Taiko Workshops in New Zealand
My taiko workshops at IPC Tertiary Institute in Palmerston North, New Zealand, went very well. The workshops were hosted by the members of IPC’s taiko group, Kodama. They gathered participants for the workshops by spreading the word around other taiko teams in New Zealand. On the first day I led workshops for Kodama, and then on Days 2 & 3 I gave open workshops for taiko players from all over NZ.
Kodama was formed 25 years ago and is the oldest of all the 13 taiko groups in NZ. It was set up by Japanese students studying in NZ who formerly played taiko in Japan, so even now many of their members are Japanese students. They held my workshops at their dojo on the university campus.
There is a wonderful building next to their dojo that has a dining hall and guest accommodations, so it was the perfect set-up for a live-in taiko workshop.
I was so happy to have the chance to come to NZ by myself. Kodo has never been there, so I was really lucky. I really want to develop our connection with their taiko community, so I did my best, as always, to lead passionate, fun workshops. It was a real pleasure to see that the participants were delighted with the workshops I led.
May 3–5 Voice Camp in Wachi
For the first time in 19 years, I led a live-in workshop! This 2015 workshop camp was presented by Wachi Taiko, who are based in (my husband/Kodo member) Yoshikazu Fujimoto’s hometown. The workshop took place amidst the beautiful, colorful spring surroundings of violet wisteria and green foliage.
I wanted the participants to enjoy the Wachi area in many ways, so I had asked our facilitator, Mr Fumitaka Ideno, to show me around various spots and together we decided the places we would visit. During the camp, we enjoyed and cherished the echoes of our voices, sang together at those spots, and the participants and I had three days full of excitement and fresh energy.
The workshops took place at the gym of a former elementary school, the lodge at the camp site where we stayed, a temple dedicated to Kannon, which was established in the Muromachi Period (early 14th to late 16th century), and the early-morning mountainside of Mt. Choro.
Chieko Kojima & Masami Miyazaki “Taiko Camp in Fukuchiyama”
Chieko Kojima & I led a taiko camp in Fukuchiyama from May 22 through 24. It was such a fun three days with the 18 participants who gathered from Maizuru, Himeji, Hiroshima, Gifu, Aichi, Yokohama, Tokyo, and even Australia!
On the first day, after the orientation, everyone got straight into the first taiko performance workshop, based on “Hana Hachijo.” Everyone was quite rigid and nervous on the first day. (But that night… they loosened up during a fun party)
On Day 2, in the morning we split into two teams: one went for a walk through the local hills while the other team made breakfast. Then we all spent the rest of the day playing taiko.
Everyone also learned part of a dance and got ready for a recital & mini concert to display everything they had learned.
That night, we were all licking our lips at the deer and wild boar on the BBQ. Then we gathered around a campfire and everyone danced like crazy to the sound of the taiko, chappa (cymbals), and bamboo flute.
We later found out that some people could hear us 10 km away!
On the last day, we held a recital and mini concert to show our appreciation to everyone who helped us, as well as to cheer on the people of Fukuchiyama, who have been hit by natural disasters in recent years. Everyone who came along, from little kids to senior citizens, had huge smiles from start to finish. We all danced a local dance together in a big circle to end the event.
Fukuchiyama is written using the kanji character for “happiness,” and the locals say you come there for happiness. I hope we can come again for some more happiness with them all soon.
This taiko camp was presented by the four members of Fukuchiyama-based wadaiko unit “Hitotsu.” We are so grateful for their warm welcome and generous hospitality. Thank you, Hitotsu!
After the camp, Chieko and I appeared on a local radio (FM Tamba) broadcast with Makoto Shimozawa, the leader of Hitotsu.
May 29 (Fri)–31 (Sun), 2015
Shinobue (Bamboo Flute) with Motofumi Yamaguchi
This weekend, we look forward to welcoming participants to the first in our new series of 3-day live-in workshops at Fukaura Schoolhouse: Shinobue with Motofumi Yamaguchi. If you’d like to register last minute, please call us to confirm your place without delay!
Message from Motofumi Yamaguchi
“Learning to play an instrument is similar to climbing a high mountain. Even if you work hard, taking one step at a time, it is not always easy to reach the top. But with each step you make upwards, you’ll encounter a brand new view.”
We’re looking forward to seeing everyone there.
Kodo Cultural Foundation Project: “Kodo Juku at Fukaura Schoolhouse” Live-In Workshops
My Kodo Workshop Series at Taiko no Sato Kyowakan: Elementary & Intermediate Courses
In October 2014, I started teaching an eight-lesson workshop series at Taiko-no Sato Kyowakan in Tokyo and now there’s only one lesson to go! The two courses are working hard on different pieces: the Elementary Course is practicing Toki no Koe and the Intermediate Course is playing Atatte Kudakero. Each lesson lasts just 90 minutes, but I hear that the participants are renting studio space to practice on their own and taking other classes, too. I am constantly astounded by how passionate they are about playing taiko!
