Onsen (Hot Springs) in Japan

Ubayu Onsen, Yamagata

Nachikatsuura, Japan

Japanese art do in Delhi

Traditionally Japanese: At this art do at the Japan Foundation, guests caught a glimpse of the traditional Japanese art. On display were Noh Masks by Goto Terumoto and Japanese calligraphy works by Goto Kazue.

Made in India? The artist couple was visiting India for the first time. Kazue greeted everyone with a namaste. Said Terumoto, “We love Indian food, I don’t think it’s that spicy.” Yuka Koyasu, a guest, said, “Indians are a generous lot, dhanyawad.”

Dance ’n’ Drama: Students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) presented a dance-drama titled, The Lotus Path. Debanjali Biswas, a performer said, “It traces the journey of Buddhism to different parts of the world.”


Youth Learning Traditions, Future Bearers of the Art

Pass by the seemingly abandoned chapel at the foothills of Diamond Head, and you might be lucky enough to hear the booming sound of Taiko drums echoing from the building.
On this particular afternoon, the drums sound as a group of children play a very energetic and dance-like piece called Yodan-uchi. This piece involves movement around three large taiko drums, and is played to a fast-paced beat. It is an exciting sight for any passerby.

For those unfamiliar with the term, "taiko" means "big drum" in Japanese. Since it was brought to the states from Japan in the 1960s, Taiko has become an increasingly popular art form in North America. This performance art has become well known in various American communities and in colleges across the nation. But for some, taiko is not just about the music.

In an age when President Obama has inspired youth to take on civic responsibility for the good of all, so has the Taiko Center of the Pacific, a Honolulu-based taiko school, inspired youth to learn taiko to become more connected with Japanese tradition and understand their own obligation to pay respects to the art's origins.

In 1994, Chizuko Endo and world-renowned master taiko drummer Kenny Endo established the Taiko Center of the Pacific, or TCP, to provide a school where youth and adults alike could learn to drum while also observing the discipline and practices that are involved with the art form.
For instance, in the dojo they emphasize respect for the teachers, the instruments, for oneself, and for the art of taiko by bowing at the door before entering or exiting.

Through the school, the Endos formed the Taiko Center of the Pacific Youth Group, an accomplished performance group for advanced children aged 5-18. Yodan-uchi is a piece from their performance repertoire, and the energy and love of taiko is ever apparent in each song they play. For TCP, youth are especially important since they are the future of the art of Taiko.
"To be exposed to the artsgives youth better tools for doing well in their own lives as well as enriching the lives of those around them," says Kenny Endo, who has revolutionized the art form with his philosophy of tradition combined with innovation. "The important thing is to find one's path and dedicate their time to something they love."

For members of the Youth Group, taiko is that something.

"Through the years, taiko has provided me with an outlet to express myself. When I play I am able to channel all the emotions in my life into each hit of the drum," says Julia Hirata, who has been performing with the TCP Youth Group for one year, but has played taiko for about two years.

Long-time TCP Youth Group performer Ryan Luce says "there is a feeling, or 'high,' associated with playing taiko music," and he enjoys playing because of the cultural experience he acquires through the art.

This summer, the Youth Group will be taking its first trip to Japan on a Taiko Intensive Study Tour. There, they will have the invaluable opportunity to workshop with some of Japan's top taiko pioneers and apply some of the traditions they have learned.

"The trip to Japan is a natural step to discover the roots of this art form, meet new people and be exposed to the positive aspects of Japanese culture," says Endo. "Hopefully it will also inspire some of them to further learn about the rich traditions and their potential to keep creating."

The TCP Youth group will also be performing on April 25th at the Hawaii Theatre as a part of "Taiko Fest '09! Island Style," a concert organized by the Taiko Center of the Pacific. Also featured will be the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble; Rhythm Summit Trio with Kenny Endo, Noel Okimoto, and Dean Taba; and special guests from a remote island in Japan, Hachijo Daiko.

For those children who wish to play but are not yet at performing level, TCP offers classes for kids ages 5-83, and has also brought back its Family Taiko classes to encourage parents and children to learn taiko and its Japanese traditions together. For more information on this and the concert, visit www.taikoarts.com or email info@taikoarts.com.


Japan-America Society of Hawaii's McInerny Foundation Japan Day

Kelsey Soma
Reader Submitted

The Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) is providing four of Hawaii's high schools with the opportunity to experience Japanese culture at its Japan Day on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 (sponsored by McInerny Foundation) at Hawaii Tokai International College (2241 Kapiolani Boulevard, 8th floor classrooms and 9th floor Auditorium) from 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Student participants will come from Maryknoll School, Maui High School, St. Andrew's Priory, and St. Louis School for this half-day program, which features expert, community-minded volunteers who donate their time, energy, and supplies to the event.

The program highlights hands-on cultural activities that include bon dance, bonsai, calligraphy, traditional crafts, ikebana (Japanese art of flower arrangement), soroban (Japanese abacus), tea ceremony, and yukata wearing.

The program begins with a taiko demonstration by Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble, under the direction of Mr. Kenny Endo.

Since its inception in 1993, over 4,500 students from 48 public and private high schools have experienced this educational outreach program.

PROGRAM: Wednesday, April 8, 2009, Hawaii Tokai International College
Opening Ceremony w/ Taiko Performance 9:15 am
On-going Activities 9:45 am 12:15 pm
Bon Dance - Room 810 Bonsai Room 802A
Calligraphy - 9th floor Auditorium Crafts - Room 801A
Ikebana Room 802B Soroban Room 801B
Tea Ceremony - 9th floor Auditorium Yukata Room 809
*The power and energy of taiko by Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble
*Participation in a traditional tea ceremony performed by Urasenke Foundation
*Honolulu Fukushima Bon Dance Club teaching traditional bon dance
*Creation of Japanese Crafts led by Kikufu Nippon Bunka Kenkyu Kai
*Calligraphy brush lessons by Mrs. Shokyoku Hashiro
*The art of Kimono and Yukata dressing by kimono expert Mrs. Jean Sakihara and students from Kimono Project USA at Education Laboratory School
*Giant Abacus Calculation demonstrations and instruction with Mr. Hideaki Oshima from the Araki Hiroya Soroban School
*Mrs. Jessie Nakata teaching the students the art and aesthetics of ikebana
*Bonsai arrangements led by the Hawaii Bonsai Association

The Japan-America Society of Hawaii is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with the mission of promoting understanding and friendship between the peoples of Japan and the United States through the special and unique perspective of Hawaii. The Society is committed to education and conducts six school programs from kindergarten to grade 12 and at the undergraduate level at no cost for Hawaii's students.

Information: Kelsey Soma, JASH, (808) 469-4646, ksoma@jashawaii.org.