Monday, September 17, 2007


Yes, I am. I'm going to Japan!

Can you see me doing my little going-to-Japan-dance? It goes a little something like this:

Ok, so that's Snoopy's version - a slightly bouncier version of my happy dance. And that was actually me a couple days ago. Now that it's Wednesday and I'm leaving in a day and a half, I am running around like a chicken with no head - don't think you want to see a picture of that.

It all started when the taiko group that I am a member of, Arashi Daiko, was approached to be part of a documentary television series on world music. The group agreed to participate, and the filmmakers needed someone in the group to interview and follow around for a bit of a biography. Working from home I have a pretty flexible schedule and I am also comfortable in French, the language of this production, so long story short, it ended up being me and my husband who are both members of this taiko group. We were initially told it would involve filming our rehearsals, and a performance or two, as well as an in-studio recording/shoot. Sounded interesting for Arashi Daiko and like a fun project to be a part of, right?

Last December came the news that this would also involve a trip to Japan, since a segment of the hour-long show will be about returning to the source of the music featured. Shocked, terrified, scared poopless ... and oh yeah, did I mention, thrilled? THRILLLLLED!

The filming schedule is now taking shape, and it's a pretty jam-packed eight days of shooting footage of taiko players, festivals and Japanese shops, streets and everyday life. My husband, JF and I will stay another five days on our own, and likely go to visit friends in Kyoto.

Here's just a brief run-down of some of what we will be seeing. I'll write all about it when we get back! Fukuro Matsuri is a week-long festival in Tokyo, with taiko, music, huge parades and thousands of dancers in costume. Here are a couple of photos from last year's edition:

We will be taking a workshop with this group below, Miyake Taiko. Led by master player of this style, Akio Tsumura and his three sons, this is an intense and physically gruelling piece to study, - challenging, as you can see, for the legs and hips. Even more difficult is the mental focus it takes to overcome the pain in your legs, arms and hands, which become raw from the large sticks or bachi used to hit. And yes, although we are nervous about it, we are looking forward to it.

We will then go to Sado Island, where world famous Kodo drummers live, train and teach members -to-be. We will be able to observe and learn from their most senior member, Yoshikazu Fujimoto (see him below playing odaiko, or the big drum). We may even get to play if we can keep up! The whole Kodo organization has been so very generous with us - this is like a dream come true for JF and me!

Than back to Tokyo and we will visit Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten, official drum maker to the Emperor of Japan. We will be able to visit their store, their drum museum, as well as their taiko making studio - a true honour!

I really have to get back to work on the omiyage (gifts) that we will be bringing with us, to give to all the wonderful people we will be visiting in Japan.

Have to remember to breeeeathe.....

1 comment:

lyh said...

Wow, Sandra, that is really exciting!

I just read about Sado Island in
Will Ferguson's "Hitching Rides with Buddha" It certainly has a fascinating history.

Will be looking forward to hearing all about your Japan-Taiko adventure!