|Two mbira schools opened in Japan
From Teckshaw Tom
in TOKYO, Japan
A JAPANESE national, who visited Zimbabwe last
year on a cultural exchange programme, has opened two mbira schools in Japan.
Erika Hayashi (33), a nurse by profession, first visited Zimbabwe in
2002 and then in 2006 during which she got a broader understanding of various
cultural aspects of the country.
During the second visit, Hayashi met
Luken Pasipamire, a renowned mbira player who was married to a spirit
"What I saw on my first visit to the country invoked in me the
wish to explore the terrain of the Zimbabwean history. I met Pasipamire who was
then staying in Jerusalem, Highfield, when he came to our lodge for a mbira
"I briefed him on the purpose of my stay in Zimbabwe and he
offered to teach me how to play mbira," Hayashi said.
Mhondoro in Mashonaland West, Hayashi said, later introduced her to Garikai
Tirikoti, another mbira player and maker from Chitungwiza who is also a spirit
"Tirikoti invited me for an all-night mbira ceremony in
Chitungwiza where many players assembled to showcase their prowess in the
"That night transformed my understanding of
African music, particularly mbira, instantly breeding a passion within me to
learn even how to make the instrument," Hayashi added.
She said mbira
music to her pierces the barriers of language and culture that exists between
Zimbabwe and Japan.
Hayashi said different cultures, ordinarily riven by
hatred, through music and however the genre, can help reveal the startling
insight of the other.
Hayashi also made reference to glaring cultural
similarities that exist in both the Japanese and the Zimbabwean culture but
seemingly oblivious to nationals of both countries.
ceremony that I attended in Chitungwiza was an event held every August in
Zimbabwe by the Shona people to commemorate the dead (kurova guva). Ironically,
in Japan, we also observe a more or less similar commemoration called the eObonf
in August," Hayashi said.
During Obon, the Japanese visit their
respective family graveyards where they lay wreaths of flowers and packets of
sweets for the dead.
The flowers which are picked in the mountains,
together with the sweets, are placed on the family alter as offerings to the
dead but also serve as guideposts to the ancestral spirits who will be coming to
visit during the Obon.
"I acquired vast knowledge about the Zimbabwean
culture triggering an immense appreciation of mbira music. I have so far opened
two mbira schools in Japan, one in Yokohama and the other in Tokyo. I am also
currently mobilising resources for the establishment of a mbira academy here in
Japan which is my ultimate goal," Hayashi added.
She named the school in
Tokyo "Mbira Hari" and has so far enrolled 21 Japanese students. eMbira
Zvakanaka" is her latest school in Yokohama, which has 25
Hayashi periodically plays mbira for tourists who visit the
famous Tokyo tower, a 333-metre broadcasting tower built in 1958 in the Japanese
capital. Tourists converge at the tower to look across the entire city of Tokyo
at a glance from the two observatories.
"I have since quit nursing to
concentrate fully at the mbira schools. I used to admire Florence Nightingale
when I was growing up hence I became a nurse, but certainly mbira has become an
integral part of me," she added.
Hayashi, always clad in traditional
costumes and beards, has also published a book called Ngoma in the Japanese
language used by students for the five-month mbira playing lessons. Students are
also taught to play hosho at both