Source: Video by Faith Bemiss | DemocratA Japanese film crew films Jim Edwards playing the Scott Joplin ragtime piece “The Entertainer” Thursday morning at the Hayden Liberty Center Association for the Arts in downtown Sedalia.
Scott Joplin, ragtime music and Sedalia will be part of a film series “Yume No Tourimichi,” or “Passage of Dreams,” that explores culture, history and education, a production that will air later this month in Japan.
Thursday morning, a Japanese film crew from Bunkakobo Inc. (HYC), based in New York City, arrived at the Katy Depot to interview Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation President Kathleen Boswell. The crew, which included Hiromi Saeki, production coordinator for Bunkakobo, and cameramen Yuichi Suzuki and Naoki Sakurai, were shooting the film for Nippon TV in Tokyo, Japan.
Boswell said she was excited the crew was there and showed an interest in the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival and ragtime music.
‘Two years ago when we had the young couple here from Japan (Kohei and Kyoko Yamamoto), we were just really thrilled that they had heard about it and wanted to come,” Boswell said Thursday. “So, now we have this group here that is going to be advertising it for us. That should mean that it’s going to grow.
“I had heard there’s a Scott Joplin Ragtime fan group that has formed in Japan,” she added. “Yuko Wright, married to Bryan one of the performers that is usually here, is from Japan and goes home about once year to see her parents. She kind of helps a little bit too. The young couple that was here didn’t speak any English, so she acted as translator for them.
“It’s kind of neat to see it go to a completely foreign country, that doesn’t share any of our language or our history at all, and to be so widely accepted,” Boswell noted. “I just keep thinking about how Joplin died 100 years ago, and what this would mean. If he had any idea that (in) 100 years not only would we here in Sedalia be celebrating, but around the world.”
Boswell showed the crew around the Katy Depot, explaining the the history behind the various ragtime exhibits.
She told Saeki about the contract signing and how Joplin received one penny per copy for the “Maple Leaf Rag,” which sold one million copies.
“That’s brilliant,” Saeki replied.
“We were quite an artistic place, that’s why Scott Joplin wanted to come here,” Boswell said. “Joplin came here to learn how to create sheets of music better …”
Boswell also told the crew that the Katy Depot was built and functional when Joplin was alive, but because he was a black man he probably never came inside to see its grandeur.
Saeki told the Democrat later that Nippon TV was one of the major television networks in Japan.
“The program is called ‘Yume No Tourimichi,’” she said. “Actually, this program’s sponsor is Disney in Japan. So, the basic idea is something is filmed in Disneyland in Tokyo and they have something related with the same theme. For example, this time we are focusing on the bicycle piano. We have it at Disneyland in Tokyo, so they film that.”
She added that the bicycle piano plays ragtime music, which set them on the path to film the music at its source, Sedalia.
“I tried to find out ragtime music’s footsteps,” Saeki added. “To find the history, so I found out Sedalia’s where Scott Joplin invented ragtime music. So, I thought, this is it, we have to come here.”
Before coming to Sedalia on Thursday, the crew filmed Scott Joplin’s home in St. Louis.
Boswell also took the crew to the site of the original Maple Leaf Club on East Main Street and to the Hayden Liberty Center Association for the Arts where Jim Edwards, of Sedalia, played “The Entertainer.”
Saeki said the production is scheduled to air in Japan before the end of May. “Yume No Tourimichi” will air before the 36th annual Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival, “Reflection Rag,” opens May 31. This year the Ragtime Festival will be hosted May 31 through June 3 in downtown Sedalia.
Hiromi Saeki, left, production coordinator for Bunkakobo Inc. (HYC), takes a moment to play a tune on the piano Thursday morning at the Hayden LCAA as she talks with her cameraman Yuichi Suzuki.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or on Twitter @flbemiss.