Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Amanojaku Taiko Concert


Amanojaku Taiko Concert – Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Japanese Immigration to Brazil
Amanojaku with Kyosuke Suzuki (yokobue flute), Katsunari Sawada (shamisen)
August 13, 2008 Wednesday at 19:00 (Doors open at 18:30)
August 14, 2008 Thursday at 14:00 (Doors open at 13:30)
Nerima Bunka Center TEL: 03-3993-3311
Ticket Prices: Advance Tickets: JPY 4000 
Door Tickets: JPY 4500
All seats are non-reserved
Ticket Pia -  P-Code: 293-971
TEL: 0570-02-9999
Contact: Amanojaku -
TEL: 03-3904-1745 FAX: 03-3904-9434

Amanojaku led by Yoichi Watanabe has just returned from Brazil where they led 1,000 Japanese Brazilian drummers in a performance at a samba venue in Sao Paulo, the Brazilian city with the biggest population of people of Japanese ancestry.
Watanabe has gone to Brazil six times in the last several years to lead workshops in taiko drumming in Japanese communities throughout that nation. This year marks the centenary of Japanese immigration to Brazil, where pioneers went with big dreams after they were blocked entry by segration in the U.S. Taiko has long been a major part of the Japanese American community. Taiko is growing into a major part of the Japanese Brazilian community. Taiko is that pulse that unites people everywhere and helps make that vital connection to our cultural roots.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Poetry and Percussion

"Little YELLOW Slut" and "SuperMom" at CoZmos Cafe in Tokyo July 19, 2008, with Winchester Nii Tete on the talking drum, kpanlogo and djembe.
Winchester Nii Tete has been studying drums since he was a baby because he is from a family of professional drummers in Ghana.
Many Americans have heard of Obo Addy, one of the originators of Worldbeat. Well, that's Winchester's uncle.
Many Japanese have heard of Aja Addy, who played with Kodo. Well, that's another one of Winchester's famous uncles.
His mother's father, his own father, his father's father, his brothers and cousins ... they're all part of the Addy-Amo-Boye family of drummers.
Being Winchester is probably a bit like being born in a Kabuki family in how that art is a part of your everyday life, family ties and legacy.
But Winchester never makes you feel that he is different from you.
If anything, he makes you feel as though you have known him all your life, that maybe you can go visit him and his wonderful family in Ghana one day, and that he will make you feel welcome.
He has never had to actually say this. It is a feeling.
Not only is he obviously a talented musician, he is also sensitive to the person he is with _ what that person is trying to say and do _ and this makes him a very special artist.
I guess what I am saying is that you feel this understanding and respect.
This happens to be sadly rather rare.
Most people who are talented and intelligent are strong. And they become self-absorbed.
Winchester is accomplished in his own art, but he also has that magic of being able to make his art work in a way to enhance other people's statements without compromising his own.
To feel complete as an artist, we ultimately need the Listener.
We say we are not afraid to be alone. But in the end we want to communicate and that is why we write/play music/paint/etc.
The artist you collaborate with is that first Listener.
Winchester makes me feel complete in this process of communication.
He also somehow makes me feel that I want to _ and that I must _ communicate more and more and more with more people, the whole world, anyone who will listen, anyone who will care, everyone, though I may find that may be no one at all except for Winchester.
Winchester has played at many places with his family. But he is still new in Japan and so he plays with a lot of people who aren't rich or famous in small bars that are like holes filled with cigarette smoke for little money.
Sometimes this happens to great musicians.
And so once I said to him: you will be a star soon then you wouldn't want to play with us.
And he looked me in the eye and said: No, that's not true. If I am free, I will come and play.
This kind of conviction he has about his calling as an artist is basic and pure.
But it's something we tend to forget with age.
He is right: We have to keep going, and we have to show up to play/write/paint.
If we start questioning that, if we can't believe, then what are we doing to begin with?
For our reading in the video above, Winchester drove several hours from a concert he was performing with his students near Mount Fuji, and then drove all the way back after this 10 minute performance.
I am just amazed.
I am not sure if I would be able to do that.
I did not realize he was in Fuji until he arrived at our door.
He had just said on the phone earlier in the day: I am quite far, but I will be there.
And to make it all the more amazing, Winchester's father has just died.
He will not go back to Ghana for the funeral but will keep playing music in Japan.

