One of my major aims for this stay in Japan is finding ways to combine taiko and shakuhachi. Even though they are rarely used together, some groups have done it, and one of them is Wadaiko Tokara, who have a longstanding collaboration with Ensemble Liberta (shakuhachi, koto, double base and keyboard). I first saw them performing together at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2011, and the shakuhachi in particular had made quite an impression on me.
They were again performing together on 16 July in Kariya near Nagoya. Although that is quite far from Chichibu, I had my JR Rail Pass, which made the decision to go easy. I was a long day, though: I took an early train at 6 am and, thanks to Art and Yukari dropping me off at a station in Kariya, I just made the last train back.
Kariya city operates a free bus service, very nice, although it only runs about every 90 minutes (not helping my already tight schedule), but fortunately the bus terminates right next to the Kariya Hokubu Shogai Gakushu Center (刈谷市北部生涯学習センター). In Kariya I had to wait for an hour or so for the bus, and there wasn’t much to see near the station. But I stumbled into the red light district, deserted on a Sunday morning of course, but apparently a constant across the world close to railway stations.
At the venue it was not very obvious where I needed to go, so I randomly chatted to some members of staff and was guided to the ticket desk (luckily I’m capable of understanding deictic gestures and お待ちください (‘omachi kudasai’, please wait). A little later the ladies handling the tickets arrived and handed me an envelope with my name and ticket. And pointed me in the direction where I could get food.
Getting food at a community centre is quite a challenge with my lousy Japanese, despite, or actually even more so because of the friendly lady reading out the menu to me – but how would I make clear that for me reading is much easier than listening? Luckily I’ve yet to come across a Japanese dish that I don’t like. (Yes, OK, I draw the line at natto.) But recognising ‘yaki soba’ made everything clear. Who wouldn’t like that?