We've mentioned our ties with our sister groups in New York and New Jersey, but we are also lucky to be a part of the growing taiko community here in our own Washington metropolitan area (or the WMA, as we locals call it). We took part last weekend in the third annual Sakura Taiko Fest, hosted by our good friends at the Mark H Taiko school, in conjunction with UMD College Park's Japanese American Student Association and Society for Interdisciplinary Studies of Performing Arts.
This performance was a little different than the others we've done this Cherry Blossom season because the primary audience was made up of our taiko community peers--Miyako Taiko, a new group formed in 2014 that's based out of the Mark H Taiko school; Kyo Daiko, a community taiko group from Philadelphia; and guest performers Tanya Downer of ShinDaiko and Mark H Rooney and Kristen Koyama of Kizuna. We gathered at UMD College Park's Nyumburu Cultural Center and jammed out for each other and for friends, family, and guests. There's just something different about the energy when performing for your taiko buddies and listening to your fellow practitioners of this joyful art form; audience members looking around the room during any of the taiko performances would have seen members of the other taiko groups bobbing their heads to the rhythm, doing a bit of chair dancing, and adding in a few kiais here and there. We were impressed by the exuberance that Miyako Taiko members displayed in each of their pieces, and it was great getting to meet the members of Kyo Daiko and seeing Philly's hometown taiko style. Tanya's fue (or flute) performance was inspiring, and you just can't stop yourself from dancing along to the rhythm when Kizuna takes the stage. Check out more pictures from the show on our Facebook page!
After the performance, several of us headed over to a local pizzeria to enjoy some mingling with all of our taiko peeps. We send our thanks to Mark H Taiko for inviting us back this year--we had a blast!
Sakura Matsuri means "Cherry Blossom Festival" and it is the annual Japanese culture street festival that shuts down Pennsylvania Ave in Washington DC. This year it was held on Saturday, April 11, 2015 and coincided with the peak bloom of the cherry blossoms. A popular event that features lots of Japanese and Japanese-American related organizations, food, and performances, it was just as well attended as years past.
Nen Daiko had the pleasure of performing on two different stages this year. The Sakura Stage performance held at the start of the festival, featured four of songs including Renshuu, which our trainees, Jeff and Carla, rocked! The action shots are from Buchiawase, the last piece of the set.
We packed up our equipment and moved through the crowds to the Pennsylvania Stage to prepare for a collaborative performance with Miho Yoshino of the Yoshino Bien School of Calligraphy of Tokushima, Japan. The Japanese word for calligraphy is "Shodo" which translates to "the way of writing" and has strong ties with Buddhism. I have always had a fascination with Shodo and thus, this was one of the coolest events I had a chance to perform in. Yoshino Sensei wrote two beautiful characters while we performed "Satori".
After a long but fulfilling day of performances, we took a final photo with Yoshino Sensei and her beautiful works of art before braving the DC traffic. Thank you Yoshino Sensei for giving us the opportunity to be a part of a wonderful experience!
Three-gig days are FUN and TIRING!! Last Saturday, we performed twice at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Cherry Blossom Family Celebration and later that night at the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival. We love playing for enthusiastic audiences and were thankful that the temperature warmed up a bit. Here we are outside of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in the ending pose of a Nen Daiko classic, Yamabiko!
About an hour later, we played in the museum's courtyard, which is a beautiful space. There were lots of kids to interact with -- what a great audience! Thanks to Nicole for taking these great photos of us!
- Photos courtesy of Gangplank Marina
Hopefully the sakura will be in full bloom this week as we approach the end of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. We hope to see you at Sakura Matsuri (street festival) on Saturday, April 11. We will be performing on the Sakura Stage at 11 am and doing a special collaboration with the Yoshino Bien School of Calligraphy at 1:45 pm on the Pennsylvania Avenue Stage. And if you just can't get enough taiko, come join us for our Open House on Sunday, April 12, 2-3 pm!