A Milestone?

I've been waiting several weeks to post this blog. I waited, because I was not sure if it would actually happen or not, but it did. On Sunday, I was able to perform on the Odaiko on the same stage, at the same time as Hono Taiko. For those of you who do not know, Hono Taiko is an internationally known (they just returned from a tour in Spain) group of three women taiko players from Matto. I wrote about them back in July or August and noted them as the first real live taiko performance I experienced. When I saw them 9 years ago, I never would have dreamed that I'd be sharing a stage and performing along side them.

Just to make it clear, it is not necessarily through any great ability of mine, that I was able to have this opportunity. It wasn't as if they invited me to perform with them, but rather, I was allowed to perform with them. It also was not just the three Hono Taiko members plus me. It was the three Hono Taiko members, plus about 20 other people as well. It was a big finale to an outdoor concert. At any rate, it was quite exhilarating to play along side performers of their caliber. I do not think I will ever forget it, and it has only furthered my resolve to continue with taiko studies.

I was sincerely hoping to have a fair amount of video from this concert to post, including a video of my own performance. We were all set to tape, and right before the concert began, they asked people not to take videos or other recordings of the performance. We weren't even able to get pictures. Oh well. There is a chance, though, that we may eventually be able to get our hands on something.

The concert was an outdoor concert in the parking lot of a large shopping center located in Togi, Ishikawa, Japan. Togi is located on Ishikawa's Noto Peninsula. Some may remember about 6 months ago, there was an earthquake in Noto. It was unfortunately soon forgotten because of the larger earthquake in Niigata a few months later, but there are still many people in need and recovering from the Noto earthquake as well.

It has been several years since I have been up in the Noto Peninsula and it was nice to return there. It is very beautiful. The shore is often rocky, and sometimes reminds me of the coast along the Pacific Northwest. One of my favorite parts of Noto are the pine trees near the shore line. They are always slanted about 60 degrees, facing inland, as a result of the constant wind off the ocean.

It seems that the festival where we played was in its second year. It was about 4 hours altogether, but the first 3/4 was filled up by local performing groups, including other taiko groups, high school bands, and dance troupes. The main attraction was, of course, Hono Taiko, along with 3 other taiko groups sponsored by Asano Taiko. These groups are not known internationally, but are still quite good, and are well known in the area. They are Hikari, Sasuke, Matto Yume-mitai and the Shin-Mattobayashi Hozonkai (of which we are members, and why I was able to have the opportunity to play).

Our group was playing in the middle of the program. I think I have mentioned before that the piece, Shin-Mattobayashi, is quite long. I am playing the Odaiko (large drum) part, which does not play for the whole song. There are two sections, though, where it is featured. I have learned the shorter section, but am still memorizing the longer one. Since I have only learned the shorter part, I was not able to play when our group performed. Fortunately, the encore planned to be only the shorter part of that song, which I have learned, so they allowed me to perform with them for the encore. As I already mentioned, it was quite an experience and I will never forget it, and hopefully, it won't be my last opportunity to perform with these people.

There was one more thing I learned from this experience, but it has more to do with fashion, than taiko, perhaps. All four groups met at Asano Taiko in the morning to carpool up to Togi. I wore a dark green shirt, and jeans. When we arrived, I felt a bit out of place. Every single person there was wearing all black. When I thought about it a little more, the taiko groups I've seen here always wear black, when they are together as a group, and not performing. I guess I'll wear black too, next time we have a performance to go out to.

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