In a time when there’s less emphasis on maintaining culture, Hirotako Inuzaka goes against the tsunami of conformity and embraces culture on a new scale. Although Hirotako is Japanese, he decided to go beyond his cultural boundaries and study the art of the gamelan, a musical ensemble originating from Indonesia. When you first confront such a person, you immediately start to wonder, “why?” His story starts from his birthplace, Japan. He finished High school and spent most of his life there, but while others were planning out their ordinary futures, he wanted to seek something more meaningful. His urge to study guitar and music brought him to America, the birthplace of jazz. Hirotako then enrolled in UCLA for his undergrad in Jazz music and he soon met the man who would change his whole take on music. According to Hirotako, Professor Wenten was open-minded and willing to teach everybody, even non-Indonesians, the culture of Indonesia. While studying jazz, Professor Wenten introduced Hirotako to Indonesian music and culture. Eventually, Hirotako decided he would pursue a new path in music and study the gamelan.
Despite difficulties while learning Indonesian culture due to the language barrier, he continued to persevere because he found the culture of Indonesia special. He took his studies even further by visiting Indonesia and continuing to take classes from Professor Wenten in both language and music. His drive for learning comes from his love of music, food, and the sense of community that comes with studying Indonesian art and being Japanese. Throughout the years Hirotako has been in America, he has gone to a number of schools ranging from Citrus College, PCC, UCLA, and Cal Arts Santa Clarita. He says that by jumping into the vast unknown and exploring what was beyond his boundaries he was able to learn new things that other people will never experience. Now, Hirotako is interested in teaching gamelan at the Los Angeles Indonesian Consulate in hope of spurring some interest in others. His gamelan classes are every Sunday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and are held at the Indonesian Consulate in Los Angeles. Currently, he is in need of more members and hopes that the nearby residents would visit his class every weekend. Hirotako’s gamelan team incorporates both Indonesian music and Japanese dance in performances such as, “Musashi.” By including these two cultural arts in one performance, he practices a unique kind of cultural diversity. The team not only teaches its members gamelan but also explains the differences between Gamelan Jawa vs. Gamelan Bali. Hirotaka Inuzaka’s story just goes to show you that America is a place where every culture is welcomed. America’s collection of ancestral backgrounds and heritages make it a great place for people like Hirotako that not only want to stay in touch with their own culture but also experience something new.Â Hirotaka Inuzaka is a Japanese learning about Indonesian culture in America and just one of the many products of cultural diversity.