Story of Miu 11

Continued from previous entries:
Story of Miu 10
Story of Miu 9
Links to Story of Miu 8 and previous entries to where it all started.


The details, when put together, make for a rather fascinating profile of a young man.
Maybe because I am a writer I am by nature intrigued by descriptions of things that people do that offer insight into human nature that writers see as a mission to explore.
I still don't really know Yuga at all.
I only know what Miu told me.
Maybe she is telling only her side of what happened as people are apt to do.
And maybe she didn't even really know him either.
The bits and pieces came slowly and gradually.
But as our conversation went on, the crimes, the shortcomings, the mistakes of Yuga came from her in torrents.
Yuga had another identity, Miu says.
He went to clubs to pick up women.
For this, he went by a false name, Ryuga, which still sounded enough like Yuga so that if someone called out the name _ someone who really knew who he was, who happened to be at the same club, the same party, or the same sidewalk, "Hey, Yuga!" _ the girl he was trying to seduce wouldn't find out he had told her his false name, the lie, the other identity: The boy who wasn't a poor musician at all but an up-and-coming recruit at a PR firm, who had money and on his path to fame.
"That is so sad," Miu said to me, scoffing and sneering, although she was almost going to cry.
"I thought I came to Japan to find human relationships that were devoid of the separation of racism, to link with people in a way that wasn't tainted by the barriers of racial stereotypes. I just wanted a man who would look at me and not see a Jap before he saw anything else."
I touched her shoulder, pale and frail and trembling.
But nothing I could do or say was going to make Miu feel better.
When Yuga was Ryuga, when he wasn't practicing with Miu and the rest of his band, when he wasn't poring over his studies, he was talking to strange women as Ryuga in darkly deafening club after club, whispering strange nothings into their ears.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Poetry and Dance

I had the pleasure of collaborating with American/Brazilian dancer Abel Coelho July 6, at What the Dickens.
This blog was how we met.
I wrote about a Dairakudakan Butoh workshop, which Abel took part in.
He left a nice comment about the entry.
And our correspondence began.
He is in Japan again this summer.
We met at Ebisu station near the statute of the god.
We walked over to What the Dickens, then did this together.
Pretty good for two people who just met.
The MC who introduces us at the beginning of the video is poet Tomas.

INCH-KEY (Inchiki)

Bag full of lies
Falsehood fake fraud phoniness
Boss doing side jobs on the sly
Husband hiding lipstick on his sleeve
Chinese eels that're selling as gourmet
Long expired are Senba Kiccho
Mattaku hattari
Mechakucha illusion
Swindler president judge and lover
Poet shaman online writer
Sneezing lying plastic surgeon
Snoozing this year's on-the-job evaluation
You believe what you got to believe
I'm mailing a letter addressed to me
Mattaku hattari
Mechakucha illusion
Eh, woo-so!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Amanojaku in a Yamagata Taiko Festival

Amanojaku appears in a Yamagata Prefecture taiko festival being billed as a once-in-a-decade star-studded event.

OHAMA, Yamagata Prefecture
July 27, 2008 at 18:00 (Doors open 17:00)
AMANOJAKU with Osuwa Daiko, Oedo Sukeroko Taiko, Chichibu Yatai Bayashi, Choshi Hanedaiko and others.
Kan Nihon-kai Taiko Festival
Ohama Seashore Stage
Advance Tickets JPY 2000, Door Tickets 2500
Contact: Kan Nihon-kai Taiko Festival Organization Office TEL 0234-26-0381

