Amanojaku Taiko Concert

Fresh back from a trip to Brazil to celebrate the centenary of Japanese immigration to Brazil, Amanojaku gave two Tokyo concerts this week.
What’s striking about their performance is the vision of leader Yoichi Watanabe that is underlined by his fantastic compositions.
Inspired by stark imagery and story-telling, from sword-flicking samurai to the eternal power of dashing waves, Watanabe’s tunes never fail to deliver an exciting and articulate musical experience.
His taiko concerts aren’t the clap-along feel-good affairs of showmanship that many associate these days with modern taiko.
They make deeper, sometimes painful statements about Watanabe’s perceptions on life and art as defined through his compositions/choreography woven together like fabric.
He told the concert crowd about how he composed “Dotou.”
He said he started out with a piece for the big drum, and then that evolved into a tune about the snarling waves.
While he was at a studio in a prefecture outside Tokyo to work out the composition, there was a thunderstorm.
There was so much rain the sewage gutter outside the studio began overflowing in torrents.
Thus was “Doutou” born.
Watanabe wrote “Kaiun” after his parents died, and the piece has elements of prayer and wishes for everyone’s happiness.
The song has allusions to universal symbols of hard work and preserverance such as worksong chants, swaying of the body and rigorous repetitive beating that is almost excruciating.
But in a mysterious way, the song is also about deliverance from the madness of everyday survival.
It is a moving song about how a man is dealing with the sorrow of losing people he loves, the gratitude he feels toward his forebearers, and the total fear yet total courage artists feel in perpetually facing up to our inevitable deaths.