Rather than going to Japan directly, I went to Malta first to play a concert with Mugenkyo at the International Malta Arts Festival. We were booked to play a full concert, so had to take a lot of equipment. Unsurprisingly, the most difficult challenge to playing taiko abroad, in particular as we are based on an island, is transporting the drums. After plans to take the van turned out to be unrealistic, because of the distance and the number of ferries needed, the decision was to optimise the amount of equipment and fly – not an easy task for a full show.
While it is still quite straightforward to take nagados as checked luggage, transporting an odaiko on a plane is nearly impossible, not so much because of the size but because of the standard maximum weight of 32kg. So, for the concert in Malta, taiko maker Dave Samuels from Arran modified one of our existing odaiko to make it fit for purpose. Which means: we now have an odaiko for going abroad!
The good baggage handlers at Edinburgh airport, however, seemed to struggle with the unusual task of loading 14 big heavy bags (plus my Japan suitcase) without causing an imbalance in the plane, so some drums had to be un- and reloaded and moved to the other side of the plane – which caused a delay resulting in our flight missing its allotted slot. Most passengers didn’t seem to appreciate the resulting 70 minute delay. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to wear our dojo T-shirts …
Things at the other end weren’t much better. First, it took about an hour until the belt in the baggage reclaim started (for which we take no responsibility), and once we got our bags, the drums were missing! After waiting the appropriate time, queuing and explaining the situation, a security guard was enlisted to open the right door and lead us through customs twice (we had too many bags to fit them all onto trolleys in one go). So, in total it took us two hours to get our luggage and equipment.
Dropping off the equipment at the venue and getting to the hotel was quick and smooth, thanks to the excellent organisation of the festival staff. We were even lucky that we arrived on a Saturday and found an open pizza restaurant at 1am to get a well deserved meal and welcome beer.
P.S.: I will (try to) limit normal posts to about 300–400 words – this is a blog, not a report, after all. The Malta adventure continues in the next post.