Following my brief Kyushu tour and a last visit to friends in Kyoto, I caught the train a few hours to Sasayama in Hyogo prefecture, where I met up with mbira buddy Masa Sakurai who had come from Tokyo to introduce me to senior Japanese mbira sister Yuki-neh (which means Yuki-sister). They have both spent lots of time in Zimbabwe learning from the famous mbira master Gariyakai (please tell me if you know the correct spelling).
Tabla and mbira are a well-matched but rare combo, a meeting across the Indian Ocean. Both instruments have a similar acoustic level and organic tonal quality, resonant tones, and trancey rhythms, and both have a strong association with spiritual music.
After a brief tabla-mbira session, we went to a really amazing multi-level onsen and had a yummy winter nabe and a few drinks. Then Yuki-neh says "Now we are good and drunk, we should play mbira. You have to be drunk to really play mbira."
Normally I don't drink and play tabla, but if trying to mix with the Zimbabwean spirit one should do as the mbira-masters do. Mbira music is used for spirit-medium work and the trancey repetitive 6 beat rhythms and offbeat melodies are very powerful consciousness transmuters, taking one's mind out of the normal mode. A bit of alcohol stops the conscious mind stepping in and inhibiting the process. I found myself in a place of no thought, playing tabla in completely new ways along with the mbira music. More of that please.