The Tanabata festival was one of those very special events where a taiko performance is a natural and a central part of the goings on. For us it was a perfect opportunity to fully enjoy what we do and to spread the spirit of taiko playing. We had as much floor space as we wanted, we were given the freedom to do it our way, and ample time for setting up, playing, teaching workshops and facilitating the ‘Tanko Bushi’ dance. We are very thankful to the national museum of Cardiff and specifically to Victoria for having us and making everything so smooth and easy.
The Japan Day in Bath was organised by the Bath and Beppu association in support of the tsunami disaster at the Museum of East Asian Art (MEAA). One of the organisers, Mamiko, was looking for a taiko group to play at the festival and contacted us. We were so happy to have been found! One of the highlights at this festival was a bon odori song/dance called Tanko Bushi. We got the music from Mamiko, Thomas created a double version and we all set to practice it – in Swansea we practiced the rhythm and in Bath they practiced the dance.
The outdoors events started with a drum roll (oroshi) by Yasmin, a kendo demonstration and then we played for half an hour in the sweltering sun (28 degrees!!). There were many people who came to support the day and we had lots of fun. Although we did feel a bit weak at the break between our two performances…For the second performance we took to the shade and it was much easier. And then when the music started, we positioned ourselves in the centre facing outwards towards the dancers and played the drums to the music. Some of us took to the dancing this time. Everybody looked so happy to dance.
We felt honoured to share our taiko with the Japanese community in Bath.
A lot of organisation goes into a gig such as this. Find out who is available on the day; who can drive? which drums go in which car? which songs shall we play that can fit into our time slot? how to arrange the set list? what to say between songs? who will compere? (is there a PA system?) how will the drums be arranged on the day for maximum effectiveness and symmetry?
Occasions like this one push us to practice more; and its not only our taiko playing that improves. Our organisational capacity grows, and with it our friendship.