横笛と太鼓交流 Cultural Exchange a la taiko and fue

Jen and Richard performing for the banquet












When travelling, often times you don’t find a memorable experience, it finds you.

For us here at Kamesei Ryokan, we look at our role as being the ones to provide good experiences for our guests. In that regard, we often stop by a view point on the way back from picking up a guest at the station, or make an American-style banana split sundae for a cute kid, or any number of little surprises for our guests.

It was in that vein that I offered to take 2 guests from Australia last night to my shishi lion dance practice. I thought they’d enjoy seeing how tradition and culture work here in the Japanese countryside.

I’d say Jen and Richard enjoyed the little surprise, but myself and the other Okagura lion dance guys ended up being even more surprised.

When I mentioned the practice, Jen said, “That sounds fun — I actually do taiko back in Melbourne.” Then as they and the Okagura people got to talking, we found out that Richard is a drummer for a rock band. And that Jen was trained on a flute.

So of course, we asked them to perform. Jen did the taiko first. Up until then, we had basically thought of taiko as being a guy’s world, full of testosterone. But it turns out Jen is part of a 4 person ladies taiko group and her performance was striking for the elegance of her movements. We were all very impressed.

Then Richard took over the taiko drums and did a fast and furious Western-style drum jam on the Japanese taiko drums for us. Definitely fusion. We loved it!

Finally, we asked Jen to do the shishi-bue flute. Now, the other Okagura members and I practice basically once a week, with some of us doing it for decades. We were truly embarrassed by her skill. Her flute background meant she did some trills with the yoko-bue that we had never heard before. We were floored.

That was last night. Tonight, Kamesei hosted a group of ladies from the area. We talked it over with Jen and Richard, and ended up having them provide a little impromptu entertainment for at the banquet.

In our effort to provide a little surprise for two guests from Australia, we ended up being pleasantly surprised ourselves!



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