Sunday, July 08, 2012

Drummers, Tai Chi, More At Japanese Summer Festival

It is summer.  It's light out.  The low 60˚F temperature and grey skies don't bother me, especially when I read about 100˚plus temperatures in the Lower 48.  I biked to Sand Lake Elementary yesterday.  The parking lot was jammed (but not the bike racks) at this event sponsored by the Consular Office of Japan, the Japanese Society of Alaska, Tomo No Kai, and the Japan Relief Fund of Alaska Foundation

Sand Lake is an appropriate spot because it's the elementary school with a Japanese language immersion program.

The Tai Chi demonstration was my reason for going.  My wife, who's been practicing tai chi for a long time now, invited me.  The discipline, art, I'm not sure the right descriptor of tai chi, fascinates me.  There is something so opposite to how we usually do things in the West.  There's an inward focus, a controlling of one's thoughts and breathing and movements that is both beautiful to watch and, I'm told, powerful for the person doing it. J has gotten very good at this and teaches a group at a local assisted living home.  I made a video of yesterday's performance. But it raised one of the conflicts I deal with on this blog and which I'll  post about in more detail in a future post.  Tai Chi should is reflective and I think of it being quiet.  I imagine the ideal tai chi in a natural setting with a flute or other gentle Chinese music in the background.  My video of yesterday reflects the brutal reality of tai chi in a noisy school gymnasium.  Should my videos and photos reflect reality or our stereotypes of reality?  So much of the world reflected to us over the media is edited to conform to our stereotypes, which merely reinforces those stereotypes.  In the discussion with Doug (see below) he mentioned that he uses photoshop to get rid of power lines from his scenic shots.   I even thought about deleting the crowd noise and replacing it with a flute.  But part of what I'm doing is documenting life today, and such modifications would merely play into people's stereotypes.  And imagine historians of the future pointing to pictures where the power lines have been edited out.   And there was no way I could disguise the gymnasium background.   Note:  I'm not opposed to playing with reality (just the idea of thinking about a video or photo as reality shows how 'created' our reality has become)  to find new meaning - as artists do.  Just when the purpose is to conform to people's stereotypes rather than challenge them.   For those who would like to see the slow-motion flow of the tai chi can see the short video here. 

J introduced me to Doug whose wife is also in the tai chi group and who posts a photo a day on flicker.  He has takes lots of pictures and just puts up one a day.  I looked.  Trust me.  He's got great shots. (Even if they don't have power lines. :) )  Yesterday he put one up of the drummers at the festival and other recent ones include a wolf and an angry goose.  I need to go out in the woods with this guy.  I also need a camera that has a good telephoto.


I was waiting for the drummers. (Don't tell my wife.)  I posted about this group last year on the  Fourth of July when they were at the Park Strip.  From the very first time I heard the Taiko drummers from Japan at West High maybe 25 years ago, I was hooked.  The energy and power of the drummers and precision of their playing, and, of course, the way the drum beats go through your body.  This is the complete opposite of the tai chi.  (Is it really?  I have to think about that.  On the most obvious level, yes, but maybe they have more in common than it appears at first glance.)  And the local Anchorage group Tomodachi Daiko gives lessons.  I'm tempted. 

Watch the video.  I've got part of two pieces.  The third one is complete. It starts at 50 seconds.  I find it totally riveting.  Though the video is a pale reflection of actually being there.  These are local Anchorage folks of all ages.  Mesmerizing. 

There were a lot of folks selling things including Bosco's with lots of manga.  I know one of the festival goals was to raise money to help people still recovering from the Tsunami in Japan.  I assume that part of the sales went for that cause.  But I'm not sure how it worked.  (My son spent a large part of his income at Bosco's when he was younger.)

1 comment:

  1. I'm obviously new to posting to a Blog. I've read them before but never really posted to one. I hope I am not making any really bad faux pas. I posted in another area a moment ago and referred back to this story a little. Maybe I should only comment in each section "in" that section (?). I'm sure you will set me straight! :)

    Your coverage of the Japanese Summer Festival is outstanding. Lots of great video and I really like your public interest story on... ah... me! Thank you. And I appreciate the link to my Flickr Photostream. It's always great to have folks see my photographs.

    I really agree with your emphasis on the Taiko Drummers! What a stand-out performance. I visited Japan a while back and one of the things we saw was a high school graduation with an unbelievably good Taiko performance, complete with choreographed lighting. But I think the folks of Tomodachi Daiko could hold their heads high in comparison. An outstanding group!


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