The spirit of Zashiki Warashi has brought luck again! While visiting The Malvern Country show near his hometown of Hereford - a celebration of nature, tradition and agriculture, animals, plants and people - Mikey met Ally and Martin selling clothes from their Kiraku brand which was founded in the 1970s, focusing on fair-trade materials and labour and non-toxic dyes, and great styles with a British and Japanese influence (perfect for Zashiki Warashi!) The clothes they sell are designed with great care and handmade by a small collective of women in Glasgow. (You can read about their story here: https://kirakuclothing.com/about-us). Mikey tried on some clothes and he and his family bought some - and it was love at first sight. Due to the Japan / UK connection, Mikey introduced them to Zashiki Warashi and, after some further discussions, Mikey received a gift of a parcel of clothes to wear, enjoy and use for Zashiki Warashi performances. The clothes are beautifully made - you can see for yourself on their website…with more tailored clothes collaborations with them in the pipeline. Thank you Zashiki Warashi, and thank you Kiraku! https://kirakuclothing.com.
Catching up on the past events #3: Miniyaki's (Japanese Soul Food) 10th year Anniversary (24th June 2023)
We had a pleasure of performing 2 short sets, an excerpt of "The Rainmaker", our theatrical concert and "Seed of Dreám", which included some of our latest pieces, to celebrate 10th year anniversary of Emma's Miniyaki's in beautiful woodlands of Ross-On-Wye...
To all who attended Miniyaki’s 10-year anniversary celebration,
We are honoured to have been invited by Emma to perform for you on Saturday. It was our pleasure to celebrate such a lovely occasion together with Emma and all of you. We really hope you enjoyed our music.
I (Mikey - flute) was born in Hereford and lived there until I was 19 years old, so it was special for me to come back and play in the nature that I know so well.
It was also an amazing coincidence that Emma lived in Osaka, Japan, which is where Aki is from.
We felt as though we are the perfect representation of Emma in a musical form.
And the food - wow! That was an incredible meal you cooked for us all, Emma! And Yukata experience with Yumiko. What a great idea. Thanks Yumiko for her lovely Yukata. It added wonderful colours to the evening!
It looks like the mischievous Zashiki Warashi spirit was with us on Saturday, causing our sound-system to stop working - but perhaps it was a blessing as it felt like it was meant to be for us to paint the air with our music completely unplugged and acoustic. I particularly enjoyed hearing Aki’s drums echoing in the branches of the trees.
Speaking of spirits, thanks also to Charlie and Boo of course for providing the refreshments. We visited their fire engine cafe at Paddle Kerne Bridge on Sunday morning for breakfast. The beautiful location and great coffee was just what we needed to get us back on the road to London. If you have not been, we highly recommend making a visit.
Special thanks also to those who came to chat with us and spoiling us with kinds words. We feel very lucky to have shared the night with you all and hope we get the chance to do it all again.
If you would like to spend more time in the world of Zashiki Warashi, please connect with us, follow our footprints and our paths will cross again.
Thanks again everyone, and remember, where laughter goes, good luck follows...
With best wishes,
Mikey & Aki, Zashiki Warashi
Catching up on the past events #2: Yokimono Japanese Xmas Market 2022 (The Factory, Hackney)
Catching up on the past events number 2 is Yokimono Japanese Xmas Market at The Factory in Hackney. This was our second appearance at Yokimono Xmas Market following December 2021. As the previous year was, there were very high number or attendances for this event this time too.
Including the Xmas market in December, Yokimono Market is becoming a very popular twice a year event organised by Sonoe who owns Furuki Yokimono Store at the Factory where she sells vintage Kimonos that she imports directly from Japan.
We played a couple of short sets and had a lovely time. And this time, we had an accidental incident...
One of the shops in the market was a perfume shop. Unbeknown to us, their perfume bottles were shaken off the shelf and being smashed on the floor during our performance. And yes, it was the vibration created by our taiko drum. Thankfully, the shop owner was very understanding of the situation and of course we made an adjustment to our positioning in the second set to minimise the vibration affecting the perfume shop.
We look forward to coming back to Yokimono Japanese Market again to more people in the future.
Meanwhile, we have found a lovely YouTube clip one of the attendants uploaded here
Catching up on the past events #1: Tamashii School of Taiko-Do Xmas Party concert 2022 (Chats Palace, Homerton)
We have some catching up to do with posting past events.
