The window from my hotel splinters the early morning rays, some of which are directed right into my eyes.
When I imagined the view of a sunny coastal morning, this isn't exactly what I pictured.
The persistent morning light fights my body's urge to sleep in, but there are only so many angles I can try with these pillows.
I begrudgingly rose from my cocoon and proceeded to do my morning routine.
I'm officially at the halfway point of this trip. I've traversed countless landscapes and laid eyes on unique scenery.
I've sampled some of the most unique cuisines and consumed experiences not found back home.
In the first six weeks, I got to feel the pulse of the country ( more so than a normal tourist would).
Thanks to your mapping skills, I strolled through hidden gems that I otherwise wouldn't have known about.
As nice as this adventure has unfolded, I have a feeling the tone of the trip is about to change. That much was evident when I opened the envelope for this week.
We've reached the halfway mark of this journey. I'm so proud to see you put this adventure into motion- and trusting me to navigate it.
By this point, you've seen a lot of what Japan has to offer. Just about every major landmark from Hokkaido to Tokyo has been checked off of the box.
With that said, this week will present a new set of tasks that I need you to complete.
Part of our agreement, upon the conception of this trip, was to have you write in a journal.
That digital log of your adventure has been fun to read, but there was another thing that I wanted you to do. That part was to write me a song, for each leg of the journey.
Up until this point, you haven't had a chance to properly record what you've come up with. That will change this week.
For this leg of the trip, you'll make your way out to Sado Island. Amongst other things, this island is knowing for housing the famous Kodo drum group.
This group is a traveling ensemble of musicians that perform on taiko drums. They highlight a rich history of artistry and craftsmanship on the island.
Your goal for this week is to record all of your songs and send them to me. I have a friend that's associated with the Kodo group and has a studio nearby their headquarters.
I arranged for you to stay with her, so no need to make reservations for this week. As you can see, I've provided you with a silver "Gin" headband.
Here, the color represents precision and technological strength.
Please, take in the artistic energy of Sado and channel that into your creativity. What you put into this week will go a long way towards repaying me for helping you.
Thanks and I can't wait to see you soon!
Toki Forest park
Record some songs
In addition to the itinerary, I noticed that you already have my ticket for the ferry. The ferry ride was roughly 3 hours, filled with crystal blue hues in the distance.
It was a lengthy, but smooth cruise to the island.
Upon arriving on Sado, I began coordinating the island with the GPS. One thing that sticks out is the shape of the island.
The butterfly curvature of the island is almost a cookie-cutter image of the colorful insect.
I'm sure it's a coincidence, but it's not hard to make a parallel to the level of creativity on this island and how it feels so free from mainland Japan.
Regardless, I made my way through the island and drove to Ogi, where your friend is located.
Shortly after arriving, your friend greeted me with open arms. I couldn't put my finger on it, initially, but I eventually realized that I had met her before.
She (Rizumu) was one of the other exchange students from your group. She was with another host family, but I do recall her coming over once.
We held a 21st birthday party for you, inviting all of the other exchange students.
Rizumu is musically inclined, as she sang and played a few songs for us on the family piano. I also seem to recall her bringing an inflatable paper beach ball.
I don't know why that was so memorable, other than that my 7-year-old being gravitated to the trinket.
Nevertheless, we rekindled the few memories we shared in the past and proceeded to explore the town of Ogi.
Rizumu explained to me that Ogi was once popular for their taraibune boats,
which were bath tubed shaped boats used for collecting shellfish and other items in the shallow shores around the town.
Judging by the rotund shape of these floats, it's easy to see why this place's reputation was replaced by a drum group.
Following a few bites to eat at her house, she brought me over to her studio. Stepping into this space quickly revives my buried sense to create.
Looking around the soundproofed walls, it's hard not to imagine what timbres have bounced off of these walls.
Countless artists have allowed themselves to be vulnerable and expressive, within the confines of this space.
She then showed me the abundance of instruments and equipment that she's accumulated over the years.
Each piece of kit has its unique history and tone that it can add to an ever-expanding roster of talent.
I sauntered over to her guitar collection and latched onto a nice semi-Hollowbody electric guitar.
Describing the differences between guitars, to the untrained person, can be difficult. To sum it up best, this ax is an efficient hybrid, compared to my normal electric's truck.
The light, carved-out body, well-placed tremolo bar, and soap bar-shaped pick-ups give this guitar an ethereal, floating tone.
I wasted little time concocting ideas in the studio. Hours went by, fiddling with just this guitar.
I'd hate to guess how many chord progressions and melody ideas I tried out, with this instrument. I was able to record a few ideas, but nothing worth sending (just yet).
Like any artist, I have my creative peaks and valleys. I wish I was the kind of person that can turn on creativity like a switch, but my active nature just tends to create paralysis by analysis.
Maybe that will be a personal goal of mine this week. I can use this studio as a physical barrier to overcome.
With only myself, and a variety of instruments, I can jump over this musical wall and learn to live with a creative flow.
If nothing else, this week will surely be an artistic week that I'll never forget.
With that said, my day has drawn to a close. Tomorrow, Rizumu is taking me to Kodo Village to learn more about the famous group AND to take a private Taiko course.
I know these workshops are booked far in advance (and are mainly done in Japanese), so it will be a real treat.
Thanks again for your help and I promise, the last half of this trip will be geared towards repaying you. Not because you asked, but because that's how true bonds are created.
I can't verbalize how grateful I am for your help, so I'll let my creativity start the process.
I'll see you soon!