Community spirit in action! In Japan people take their community seriously and almost every neighborhood has a community center or association that works together with the local merchants and shrines as well as the local government to create a good place to live. The most visible aspect of this community work are the local festivals, and here’s some photos of a large neighborhood group taking part in the Shibuya Festival earlier this summer. They come from Kamiyama town (神山町), a 2.4 square kilometer area in central Shibuya with a population of 2180. Forming up by the local shrine they proceed to carry the portable shrine around the streets of their area while chanting, singing, and as you can see in one of the photos even dancing! I don’t think I have ever seen dancing in this kind of festival before. The group organizing the participants is called Kamiyama Mutsumikai (神山睦会) and they are really well prepared with even more flair than most neighborhood groups. Taking part in these festivals is really a major event for many people, from the smallest kids to the oldest residents. I think this kind of strong community bonds is one of the major reasons behind Japan’s prosperity and incredibly low crime rates. I’ll post more photos from the Shibuya Festival and of this group later on. For now, please enjoy!
Sometimes you’re just lucky. Last month while walking towards the huge Shibuya festival I had to pass from the other side of the station and I happened to be walking in step with a small group of taiko drummers about to set up an impromptu street performance right in front of the station and bus stops! The group is part of Fujimitaikonokai, 富士見太鼓の会, one of the bigger and most famous groups of traditional taiko drummers in Japan, they’ve even performed abroad. Usually people pay good money to see these guys perform but I was just lucky to happen upon them. Fujimi Taiko Association is a group based in Saitama Prefecture north of Tokyo that not only excels in taiko drumming but also does tons of charity work, PR work and community service. Groups like this exists all over Japan and is one of the reasons Japan is such a safe country, the community spirit here is just unbelievably strong.
There’s a rather good video of one of their performances on Youtube that I have had playing while writing this post, I really recommend you to check it out. Remember though that nothing can match the experience of seeing these kind of performances live, you can feel the drum in your guts! The performance I saw was dominated by the kids who took turn to perform on the main drum. This is another great thing about Japan, the older are not afraid to step back and let the younger people shine, whether it’s a corporation, band, sports event or community group!