More Amanojaku in Brazil

Video footage of a recent Amanojaku concert in Brazil.
"Kaiun" by Yoichi Watanabe.
Players from left to right:
Mayumi Kawana, Isaku Kageyama, Hiromi Ogawa, Yoichi Watanabe.
Yoichi Watanabe, master taiko drummer and the leader of Tokyo taiko group Amanojaku, wrote "Kaiun" after he lost both his father and mother within a scope of about a year.
Like many Japanese, Watanabe has a tight family (both his sons are fantastic taiko drummers), and he was very close to his parents.
The sorrow was a crushing burden that was visible to anyone who saw him those days.
His own health suffered, and he was hospitalized.
But like all great artists, he found in his ordeal a vital force for this composition that is not only about the kind of person his parents always taught him to be _ humbly enduring but always with integrity and vision _ but also about the message of hope and prayer for everyone.
"Kaiun" means "good fortune" in Japanese.
People use the phrase when they wish good luck to others in the same way people in the West say, "God bless you."
"Kaiun" is a powerful spiritual statement of art's transcendence over death and a man's sense of mission to pass on a musical legacy to future generations.
It is a universal statement about how we can never defeat death but how art can give us eternity.

If you want to see "Kaiun" with a better camera angle, please order the Amanojaku DVD from the online store:

It has all the greatest Amanojaku tunes, including "Bujin" (seen in the YouTube upload below), "Dotoh," "Kagura" and others.
A must buy for all taiko fans and students.

Amanojaku in Brazil

Video footage from the recent Amanojaku concert in Brazil.
"Bujin" by Yoichi Watanabe.
Solo by Hiromi Ogawa.
Like many Watanabe pieces, "Bujin" has a solo section that allows individual players to express their own version of Amanojaku taiko.
Hiromi Ogawa's is a classic.
It never fails to build excitement and tension as the perfect third solo for "Bujin."

Dear Sir

Dear Sir,
do you love my daughter?
really love my daughter?
yes the one with the violin
holes in her jeans
she doesn't know she doesn't need you
just knows she wants
maybe the warmth of that moving wormlike fetus stirring growing within her
maybe the hotness of those orgasmic waves coming and going and coming within her
maybe that wet loneliness of wanting you and wanting you when you aren't even gone
she sees only you
but do you love my daughter?
really love my daughter?
yes the one selling matches
begging at the train station
she needs to find herself
not end up being
maybe just one your many conquests, that pretty thing to have at your side
maybe that soul-mate you're keeping while you're feeling too guilty to dump her
maybe that convenience for cooking, counseling, coming that you don't even need
she will die for you
but do you love my daughter?
really love my daughter?
yes that search for love
of that woman for that man
it never ends, repeating
again and again
maybe that blood trickling painless between our thighs on the abortion table
maybe that joy of a bouquet you bring smelling of grease from the construction site
maybe that other woman you hide like a fetish priest wishing my daughter's death
she isn't afraid
but do you love my daughter?
really love my daughter?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Photos by Kabe Chushin 13


Poet YURI KAGEYAMA presents
in an Evening of Multicultural Poetry and Music
at The Pink Cow, in Tokyo.
June 8, 2008.

Little YELLOW Slut with Teruyuki Kawabata, Haruna Shimizu and Keiji Kubo
Loving Younger Men
an ode to the Caucasian male with Carl Freire
Cecil Taylor
People Who Know Pain with Yumi Miyagishima
SuperMom with Winchester Nii Tete
Excerpt from “The Father and the Son,” short story to be published in “Pow-wow:
American Short Fiction from Then to Now,” Da Capo Press (Perseus Books).
Jounetsu wo Torimodosou Music/Lyrics/Guitar/Song by Teruyuki Kawabata, translation
by Yuri Kageyama, performance by All

Poet YURI KAGEYAMA’s works have appeared in many literary publications, including “Y’Bird,” “Greenfield Review,” “On a Bed of Rice,” “Other Side River” and “Stories We Hold Secret.” She has a book of poems, “Peeling” (I. Reed Books).

Music maker, designer and self-proclaimed “shy and wagamama only child,” TERUYUKI KAWABATA leads CigaretteSheWas, one of Japan’s greatest indies bands. The group has a new CD album later this year.

