Sunday, July 13, 2008

Shrine To Sea

Today, on another tip from my friend, I became part of the Enoshima "Shrine to Sea" festival. Getting off at the Enoshima train station, I hunted for the festival and, after not finding it, gave up and visited the main Enoshima temple.

While visiting the vast temple complex, which was up a hill and far above the street level, I began to hear the pounding, rythmic sounds, of Japanese drums - I found the festival!

Quickly I descended from the temple and joined the happy frenzy marching through the main street. Immersed in the crowd, I slowly walked behind the shrines(two shrines), as did others, listening to the chanting, the flutes, drums, shimisans, and all other joyous celebration.

Two hours later we arrived near the beach, having paraded for nearly two hours in the unforgiving hot sun. These were moments never to be forgotten. Please see the Youtube video I humbly took of the festival - it only captures a few moments, but they are worth watching.

Click on pictures for LARGER IMAGES.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Koto Concert

Having recently become a student of the ancient Japanese musical instrument called "Koto", I was invited by sensei Hiroko Kodama san to perform in the Yokohama 150th anniversary of the opening of the Port.

Joining six of Hiroko-sans other students in Yokohama's Skip Plaza, we played "Red Shoes", a traditional song of Yokohama. Following our song, we were excused, and the concert transformed into a masterful performance of both traditional and cutting edge music played by true artists: Sensei Kodama-san (Koto), Yutaka Handa-san (flute and soprano sax player), and a drummer playing a special Japanese drum (it makes a popping sound).

When Yutaka began playing a free jazz improvisation accompanied only by the koto, I knew another special moment, never to again occur, was then being created. When he took off the sax mouthpiece and began playing only the mouthpiece, the music went way outside anything I had ever experienced. As his improvisation began to close, it masterfully transitioned back into a traditional Japanese piece.

Most of these special moments will never be captured in a blog, and they certainly aren't captured here since I was more interested in the experience than in trying to record it. Again, my special Japanese friends were the real reason this event became beyond remarkable.

Please see the photos and video below for the few moments I did capture.

Sensai Kodama-san Preparing Koto

Paul Playing Koto (Rehearsing)

Star Quick-Study Koto Player