Monday, December 24, 2012

The Rhythm of A Heart Beat

Today is Christmas Eve.
How are you spending?

Well the other day, I got a Christmas present in advance.
I love Japanese drumtaikoand have long wanted to see Kodō(鼓童);I'd really like you to see this fabulous promotion video to have a glimpse of their performance.

Thanks to Rurousha's  post, I found there would be a performance at Amagasaki,  Hyogo prefecture in December and my dream came true. 

Kodō(鼓童)means the child of taiko; coined word by one of the original members of the group and it also means the rhythm of a heart beating;  kodō(鼓動).

all images are from handouts

Since their debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981Kodō has given over 3500 performances in 46 countries, spending a third of the year overseas, a third touring in Japan, and a third on Sado Island, home to the group off Japan’s northeast coast.

In the first half stage, I surrendered myself to the swaying and evolving percussive sound produced from various taiko drums, starting delicate tender sound to a crescendo like a swell of ocean.

The second half featured soloists striking group’s hallmark giant taiko.
They beat the taiko as an innocent child just keeping beating, or an ascetic practitioner accomplishing complete combustion of life. A forceful and powerful performance by each soloist while stirring himself with loud encouraging voice, reverberated through marrow of my bones.

The publication of the group says “the sound of the giant taiko is said to resemble a mother’s heartbeat as felt in the womb, and it is no myth that babies are often lulled asleep by its thunderous vibrations”. I’d really like to find out if it’s true or not but it may partly explain why I am drawn to a Japanese taiko. Thunderous as it may be heard, the sound of taiko made out of hundreds-year-old wood has somehow intrinsic warmth and nostalgia as a taiko has been closely related to rituals and festive activities since old times. I remember the remote sound of one I heard when I was small.

Before I knew it, two hours passed. Their beaming bright smiles on their faces at the curtain call
were so impressive. (Thank you, redrose, for your company that day)

At home, my source of healing is here.

home sweet home                            

Thank you for stopping by my blog, dear friends. I've been very happy and thankful to have you here with me.
I wish all of you wonderful winter holidays and a Happy New Year!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Keihanna Commemorative Park

Kansai Science City or Gakken Toshi was established to design to help the advancement of creative science, research, arts as well as to promote new industries in 1995. It is located in a border region between Kyoto, Osaka and Nara prefecture, so it is also called  けいはんな学研都市 (Keihanna Gakken Toshi)
A line of Metasequoia (Dawn Redwood) along the avenue and spacious cityscape always make me feel like I was driving somewhere in a foreign country.

けいはんな記念公園 (Keihanna Commemorative Park) was also opened to commemorate the establishment then. It is about 20 minutes’ drive from my house.

This park consists of another park called 水景園 (Suikei-en) which features water scenery and natural grove to explore and wander. I’d be happy if you enjoy seeing some of beauties I introduce here, though I know you are admiring your gorgeous autumn color yourself now.

Through a framework of metal lattice architecture of a pier of the pedestrian bridge, you can see big granite rocks and maple trees.

Here larvae of fireflies are raised so if you are lucky enough, you can see fireflies flying and flickering in late May or early June.

This bridge is called 観月橋 (the moon viewing bridge) and on the harvest moon, there is an event to enjoy the beautiful moon with some music concert.

There’s a small plot inside Suikei-en, where they grow rice and provide small children with traditional agricultural experiences to plant and reap rice. 

When I was small, the sight where reaped rice was being dried under the sun for some time like this was quite familiar in my neighborhood. I remember well that  a winnowing wind blew off chaffs of rice out of a thresher and made a pile of them in no time. I wonder how many of you know about it.

outside the park

I wondered what it was that looked like floating object in the air at the upper left of the picture at first. 
It is a street lamp, maybe or maybe not.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Autumn Tints in Tenkawa

The bright sunlight and cool air at night these days was giving me itchy feet and went out for autumn colors. First place in my mind was Mitarai gorge in Tenkawa.

However, it was not anywhere near enough to be aflame with red and yellow leaves and yet some of them were brown and dried. Severe lingering summer heat this year might've something to do with it , I wonder.