First one of which is the Xmas Party Concert hosted by East London based Taiko School, Tamashii School of Taiko-Do, back in December 2022, where the students of the school had the opportunity to perform to each other, celebrating their progress they made during the year.
We were honoured to be invited to this event held at a lovely venue, Chats Palace in Homerton, East London to perform a couple of our pieces at the end of the concert.
The event had such a lovely warm atmosphere and we had an amazing time performing our improvised arrangement of a folk piece "Sakura" followed by our oldest composition "Shogun".
It was lovely to see some familiar faces and also meeting new people who are enjoying their taiko drumming. Mikey and I both had some great conversations with some people on expression, creativity, technique and philosophy. We continue to stay in touch with some of those people.
We had another event for us to appear the very next day and some of the students of Tamashii school came along to see us again, which was absolutely lovely. (More about the event in the next post)
Thank you for inviting us Tamashii School of Taiko-Do and we look forward to seeing you all again very soon.
When I talk, play, improvise, compose and perform music with my friend Akinori Fujimoto, we visit a place that exists in a kind of shared psychic reality, a blend of memory and imagination so swirled together that it feels as real as the air I breathe. We travel together, at once creating and exploring its landscapes and towns, the skies and seas. We learn the traditions and rituals, we work the land, plant seeds, and build a home. We have agency in this world, but we are not gods there; there is always something bigger than us and we are in awe of it, we respect it and are grateful for it.
Our portal to get there, like Alice’s rabbit hole, the wardrobe that leads to Narnia, Dorothy’s tornado, or Sun Ra’s home planet, is our music - our instruments and our bodies in space: flute, taiko (Japanese drums), bells and voices. We can improvise without a plan, we know when to start and finish, we land on the same spontaneous paths, rhythms, airways and structures, because we are the air and the earth in the same place and time, which is everywhere, and every-when, all at once.
Akinori is from Osaka, Japan. I am from Hereford, England. We collided in London in 2003. If we drew a Venn diagram, the overlap between us would be the world of Zashiki Warashi, our lived experience and our personal / cultural heritages. Our Japanese-Celtic roots are important to us (language, tradition, philosophy) but we are not bound to them. We know we rise from the water, and before that from energy and light, vibration and resonance - sound.
We are shining a light on our roots, deep deep down, while stretching ourselves towards the sun. This world we create and inhabit is a place of symbiosis in an ecstatic dance of work and play.
After twenty years of forming and exploring this place, I believe it has become more vivid to me now that we have begun to sing into it, using a playful hybrid language that derives from Japanese, Old English and imagined language.
Our most recent song composition is an example of this. The words Eor and Ear (tree and sea) come from old English, as do Són and Dreám (sound and dream). Sodate is Japanese, used when encouraging someone or something to grow. These words carry natural power, but we invest ourselves in them, imbuing them with our intention-magic which becomes doing-magic and music-magic. We are the earth dreaming, its heart and breath our taiko and flute.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this work we do together is this: neither one of us can fully go there alone. Maybe that is what our music is teaching us. Our differences merge to make a stronger force together that can transform time and space, for us and our audiences. When we open our eyes, back in the rehearsal room or on the stage, we are two friends in a room. An infinity pool comes to rest, the last ripples from our final notes settle. We pack our instruments into our bags and set off back to our lives, our children, our day jobs.
Who is dreaming our story? Who is singing us into existence?
Whoever you are, wherever you are, we strike our drum, we sound our flute, we sing back to you.
Ura-Matsuri 2022 at St. Margaret's House in London
Zashiki Warashi | 座敷童 was invited to perform at this year's Ura-Matsuri at St. Margaret's House in November.
Ura Matsuri started back in 2016. It is a one-night festival of live performances & installations by Japanese & other East Asian artists, showcasing works which celebrate both East Asian cultural heritage and contemporary British culture.
Aki performed the opening piece with Yuko Tsubame, whom Zashiki Warashi has performed with at Mortio, Hackney back in May this year, to kick the night off in the lovely garden of St. Margaret's House in East London.
After a few acts in the garden, it was us, Zashiki Warashi's turn to take the event in to the indoor performance space where we performed a short set to a lovely group of very engaging audience.
It was great to see some people who we have not seen in a long time and also to share our music with some new people.