My amazing dance partner Surreyya and I (collectively called Troupe Scimitar) were invited to belly dance in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan. Our hosts Zoi (Tokyo) and Kiki (Kyoto) were more than gracious and we had such a wonderful time performing with them. Their students were so much fun and very enthusiastic about belly dance. In Japan we learned the importance of being “genki” (enthusiastic, energetic, lively) while belly dancing. Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip to Japan as we toured through Nikko, Tokyo, Yokohama, Nara, Hakone, Osaka, Himeji, and Kyoto.
Troupe Scimitar becomes Troupe Souvenir Samurai Sword
Being that we are called Troupe Scimitar, we specialize in sword belly dancing and when we travel, everyone wants to see our scimitar belly dance routines. Normally when we travel, the swords are okay to check into cargo on an airplane, but in Japan, it is illegal to import swords into the country! Good thing we did some research and found out about this before boarding the plane. Not wanting to risk being arrested for trying to sneak swords into Japan, we just decided to not do our sword routines and perform our drum solo and veil dances instead. When we arrived in Japan and revealed this plan, we were met with many disappointed belly dancers so we set out to see what we could do about finding swords.
We tried everything from parasols and fans to canes, but nothing balanced the correct way for our specialized sword stunts and we sure weren’t going to buy $1000 samurai swords! Finally after much searching and raised eyebrows in stores as we put merchandise on our heads to dance around (crazy Americans moment!), we found our answer. Toy wooden samurai swords!
We thought it was going to be a pretty lame sword dance because they were small, non-threatening and weren’t the best to balance as they were very light and only balanced on the flat edge, but we managed to make them work. The audience loved it and thought it was great that we were dancing with little toy swords that said “I love Kyoto” on them. After our show at the restaurant, the audience signed our wooden swords and now they are precious keepsakes of our trip to Japan and also reminders that sometimes you just have to improvise!
[slickr-flickr tag=”belly dance Japan 1″ type=”gallery” thumbnail_size=”small” thumbnail_scale=”80″]
Interview with Greek/Japanese belly dancer Zoi.