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Tuesday, August 01, 2006



Listen to the sound of taiko drums and flute

Taiko drums

Last Saturday was Matsuri in Kawamoto, a small town of 5,000 about 20 kilometers up the river from my village. It was a civic matsuri, so lots of free entertainment and plentiful food and drink.

First up were 2 Taiko groups. For some, the plaintive wail of the shakuhachi typifies the sound of Japan. For others it may be the ethereal pluckings of the Koto, but for me nothing sounds more like Japan than the thunder of the Taiko drums.

Taiko drums

Originally the Taiko was a war drum. Used for battlefield communication, and, like the African djembe or like the bagpipes, they were used to scare the bejeebers out of the enemy.

Taiko drums

The Taiko groups of today, playing for entertainment, are a fairly modern invention, starting after the end of the last war, but in the countryside at least, they are increasingly popular.

Accompanied by a solo flute that at times delved into free-form jazz, the hypnotic pounding of the taiko reverberates deep in the bones.


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