Ei Ja Nai Ka
The song Ei Ja Nai Ka was composed by PJ Hirabayashi. Learn more about the song at https://taikopeace.love/ejnk.
Ei Ja Nai Ka means "Isn't It Good?" and is a "dance, rhythm, song, and chant in celebration and commemoration of our immigrant ancestors with endless gratitude.”
Nen Daiko started learning the song just before the COVID pandemic in 2020. It was a project we undertook when many of us were practicing from home. It brought us joy when we could not easily play together.
We love so many aspects of this song because it reminds us of our annual Obon festival where we dance in a circle with hundreds of people. We also love the call-and-response aspects of the song so we can celebrate life with our audiences.
2021 was the 25th anniversary of Ei Ja Nai Ka. PJ Hirabayashi encouraged taiko groups around the world to play this song as an expression of gratitude to those who came before us.
What Are We Showing In our Dance Choreography?
We contacted PJ for her advice as we learned the song. She suggested that in addition to learning the song, we think about our own ancestors. She encouraged us to choreograph our own dances that reflect our ancestors. We shared our stories and choreographed two additional dance verses.
The original dance choreography shows people mining, fishing, sweating in the fields and the railroad.
The next verse shows someone planting, cutting with a scythe, kneading bread, scooping rice and serving a meal.
The third verse shows us reading a scroll, flying a plane, blowing up dynamite in a mine, dancing in a circle, bowing in gassho, and then the signature move of former Nen Daiko member Sachiko (mom to two current members).
Header photo by Maya Nakamura Horio