Master percussionist WINCHESTER NII TETE hails from the honorable Addy-Amo-Boye families of drummers of Ghana. He plays with the Ghana national troupe, Sachi Hayasaka, Yoshio Harada and Takasitar.

HARUNA SHIMIZU of CigaretteSheWas fell in love with Ghana’s kpanlogo drum while she was in college. She has kept at it as freely as her spirit moves her.

KEIJI KUBO, who plays didgeridoo and bass, is a linguist and student. He has total respect for aboriginal culture and cultural integrity.

Violinist YUMI MIYAGISHIMA plays with CigaretteSheWas, Kyosuke Koizumi, Binary Scale, The little witch and other groups.

CARL FREIRE is an American writer, translator and musician.

DEEJAY C. GEEZ from St. Louis has been living in Japan since 2006. His super soul music and dope true-school hip hop starts 7 p.m.
Poetry and music 8 p.m.

Photos by Kabe Chushin 12

From left to right
Winchester Nii Tete, Haruna Shimizu, Carl Freire, Teruyuki Kawabata, Yumi Miyagishima playing Kawabata's "Jounetsu wo Torimodosou."

Photos by Kabe Chushin 11

Haruna Shimizu of CigaretteSheWas singing "Jounetsu wo Torimodosou."

Photos by Kabe Chushin 10

Photos by Kabe Chushin 9

Photos by Kabe Chushin 8

Photos by Kabe Chushin 7

Photos by Kabe Chushin 6

Photos by Kabe Chushin 5

Photos by Kabe Chushin 4

Everybody loves Winchester.
From left to right
Teruyuki Kawabata (percussion, guitar, song, composition), Keiji Kubo (didgeridoo/bass) and Yumi Miyagishima (violin) watching Winchester Nii Tete (kpanlogo) on "SuperMom."

Photos by Kabe Chushin 3

More photos by KABE-CHUSHIN ...
Winchester Nii Tete on kpanlogo drums and me doing "SuperMom."

Photos by Kabe Chushin 2

Photos by Kabe Chushin

KABE-CHUSHIN took these photos from the June 8, 2008 TOKYO FLOWER CHILDREN reading at The Pink Cow.
Violinist Yumi Miyagaishima and me doing "People Who Know Pain."

Friday, July 4, 2008


Master percussionist WINCHESTER NII TETE hails from the honorable Addy-Amo-Boye families of drummers of Ghana.
He plays with the Ghana national troupe, Sachi Hayasaka, Yoshio Harada, Takasitar _ and with me!
We were at Ben's Cafe in Takadanobaba, Tokyo, the other day.
Besides "SuperMom," we did a version of "Little YELLOW Slut."
We are planning more collaborations.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Amanojaku Taiko Workshops

Taiko group Amanojaku, led by Yoichi Watanabe, is offering workshops in Tokyo.
Odaiko (big drum)
FRI July 4, FRI July 18, FRI Aug. 22 and FRI Aug. 29, 2008.
7 pm - 8:30 pm
Working at the Basics
SAT July 5, SAT July 19, SAT Aug. 23 and SAT Aug. 30, 2008.
3 pm-4:30 pm
8,400 yen per month (two lessons).
All at Taikonosato Kyouwakan near Yutenji station on Tokyu Toyoko Line.

Amanojaku in Concert
Aug. 13, 2008 7 p.m. and Aug. 14, 2008 2 p.m.
Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Japanese Immigration to Brazil
An event that promises to be a bold statement of legacy and vision, the concert will feature the Japan premiere of “Kizuna,” in Brazil by 1000 drummers for the centenary celebration in June.
Special guests Kyosuke Suzuki (yokobue flute) and Katsunari Sawada (shamisen)
At Nerima Bunka Center TEL: 03-3993-3311
Advance Tickets: 4,000 yen
Door Tickets: 4,500 yen.
All seats non-reserved.
Ticket Pia -  P-Code: 293-971 TEL: 0570-02-9999
Amanojaku TEL: 03-3904-1745 FAX: 03-3904-9434