On May 31 at Kyowakan’s annual recital, “Kyowasai,” the participants will perform to demonstrate what they have learned during the course. But the emphasis is not on “showing” people: the focus is on the participants enjoying playing taiko. They are all practicing hard together in hopes that the audience will feel like they are drumming along with them as they hear the pieces played live.
Kodo Workshop Series at Taiko no Sato Kyowakan: Elementary & Intermediate Courses
Voice Camp in May in Wachi, Kyoto
Recently, I had a very detailed meeting with Mr. Fumitaka Ideno from Wachi Daiko about the upcoming Voice Camp here in Wachi.
When I’m here and I feel the sunlight filter through the leafy green trees, hear the sound of the river flowing by, and look out over the mountains, I get excited thinking about everyone who will come along for the Voice Camp. I look to the sky and imagine their voices creating sparkling rainbows right across its wide canvas.
When you come for Voice Camp, let’s also go and sing at the nearby temple dedicated to Kannon. It’s a sacred place that looks down over the village, and I’m sure the location will add emotion and sparkle to our eyes and voices. It’s such a wonderful place, I can’t wait to take you all there.
Songs have a special way of opening people’s hearts. With our voices, we’ll create soft, stimulating whirlpools and let ourselves get swept away. I look forward to being moved with you all.
I am so grateful to everyone at Wachi Daiko for creating this opportunity for me. Thank you! I’ll do my best to make it a joy for everyone who comes along to take part.
My husband Yoshikazu Fujimoto, “Mr. O-daiko,” was born in Wachi. I’m so happy to have the chance to invite people to Wachi and share this wonderful place with others. I hope it brings joy to Wachi, too.
Yoko Fujimoto “Voice Camp in Wachi”
Yoshikazu Fujimoto is heading to New Zealand for the first time, where he will lead taiko and bamboo flute workshops.
If you live in NZ, or fancy a trip there, please sign up and take part!
Dates: June 5 (Fri)–7 (Sun), 2015
Venue: International Pacific College, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Instructor: Yoshikazu Fujimoto
For further details and to book, please contact the organizer directly:
Email: email@example.com (Saki Iwasawa)
Details also available on Facebook.
In February, we held four of Yoko Fujimoto’s Song Workshops at Ogi Elementary School on Sado Island. It was a chilly time of year with light snowfall, but the children sang happily and had a great time together with Yoko.
Yoko has led these song workshops at this school every year for 16 years now. Even though the teachers have come and gone with transfers to other schools, this workshop been handed along like a relay baton. The first workshops were held here when my daughter was in the first grade, and although her homeroom teacher at that time was subsequently transferred away, she was transferred back here again some years later. That feels like fate to me.
Ogi Elementary School is going to move to a different school building (formerly Ogi Junior High School) in April, so this year’s workshops were the last ones here at these premises. This building has echoed with songs for years and years, but it will be demolished soon. On March 9, Yoko volunteered to give a concert entitled “Sado-kara Itadaita Uta Monogatari (Story of Songs from Sado Island)” for all the students, teachers and parents of Ogi Elementary School. She showed them her appreciation for being able to give enjoyable workshops at Ogi Elementary School for such a long time.
Feb. 24, 2015
Sado Island Taiko Centre On Location!
–Taiko Experience with Shinchan-sensei–
I was really lucky with the weather for my taiko workshops in Niigata. I went to many different places: a hotel, Niigata Prefectural Civic Center, several schools, and a nursery school.
Every time, I was at a different venue with a different number of participants of different ages…the situation changed every time. So I would meet each group, then on the spot I would think about what games to play with them. It’s a bit nerve-wracking, but that pressure is always exciting for me. I made a taiko piece with each group and sometimes we even sang together as we drummed.
When I see everyone united and smiling, it makes me want to keep playing taiko, too! I will lead these workshops again next year, too, so I hope to see everyone again then!
Sado Island Taiko Centre (in Japanese) ENGLISH COMING SOON!
On Feb. 19, Motofumi Yamaguchi and I visited some TV stations and a radio station in Kumamoto to promote “Uto Taiko Matsuri.” We gave a mini live performance at each station.
I led a taiko camp from Feb. 20 (Fri) to 22 (Sun), and on the final day, the participants had a recital at Uto Taiko Matsuri to show everyone what they had learned during the camp. Each year, this recital is the first act at the festival. First, we sang “Hobashira Okoshi Ondo” and then we played a new piece called “Narukami, which means “Thunder God.” The ten participants, including three local high school students, had joined me there from all over Japan. I was really pleased that they all took part. Some of them were just beginners, but I had them play simple base rhythms and we were all able to play together.