Wadaiko Yamato - New Year Concert 2009

Early, January 11th, my wife and daughter and I piled into our white station wagon/mini van, along with two friends from our group, Jigen, and left Kanazawa for a four hour drive through treacherous snow-covered roads to Nara. (Actually, once we got halfway through Shiga Prefecture, the snow was pretty much gone.) We were heading out to see Wadaiko Yamato’s 2009 New Year Concert at the Nara Prefecture Cultural Hall. Last year we had gone by ourselves, but this year our daughter was old enough to sit through the concert and since Yamato had played at last summer’s Exstasia, they gained some new fans at Asano. Two of those new fans ended up joining us for the trip.

This being about my 8th time to see Yamato perform, I still classify them as one of the top groups in the world (if not the top). Although last year I made the claim that they are “the best group in the world” I am realizing that there are many different ideas about what actually makes taiko great and what some people view positively, others may not. At any rate, no one can argue that as far as skill, technique, stage presence and stamina, they are certainly at the top of their game.

The program this year was as follows:
Hayate (the piece with Shamisen)
Kizashi (just shime taiko)

Guest Performance by Kongendo (Yamato’s own Taiko Dojo)

Rakuda (Mostly katsugi-oke taiko)
Garakuta (the piece with chappa – Hand cymbals)

Founded in 1993, Yamato is now nearly 16 years old. Although many original members have moved on, there is still a handful of founding members left. These members, however, are often based in Nara for most of the year, and only join the group on tour for short stints. This is one reason I have particularly enjoyed the New Year Concerts these past two years. It is probably one of the few times that you can actually see all the members of Yamato performing together. Besides that, it is on their “home court” and who doesn’t get an extra boost from playing for the home crowd.

Well, I have a lot to say about this concert, so instead of writing one looooooong entry, I think I am going to break it up into smaller pieces. So, that’s all for now. Please check back in a day or two for the next installment.


Anonymous said...

I still haven't had the privilege of attending their concert in Tokyo. Very curious about their performance indeed. As curious as I am about Honno Taiko.

Raion Taiko said...

Yamato is somewhat of a rarity in Japan since they are touring overseas or most of the year. If you have a chance to see them, you have to grab it when you can. Last year they did perform in Shizuoka (not too far from Tokyo). This year they are performing around Kagoshima and Yamaguchi in July, but that's far away from just about everything in Japan. Hono Taiko gets around a bit more, though. I'll have to try to post info next time they perform around Tokyo area.