My Journey as a Flute Player in the Awa Dance Group

Japanese Traditional Dance: Music and Dancers in Sui-ren

→ Awa-Dance in Koenji "Sui-ren" official website
23 May

The second day of my Taiwan performance tour

The second day of my Taiwan performance tour

We woke up early in the morning and rode on the bus to head to the middle-west of Taiwan. It was almost a 3-hour drive. I tried to get some sleep in order to save energy.

Prior to arriving at Taiwan, I was feeling worried about the weather. That’s because the weather forecast said it would rain by the time we get there. However, when we were already in Taiwan, it was surprising to see that the weather was extremely beautiful—it was a perfect summer season!

As the saying goes, “nothing is perfect.” The summer season in Taiwan was fine but it also had its downside. There was a day when it was actually too hot to play flute outside, and naturally, I felt so worried about getting sunburned.

When we arrived at Ansei-fu in Unrin Prefecture, we visited a local temple where we prayed for the success of our performance and for a safe trip as well.

While in the temple, I took the opportunity to get a couple of good luck charms—it reminded me of the omamori, however, this one that they have in Taiwan is made of rice. It’s basically a small red bag that contains a few grams of rice. On the outside of the bag, some Chinese characters are printed. It says “peace” and “rice.” In traditional Taiwanese culture, these bags of rice are believed to be a gift from God. Yin-san, the tour guide, explained to me that it is supposed to bring happiness to people. I decided to give them to my parents and my parents-in-law.

Afterward, we were invited to a special lunch prepared by the temple’s officials. Everything they served looked festive—there were so many mouthwatering dishes on the buffet table! They served rice, chicken, pork, fish, vegetables, and soup. They also had bamboo shoots which I loved so much. They were soft and fresh!

By the time I left the dining hall, the people who came to see our performance have already started to gather. Our performance, which was held outside the temple, started around 3 p.m. I noticed that the space they provided for us was too large that I almost missed the sign of the lead dancer. We would change the song based on the lead dancer’s movement and chanting, so sometimes it could be a little difficult to take note of them. After the performance, we marched on the street. I was happy to see that there were so many kids who came to watch us!

We had another performance in the Chao-Tian Temple at night. The Chao-Tian Temple is very much like that of Japanese Ise-Jingu which is the center of people’s belief. This temple’s Goddess is the Chinese sea-goddess Mazu. She became a Goddess after helping her father from a boat disaster. Before we start our performance we prayed to her. Then we paraded towards the temple and had a performance in front of it.

After dinner, we visited the street that we paraded that evening. On that day, April 27th was Mazu’s birthday, so we saw many parades floats there. Many elementary school girls who wore beautiful dress were on the float and tossed us cookies and candies. They sometimes gave us artificial flowers and dolls. The girl who looked really tired strongly threw them, so we had to watch to be safe!. I understand it because the time was already almost midnight. It must be their bedtime already.

I got some snacks and candies and I brought them back as souvenirs for my kids. I enjoyed this parade and it was really a wonderful night to remember!

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With my group members

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The Chao-Tian Temple

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The parades floats

17 May

Taiwan Performance Tour, the first day in Kaoshun

Recently, I went to Taiwan for a 3-day performance tour. It was a cultural exchange program between Taiwan and Japan. The organizer, Koenji-ren-kyoukai, selected 160 dancers and band members. I was lucky enough to be chosen. We were divided into 2 groups and I became a part of “Team B” which traveled from the southern part to the northern part of Taiwan. Our team had 6 flute players—3 of which I’ve already performed with before. I was so happy to get a chance to play with them again!

Coming from Narita Airport in Japan, we arrived at Kaoshun Airport in Taiwan, afternoon of April 26. As soon as we got there, we transferred to a bus and drove to a temple called Ryusei-gu. When we arrived there, a big audience welcomed us. It surprised me a lot.

We held our first performance at Kaoshun. The performance commenced in front of the temple and then from there, we marched on the street as we played our musical instruments. So many Taiwanese locals came to see us and they were all so excited! Honestly, I was feeling nervous at first but gradually, I just felt at ease seeing how ecstatic the people were while they watched us performed. It felt so rewarding. I remember seeing some people taking videos of us using their smartphone. I guess, this way, I could see our performance on Youtube. That would great!

When we back to the temple, we changed our costumes. Afterwards, we got a chance to witness a nice display of fireworks. As a way to welcome us, the Taiwanese organizers set a magnificent fireworks show. It was so close that I felt I could touch them! It was such a wonderful experience for me.

We were invited to a fantastic dinner courtesy of Ryusei-gu Temple officials. They served special Chinese food for us. The dinner was set in a lovely tent outdoors. I could not recognize some of the fish on the plate. Nonetheless, it tasted surprisingly good. It was a great evening and certainly an excellent way to kick off the tour.

15 Apr

Practice for Taiwan performance tour

I am going to Taiwan by the end of this month for a performance tour. I am a member of “All Koenji Team” that is consists of 160 dancers and band members. I have joined the team as a flute player.

We had our first practice yesterday. Most of the songs we played were the same that I played at the Furusato festival, which was held last January. The members are familiar, too.

This team is divided to two teams. One team stays in Taipei and the other one travels from south to north. I belong to the second team, so we perform in Kaoshun which is located south of Taiwan and then move to Uinrin the middle, and finally arrive in Taipei. The last performance is going to be participated by all 160 members.

I have a very close friend in Kaoshun, and she and her daughter are going to see our perform on stage. It’s so exciting!
About the writer
Mayuko Kurosaka

She is a member of Sui-ren. She is a flutist. She's been performing for more than 6 years for the group. She was born in Kawagoe an old city in Saitama. She learned to play traditional instrument when she was a young or a kid. She works as a freelance writer.
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