So … How to start this blog? Well, maybe by confessing that I’m a shakuhachi and taiko nut. A more proper way to phrase this would be: I am a shakuhachi shihan (master), teacher and performer (licensed by the KSK (Kokusai Shakuhachi Kenshukan – 国際尺八研修館; see here for KSK Europe), and I am a senior member of the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers, Europe’s only fully professional taiko touring group.
Because I have been awared the first KSK Europe scholarship earlier this year, I will be living in Japan for three months, from July to September 2017, studying with my shakuhachi teacher Kaoru Kakizakai sensei. This seemed a good point to start a blog about my journey into taiko and shakuhachi. I do love both equally and cherish practising shakuhachi in solitude just as much as being on stage with my fellow taiko nutters and working up to the grand finale of a big show.
At the same time, I am very much interested in combining both, which is still quite rare. There are notable exceptions, of course: big Japanese groups like Kodo, Ondekoza or Yamato have sometimes incorporated shakuhachi, and in the West there are Taikoz in Sydney (with the great shakuhachi pioneer Riley Lee) and Marco Lienhard with Taikoza in New York. But these are exceptions. The usual combinations remain taiko–shinobue and shakuhachi–koto–shamisen. The reasons for this I will explore in a future post – that’s the plan at least.
As I’m not a big fan of long posts, I’ll conclude with two short notes. For r taiko nuts, that is), Kakizakai sensei lives in Chichibu, where I will be staying for most of my time in Japan. Unfortunately, I won’t be there during the famous Chichibu Yomatsuri (秩父夜祭, night festival), which is in early December, and will even miss the upcoming shorter festival in July. (Keep reading this blog to find out why!)
Lastly, my crazy Japan schedule already starts on the way out: rather than going directly, I will be flying to Malta first to perform with Mugenkyo at the Malta Arts Festival next Monday 3 July and head off to Japan the following day.