Networking, networking, net working…. and 落語

So, it’s been 6 days and I’m sorry for this. And, the reason for this, (as you might guess) is networking!

I know everyone says and hears this all the time, but I’m really learning how much of a difference networking actually makes. Even though the official statement (in the States) is that everything is fair and based of merit, it’s just not true. Everything is based of who you know. As you might have read, I have an internship in the Agricultural Trade Office, that I was able to apply for based solely off the relationship I have with my teacher.

My ultimate goal is to do some type of work between Japan and the United States (and other potential countries). I really want to be able to expand my horizons by experience as much as I can within the world. So, you can imagine how great an opportunity this internship is for me; and I wouldn’t have had this opportunity had I not taken this particular professors class.

Another great opportunity, available through the same professor, was to go see 落語 <rakugo> in English. For those of you who don’t know, Rakugo is the traditional art of story telling in Japan. I learned tonight that it’s three hundred years old, and particularly difficult to get into. There are many different types of rakugo, but it traditional consists of a person wearing traditional kimono, a fan, and a towel. The story is told by one person who sits in seiza (traditional kneeling position).

Despite that it’s a three hundred year old art, the stories are actually pretty timeless. Even though it’s comedy, most of the stories aren’t about the punch line but the lessons to be learned. Often, the stories are interesting due to the journey it takes to get there, over just the punch line in the end.

Anyway, the 落語家 <rakugoka> was カナダ亭恋文(ラブレター) <CanadaTei Love Letter>. He’s (as you might have guessed) a foreigner, and he just became a professional <rakugoka> two weeks ago. He’s very interesting (i say interesting and I mean it in the Japanese 面白い way, and not the actually really boring so stay away way). Really, his performance was really exciting, and I’m especially glad that I was able to watch.

Of course, the end of the show at 8:30 was most definitely not the end of the evening, or shouldn’t have been for anyone interested in expanding their network (ha! you were wondering when that would show up weren’t you?!). So, the deal with tonight was that every month or so, the Apple Store – Shinsaibashi hosts a presentation Zen talk, led/put together by Garr Reynolds. Tonight was Rakugo in English.

After the presentation, there is the obligatory 二次会<nijikai>, which, transliterating the kanji, is second next meeting. But, really, its just the drinking party everyone goes to after an event to socialize and.. network! Tonight I met three professors, and learned of a way to go to grad school on a free ride in Japan! I also met カナダ亭恋文 and a few other students around.

On a side note, one of the guys working on the presentation is a grad student researching the ways that rakugo can be used in other contexts, particularly business communication. Really pretty interesting. I think I’ll follow up on that and see where it’s heading. I also was able to talk a lot in Japanese, which is always a bonus!

Anyway, the point is to get out (to quote Reynolds). You’re not going to meet anyone sitting at home, so go out and meet new people, even if you don’t really want to! Make connections, and don’t let them deteriorate.

(Actually, tonight I had no intention of going to the Nijikai, but I’m happy I did).

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