Once I had arrived we dropped off my big suitcase in the Fukui Central Hotel, famous among taiko visitors to Fukui and infamous for low door frames. Then Kurumaya sensei took me to his dojo to start with a first two person rehearsal. I think he needed to make sure I really could play shakuhachi. Of course, we had never played together, so he was taking a gamble in inviting me, relying just on Mugekyo’s reputation. Later that day he said 「安心です」 (I’m relieved).
After lunch in his favourite restaurant (also famous among dojo visitors) we playing some Fukui style with members of Wadaiko Za Miyama (和太鼓座美山), the group playing at the concert. For me this took a bit getting used to. Even though we are playing Fukui style at home, there are slight differences, eg here the mitsu uchi (三つ打ち) has a slightly stronger headbeat than I am used to.
When rehearsing with Kurumaya sensei later these differences bit me quite a few times that, as he explained, Fukui style is much more strict in using counts of 4, 8, 16 … compared to how we do it in our dojo, ie there’s an accent on the headbeat every 4, a stronger accent every 8, an even stronger accent every 16, etc. Both of us were caught out a few times when the other was using an unexpected timing. Things improved rapidly though, which I’m attributing to Kurumaya sensei’s fabulous musical skills (although I gave it my best, of course).
Later that afternoon, the other Za Miyama members arrived for a concert rehearsal, including the indefatigable Yokota san who had accompanied Kurumaya sensei to Scotland in 2012. Again things were the same but different. Fun fact for taiko nerds: Instead of fully marking all drum positions, the rehearsal space is just divided up into tatami size chunks, which is quite handy, because stages here all use this size, and it makes rough positioning of the drum easy during rehearsal, exact positions are only assigned in the venue.
Fortunately, life finally slowed down for me over the next days. On the following day (Friday), we started work on two pieces, one for taiko and shakuhachi and a special guest reciting poems (太鼓尺八 コラボ, taiko shakuhachi corabo), the other being a traditional 二人打ち (futari uchi, two person ’hitting’). It turned out the special guest was Kazuyo Burland (バーランド 和代) an time Mugenkyo friend from the days when Neil and Miyuki studied with Kurumaya sensei. We had a few more rehearsals, shared some nice car journeys to the dojo through narrow single track roads (it felt just like Scotland) and enjoyed the sunshine. At the end of this time we had a first plan for our corabo.
My rail passes (because of the constant plan changes I had to order them very late) also arrived safely on Friday, and we visited a show in Kanazawa on Saturday (see the next post). Finally, there was a full rehearsal on Sunday with Za Miyama.