This year's Japan tour was an amazing experience. I made the decision to stay in Japan longer and arrange fewer concerts so that I could sink into simply being in Japan in a deeper way. Most of my time was spent in Kyoto where there are so many beautiful temples, deep green forests, mountains, rivers and fresh air. (Not to mention great food:)
Obubu Tea Field Yoga & Music Retreat
I began my time with the Obubu Tea Yoga & Music retreat in Wazuka. Wazuka is a small village area about an hour outside Kyoto which produces some of the worlds finest green teas. My dear friend Matsu-san, who runs the tea company always works so hard to make the retreat a wonderful experience for all the participants.
The 2012 Obubu Retreat (on the way to the water falls)
Meals are prepared by Hiromi Adachi and family. They actually own a small beautiful restaurant near Osaka which is worth going - you can make reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org
This year again we were taken by Kanji Okada, head priest of kontaiji Temple.
Tabla lessons and drumming are always a part of our retreats
Some of the participants with Noriko-sensai & Ty
Matsu-san and Ty working with everyone on principles of vibration
While in Wazuka, Matsu-san arranged a fund raising event for the town of Wazuka featuring a local Koto player named Taketani Kimihiro-san. He is a wonderful musician and great person to be around. We will certainly do more in the future.
Spirit of Japan Trio shows - YO
The following week I joined one of my favorite musical groups which features Yutaka Oyama-san on Sugaru Shanisen and Akihisa Kominato-san on Shakuhachi. Our first concert was in an amazingly beautiful Kamakura Temple called Hase Temple. It has a 15 meter tall golden Buddha statue "inside" the main hall. We were allowed to perform right in front of it and the audience got to look at this beautiful statue while listening to our music.
The next day we performed in Tokyo at the famous CAY club.
It was where we performed last year which started our growing collaboration.
On both nights we were joined by the beautiful dancer Nourah-san. Her site is here http://www.nourah.net
She is a joy to watch and a joy to collaborate with. I hope we can do more in the future.
The band - YO
This Trio is very exciting to me since what we share is both, a deep love of our own tradition as well as a desire to find new visions and expressions for our instruments and for our spirits. This coming July we will do some concerts around the US (Boulder, Seattle, New Mexico, CA etc…) which will be wonderful to share with you all. We'll eventually head to Australia and Europe as well in the years to come. Very exciting!
A week later, I hooked up with jazz guitarist Yukihiro Atsumi http://ori-gami.com/artists/thirdiq/ for three concerts (Tokyo, Nagoya and Kyoto). The first show in Tokyo, we were joined by the great tap dancer Saro-san. He is so fun to play with and has a deep and funky groove, so we always have a blast with rhythm when we are together. It is interesting, because with Yukihiro, I am playing purely improvisational music which has no traditional reference points and no rule of how to play my instrument. It is actually quite freeing to try to perceive the tabla as simply a drum that makes lots of sounds. So creating new sounds and new strange grooves is like exploring new corners of my own mind. If we really let go, then we feel like we are flying off to undiscovered countries… lots of energy and self reflection are awaiting an artist who really can let go
The next two gigs were duo gigs which allows for a whole other sonic landscape to emerge. The final concert in Kyoto was actually in Yukihiro-san's private home. His partner Aya-san and my dear friend Chiho-san (Sunny) arranged the event and it was packed. The event was wonderful, even right in the middle of a huge Typhoon which dumped rivers of rain all day and evening - however, as soon as we finished, we all walked outside to find the clouds had broken and the full moon was shining down on us all. Magical indeed.
Yukihiro is another musician that I would like to share with you. One of these days we'll hit the road and come to some different countries to share this deeply improvisational musical universe.
House concert in the 150 year old traditional home of Yukihiro-san
Musical Universe (Nada Yoga) Teacher Training in Yokohama
In Yokohama, I spent an afternoon teaching a group of Yoga Teacher Training students for my friend Mari-san (owner of Yoga Spot). We also did the same training for other students last year, so it seems to be an annual event. As my understanding of Nada Yoga and research into vibration and physics deepens, I am finding more and more ways to express the aspects which I feel are important for people in today's modern life.
Leonard Eto & Yuji-san concerts
Taiko drummer Leonard Eto invited me to join him and another of Japan's great tap dancers Yuji-san for a concert in Tokyo on the following weekend. Leonard is the Taiko drummer that Zakir Hussain collaborated with over the last several years doing DVDs CDs and Youtube recordings. It was my honor to follow in his footsteps and create my own relationship with both Leonard and Yuji-san.
As you see from the photos, the theater was totally pro, with great lighting and killer sound. Most of the evening was groove improvisation based around some themes and ques. We had a blast!
Leonard & Ty
We will be creating some more collaborations and shows to possibly bring over to US in the coming years. But for now, check out this Youtube video we made from part of the concert.
My time in Japan has been incredible. Very diverse in the types of retreats, music and friends that have gathered. I feel so very blessed to be able to share these arts and many moments with the people of Japan and through my blog, with you all.
Signing off for now and may you find your way deeper into your heart and into the life we are living.