A fascinating “shuwa” performer


A fascinating “shuwa” performer

Hello, I’m Kotopuki from Japan. I’m currently working as an office worker & I’m also a Deaf Cast at Shuwa* Performance Kiirogumi.

I was hearing by birth but I don’t remember that because I lost my hearing when I was two years old due to a high fever. The fever had gradually disappeared and I had fully recovered but my mother only found out about my deafness when I didn’t respond to her honking the car to move aside and I kept on playing.  Awestruck, my parents took me to the hospital where the doctor said that I had lost my hearing due to the earlier high fever (typhoid).

I went to deaf school from kindergarten to high school. However, the use of sign language was strongly prohibited in schools at that time although at present, it is widely accepted. When I would use it at times, my teachers would slap on my hands. It was done so because it was necessary for us to learn speaking to live & mingle well with the hearing society in the future. So, I gradually became able to communicate with my family and friends by using daily oral practice and cued speech.

My dream since childhood was to be a circus clown who could make people smile without words. However, by the time I graduated from high school, that dream disappeared and I spent most of my time hanging out with my friends. I was 25 years old when one day, I happened to stop by a bookstore and found a book about a performance that could be expressed with facial expressions and body language. After reading the book, I found out that it was an activity in which both deaf and hearing people can also sing and dance together.

After that, I joined the “Shuwa Performance Kiirogumi” and started working as a deaf cast which is a great opportunity equivalent to my dream to entertain and get people to know about deafness and sign language. I was also taught music in elementary school by feeling the vibration of the musical instrument which later became helpful to me for me at Kiirogumi. There, first of all, we change the song to be played into sign language for which we ask hearing casts to explain the meaning of the lyrics so that we can fully express the song in Japanese sign language. We also check the music of the song matches the timing of sign language. By repeating these steps, we create a musical that can fascinate all. And during the performance on the small theaters, the viewers are always in front of us with their eyes shining brightly and cheering us. When they show their excitement, I feel the most rewarding at such moments.

In addition, I would like to travel all over Japan to convey the appeal of sign language. And the first goal is to play an active part in TV dramas. Usually, actors/actress who play the role of deaf people are hearing but I think the real deaf people can play tha role. Further, I would like to keep working on propagating understanding of sign language. I want to create a society where everyone can easily use basic sign expressions such as thank you and good morning, from children to adults and a society where they can help each other.

My message to the deaf people: I’m sure everyone has a dream. We have to make a lot of efforts to make that dream come true. You may run into many obstacles and want to think, “I can’t do it. I have no choice but to give up.” But I want you to believe in yourself and aim for it. If you get stuck, talk to deaf friends, parents or anyone and get advice. And I want you to struggle to the end till you succeed.

My message to the hearing people: Please don’t think of deafness and HoH as something terrible, sad or pitiful. We are also members who create society like all of you. Let’s help each other and liven up the society together. Thank you!

*Shuwa=sign language in Japanese

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