Since I have not been doing much travelling lately inspiration for new posts has been low. However, I have been quite nostalgic of my travels, especially of those on the busy streets of Tokyo back in 2009. Here is a story I wrote while with Tokyo Families Magazine about a pretty cool dude I ran into close to the Tokyo Tower. Meet Dirk Rebel.
If you’re walking the streets of Tokyo and hear beautiful music coming from a tall majestic wooden box, it’s likely to be the 80-year-old Dutch street organ with its talented owner.
Dirk Rebel, president of Deshima, an import wholesale and festival company, has been performing with the street organ since he found his own at a big Holland Booth in Japan twenty years ago. He loved playing since the day he started.
“Once you have a street organ, you get addicted to it,” he said.
As president, Rebel makes contacts to people who are clients and gets business from their company. He also works for the company by performing with his organ.
The street organ is a large piece of musical instrument that plays book music and is usually equipped with pipes, horns, and even percussion instruments. The ‘organ grinder’ turns a large handle to feed the book into a machine that plays the song. They are loud enough to be heard easily on a busy street corner, which makes Rebel’s job perfect for the city.
Over 600 communities in Japan make home to Rebel and his unique entertainment for many festivals, birthdays, and any other celebration needing some fun.
Rebel loves seeing people relax to the smooth music of the organ after a long, hard day’s work. When stressed business workers come and their furrowed brow fades, he knows his work his done.
“There’s no nicer work than this,” he said. “It’s a relaxing feeling that I give to people and it comes back to me.”
Playing the street organ is a German, Belgian and Dutch tradition, which goes back about 180 years. When Rebel performs, he takes his show and audience back that far. The brightly coloured hand paintings that surround the surface of the large instrument dates the instrument, along with Rebel’s classic top hat, ruffled shirt and 1930s styled pants and shoes. He really gets into character to please the crowd.
People will often wander to the back of the organ too, to see how it works, which Rebel doesn’t mind at all. Anything to please the audience, he said.
This multi-performer doesn’t stop at working the street organ. He also likes making balloon animals for kids and doing other work on the side. He loves his work.
“It’s the gratitude; it’s the energy that you get from people.”
______________________________________________________________________Isn’t it amazing how culture is shared no matter where you are in the world? The last person I thought I’d meet in Japan is a Dutch organ player!!