R o a d t r i p !!!
This past weekend, Nen Daiko hit the road (check out the exclusive inside-the-minivan shot taken by our man Brig to the left) to visit Seabrook Buddhist Temple in southern New Jersey to celebrate in their Obon Festival and play taiko with our sister groups Hoh Daiko and Soh Daiko!
Nen Daiko owes much to these two taiko groups from Seabrook Buddhist Temple and the New York Buddhist Church. Representatives from Hoh and Soh came to Washington DC in 1994 to help us found Nen Daiko! We've since come a long way from playing taiko rhythms on old car tires, but we will never forget our humble roots nor the interdependence we have with everyone in this world. So it is a highlight of the year when we can head up to Seabrook to reunite with our sister groups in remembrance and gratitude.
Click on "Read More" to see more pics of our trip and performance at Seabrook!
It's that time of the year again... Ekoji Buddhist Temple's Obon Festival! It's our biggest gig of the year, I mean, hey, it is our home turf and we gotta represent. :)
For those that are new to this event, Obon is a traditional summer festival in Japan in which Shin Buddhists honor the memories of our ancestors and their impact on our lives. It's a gathering of joy and is celebrated with Japanese folk dancing, food & drink, crafts & games, and of course, taiko! This year we're also honored to feature a guest performance by the Aloha Boys, a local contemporary Hawaiian music group! If you've never seen them, they are awesome.
Hope to see you there!
There is a great friendship between Nen Daiko and Julie Matthews, an amazing woman who has faced great challenges and persevered with a champion spirit and exuberant smile. She is a two-time leukemia survivor and was honored this year to be nominated for the 2011 Woman of the Year for the National Capital Area Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). It was a 10 week campaign focused on promoting awareness for leukemia and lymphoma and also for the LLS, its mission, and how they can help those facing the challenges of blood cancers (not to mention the funding for research to eradicate this horrible cancer!).
Julie threw an event on May 8th called Party in the Park, a family event with a BBQ feast, sack races, hula hoops, face-painting, and more. Nen Daiko was also honored and privileged to help Julie in her campaign by performing at the event.
It was a sunny day and we set up in a middle of a grassy field. One of our signature pieces, Kasumi, tells a story of a lonely garrison of soldiers standing firm despite an approaching army that massively outnumbered them. Despite the odds, the garrison refused to give up and played their gathered taiko loudly and fiercely, defiantly announcing through the thick mountain fog they would not give up and were ready to fight to the last man. Fearful of the challenge, the approaching army retreated. This piece was chosen by the group to perform in honor of Julie's own battles. As if in agreement of this theme, mother nature sent in ominous clouds to mute the sky, rolling in over our heads as we played the rest of our set. Nen Daiko responded with resounding rhythms and exuberant kiais to challenge the skies and celebrate our friend. Who could blame the sun for later coming out?!
This past weekend, Julie attended the 2011 Man and Woman of the Year gala. She was the second runner up for Woman of the Year, raising nearly $40K in 10 weeks, and the event itself raised a little over $1 million! Thank you everyone for your support to help make this possible. In addition to this award, Julie was honored to also be awarded the Citizenship Award for Mission, given to the candidate who best represented the core mission and ideals of LLS throughout the campaign. Julie accepted these awards to a standing ovation. We're proud of you Julie!
We're stiff, sore, tired, and still smiling... our annual 3 gig day for the National Cherry Blossom Festival has come and gone and we've got some pretty fantastic highlights for the Nen Daiko memory book. The weekend started on Saturday, bright and early, to make it out to the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in World War II to kick off the 2011 Freedom Walk, organized by the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation (NJAMF).
The memorial and foundation were established to honor and never forget Japanese American patriotism, military service, heroism and perseverance over injustice during World War II. The event holds a special place in Nen Daiko's heart as several of our members are part of families that were directly impacted by the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. This performance was the 14th straight year that Nen Daiko has had the privilege to perform here.
The weather was brisk (many in the group would say instead, freezing!) and overcast, but we had a great crowd so after the first hit of the taiko, we had all we needed to get our blood flowing and put on a great show! Congrats to trainee, Geoff, on his first performance with Nen Daiko! With this performance, our entire 2011 trainee class are now veteran performers with us. Great job all!
Ask any taiko player, in any part of the world, in any language, and it is an absolute certainty that when asked what the group is about, their response can be roughly generalized into (1) the group is like family, (2) passion and an exuberance for taiko, and (3) ... FOOD. Taiko players love to eat. And be goofy. (see photo on right). So bento meals, snacks, and a restaurant stop later, we're pulling up to the Southwest Waterfront Musical Prelude to the Fireworks, parking the car while keeping a close eye on the lines of the gourmet food trucks parked throughout the event grounds (holla, Red Hook Lobster Truck !). Quick change and unload at the stage and ...
Enter rain/hail storm... Exit cue audience... Nen Daiko panic to get the taiko to shelter!
Let me correct that... Exit cue for *most* of the audience. Dude in the front row with the green jacket, hood up and flapping umbrella in the hail with a big ole grin on your face. You the man. Lady in the pink raincoat, soaked to the bone, and walking up to say hi after the storm passed... Hardcore! We love it! Canceling this show was no option after seeing you two.
Five to ten very long minutes later, sun is back out, crowds came back, and Nen Daiko rocked the house. Thanks so much for the love!
A few more snacks later and we're at our final gig , setting up for the Festival's Saturday closing act at the Sylvan Theatre, the primary stage for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. In the shadow of the Washington Monument, the theatre is a fantastic and picturesque venue. One great thing about the last gig of a long day is that you know it's time to blow through and burn everything left in the tank. We know the weather chased away many people, but for you all that stuck around, we performed for you (and especially one particular 15 month old son in the audience... no bias of course from the blogger's perspective!)
Thank you everyone for your continued support and we hope you enjoyed our performances! We certainly enjoyed sharing our passion with you through all of this unpredictable spring weather. Hope to see you all again this coming weekend as we close out the National Cherry Blossom Festival with a performance at the Sakura Matsuri Street Festival. See our calendar for more info!
Nen Daiko just completed our first performances of the 2011 National Cherry Blossom Festival! Both sets were a part of the celebration of the festival's Family Day, held at the National Building Museum. It was a fantastic time, and though it was a bit chilly and brisk outside, the energy from the crowd was exhilarating and more than helped to keep us warm. Thanks to all that came out to support us!
Congrats also to Brig, Hanae, and Namiko for their first public performance as participants in our training program! They did great!
See you all next weekend as the festival continues. Check out our calendar for scheduled performances around D.C. on Sat., Apr. 2nd!