Japan and South Korea

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In July and August, I spent two weeks in Tokyo followed by three weeks in Seoul. My goal was to absorb as much of the customs and culture as possible, particularly with regards to traditional and contemporary music and performing arts, as a research fieldwork exercise for several potential honours dissertation topics as I move towards fourth year.

I had the invaluable opportunity to see many of these instruments both preserved in museums, such as the Tokyo National Museum and the National Folk Museum of Korea, and preserved in continuous modern usage, in performances at places like the Edo-Tokyo Museum and the National Gugak Center. I was even able to try out some of these traditional instruments myself and make field recordings in places like the Taiko Drum Museum and Hwaseong Fortress.

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Pop culture on every corner in Akihabara, Tokyo

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A performance of shamisen and shakuhachi music at a replica kabuki theatre in the Edo-Tokyo Museum

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A beautiful kabuki theatre in Ginza, Tokyo

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Trying out drums and percussion in the Taiko Drum Museum in Asakusa, Tokyo

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Traditional Korean instruments in the National Folk Museum of Korea in Seoul

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Traditional Korean instruments at the National Gugak Centre Museum in Seoul, with our own personal tour guide to talk us through the exhibits and the music

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Nakwon Instrument Arcade in Seoul, the world’s largest instrument mall

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Taking field recordings of a giant bell at Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, South Korea

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Attending a concert of Korean traditional music at the National Gugak Center, Seoul

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