Tag ‘Tetsumi Hanaoka’
Happy New Year!
I wish you all the best for the year ahead and thank you in advance for your support.
So, how did you all spend your New Year’s?
I went to Yunotsu in Shimane Prefecture to study Iwami Kagura (Iwami: a region, the west part of Shimane Prefecture/ Kagura: dance and music for the kami, or deities) with some of my fellow Kodo members. Our group, including a couple of new members, will perform the serpent dance Orochi featured in “Kodo One Earth Tour 2015: Mystery,” on the North American Tour that starts on January 28.
We were taught by Mr. Taizo Kobayashi and other members Yunotsu Maiko Renchu, a group of local performers that uphold Iwami Kagura in Yunotsu. Mr. Kobayashi is one of members who had helped us to create the programme for “Mystery,” who is an Iwami Kagura performer and a craftsman who carves masks. Mr. Kobayashi made the heads of all the serpents we use on stage for our “Mystery” performances.
During this visit, our lessons were mainly for the new members who will join this programme for the first time. They were taught to make very detailed movements so that the heads and bodies would move smoothly and they learned how to move so that the serpents would look real on stage. I also learned many new things. I can now see that while Iwami Kagura looks simple, it is performed with really well-refined movements.
During these rehearsals, one of our missions was to take part in the local evening Kagura performance as serpents. This is a regular performance for Yunotsu Maiko Renchu, which is held at the Tatsuno-gozen Shrine every Saturday night. I was also fortunate enough to take part in this performance when I first came to learn Iwami Kagura here two years ago.
Dec. 14 Performance at Fire-Walking Event at Fukugonji Temple
We performed at this year’s Fire-Walking Event at Fukugonji Temple in Komaki, Aichi. Unfortunately, there was bad weather on the day of the performance, but the venue was lively from early on in the morning with performances by a variety of groups and stalls selling tasty fare.
This is the second time for Kodo to perform at this event, following on from last year. Before the event started, the temple priests briefed us on the origins of the ritual. I felt so honored to be able to perform at their event, which has been held for centuries. I was determined to do my best.
As evening drew nearer, the temperature went down steadily. A bell was sounded at 5 o’clock and we started our performance right there in the bell tower. They kept ringing the bell during our performance. The sound of our taiko echoed out nicely far and wide– perhaps that is because the tower was built so that the sound of the bell could be heard at every corner of the village?
After that, we performed on the main stage right in front of the spot where the fire-walking ritual took place. It was colder than I had expected… so cold that any of our skin not covered by clothing hurt intensely. Surprisingly, that painful chill actually cheered us on.
For O-daiko, Kenta Nakagome was playing on the front of the big drum and it looked like his back was giving off steam. You could tell from Yuta Sumiyoshi’s drumming on the back and Tetsumi Hanaoka’s chappa (cymbal) playing that they were getting into the spirit of it, too.
We started to play Yatai-bayashi as the fire was set alight. I think our performance sounded a little bit different in front of the firey blaze and smoke.
However, no matter how much heart we put into the performance, it was freezing cold! I did not feel cold during our performances, but I seemed to be shivering so much, and that caused a lot of muscle pain deep inside my body which hit me the next day.
This ritual tells of the horror of all-consuming fire, but at the same time, I learned the horror of the opposite: coldness. The power of nature is beyond our own. This experience made me reflect on the way I spend my time in winter: I realize that if you stay wrapped up too warm in winter, you become a weaker human being!
The “School Workshop Performance Tour” members are all doing well!
On Oct. 5, we gave a performance of “Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery” in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki. We also came here with “Legend” two years ago and we were happy to be back.
Let me tell you about one type of drum we use on stage. Shimedaiko (the small drums shown above) have drum heads that are bound together by either bolts or one long rope. Kodo always uses roped shimedaiko so we can create an unconstrained, mellow yet clear, shrill sound. But because we tune our shimedaiko before every performance, the ropes wear out and eventually snap. We need to keep replacing them.
So, we always have extra ropes on hand, just in case. The ropes are made of hemp and they are very stiff, so we pull them and beat them every day to make them just the right softness. By doing this, if one of the ropes snaps during our daily tuning, we always have rope on hand that is ready to replace it right there and then.
As the saying goes, “Be prepared & have no regrets.”
Everyday, we all do our best to be in top condition for our performances!
We cleaned our dormitory at Kodo Village just before we set off on tour!
As the saying goes, “Cast no dirt in the well that gives you water”: We will be away for one and half months, so we all worked together to leave our place clean and tidy. Now, we all feel refreshed, too! We will do our very best to present great performances for our audiences. So, please, please come along to see “Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery”!
This month, “Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery” will give five performances at Asakusa Public Hall, from June 21 through 25. Last year I performed in back-to-back concerts in Asakusa during my first tour, “Legend.” One year has passed and I am really looking forward to the opportunity to show an even more powerful Kodo performance here this year!
This time, the production incorporates the great serpent dance from Iwami Kagura*, upheld in the Iwami Region of Shimane Prefecture. We have been learning this folk art since April 2013 through visits to Shimane and we spent a year creating the stage piece featuring the dance, Jamai.
*Kagura: dance and music for the kami, or deities
Our Iwami Kagura teacher Mr. Taizo Kobayashi, who also made the serpent heads for us to use on stage, said, “No matter how simple thing the task, it’s important to do it everyday and do it properly.” I took this advice for my daily habits, both on and off stage. I am striving everyday to make each performance better than the last. Please look out for Jamai on stage when you come to see “Mystery”!
Also, “Mystery” is filled with scenes of darkness. I think that mysterious things and darkness have a deep relationship. I experienced this living on Sado Island, for example when I saw Kodo Village by moonlight, far away from the lights of the township, or at the climax of a festival in the pale light of paper lanterns.
Darkness conjures fear at first glance, but mysterious things are created in such darkness. I hope you will come and watch, hear, and experience that kind of magical world in our performance of “Mystery.”
Photos: Takashi Okamoto
June 21 (Sat) – 25 (Wed) at Asakusa Public Hall, Tokyo
Doors open 30 min. prior to each performance.
All seats reserved. General 7,000 yen, Students (aged 6-24) 3,000 yen
tvk Ticket Counter Tel. 0570-00-3117
Asakusa Public Hall Tel. 03-3844-7491
Ticket Pia Tel. 0570-02-9999
Ticket 6 (Roku) Tel. 03-5826-0315 (English assistance available)
After our performances in Rome and Milan in Italy, we have arrived in Paris, France.
I went out for a walk and was looking about in a shop and couldn’t believe I found Mano Tsuru sake from the Obata Shuzo sake brewery on Sado Island!
I asked the shop assistant and they said they had ordered it in especailly because it’s delicious…
Japanese stores Book Off and Uniqlo have also made their way onto the streets of Paris.
It’s only been 2 weeks since I left Japan, but this stroll in Paris made me feel a bit homesick.
The “Kodo One Earth Tour: Legend” Europe tour group has left Kodo Village. It will be a long trip of over 2 months, and I’ll do my best, cheered on by so many people seeing us off!
I’m on my way!