Magic in Japan - My Family Travels

Music is magic. In the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale we spread that magic all over the world. In the summer of 2005, my group, the Pikes Peak Singers, was privileged to go to New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. Every place was wonderful, but Japan had the greatest impact on my life.

Imagine a small concert hall filled with Japanese people in a little town called Nagoya. Leaving the stage and flooding the audience is an American choir preparing to sing their theme song, Dream a Dream. A girl of twelve finds herself drawn to an elderly woman who looks as though she is not enjoying herself in the least. During the first verse of the song, the woman looks everywhere but at the girl. At the start of the second verse, however, when the child offers her hands for the woman to hold, something changes. The woman looks into the girl’s eyes and smiles sadly. By the time the song is over, the woman is weeping and refuses to let the girl go. When the rest of the choir is back onstage, the girl gently leaves the woman and returns to her place in the group amazed by the woman’s reaction.

After the concert, while the American choir is treated to dinner and the girl is speaking with her director, two women approach. Immediately, the girl recognizes the woman whom she sang to and smiles warmly. The woman returns the smile and begins to talk carefully in Japanese letting her companion translate.

The woman absolutely hated Americans for what they had done in World War II. She never forgave them for dropping the atomic bombs and killing her people and her family. She came to the concert as a favor to a friend, loathing every second of it. She was disgusted when I came to her for Dream a Dream. How dare an American even try to look her in the eye! She tried to ignore the music, but something in it called to her. By the second verse, she was ready to listen.

Though she spoke no English, she understood the message behind what I was singing. She saw that I was only there to make friendships and serve as an ambassador for my country. Overcome by remorse she wept in apology.

Through her translator, though her eyes never left mine, she said that I had changed her life through my decision to sing to her. She could no longer hate Americans for what they had done in the past. All she could see now was my face, asking her to let go and move on. 

Five years ago, I changed the world for one person. I gave forgiveness and helped her to move on. In all my travels since, all my tours and family trips, I have never experienced anything to match that one night—the night I unknowingly helped a woman in pain. Any time I think of Japan, or that entire trip, all I can see is the woman’s face, smiling at me, thanking me for being one person who changed her world through the magic of music.


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