Bloody Bachi!

Look at my bachi!

Yes, it's my blood. I wish I could honestly say it is there because I practiced until my palms bled. Well, I guess that's what I did, but it wasn't necessarily a particularly intense practice. Several weeks ago, I think I posted a picture of the blisters on my hands, that had been growing as I practiced more and more. Those blisters had built up to be fairly tough and calloused. Unfortunately, because of a combination of my busy schedule and a couple canceled practices, the past two weeks, I was unable to really play the taiko much at all. As a result, those callouses which had built up, quickly returned to their previous tender state. When I finally was able to practice again on Monday night, about half way through the practice, I had developed new blisters and it didn't take much longer for the skin to break and for it to start bleeding.

I think that after awhile, even a two week interval without practice, will not produce such a result. I used to get blisters on my feet all the time from practicing kendo, but for the last couple years, I haven't had any, even when I return to practice after fairly long intervals. I suppose some might say that in the past, when my feet were getting blisters, I just had bad foot technique, and the reason I no longer get blisters is because I have corrected whatever was wrong with my feet. That could be true. Some say the same about taiko drumming. I've heard it said that if your drumming technique is proper, you won't get blisters. Every serious taiko drummer I know (and that's quite a bit more than a few, by the way) has fairly calloused hands, meaning that they also get blisters from playing.

I'm sorry if I have sickened any of my readers who have weak stomachs with all this talk about blisters and blood. Next time, I will write about something easier to stomach. Until then...


Toranosuke - Don Don Matsuri Festival

Greetings. I just returned from four days in Tokyo. It was not necessarily taiko related, but I did have some experiences that I feel that I'll just have to share with my dear readers. One in particular was the scene outside of the Takarazuka theater. But this is not the time I will share it. Right now, I am just taking care of posting some videos which have been waiting for nearly a month to be seen. As I mentioned in the last post, I've been rather busy, though, and this is the first chance I've had to introduce them.

There are three videos here, all from the same performance. This performance was in Komatsu, Ishikawa, Japan. At the Don Don Matsuri (festival) at the end of last month (October). The group is called Toranosuke. They are a group mostly composed of children, but as you'll see, there are also adults in the group. They are from the Noto peninsula of Ishikawa prefecture. I also just learned this week, that just last weekend they participated in a taiko competition near here and may have won the top prize. At least they won something, I am sure. Please enjoy the videos. I think much of their style is very typical of the taiko in this area of Japan.


Just an Update

It seems like it's been quite a while since I was last able to update this. Maybe it hasn't been all that long, however. Anyhow, I apologize to any of my regular readers (if there are any out there) if you have been anxiously awaiting an update. Let me apologize a second time, because I will soon begin listing excuses of why I haven't written and why it will be difficult for me to write for a couple months. My goal is to make at least a weekly entry, which I have actually exceeded in the first few months. Now, however, we have entered one of the busy seasons in Japan and everyone seems to have a lot going on. For the last two weeks, I have been at work from around 7 am to 7 or 8 pm every day. I also joined a new taiko group (Yume Mitai) starting last night, so that adds another thing to my schedule. I will have a "business" trip to Tokyo next week for 4 days, and then when I return, it will be time for final exams at the school. Furthermore, our school puts on a huge Christmas pageant every year, which we have now begun the preparations for, and that also means some late nights at work. To sum it all up, I will probably be rather busy until January, and then things will settle down probably until April or May.

As I mentioned, I have joined a new group, Yume Mitai. I went to the first practice last night. In this group, instead of the O-daiko (large drum) I will play Nagado Taiko, which is probably what most people think of when they think of taiko. It is a barrel shaped taiko. It sits on the floor and probably comes up to around my thighs or knee height. I haven't had much experience playing this type of drum, actually. We do play it in Kaga taiko, but the stance, style and feeling are much different. I, therefore have a lot to learn about playing it. I think I will catch on quickly, but I noticed many problems last night. The music is not difficult, though, and by the end of the 90 minute practice, I think I had about half of the song memorized.

As far as Raion Taiko (that's me and my wife) are concerned, we haven't had many opportunities to practice on our own lately. We can only practice on Sunday afternoons, but for the past month or so, we have had events going on, or one of us was sick, or the children were sick and we couldn't practice. We have been working, though. We are working on writing our first original song. Up till now, we have only attempted to learn traditional taiko pieces, or songs that we could find on the internet, or from taiko books. My wife kept telling me that we have to write our own music and wanted me to try to write something. I tried once a while back, but I couldn't think of more than a few measures of music, and when I put it together, it was rather disappointing. I decided to just wait and as I learned and practiced more and more, I figured writing songs would start to come more easily. Last week inspiration arrived, and we have a strong start to our own original song. It's actually kind of exciting to see it all come together as I think of knew parts. Our goal is to have it done within a couple weeks, and then I will try to ask Yamada-san of Hono Taiko to look at it and give us suggestions.

That's all I have time for today. Hopefully it will not be too long before I can make an update again.