This past weekend (July 15th & 16th) I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to not just experience but participate in an authentic Japanese summer festival. Like I promised in my “The Art of Taiko” blog post, I have proof that I, in fact, became an amateur taiko master in 2 weeks time.
This is just a video from the end of Day 1 of the festival. Pretty nuts.
And the next day they made sure to emphasize that “yesterday doesn’t really count, today’s the real festival so we need to work even harder.”
So now that I have given you this perspective, let me further elaborate about the Onishi Summer Music Festival…
The festival is a 2 day, all day event.
From 2pm to 10pm each neighborhood pulls around their own shrine – working together through the 90 degree heat and 80 percent humidity – to visit each other’s shrine and share their own version of the drum music.
At each new neighborhood we pulled the shrine to, we paid our respects to that neighborhood’s shrine and were then offered some refreshments.
Here’s a photo of the 250 year old uniform I got to wear as I pulled the shrine for our own Aio-Cho team.
At the end of the “Official” festival day there was a competition between each neighborhood’s Shrine where the best drummers would show off their speed, accuracy and overall performance (flow and grace of the the sticks is essential and your arms need to move like moving water).
It was incredible to be a part of!
Of course I may be biased, but I think Aio-Cho was the best Shrine.
At the closing festival party on Monday night, we were told that we’re all welcome to come back to Onishi and play at the music festival anytime in the future – we are taiko family now.
Maybe I’ll take them up on that offer.
Thank you Aio-Cho for letting me a part of your family. This was an experience I’ll never forget.