Isao Tokuhashi and I are working together in compiling an oral history of Yoichi Watanabe, the leader and founder of Tokyo taiko group Amanojaku.
Link to an earlier excerpt, and below another excerpt from the work-in-progress, “The Autobiography of Yoichi Watanabe _ as told to Isao Tokuhashi and Yuri Kageyama”:
Most teachers set a two hour or three hour lesson and charge for those hours.
I don’t do that. When I teach a group, I teach from morning until night. That’s because we are going toward the same dream.
Maybe this makes me unprofessional. But I want to be moved. If the people I am involved with are passionate about the music, and they are moved, then I am moved. If I am dishonest to what I believe, I think people will see that.
And so I don’t think about the hours. It’s impossible to teach or create what I want in two or three hours.
The people who perform with me often break into tears. That’s when a teacher can feel truly fulfilled. That’s what I live for.
It’s the same if I go abroad. It gets very busy when I go to Brazil. There is no rest. We are going to lessons from morning until night. But some of the kids are waiting at the hotel for us to get back because they so much want to learn.
I believe that being a taiko drummer was the best job for me. But I also believe that it was a mission given to me by the heavens.
I needed to write a page in taiko history. I wanted to pave the way for those who come after me.
I needed to be able to teach with confidence or else my students won’t be able to play with confidence.
A professional performance is not a recital for friends.
A professional must be spiritually strong like an Olympic athlete undergoing Spartan training.
But without a relationship of trust, a teacher cannot make a student go through that kind of training. If you have not endured this kind of training, and become truly professional, you will be ignored in the professional world.
It all depends on the person. Some need to be scolded. Some need to be praised. Some pick it up without your having said a word, while others never get it even if you tell them many times.
I created the original music that is Amanojaku.
I never wavered. I was always going straight after that goal.
If the roots of a tree are rotten, then it will never flower. But if the roots are solid, the stem will grow strong.
While others paint in colorful oils, I am taking a sumi brush and painting to find my own way. Once I decided that, the rest was easy