Because half of the Division III Yamato corps members live in Japan, Yamato holds rehearsals in Japan and America, then puts both groups together one week before the first competition. Let's meet three of the members who live in Japan. Each is an age-out. They call themselves shimitans, referring to being old with old-age stains on their face. Like all members of the corps, they write "Yamato spirits," their name and nickname on their arms in Japanese Kangi characters. All three say their favorite drum corps souvenirs are Blue Devils CDs and videos, and all were first exposed to American drum corps through videos.Tomoko Fukuhara plays soprano and is employed as a kindergarten teacher. She has this to say. "I want the world to know that strangers met for the first time on July 20. That is when Yamato Japan and Yamato America flew into Chicago, then drove to Ottawa, Illinois. Strangers from two different countries came together, learned the same show, ate the same food, traveled together, and became one as a family. That's very special."Sakura Sakai plays baritone and is majoring in vocal music in a Japanese college. She too finds it special that members from two cultures can come together. "As a multinational drum corps, I think it's special that young people can come together in a common language of music and pageantry arts. The Japanese members have jobs back home, but we wanted to come to America to march in a DCI corps because America is like a dream for corps members. However, it's very expensive, so it is difficult to do."Kinuko Yamashita is a college student in Japan, majoring in orchestra performance and bassoon. She is also the corps' drum major. She celebrated her birthday on Wednesday, the day Yamato performed in Division II & III Finals. She relates, "Drum corps is a hard activity. In spite of the heat, the thirst, and the dirtiness, the payoff is the audience reaction, which outweighs anything else we experience."What else, besides the reaction of the audience, do these members find special about America? Sakura enjoys the many kinds of music found in America, and the many different cultures. Tomoko loves that McDonald's have McFlurrys, which aren't available in Japan. She also is impressed with the supermarkets; especially Wal-Mart, because it is so big and has so many things. Makeup is so much cheaper than back home, and so are shoes. But the one thing she really looks forward to here is Lay's Potato Chips.All three love marching on to the field to play for Drum Corps International audiences. Sakura says, "Being at the DCI World Championships, at a big stadium, brings a totally different meaning to drum corps. It helps me better appreciate what I'm doing." Tomoko agrees. "The Championship week is an accumulation of many emotions, resulting from taking those first steps on field and feeling the audience welcome us with enthusiasm, and to know we're stepping on the same field as all the other participants at the championships." Kinuko has praise for Drum Corps International audiences. "I love that the audiences feel so free to show their emotions."
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