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Guest Performance with Shinshu Otari Daiko in New Zealand – Otari Village 1 信州小谷太鼓とのニュージーランド共演・その一

Early in the year I began receiving messages from some taiko friends of mine, in Otari village about my availability in October of this year. At first, there were sparse details as to why. By mid-summer it was more than clear that Otari daiko was planning to travel to New Zealand and represent their community in a cultural exchange through taiko performance and that I was being asked to come and help them out. I was more than happy to take them up on this opportunity, both to play with them again and to perform in a place I’d never been to before.


Himekawa river in Otari village 2018

Otari is a small community that is the northern most township in Nagano prefecture bordering Niigata. It is surrounded by mountains on all sides and runs along the Himekawa river. Shinshu Otari Daiko is a community run taiko group that teaches to children, youth and adults in the community. It was my privilege to make their acquaintance several years ago during a period when I lived in a nearby town. During that time, I began helping out with their rehearsals and helping to mix things up by teaching some material that was new to them.


Since then, many of the youngsters that I remembered as being in their aloof and awkward pre-teens had suddenly become very driven, polite and disciplined young adults who had taken many of the things I once taught to the then adult segment of the group and were now in leading roles with great drive and skill. I was pleasantly surprized by this, when several months ago videos of their performance in local competitions revealed them to be a new generation of talent coming up in Shinshu Otari Daiko that was very exciting to see. We messaged many times back and forth and when I would offer an comment or two, I was amazed to receive an updated video a few rehearsals later. While it was quite flattering to have my humble opinions taken so proactively to heart, the eagerness and skill with which the youngsters adopted input and advanced their performance, inspired me in working with them.


Amidst this wind change and certainly sooner than I could comprehend, I found myself hurriedly packing only one day in from a trip to Quebec with visiting Tetsuya Kudaka, getting ready for the next day’s flight to Japan. Despite quite a bit of planning and preparation, there were still a good many mysteries awaiting me on the other side of the world. There was still a great deal of question as to what sort of performance, or event and location this request to perform entailed. With many unknowns still bubbling around in my head I managed to pack for what I thought the contingences might be and departed from YYZ feeling excited.