Taiko at the Nursing Home

On Sunday, I visited a nursing home in Komatsu along with several over students from the Ichikawa Kaga Taiko Juku.

I think everyone enjoyed themselves quite a bit.

When we return to Michigan, I hope that we can visit some nursing homes and share taiko drumming with the people there. I imagine it will not be quite the same, though. Elderly Americans will probably not have the same memories and associations with taiko that elderly Japanese do. Still, my own grandmother, who is 94, loves taiko drums.

I talked with a friend, who sometimes plays taiko at nursing homes here a while ago and she had told me a little bit about what it was like. She said that sometimes there were people who complain that it is too loud and just seem to be annoyed at first, but they often come around and enjoy it by the end of the visit. She also said that hearing taiko can be emotional for a lot of them. The taiko drums seems to bring back a lot of memories of festivals and other events from when they were younger and for some, it even moves them to tears. Actually, I did see a few tears on Sunday as well.

We began our show around 2 PM and finished about 3:30. First five of us took turns performing Kaga Taiko. (Here is me performing)

A little karaoke time followed. Some of us (not me) took turns singing old, Japanese enka songs on the stage. I enjoy singing karaoke, but there were not any songs that I was familiar with. Apparently, the most recent song they had available was from around 30 or 40 years ago.

After that, we let the nursing home residents have a chance to play the taiko a little bit.

Some of them came up on the stage, and for those who were in wheelchairs, we had a small taiko, which we carried around so they could play it. There were a few folks who seemed to have no interest in playing, but most were quite happy to have the chance. There were even some, who we could hardly get to stop playing, once they began.

We ended the afternoon with a few more taiko performances. It was a good time. I always enjoyed it in college when we visited the nursing home to play folk music and I enjoyed myself this past Sunday as well. It is a nice feeling to bring so much enjoyment to people in such a simple way. I do hope that we will be able to put on similar events when we return to Michigan.

There was one "happening" (as they say in Japanese) that really made me smile. Of course, being the only non-Japanese in the group, and playing a very traditional style of Japanese drumming, I was some what of a novelty. So the MC made kind of a big deal out of introducing me...

MC: Today we have a special guest all the way from America!
Residents: Oooooo.
MC: He comes from Chicago. Do you know where Chicago is?
(We decided on Chicago because the MC figured they were more likely to know its location than Michigan or Detroit)
MC: His name is Brian. Can you say that?
Residents: Bu ri an
MC: Good. Let's have him play some taiko for us.

I played my one or two minute taiko thing.


MC: Wasn't that good? Did you enjoy that everyone?

(a little more applause)

MC: Now, do you remember what his name is?
Lady in the front row: (confidently) I know! It's Gonda!

From "Brian" to "Gonda". Well, I guess I have a stage name now.

Signing off until next time,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So Mr. Gonda, well done! Did the same thing a few times with a nursing home out in Chiba. On one visit, one of the resident who formerly was a geisha decided that she wanted to play the tsutsumi to prove it. What a beautiful moment it was!