Margot Carrington, the Principal Officer at our Consulate in Fukuoka, recently wrote for Z Notes, the official blog of the US Embassy in Tokyo run by DCM Jim Zumwalt. But, first, see the charming YouTube clip below of Ms. Carrington as Meriken Omaru in a Kabuki play.
Below is Margot Carrington’s post from Z Notes:
Appearing in a Kabuki play is not what most people think of as the traditional role of a diplomat, nor was it what I expected to do in my capacity as the Principal Officer of the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka. However, this “Kabuki Diplomacy” was surprisingly effective in reaching out to the people of Kyushu
Despite having worked six years at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, I initially encountered a bit of culture shock when I arrived in Fukuoka. First, I had to contend with our local dialect of Hakataben and not knowing what yokinshatta (welcome) meant!
Here’s what I look like in real life.
When I was asked to appear in a charity performance of Kabuki featuring local leaders, I was concerned about how I would handle wearing a kimono on stage and having to learn so many difficult lines in ancient Japanese, which is even harder than Hakataben! However, with lots of practice, I was able to manage and found that the people of Fukuoka appreciated my efforts.
For months after the performance, people in Fukuoka called me by my stage name of “Meriken Omaru” and told me how excited they were that someone from the U.S. Consulate had taken the time to learn about this important Japanese art form. I was also able to forge strong ties with some of Fukuoka’s business and government leaders through this unforgettable experience. This led me to think that Kabuki Diplomacy could be powerful indeed.
Active links added above. Care to translate Meriken Omaru’s lines?