TURN LAND “No Charge Cafe 3: In My Brain” (Harmony) Report


“No Charge Cafe 3: In My Brain”
Harmony connected online with various places across Japan. (Photo by Yuka Kudo)

Harmony is a place where about 30 registered members residing in the local community who live with mental health issues can spend their time as they wish, working or engaging in activities related to their hobbies and interests. Since FY2018 the facility has hosted “No Charge Cafe” events open to all, creating a relaxing environment in Setagaya for people to socialize.

“No Charge Cafe 3: In My Brain” is an attempt to connect people online so they don’t have to give up their desire to see old friends again or meet new people, despite the current situation where people have to avoid meeting face-to-face to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The title “In My Brain” came from the idea of at least enjoying “inner brain contact” if we can’t have “close contact” in the physical sense.

Harmoney streaming live using computers and a large monitor (Photo by Yuka Kudo)

With thorough preventive measures in place against COVID-19 infection on the day, we connected up with people from all over the region for a variety of programs, giving audiences an online situation of Harmony.

Navigated by the “Cafe Proprietor”

First to appear was Tengyo Kura, the “Café Proprietor” of the event. Tengyo has been involved since the first “No Charge Cafe,” brewing coffee and welcoming participants to Harmony. For this event Harmony was connected online to Cocoroom*, where Tengyo is currently doing a residency. With Tengyo in charge of navigation people through the event Harmony members enjoyed chatting to people from Cocoroom and other participants. There were shouts of delight from Harmony members when a friend of Harmony showed up online, a TURN LAND participating artist who facility members had worked with on a project at Harmony, and who was currently on the other side of the world in Brazil.

*Cocoroom: a cafe and guest house in Osaka’s Kamagasaki neighborhood for former day laborers and travelers.

Tengyo (right) participating in the event from Cocoroom
A Harmony facility member reading the Cocoroom publication “Kamagasaki Collected Poems: As seeds of the heart” (Photograph by Yuka Kudo)

“The great outdoors! A zany link up between Okayama, Tokyo and the universe”

Next up was Eri Nakagawa, a dancing musician specializing in improvisation, who has worked with Harmony for many years. She hadn’t met up face-to-face with Harmony members for about a year due to COVID-19. First she introduced a field in the Okayama City where she has relocated, and then explained how to cut up a wild boar caught in the mountains. After that people from different regions joined Nakagawa in loosening up, dancing to the “Koumon Dance” which she invented with her neighbors, accompanied by the sound of an accordian – played by an Okayama local.

Eri Nakagawa (center)
Doing the “Koumon Dance” at Harmony (Photo by Yuka Kudo)
Participants doing the “Koumon Dance”

“Delusion Karuta” playing card online tournament

In the afternoon we organized an online tournament using “Delusion Karuta” playing cards, created on the basis of Harmony facility members’ experiences. With actual cards sent to them in advance, participants from all over the religions battled it out online, even if they were a bit confused by the rule where they had to take a card based on what the Harmony member read out on screen.

A playing card drawn especially for the event by Harmony member Mukai

Epidemic, be gone! Online Gion Festival

Next, artist Takafumi Fukasawa in Hokkaido held an online Gion Festival.
Kyoto’s Gion Festival has its roots in an ancient purification ritual to appease angry gods thought to cause epidemics of infectious disease. In the style of this festival, Harmony members and other participants gave performances as an offering to calm the gods of plague, joined by Tomoaki Yonemoto, head priest at a temple in Shiraoi, Hokkaido.

Jun from Harmony demonstrated shadow puppetry as his offering to the plague gods, saying, “Since I was little I’ve been chased by a shadow-like thing. The symptoms get worse every year, but I want to live with it the best way I can.”
While Jun was showing his shadow puppets, other participants joined in by imitating gamelan, banging plates and tableware.. Whilst in Osaka, where Tengyo was stationed, people played actual gamelan.

Harmony members show off their own specialities

Individual Harmony members also showcased things wanted to do, and their won unique specialities during the event.

Caricature-like drawing

Jun, a facility member who is good at drawing, drew a guest at Cocoroom from where he was sitting at Harmony. Participants all agreed that the drawing was the spitting image!

Harmony member Jun (Photo by Yuka Kudo)
The participant and Jun’s drawing of him

Socially distanced musical performance

There was a duet by Nonko, a harmony member who likes singing, and Yumiko Ishizuka, who is involved at Harmony as a voice trainer. Nonko sang along with a pre recorded video shot by Yumiko in the studio, and the resulting music video was shown on screen.

The band “Smart Shooter,” which includes members of Harmony, gave a musical performance in which three people played at the same time from different locations.

Nonko and Yumiko (left), the band “Smart Shooter” (right)

There was other activities as well, such as the “Delusion Walk” in which Kazuhiro Shimada visited and made broadcasts from places that hold fond memories for Harmony member Mukai, and an photographer Fumiya Sakurai introducing and critiquing photographs taken by Harmony members.

Shimada setting out on the “Delusion Walk” (Photo by Yuka Kudo),
The seaside at springtime, a place Mukai longed to go to (Photo by Kazuhiro Shimada)
A scene from Sakurai’s introduction to Harmony members’ photographs

Lastly, Harmony member / poet Kotaro Masuyama read out some of his poetry. Participants of the event found his poem about the birth of life “moving.”

Poet Kotaro Masuyama waves to an online participant (Photo by Yuka Kudo)

Totalling six hours the event was long but with circumstances making it difficult to meet in person , it was a day for Harmony members with all their different traits and participants to spend time together.

© Arts Council Tokyo