Originally published by The Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino News, August 2019.
This summer, MUSYCA, the choir I have proudly been a member of for nine years, embarked on its annual international tour, with its 2019 destination: Japan. When stepping onto foreign soil, one is bound to experience an immense culture shock. From visiting breathtaking temples and Shinto shrines, to experiencing a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and trying on kimonos, down to the surreal sight of seeing everything, from signs to the drinks in the myriad of vending machines written in an unfamiliar language, Japan was no exception. Yet the most memorable, and arguably most culture shock-provoking of all moments was interacting with the local choruses. It was amazing to not only listen to, but collaborate with talented choirs from another country. The children were incredibly friendly, yet the language barrier was evident, which is why in Osaka, MUSYCA kids decided to play a game that revolved around music, rather than language. As we gathered in a circle, sang, and jumped around, alternating those skipping on the inside, I sensed a true bond beginning to form. Music extended beyond the realm of spoken language and transcended the language barrier, making this for me, one of the most extraordinary moments. While I was absolutely dazzled by the Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto, fascinated by the rich culture and food (the dessert mochi was really good), amazed by the large food signs that towered over my friends and I, and completely blown away by the beautiful scenery of the Kirifuri Falls in Nikko, the lesson I brought back from Japan reminded and assured me that what I am a part of, and being in a choir, is truly something magical. That in a world of immense difference, and contrasting cultures and languages, there is one thing that we can and have for hundreds of thousands of years connected through: music.