Monthly Archives: April 2010

Taiko Festival~

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It fills me with guilt every time I open my browser and Morning Coffee, see the tab with this blog on it and then immediately use it to Google or Wikipedia something. If you’ll forgive me for not properly blogging and even today not really staying on my central topic of sewing great pjs out of linen, I’ll not dwell on it (^^) Deal? Deal!!

A few posts ago, back in January, I mentioned that I’d like to start taiko drumming lessons this year. One of the reasons I had thought of that is because at the temple near the Tokyo Narita International Airport, there is a yearly taiko festival every spring. I know this because there are posters up at every station during February every year. This year I grabbed a flyer and posted it on my refrigerator so as not to forget for the 3rd year in a row.  I wanted to go because I simply LOVE the sound of a deep, rhythmic drum done right.

By some freak chance of luck, I got the weekend of the Narita Taiko Festival off from work. Yo also had one of those days off, so we peeled ourselves up and out of the house at 8AM on a Saturday to catch the opening ceremony in front of the Narita Temple.  We got there in time, but it was crowded and very hard to see. It was at the moment some drums started up that I regretting not waking up at 4AM and catching the very first train to get a good view.  Taiko, I had just realized, is just as cool for it visual effect. Especially when you have 500 people playing the same beat. In the Japanese way, every movement is choreographed just so, and the entire effect comes off so simple and primal that it really, really leaves an impression. Its something to experience.  And I was only watching a small patch of drummers through the people in front of me.  (For those of you who have not met me, I am not the tall American, I am quite petite even for a Japanese so all those old Japanese people who woke up early and got there first, were TALLER than me.)

After that we were able to walk up and town the main street where several stages were set up for each of the smaller clubs and groups to play until 5PMs event.  We nearly got back to the station when we decided to sit for a break and a show of 18 and younger taiko players from Kujukuri Beach- the Tokyoite surfer paradise… who were still very impressive.  I want my kids to learn this! After that we nearly got back to the station when I decided I would plan to come earlier next year because there was some popular taiko group that I wish I could have seen but whose performance we missed.  For some random reason, Yo knew who that were and made the mistake of telling me they would be up again at 2PM-  at the stage all the way back at the temple gate!

We returned and saw the group before and the popular Miyakejima Taiko group. Poor Yo had a headache but sat through it like a trooper, uncomplaining. The Miyakejima group did something unique they played for at least 20 minutes non-stop, with only four drums and two people on each drum at all times, constantly switching out after like a minute or so. I actually felt a little sorry for the drums, and even, I am sure, saw the sudden appearance of blood splatter on one of them.  They even had chanting, dragon mask dancers, and what sounded to my uneducated ear like Enka-style singing from one or two of the leaders.  It was like a sample of a ceremonial performance, which if I understand correctly would be continuous for the better part of a day and not just 20 minutes.  There were girls in every group. It made me think that maybe I really can handle taiko.

So we finally got home, and I used this very tab, the one on which I am blogging this morning, to Google the only group whose name I remember, and that I know has a school (because previously mentioned Enka singing leader guy touted this fact at the end of the performance). I never expect to find English websites for anything cool in Japanese, but these guys shocked and amazed me with their not only English site with class information, but it was GOOD English!!  Unbelievably appreciated and one of the first things I will ask about when I call/mail them for a trial lesson.  It will probably be late May or June before I can go, as this month is nuts and for the first part of May I have to go to Hokkaido to see Yo’s family.

I hope you enjoyed the photo, which I lifted off other sites because we forgot our camera. After I get in with lessons and decide I like them, I’ll post the URL for the group, too.  Must work today and must wear something other than my (winter, university-themed) pajamas.  Sorry for the lack of postings and, have a (((((((((HUG))))))))))).