Tokyobling's Blog

Okinawan Drummers – Furusato Matsuri

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on March 13, 2012

In January I visited the furusato matsuri at Tokyo Dome and saw, among many other things, these Okinawan drummers perform! I have been twice to Okinawa but never seen anything cultural so this was a treat. Scores of drummers and dancers showing us their traditional high stepping dance complete with a very un-japanese drum rhythm, slow and methodical, with high pitched singing voices and the almost drone like string instruments they use. Almost hypnotic. Any man looks better with a drum but I guess these handsome men wouldn’t look bad even without their drums.

I’m posting quite a few photos to give you a sense of how the movement looks like, not sure if it works! The performance took place on a massive stage and I was nowhere near the dancers, luckily though I had my Bigma with me (a Sigma 50-500mm 3.5-6.3 super tele), also known as “Dr. Backercracker” and the “Widow Maker”. A huge lens I bought second hand that I almost never have the energy to carry around with me. My back is thankful to me for not using it too often. It was dark and with a dark lens like this I had to crank the ISO up to almost unacceptable levels to bring the shutter speeds up and above 1/500 (for handheld photography). Enjoy!

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18 Responses

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  1. Jonny said, on March 13, 2012 at 8:03 am

    I saw the same drummers in London a few years back!!i=602724587&k=HRVup

    • tokyobling said, on March 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      Excellent images! Yes, that’s the guys! (^-^)

  2. Coal said, on March 13, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I believe this particular dance is called エイサー. I think the pictures do it justice! :-D

    • tokyobling said, on March 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Thank you Coal! Is that the name of the word they shout? (^-^;)

      • Coal said, on March 14, 2012 at 1:09 am

        I don’t know to be honest. It probably should be though. ;-)

  3. Emma Reese said, on March 13, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    This looks a bit different from the “mainstream” wadaiko which is super popular too. This one has more movements which you can get a good idea from the series of your photos.

    • tokyobling said, on March 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Yes, but much slower and much more mobile. (^-^) Thank you for the kind comment!

  4. fritz said, on March 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I was at the international travel expo in Berlin last week, working for the city of Tokyo. The information desk for Tokyo was inside the bigger booth for Japan. the only show programm Japan had were drummers, straight from Okinawa, with the same exotic and intense perfomance you show here. I really enjoyed watching and listening to them (though I still feel tired after working 8-10 hours everyday at the expo).

    • tokyobling said, on March 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm

      It sounds like a great job! How difficult can it be to explain how awesome Tokyo is? I still think of you every time I pass that restaurant… (^-^)

      • fritz said, on March 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm

        I honestly enjoyed the 5 days talking about Tokyo and meeting people who dream about the city or of a life in japan. with their questions, they come to us, and it reminds me of myself and my first steps in tokyo. it gives me a lot of energy – but talking for hours is also tiring…

        • tokyobling said, on March 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm

          You should have told me and I would have sent you a lot of Japanese power drinks to keep you on your toes! (^-^)

  5. Timi said, on March 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I love the spirits and energies coming from the pics! :D The red color multiplies it as well I guess!

    • tokyobling said, on March 13, 2012 at 11:39 pm

      Thank you Timi! (^-^)/

  6. Sabine said, on March 14, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    It’s definitely possible to feel the power coming from within the music. I would love to hear the drummers. Considering what you went through to get as much light as possible for the photos, you have done really well in capturing from what looks like an absolutely wonderful performance.

    • tokyobling said, on April 3, 2012 at 8:41 am

      Thank you for the kind comment Sabine! Drum performances are so fun to watch! (^-^)

  7. rommel said, on March 15, 2012 at 1:57 am

    I can almost hear the beat looking at those darn great pictures, so wooden and organic.

    • tokyobling said, on April 3, 2012 at 8:47 am

      Thank you Rommel! You are too kind! (^-^;)

  8. Trommel-Tage « fotografritz / blog said, on March 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    [...] Spielten auch beim Abschlusskonzert – Trommler aus Okinawa (Kollege Tokyobling hat neulich auch welche abgelichtet) [...]

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