VMC’s 14-year History in Japan!!

Hello My Friends,

This will be my 14th annual visit to Japan. Every year I have taught a 3-day or 6-day Playshop, a Rhythmical Alchemy Playshop, did a DrumAbout, or a combination of those events in this country. Jim Boneau and I did a 10-day Mentor program two years ago, and Japan was more than ready for it.

It has been amazing to be able to watch the Village Music Circles’ facilitated drum circle movement in Japan being birthed, then grow and mature over these last few years.

It has also been a privilege to have met and worked with Kaoru Sasaki during the early years of Japan’s development of facilitated drum circle consciousness in this culture. She brought me over to Japan and faced quite a bit of cultural, political and music industry resistance for supporting me. I consider her a major pioneer in this movement, who, to this day, has not been fully recognized or properly acknowledged. With her passion, courage, and perseverance, she helped build the strong foundation for a truly community service-oriented facilitated recreational drum circle movement that we now enjoy in Japan today.

Karou, along with Yoko Hayami and Kumi Masunaga, translated my first book “Drum Circle Spirit” for Japanese Publication. Just that book alone helped inspire the movement much further forward than if it was not available in Japanese.

In the first few years, most of my Japan Playshops were held in the Kanto area in the center of Japan, including Tokyo, and Yamanashi prefecture. Then, when Tomtom and the Orange Boom Booms started organizing my Playshops in Japan, we moved them down to southern Japan. Oh, so tropical!

In 2004, Tomoko Yokota (aka Tomtom) and Noriko Mihara (aka Nonnon) came to their first Hawaii Playshop.

In 2005, Tomtom, Nonnon and Noriko Yonezawa (aka Noripen) came over to California and did a Rhythmical Alchemy Playshop with me at the REMO center in LA. On that same trip, Christine Stevens took the Japanese trio up to the high desert while it was in full spring bloom. The desert floor was carpeted with the California state flower, the orange desert poppy. It was then and there that the Japanese women decided to name their new collaborative organization “Orange Boom Boom.”

I think that the Japanese have a word for Orange, but Tomtom, Nonnon and Noripen wanted to use the English word for orange in their organizational name “Orange Boom Boom.” But when they speak, it is in Japanese-English, and it comes out as Orangeee Boom Boom anyway.

Yoko Hayami has been my Playshop translator since the very beginning of this Japanese journey. She translated this, my last playshop, as she translated for me on my first Playshop here in Japan.

Yoko, along with Tomtom, recently translated the Nellie Hill/Arthur Hull collaborative book: “The DCFacilitators Handbook.” They also finished translating the 45-page participants workbook, just in time for this Japan Playshop.

Since her Hawaii 2010 experience, Miho Kariya has been deeply involved with all Orange Boom Boom/VMC projects. She has been a translator on all the Playshops: 3-day, 6-day, and the Mentor program. Miho has supported the Japan DrumAbouts as the local coordinator in Hiroshima and as a translator in the numerous cities that I visited. During my DrumAbouts in Japan, I have probably visited more cities on these islands than in the USA.

Tomtom is an eight-time Hawaii graduate, has attended over twenty 3-day Playshops, and she has completed a number of Mentor programs. She is one of only a few VMC-Certified Facilitators here in Japan.

Tomtom has just completed the first part of her VMC “Training-The-Trainer” program, by being the lead trainer for this latest Japanese 3-day Playshop. Mostly, I sat in the corner and took notes, added some color comments, and did only a little cognitive back up to her presentations. My translators took turns taking naps and only had to sit next to me and give me a “Haiku - Shorthand” version of Tomtom’s deliveries.

The only obligatory Playshop objectives that Tomtom had to meet, were to do the opening presentations each day and follow the VMC exercise protocol. The other material, techniques and concepts that needed to be delivered, Tomtom could fit into her cognitive presentations in and around her obligatory objectives anyway she wanted to. And she did just that, and she did it as well or better than me.

She is a great weaver, smoothly weaving in and around the exercises and critiques the cognitive information about facilitation technology, concepts and applications. I learned much from watching and co-training with Tomtom. I also took training notes for myself. I want to be like Tomtom if I ever grow up.

