘around the world’. We took to the skies northeast of Delhi and headed to Japan. The ANA (All Nippon Airways) flight was, as expected, dutifully dainty. On arrival at Narita airport, we hefted our bags, two big and one not-so-big, to the shuttle bus departure point. There’s a yellow rectangle, with people already standing on it. It’s quite clear to us that we have to take our place there with our bags, with other passengers. Soon, a young lady stations herself at the head of the rectangle with two young porters to load and unload the luggage. A bus pulls in and the young lady checks tickets and people board the bus as their luggage is side-loaded by the porters. The bus door shuts and the young woman and the porters bow from the waist and hold the pose as the bus pulls away. They had bowed to us when we boarded, too, holding the pose till we got on. Through the journey, at every stop, the driver gets off his seat and bows aft, to the aisle, before alighting to help passengers. At our hotel stop, the last on the route, the driver bows aft and alights and helps us with our luggage as hotel staff scamper up to take charge. It’s an elaborate ritual of politeness, this bowing, and meant to convey much more than people from other countries can imagine.

Song, Dance, Flight

KA: song. BU: dance. KI: drama. Kabuki! One cannot visit Japan without taking in kabuki, and a 20-minute closing scene (which is all we can afford yen- and time-wise) admits a standing-room-only audience, which has been carefully numbered and cordoned in manageable groups—typical of Japanese efficiency. The Kabukiza Theatre (1,964 seats) is the largest in Japan, and inside it, they have lifesize pictures of kabuki stars going back a hundred years. We stand with our backs against the rear wall and scan a stage that is 70-80 feet wide and brightly lit in pastel pinks and browns. Singers and musicians line up stage left (right for the audience) and soon a kimono-clad man comes up on stage to vigorous applause. Japanese music plays and a singer sings while our star, sitting on his haunches, smiles, grimaces and gesticulates, turning away from time to time as a face mask (or kumadori) is removed and replaced by an assistant. As in many Indian dance forms, the colours of the mask are indicative of character or mood. The masks and the body postures draw laughter and guffaws and applause and soon the star—hitched round his middle—takes to the air and smiles benignly, waving to an audience gushing with aahs and gleeful applause as he is wafted away.

To Kyo Fro Kyo

Outlook Newsletters

Photo Gallery

Read More from Outlook

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

In happy times and sad, Habba Khatun’s sensuous songs make both young and old emotional. With the never-ending conflict bringing tragedies to every doorstep, Habba’s lyrics of separation amplify their mourning.

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

In India, only those relationships between a man and a woman are considered to be legitimate when there is a marriage between the two.

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Virat Kohli, 33, had recently stepped down as India's T20I captain and was subsequently removed as the ODI captain.

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

A Mahila Congress leader, who is the face of the ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’ campaign, however, has accused the party of anti-women bias after she was denied a ticket.