What caught my eyes among others was this cobalt blue stream down below the trail seen through trees.


I'm afraid these shots did not do it justice. Its blueness was breathtakingly beautiful with leaves floating on it.

On the way to the top of Kannonmine (観音峰)、these moss green velvets were gleaming.

ceaseless water trickling over the rock welling from the underground of temperate forest

susuki seeing off the plane drawing white line in the blue sky

As autumn is getting deeper, it will show us its best before entering its dormancy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In Autumn Landscape

Susuki (Japanese pampas grass or Miscanthus sinensis) is starting to bloom at 曽爾高原 (Soni Heights). Susuki, once called Obana (tail flower) has been popular as one of seven autumn flowers here. They say “susu” means to thrive upright and “ki” to burgeon forth.  

The language of this flower is “can relate to”; I really felt relaxed and grateful for the landscape spreading before me. I was impressed with a little girl, supposedly around two or three years old, toddled her way up to the ridge for herself, holding hands of her mother, encouraged by her family. What a charming and lovely sight.
I am sure she is a potential Yama-girl (mountain lover).

                         On the side of the hill, there is a pond called Okame-ike (turtle pond),
                         however, there is no turtle there, it’s a marsh. It just looks like a 

This shot was taken from afar in summer last year.
                           Soni Heights is easily recognized by its characteristic figure with no trees among  mountain ranges.
             You can see a national lodge vaguely in the middle of the shot.

                                                  pretty flowers around the marsh


          shining and swaying  silver ears and blades bathed in morning sunshine

                               Soft lines on the slopes are covered with flannel like clothes.

In the middle of March every year, they burn those grassfields to promote burgeon of new grass so in summer this highland is filled with fresh green grass, besides those ashes are eco-friendly fertilizer.

                                There is a national lodge on the hillside. The other side of the ridge 
                                is coniferous forests so the ridge is lined with trees.

These simple tone of colors can make a lovely spectacular landscape. You can enjoy walking under a 
clear sky seeing the beautiful autumn scene, besides you can enjoy fresh organic food and beer offered by the nearby restaurant.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Is Singing the Song?

image from Wikipedia
During the daytime I hear cicadas droning on and severe lingering heat is forecast for the week ahead. However, I feel the sign of autumn among their voices. In the evening I hear higurashi (evening cicada, Tanna Japonensis) singing.

Actually they started to appear as early as from June but they can be heard most often when the temperature drops or when it becomes cloudy around this time of the year usually in the evening or early morning. Because of this, higurashi is a word associated with autumn in poetry.

Speaking of clear, beautiful voice, I remember when I heard the song with a beautiful resonant tone in the wooded hills in Tenkawa, Yoshino, where a clear stream ran nearby. I thought it was a birdsong. To my great surprise, a friend of mine said it was a frog! A frog?! What came to my mind was the memory of the croak in chorus from the rice paddy fields as a child. 
Anyway, why don't you listen to this first.

I was so ignorant but I knew this was a species of frog called 河鹿蛙 (kajika frog), endemic to Japan.
As you might think, contrary to its beautiful voice, the appearance is sober and rugged and develops protective coloration dapple. Its natural habitat is temperate forests and streams. The beautiful song is courtship display during April to July. However, their desperate courtship doesn't always pay off because of fewer population of female ones. It’s not an easy job to find mates for them as well.

みたらい渓谷(Mitarai gorge) in Tenkawa with several falls, huge oddly shaped rocks and crystalline water in the stream is my favorite destination. In autumn this area turns into a breathtaking tints. (autumn last year)

It was slightly raining and the raindrops made tiny splashes on the clear quiet water. It was really like water fairies were dancing merrily on the water.

This is a suspension bridge called 哀伝橋 ( sorrow passing bridge). This secluded mountain area in Yoshino was and is a religious homeplace for Shugendo practitioners but at the same time it was once a refuge for political losers who attempted a comeback but in vain. It has been steeped in a wealth of history and legends. 

Now it has become a popular place many hikers visit all through the year. At downstream basin, families or people on holidays were having fun in the river though it was a bit cooler to bathe.

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