Our last night in Miyako, we gave our first presentation to the Rotary groups at our farewell dinner. After a distinctly American menu of cheese, sausage, spaghetti, and smoked chicken, we partook in the popular Japanese pastime of karaoke. My sake intake was high, so somehow I found myself in front of forty Japanese people singing a rousing rendition of John Cougar’s “Jack and Diane.” Nothing like music to bridge the cultural divide! To my utter disbelief, I was greeted with a round of applause and a high score. For just a few moments I had visions of touring with U2…maybe, just maybe!
After the club members had departed for the evening, our team continued our karaoke party until midnight with our interpreter, Shunsuke. I am ashamed to admit songs like “Careless Whisper” and “Beth,” made it on our play list, but we ended the evening with a nice sing along to John Lennon’s “Imagine”—certainly appropriate given Rotary’s mission of promoting peace and understanding. The next evening, during our stay at Amihari National Park, we once again broke out the Karaoke machine. I especially enjoyed hearing John Denver’s “Country Road” being sung in Japanese.