Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Niigata temple concert, Yamaquito Family, Squid-Choco

Hi folks,

Thanks to everyone who's expressed concern about my headache. It's all OK now. After 5 quite intense days leading me to the hospital in Funabashi, it started to subside and 5 days later was basically gone. All well.

I've been having a lovely time with musical friends here in Japan. After a few days at Taro & Yuriko's house, we took a trip to Koide, Niigata, about 300km from Tokyo for a concert in Rin-Sen-An (Forest-Spring-Temple - spring as in fresh water). We were taking part in a yearly ceremony at the temple, and played after the monks performed their rituals including lots of chanting. We were also treated to a magnicifent lunch.

The night before the concert, we stayed at Bon-Jin-san's house - a friend of the organiser who is a trained monk but also works as a chiropractor and healer. During dinner he showed us an incredible video of a 90 minute performance in New York by 1000 Japanese monks, accompanied at times by Japanese flute, taiko drums and a Japanese jazz band consisting of sax, flute, keyboards, marimba, bass and drums. Imagine the cost and logistics of rehearsing and flying that many people to New York!!!

Rin-Sen-An temple in Koide, Niigata

Snowy mountain view in Koide, Niigata

Main altar at Rin-Sen-An

Part of main hall of Rin-Sen-An

Dragon panel at Rin-Sen-An

Ika-Choco (Chocolate coated squid): Found in a service area in Saitama on the way to Niigata. Even Japanese people I mentioned this to thought it was very strange. The sales blurb on the box describes it as "a rare collaboration between two special flavours, creating a new deliciousness." Also available, Ika-Choco-Kare (Chocolate coated curry squid). {Sorry I forgot how to do close-ups at the moment I took this photo.}

After the Niigata concert, we drove to The Greenhouse in Chichibu, about halfway back to Tokyo, for the annual Earthlingz Golden Week Gathering. I talk a little about the event in general in this post, but here are some photos of Yamaquito Flamenco Family from the first night. Before the flamenco performance, Japan's seniormost tabla player Kenji Sakasegawa and I gave a tabla duet performance. I have to say it was the best ever tabla duet I've been involved in, and maybe my best ever tabla solo playing. Kenji-san gives fantastic accompaniment and mood which really got me going well, and the dialogue was fantastic. The fact that we both come from the Benares Gharana of tabla really helped our communication. Kenji Sakasegawa is great!

Likewise, Yamaquito Family were fantastic. Totally professional, and to me it sounded totally Spanish - until they politely said "Arigatou gozaimasu" after each piece. The singing was really great.

Yamaquito Family Flamenco Dance Group

DJ and live performances from the Golden Week Gathering are streaming on live web radio - click here to listen. Live performances are generally from about 10pm (Japan time) or so each night (11pm in Brisbane), maybe a bit later. Please have a listen. If you leave the broadcast running for a while you're more likely to catch us playing or at least some announcements about the schedule.

Comments appreciated...

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