J.D. Andrade (HS Science Resources Center Supervisor) reflects on working with the the Japan Center to bring Taiko Project indra (因陀羅) to ASIJ.
On Friday, March 25, ASIJ students and faculty of all divisions kicked off the week before Spring Break with a BANG! Thanks to the generous financial support of the PTA, Taiko Project indra performed four half-hour shows during the school day.
Although I moved to Tokyo two years ago to pursue my passion for traditional and contemporary Japanese drumming, most people know me as the high school’s Science Resource Center Supervisor. Over the course of my first year here at ASIJ, I also wanted to help the our community connect with Japan and Japanese culture. The launch of the Japan Center this year prompted me to put this into action by introducing traditional noh and kabuki music to the elementary school through our tsuzumi and shamisen lecture-demonstrations. The success of this and other programs at the Japan Center gave me the impetus to secure funding for an even larger event.
Taiko Project indra was founded in 2013 by esteemed taiko artist Yuu Ishizuka, a former member of Oedo Sukeroku Taiko, one of the most important and influential taiko groups in the world. The son of renowned kabuki drummer Saburo Mochizuki, Yuu Ishizuka combines noh, kabuki and festival music with more contemporary rhythms and movements, giving Project indra its own unique style and flair. It was this that attracted me to the group, and I am so happy that I could be on stage sharing this passion with the ASIJ community.
Our performance, held at the ASIJ Theater, started with Ichijin no Kaze, a strong and dynamic piece with flamboyant movements. This pumped the audience up and prepared everyone for a show like no other. Ichijin no Kaze was followed by a seamless transition into Samurai, a piece describing a young warrior’s journey towards enlightenment. Here, the audience received its first taste of the fusion between traditional and contemporary. I could hear little laughs from the younger students at the unfamiliar sound of our kakegoe, typical vocal patterns used in noh. A stark contrast to this piece was Shichome, a fun crowd-pleaser borrowing Tokyo festival rhythms with samba undertones. This got the audience excited, especially when we got around to my solo. We finished the concert with Miyabi, a longer, rhythm-packed piece that ended with a loud bang of the drums. Thunderous applause!
Bringing Taiko Project indra to ASIJ was one of the more rewarding experiences I have had since moving to Japan. I truly hope that we have built a lasting relationship between Project indra and ASIJ, a bond that will open up opportunities for our international “bubble” to connect with this remarkable country full of constantly growing culture and unexplored territories.
I would also like to extend my sincerest thanks to the PTA, Mariko Yokosuka and Kyoko Takano (Japan Center Co-directors) and Ed Gilmartin (Theater Manager), who helped make this day possible.