I am duly impressed with Tomtom’s teaching and presentation skills and very happy that she will be coming to Scotland in the fall to complete her training and receive her VMC Trainer Certification. She will be doing her own VMC Playshop trainings all over Japan next year.

After what I’ve seen her do at this last Playshop, I have total confidence in her ability to represent VMC in training the next generation of Japanese facilitators. Also Tomtom has the advantage of the well-oiled Orange Boom Boom organization, along with a well-developed recreational drumming community to accomplish her goals.

The Orange Boom Boom women live in different parts of Japan. If they lived in America, it would be like Noripen would be living in Seattle, Nonnon would be living in San Francisco and Tomtom would be living in San Diego. Yet in any particular Orange Boom Boom project that they created and facilitated together, they all end up in the same place in Japan supporting each other.

Nonnon is married to a Toshiba company man. That means that every 3 years they have to move to a new city. They have to go whereever Toshiba sends them. That is the way of a Japanese company man.

So, since I first met Nonnon, she has lived in Sendai, Yokohama, Osaka, Tokyo and is now living in Nasu. In every city she has moved to, she has built a rhythmaculture community from scratch. Then just as she gets it going, she has to move to another city with her husband.

Although the situation is a little frustrating, it has turned out to be a good thing for Nonnon and her “Birthing-communities.” Nonnon keeps track of each of her community’s development. She visits Sendai at least twice a year, as well as the other rhythma-communities that she has birthed. So while she is now planting new rhythm seeds in Nasu, Nonnon is doing a ongoing, never-ending Japan DrumAbout. On my very intensive and extensive Japan DrumAbout last year, I was pleased to be able to visit some of the communities that she has helped build.

Because of her ongoing rhythm community building DrumAbouts in Japan, Nonnon has her finger on the pulse of Japan’s rhythmaculture community. And that is just one of the reasons that she is on the board of directors of Japan’s Drum Circle Facilitators Association (DCFA). Nonnon has the BIG picture.

In 2004, we scheduled my first of many Japan DrumAbouts as part my regular Asia Playshop tour. That is when I got the privilege of meeting Tomtom’s rhythm community that she built in the city of Matsuyama, on the large southern island of Shikoku. It was also my first opportunity to visit Noripen’s rhythm community in Sapporo, on the large northern island of Hokkaido. I have since been able to visit Matsuyama and Sapporo on numerous Japan DrumAbouts and have watched these two rhythmaculture communities grow and mature under Tomtom’s and Noripen’s loving guidance and care.

The last time I visited Noripen’s rhythm community in Sapporo, we did a fantastic FRAP for her professional rhythm caregiver people, that also accommodated the general public. I also did an extensive VMC Challenge/Graduate-only course in Sapporo. This is where I got to meet and interact with Noripen’s advanced students and protégés. During their question and answer session, we explored a lot of the sophisticated facilitation subjects and concepts that informed me just how well Noripen has nurtured her flock of rhythm care professionals. Noripen is truly an elder-in-training.

It was an extra nice moment in my life that Diana and I were able to host the Boom Booms on their visit to my home town of Santa Cruz CA, just before I took off for this year’s Asia tour. That Boom Boom visit showed me that we weren’t just student and teacher anymore. We had become family.

SOOOOOO! After 14 consecutive years, next year will be the first time that I will not be visiting Japan. It’s now time to step back and give Tomtom room to establish herself as a VMC DCFacilitation Trainer, in the community that she has worked so hard to help to build.

I truly love the country, culture, food and people of Japan, and it will be sad to sit out for a year or two before returning to Japan for another 6-day Playshop, but it is all for a good cause.

My Grandpa taught me of the importance of, every once in awhile, letting the land go fallow to allow it to generate its natural nutrients and to re-invigorate itself from, what he would say, “the inside-out.” That surely applies to Japan at this stage of it’s growth.

Anyway, Japan is in good hands... I will be back...

On to India….  Uncle Arthur

Life is a dance