Tokara Concert 1/2

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

Kanazawa to Fukui

After quickly packing my things and rushing to the lobby I had to figure out a way to contact Kurumaya sensei, who had already been waiting for me at Fukui station for more than half an hour. Because my UK phone company had told me that I couldn’t make any phone calls in Japan, I tried to call Kurumaya sensei from reception, but the receptionist apparently entered the wrong number. It took me a while until I understood that I wasn’t speaking to Kurumaya sensei at all but some random local person. Poor man – I don’t think he spoke any English and my Japanese is atrocious at the best of times (incomprehensible otherwise). As it turns out I can call mobile numbers here after all, so 1 minute later (and £4 the poorer) a haphazard mashup of English and Japanese on both sides worked to let Kurumaya sensei know what had happened. Continue reading

Malta to Kanazawa

My plan was to start lessons with Kaki sensei in Chichibu as soon as possible. However, Kurumaya sensei (Neil and Miyuki’s teacher, hence my ‘grand-teacher’) invited me to perform in his concert on 21 July in the Fukui Newspaper Wind Forest Hall (福井新聞風森ホール). That’s an big honour of course, but the question arose: what about rehearsing?

So there were some hectic and lengthy phone calls from the breakfast table in Malta to Kurumaya sensei. Luckily Miyuki was there and – as always! – offered her tireless help in coming up with a workable plan. In the end, I had to be in Fukui on 6 to 9 July for rehearsals, go to Chichibu after that and return on the 19th for the concert. Continue reading