Extasia 2009 - Taiko of Japan, Taiko of Tomorrow

Today is the big day: Exstasia 2009. I will leave for the concert hall in about an hour, there will be a dress rehearsal in the morning, eat lunch, and then the concert starts at 2:00 PM. When concert-goers enter the lobby when we open up the doors at 1:00, they will be greeted by the large, foam-board Odaiko cut-out you see in the picture above. It has been signed by all of the performers... well, most of them, and the rest will probably sign it this morning. Concert-goers will also be invited to leave a message on the board.

This year's Exstasia will be held indoors, unlike last year's which was held outdoors. It's a good thing, though, because the chance of rain is 80 or 90% all day. Although it is not raining yet. In fact, I was thinking of riding my bike to the concert venue until I checked the weather forecast.

Having the concert inside not only reduces the worries about bad weather, but it also means a lot less work in preparing the venue. Last year we had to spend several days putting up a temporary fence surrounding the whole amphitheater so that people couldn't watch the program without paying and there were many other jobs that had to be done. We were working every day for a week before the concert. This year, most of us only were asked to come the day before the concert (yesterday). I had to work in the morning, so I couldn't make it there until lunchtime. When I arrived, they told me that they'd finished work until 7:00 pm and I could go home until then if I wanted.

I stuck around for a little bit to watch some of the rehearsal because I won't get to see much of the performance today. I got to see about six of the 14 groups performing. Hopefully I'll get to see a few more today. Out of the groups I saw yesterday, the group that left the most lasting impression was Shiobara Ryo and Gokasen (塩原 良 & 御花泉). Gokasen is the name of the team, which is produced by Shiobara san. They feature four women playing Katsugi Taiko. If you can read the Kanji for the name, you'll know that it means "Flower Fountain". After watching their rehearsal yesterday, I think it is an appropriate name. Their playing (the women katsugi players) was very feminine, but in a powerful sort of way. There movement was graceful and smooth, especially their arms. Their name is "Flower Fountain" but think more of a fountain of flowers made of fireworks and perhaps you'll get a bit of an idea of what they are like.

Well, it's time that I get ready to go. I'm sure I'll have more to share after the concert.

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