To answer some important questions first:
- No, I didn’t eat a rabbit burger, I was too busy eating delicious Maltese/Italian pizza before living mostly off rice and fish for the next months.
- Yes, there are many stray cats on Malta, very skilled at relaxing and getting food of tourists (especially Fi).
- Yes, Malta is very busy and the buses are often overcrowded.
- Yes, in the times of the looming gloomy Brexit it was nice to see so many EU flags everywhere. (Malta, the smallest EU member state, just finished its EU presidency at the end of June.)
- Yes, the view from the hotel room was spectacular.
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!
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. Continue reading