The koto—Japanese zither—plays an important role in my book, The Same Moon, the story of when I had to run far, far away to find my way home.
Joining a koto club gave me a role to play in the small Japanese town where I spent two years … and which I still carry in my heart.
At an April 2019 launch party for the first edition, friends asked me to play the koto, so they could take a photo. But one took a video instead. Here are a few bars of “Sakura”—“Cherry Blossoms.”
Kids love the koto. This little guy used his grandma’s smartphone/flashlight to peer inside the belly of the koto. (I had told him the koto’s parts are named like a dragon’s: mouth, eyes, belly, tail, claws … )
This is what koto music looks like. It’s a form of tablature and is read top to bottom, right to left.
I was very fortunate to find a koto school when we moved to the Portland, Oregon, area and played with Seiha Miyabi Kai from 2005 until it disbanded in 2014. I still miss my sensei (who retired and moved away) and fellow koto musicians—both here and in Yamaguchi, Japan.