Just at the start of this year I blogged about a chance walk in on a performance by the fantastic taiko group Yushima Tenjin Shiraume Taiko group (湯島天神白梅太鼓), and a few months ago I had the chance to see them again at the Yushima Tenjin festival in Tokyo’s Taito Ward. They performed three complete sets at the back of the shrine, all the times with the same energy and smiles! Japanese taiko drumming is a quite physical experience to see. You can feel the drums in your stomach and if you stand too close you can feel the air pounding in your ears. It is a fantastic form of music! The performances I saw this time was almost totally done by women, except for one young man. I really hope I can catch them again a few times this year!
Usually when I take photos I never bother cropping them when I edit them. I try to do all my cropping before I take the photo. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I prefer my photos un-cropped not only because they look more “true” in my eyes (as if the physical act of acquiring a subject, composing in your viewfinder and then pressing the trigger to have your computer analyze a sensor image and interpret it for you wasn’t quite far removed from truth anyway) but also because it saves me a lot of time not to worry too much about cropping in post processing. Sometimes you’ll see a photo with a very strange composition, usually it is not me trying to be arty, rather it is just that I tried to avoid taking photos of something just outside the photo frame!
I saw these two wonderfully cute little wadaiko (taiko) drummers in Mishima in the middle of last month. They performed as a mixed group of local taiko groups and drummers from some towns in Miyagi prefecture that are trying to rebuild themselves. It was an excellent perfumers. I love how these two just look so professional before going on stage. I wish I could be this cool!
Every summer Tokyo is full of festivals. In a city of over 12.5 millions it’s only to be expected that you can’t find all of the festivals. I have been here over a decade and still there are festivals I have never even heard of passing by every week, even if I make a point of seeing them I end up missing them several years in a row. It’s difficult to even find information about them, so I guess I was just lucky to be told by someone who knew someone who had head about the little known and very local festival in Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward, just next to Chiba prefecture, near Kasai Station on the Tozai subway line. The Nagashima Yakumo Shrine festival (長島八雲神社例大祭) is so unknown that even the festival captain, a big, bald, handsome man with an even bigger and friendlier personality picked me out in the crowd of the out of towners who had come to look, all two of us! I really hadn’t expected to find such a local festival right in Tokyo so I was very pleasantly surprised! These photos are from near the end of the festival when the three omikoshi gathers at the shrine for the final ceremony. Accompanied by an expert but all to brief performance by a small all female taiko drummer troupe. I think there must be a lot of seriously beautiful people in Kasai! But the final event was even more interesting, on stage we were suddenly greeted by Mr. Kurita Kanichi (栗田貫一) who is not only a famous comedian and talented singer (well, most Japanese are actually pretty good singers) but also the voice actor of one of the most famous classic anime shows in the history of Japanese television: Lupin the Third! How lucky am I!? I think he must be a local celebrity lending a bit of glamour to the festival.