The first thing that struck me at the concert, was the precision: Doors open at 2:00. Exactly. 2:25: the usual announcement (from what I could make out). Exactly. Show start: 2:30. Exactly. Tokara starts at 3:00; interval at 3:15. Interval 10 minutes; after 5 minutes the bell rings. Exactly, exactly exactly. Only for the encore everybody allowed themselves some more time. Let’s just say, this is not the Mugenkyo way … But it’s one of those moments where I feel at home in Japan. And: There is a clock next to the stage and visible throughout the performance. Just to make sure, I guess.
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. Continue reading