1 March 2014
Student members of a taiko (Japanese drum) troupe in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, will perform at an international children's festival to be held in Izmir, Turkey, on April 23. The troupe is known as "Home to Washi -- Wagami Taiko." Washi means traditional Japanese paper. Nihonmatsu has a washi museum. A ceremony to mark the formation of a Turkey-bound troupe team was held at the Turkish Embassy in Tokyo on Feb. 27, with its members pledging a successful performance.
Festival participation was proposed by the Japan-Turkey Friendship Association though the Fukushima Taiko Federation to convey to the rest of the world the image of Japanese children braving the Great East Japan Earthquake and facing up to the future.
Speaking at the ceremony, troupe representative Yayoe Kiko said taiko rhythms played by the group's members who lead the next generation will symbolize the courage to move toward a bright future. "We will do our best to perform so we may build a bridge of friendship between Japan and Turkey," she added.
The speech was followed by the performance of three original taiko tunes -- featuring the themes of River Abukuma, optimism and Mt. Aizu-Bandai -- by 11 young troupe drummers ranging from elementary school fifth graders to secondary school first graders. Michio Saito, deputy head of the Fukushima Taiko Federation, briefed the audience on disaster-affected people's thoughts incorporated into the tunes, among other things. The serious-looking student drummers showed a brilliant performance, drawing applause from the audience and making some people tearful.
Young "Wagami Taiko" drummers perform in style to receive loud applause from the audience at the Turkish Embassy in Tokyo.
28 February 2014
The theatrical club of Onuma High School in the town of Aizumisato, Fukushima Prefecture, is scheduled to perform next month its original stage drama, which has won top prize at a prefectural high school drama competition. Titled "Schrodinger's Cat -- Our Last Question," the drama will be performed on April 4 in Soma, one of the northeastern areas hit hard by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
The drama depicts the ordeal faced by a high school girl who evacuates following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident. While struggling to make friends with new classmates of another school in an evacuation area, she eventually comes to share thoughts and form friendships with them. It stresses the importance of surviving hardships. The drama is also scheduled to be performed in Shinjuku, Tokyo, on April 6. Club members say they "will seek to convey the feelings of people affected by the disaster through the drama in an effort to prevent the memory of the nuclear accident from fading."
Both performances will be sponsored by "Play For Children," a Tokyo volunteer group offering disaster-affected children opportunities to see stage plays. It will be co-sponsored by Fukushima Minpo Co., publisher of the namesake newspaper, as part of its strategic undertakings for post-disaster reconstruction.
The Tokyo performance is one of several "Remember 3/11" stage events to be hosted by the Play For Children group to support reconstruction efforts. Among the events, the high school drama is the only one involving participants from the northeastern Japan region of Tohoku.
It was given the best drama award at Fukushima Prefecture's high school stage play competition in 2012. Its script was written by Masamichi Sato, 46, an Onuma High School teacher and adviser to the drama club. For the work, Sato was honored last August with a best screenplay award sponsored by the Bansei Shobo bookstore. The drama has been performed about 20 times, including at temporary housing sites for evacuees in Fukushima and at a theater in Tokyo's Shimokitazawa.
Onuma High School's theatrical club members practice ahead of the performance of the award-winning "Schrodinger's Cat -- Our Last Question."
26 February 2014
Some 150 students from seven universities and one vocational school gathered at Spa Resort Hawaiians in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 25 for the first national student hula festival. At the resort, known in Japan as a mecca for hula enthusiasts, the students interacted with local people and offered prayers for the surrounding region's recovery from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
The event was a prelude to the fourth Hula Girls Koshien contest to be held in Iwaki on Aug. 24. It was organized by the Iwaki-based nonprofit organization Hula Girls Koshien to promote the upcoming national hula competition among selected teams of high school girls. "Koshien" is the name of a ballpark in western Japan where a hugely popular national high school baseball tournament is staged.
Participating in the student event were Waseda University, University of Tokyo, Doshisha University, Sohia University, Kamakura Women's University, Gunma Prefectural Women's University, Kanda University of International Studies and Japan Newart College. A hula team from each school staged two performances to different tunes.
"We are happy to stand on the same stage as the Hula Girls (of the resort)," said a member of the Gunma Prefectural Women's University team. "Interaction (with people in Fukushima) is what we can do to contribute to reconstruction." On Feb. 24, the eight groups of students performed at an elementary school and a welfare facility, and had a firsthand look at a coastal area ravaged by the disaster.
A team of dancers from Gunma Prefectural Women's University performs a hula in perfect sync.