Uchikoza 内子座

Uchikoza, 内子座

Flyer design credit: Chinatsu Nagamune
Photo credit: Richard Marks

Odissi Solo Recital
Saturday, April 29th

at Uchikoza in Uchiko-cho, Kita-gun, Ehime-ken, Japan

Photo Album

It was just a thought in my head, but then it was birthed into this world as a perceivable form.

I love my 93-year-old grandma who still lives by herself in a rural mountain of Japan. Although we are close, she had never seen me dance in person. Although she is healthy as of today, at her age, we never know what may happen tomorrow. For my selfish reason, I wanted her to see me dance. It’s like little Akari saying, “Look at me, Grandma! I can skip, and I can twirl now!”

I still vividly remember the moment I was able to skip for the very first time. I had been working on it for a while; I had the image in my head, but I didn’t know how to translate the image onto my body, and finally, one day, outside of an apartment where I lived, I could do it. I was so happy, and I think I skipped wherever I went for the next several days.

I think a part of me wants to show my grandma my “new skip.” And another part of me wants to thank her for giving me this body that can skip and for this life that I get to live. She has gone through a lot in her life, including surviving the war. Because of her, I am here, and I want to thank her for that, and I thought that dedicating this dance recital could be one way to do so. I had this idea some years ago, but at that time, it was just a “wishful thinking.” But over the years, it has gained its momentum, its vision, and its reality.

Early in 2017, I contacted and booked a beautiful traditional Japanese theater called Uchikoza, which was built in 1916. My grandma (who was born in 1924) was raised right next to the theater, so she and the theater grew up together. (She doesn’t live in the same house anymore, but it’s only a 15-minute car ride from her current house to the theater.)

This became a very special performance for me for another reason because my younger brother was the sound tech/lighting person (that’s what he studied at school). I’ve always dreamed of doing something with him, but I didn’t know what it could be until this occasion. I didn’t plan this performance for that purpose; it was a pleasantly surprising gift, and I thank my grandma for that.

And my childhood friend, Chinatsu, who is a graphic designer created this beautiful flyer above. She and I have known each other since we were seven years old. We saw each other in India in 2013 while she was traveling alone for one year. At that time, we jokingly said, “It would be nice if we could work together in the future, like Chinatsu designing a flyer for Akari’s performance.” Well, it has come true. What an honor to create something with someone who has known me for so long and has skipped with me.

The performance was admission free and was titled, "Uketsugu Inochi - Sobo e Sasageru Mai.” Uketsugu means to receive and pass it on. Inochi means life. I have received life from my grandmother, and I will pass it on to the future generations. “Sobo e Sasageru Mai” means dance dedicated to my grandmother. The leaf-looking shapes behind my photo are flames since Uchiko town is known for its handmade wax candles, and since my name Akari means light (soft light).