JFF in Prague Preparations

Japan Folk Festival in Prague

Last week, we traveled to Kanazawa to meet with two of the groups who will be joining the festival in March. First was the Kanazawa Subayashi Hozonkai, who practice a rare style of music meant to entertain inside Japan’s traditional teahouses.

The members of this group are remarkable for their dedication to a traditional Japanese art that has largely disappeared. Their style of music was developed from the shamisen repertoire to be perfectly suited for the intimate space where small dinner parties are entertained by geisha.

Geisha may be many people’s quintessential image of Japan, but actually it can be difficult to see these types of traditional performances – the cost of an evening of entertainment from a geisha typically reaches tens of thousands of yen, and many teahouses are open by invitation only.

Furthermore, the style of music that this group performs is unique to the city of Kanazawa. Subayashi, meaning “pure” or “simple” accompaniment, is taught today only by very select numbers of teachers.

Fortunately, Ms. Kineya of the association is happy to share this amazing culture with visitors from other countries. JFF regularly hosts a group from Spain, who are able to watch live practices of subayashi music and dance. The performances are always exceptionally well-received.

In addition to the logistics of performing in a large hall ? very different from their usual atmosphere ? the geisha were very concerned with the difficulty of transporting wigs and other traditional accoutrements all the way to Prague! However, we were all sure that the effort will definitely be worth it to share this amazing culture with the audiences there.

Numbers limited: Hands-on Handa Dashi Festival!

On October 7th-8th, the thirty-one floats of Handa City will be pulled through town and displayed in a festival that happens only once every five years. Each region of the city maintains its own unique float, with colorful carvings, embroidery, dancing karakuri wooden dolls, and unique customs, costumes, and music. Last year, several of the floats were recognized as UNESCO world cultural heritage, and this year’s festival is expected to be the most exciting yet.

In spite of this recognition, however, the festival is still a local event at heart, with each community closely guarding its own traditions, and fierce rivalry between the different groups. In the spirit of participation and hands-on cultural exchange, JFF has arranged a rare opportunity to participate in the parade and enjoy an English language tour of the festival. Visit the local Kunizakari sake brewery, tour the historic riverside district, and, best of all, join one of the teams in pulling a traditional “dashi” float through part of the city. Numbers are limited, so please contact JFF directly to arrange a reservation at or 052-413-8200.

Date: Sunday, October 8th
Time: 11:00 AM ? 6:00 PM on location (10:00 if meeting in Nagoya)
Cost: 3000 yen/person (transportation to Handa not included)

Nagoya event info: Prefectures of Japan Festival

This weekend, explore a variety of foods, music, dance, crafts, and more from around the country in Hisaya Odori park! Nagoya is home to residents from a wide variety of foreign countries, but also to a lot of Japanese transplants. The “Furusato Kenminjinkai Matsuri” is a chance for them to gather and celebrate the amazing traditions that make their home region unique. Booths representing almost every prefecture can be enjoyed in between dance and musical performances.

Date: September 9th and 10th (Sat. – Sun.), regardless of weather
Time: 9:30 AM – approx. 6:00 PM

More information here.

Congratulations to D.D.M. company!

Congratulations to our friends at Handa’s D.D.M. company for their victory in the Domannaka Yosakoi Festival Junior Division! They were also featured on this week’s episode of Oja-Map, featuring Shingo Katori from SMAP. We’re looking forward to more great performances from Nagata-sensei and her students in the future.

Domannnaka Festival 2017 Results

You can see their dancing at the upcoming Handa Folk Arts Festival, September 17th (free admission with ticket in advance):

Ticket information

Event info: Owara-style dance

Enjoy an evening of Owara-style dancing, from Toyama prefecture, at the beautiful Higashi Betsuin temple in Nagoya! Owara is a style of Bon dancing that is performed flowing through the streets, while thousands of paper lanterns decorate the doorways of local shops and houses. The members of Nagoya’s local folk dancing research collective, Kasuri no Kai, traveled to Toyama to learn the steps of this thoughtful, plaintive dance accompanied by shamisen, kokyu, and folk song.

Date and time: Saturday, October 14th, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Place: Inside Higashi Betsuin temple
Tickets: 700 yen advance, 800 yen day-of (contact us to arrange for tickets in English)

Nagoya event: “The Art of the Guitar”

On September 10th, Spanish-based guitar performer and professor Takagi Masayuki will be in Nagoya as part of his “The Art of the Guitar” tour. As part of a 3:00 PM afternoon concert, he will perform a number of contemporary works by composers from around the world, including Antonio Lauro’s Five Venezuelan Waltzes, Alexandre Tansman’s Cantina, and Frederico Moreno Torroba’s captivating Sonatina.

For tickets, contact Muse Salon in Ozone (see flier for details).