Thursday, 10 May 2012

Playing kora with 原田郁子 (Harada Ikuko) 03.05.12 @ J-waves 'TokyoM.A.P.S', Roppongi Hills, Tokyo.

I first met Harada Ikuko at Kichimu in Kichijoji when we played a show there at the beginning of April - her set with Tonchi was beautiful and fascinating...

I ran out of CDs on the night, so a week or two later I posted her a copy of my new E.P, telling her how much I loved her set. Happily, she felt the same of mine and invited me to stay in Japan a few weeks longer to play a couple more shows - one in Tokyo and one in Fukuoka at circle festival on the 19th... (massive thanks to Eiichi-kun and Naoto-San for taking phonecalls, writing emails and interpreting...gomen nasai, yoroshiku onegaishimasu!)

So here I am, sat in cafe yugue in Kyoto for the 4th time this trip, reminiscing (reminiscing might sound exaggerated for casting the mind back a mere week, but that is one of the wonders of yugue, it has such a contemplative, timeless atmosphere, it could amplify any mundane yesterday into a cherished memory.) I'll have another of Dai-chan's delicious bagels and drink a cup of chai...

I was worried about communication at the beginning of our rehearsal on the 2nd of may, but by the end of the day, Harada, Tonchi and I had three songs ready to play together - ginga (milky way), ao I Yama (the blue darkness) and ai no kodomo (child of love?)

There's a lot of deep feeling and expression in these songs, and the third one we played, Ginga, is intended to be like a bridge between the people here now and the people lost in the earthquake and tsunami last year. So many people's hearts are broken by what happened and this new version of the song is upbeat, reflecting the necessity for (and inevitability of) onwards movement and aiming towards reconciliation of sadness with the spirit and memory of the victims which lives on inside people; now, as I write this, something clicks and it occurs to me that in describing, there's a symbiosis between my learning and this song going on, in that through it's sentiment, it might have enlightened me a little on the essence of two words I was introduced to a couple of days ago, and these words, ripe with meaning and defiant of direct translation, may have enlightened me a little on the song in the context of its native tongue:

"setsunai" (loosely - heartrending, trying, painful)


"mujou" (a Buddhist concept which, naturally, there is much to - but loosely - of mutability and transience; of everything without exception being in a constant state of flux).

If you're a fluent bilingual JapEnglish speaker, please tell me if I'm misconstruing (or enlighten me further).
It's a deep-seated sentiment and a beautiful song:

The original of this song is by Kiyoshiro Imawano, a Japanese Rock musician who died of cancer in 2009. He was much a much loved artist and a powerful force in campaigning against the construction of nuclear power plants.    

Harada's a great pianist and inspired me to try and play my piano pieces again with more feeling and less restraint... Here's one I recorded a few days ago:

Massive thanks to Matsumi-san for putting me up in her flat and taking me out drinking with Mitsuru Tajika... I might never have experienced the down-town tokyo drinks of choju with hoppy and Ume-boshi Chu-hi otherwise! Tanoshkata.

If you're a Kyushu dweller or fancy a trip down south, don't miss the show in Fukuoka on the 19th at circle festival!

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