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Shubhendra Rao - Japan Tour


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Shubhendra Rao - Japan Tour

Ty Burhoe


Welcome back !!! I have just returned from Japan and still enjoying the beautiful people, culture and food from each and every city we visited. I spent several days alone in Kyoto before the tour began. It was nice just practicing and walking around the streets and temples there (I also was finally able to catch up on some emailing too :) Shubhendra arrived the day before our first little concert at Green e Books. Daisuki-san, Yuko-san and gang were there to greet us. It was so nice to see them again. I don't know what it is, but their little book shop has an intimate and quiet vibration which is conducive to music. Steve Oda and I also experienced that same calm and musical vibration the year before.
タイのブログへようこそ! 丁度日本から帰ってきたところです。今回のツアーで出会った素晴らしい方々、文化、食事を、日本から帰ってきた今も、回想しては楽しんでいます。金胎寺でのリトリートが終わり、シュベンドラとのツアーが始まる前、京都にて一人で過ごす時間がありました。日本語を練習したり、京都の街中を散策してお寺を訪れたり、やっとメールをチェックしてお返事を書く時間も取れました。洋書のおみせGreen e Booksにてコンサートが開かれる前日にシュベンドラがインドから日本入りしました。だいすけさんとゆうこさんとスタッフの皆さんが温かく迎えてくれました。今年もGreen e Booksの皆さんにお会い出来て嬉しかったです。この小さなかわいいお店の何とも言えない雰囲気と静かな空間が、音楽を演奏するにはもってこいな場所なのです。昨年一緒にツアーをしたスティーブ・オダもそう感じたそうです。

Green e Books staff with Shubhendra and Ty.
スタッフの皆さんと、シュベンドラとタイ Green e Booksにて


I also finally got to meet Jimi Miyashita-san who is Japan's premiere santoor player and is a long time student of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. My student Jun-san and dear friend Yukari-san also came to the event and we all had such a great time visiting. Thank you to Green e Books for all your great work for your community and for helping share live music!!!
今回のツアーにてやっと初めてジミー・宮下さんに会うことが出来ました。彼は日本を代表するサントゥール奏者であり、インドのパンディト・シィブクマ・シャーマの長年の門下生でもあります。私の生徒のじゅんさんと友人のゆかりさんも来てくれました。ライブ音楽を京都の皆さんに提供してくれているGreen e Booksに感謝を送りたいと思います。大変お世話になりました。

The Green e Books gang!!!
Green e Booksの皆さん


The next day we headed over to Studio Yoggy Kyoto where I taught a "Musical Universe" workshop and then presented a concert with Shubhendra. Studio Yoggy has helped present me in Japan since I first started coming 4 years ago. The studio manager Yoko Miyamoto and her staff were so welcoming and helpful. They ROCK !!

翌日はスタジオ・ヨギーの京都スタジオへ向い、「ミュージカル ユニバース」のワークショップを教えさせて頂き、その後にシュベンドラとのコンサートが続きました。4年前に日本でのツアーを始めた当初からスタジオ・ヨギーにはお世話になっています。京都スタジオのマネージャーであるみやもとようこさんと彼女のスタッフの皆さんはとても気の利く方々でした。

Studio Yoggy Kyoto.

Some of my dear friends from the Kontaiji Temple Retreat
from both 2010 and 2009 came over for the show.
I was so happy to see them.
昨年の金胎寺でのリトリートに 参加してくださった方々が


The following day I had a tabla workshop at Koizumi Drum Shop (amazing instrument shop in Kyoto)  with some tabla players including Jun-san and Taka-san. We spent a few hours together and got some good lessons in. It truly astounds me that people are willing to put in the hours of hard work to not only learn how to play tabla (the most difficult percussion instrument on the planet), but that they also allow it to transform and inform their lives. It is very true that developing a practice with such an intricate  instrument and ancient tradition, can change shape ones personality and even their life's path. The instrument becomes a reflection of ones energy and visa versa. So I am always very proud of the students who come and give it their all.


Tabla students at Koizumi drum shop in Kyoto.

The guys at Koizumi Drum Shop - cute huh...


And then on our way over to Gifu to meet Jimi-san, we met my friends Tomomi-chan, Shihi-chan and Maki-chan, who I had met at Shumei retreat center in Crestone Colorado several months earlier. We thought it would be fun to say hi in Japan if the chance came up, and it did!!! They are wonderful :)


Meeting at the Kyoto JR Train Station.


So we made our way to Gifu, which is a very beautiful mountainous region of Japan. The fresh mountain air and cooler temperature were very welcome since Kyoto was unusually hot this year. We were met by Jimi-san and we drove up into the mountains to a hotel / restaurant owned by his good friend Tomonori Nozaki, way up in the mountains. No Internet and no cell phone reception... (sometimes a blessing and sometimes not... I'll tell you why in a minute)

So, we arrived at this beautiful place and set up for the small house concert that Jimi-san had arranged for us. It was great! First I played a full raga with Jimi-san and he played amazingly. He is indeed his teachers disciple. Both Shubhendra and I were very impressed by his control and expression on his instrument. We had a beautiful time playing together and I am looking forward to playing more concerts with him on the next Japan tour - Sept 2011.


Enjoying our first time playing together...

Then Shubhendraji and Ty played the second half.


Following the concert we all had a wonderful time visiting and having some wonderful food prepared by the amazing cooks at the restaurant. It was such an impromptu night, full of unexpected meetings and wonderful people. Thank you Jimi-san for making it possible.

Late night dinner at the Gifu concert.

Tomonori Nozaki and the tabla playing worker at the
wonderful restaurant in Gifu - can't wait to go back !!!


Then it happened - I got down the mountain and regained cell phone reception and began getting messages that some amazing tragedy was happening back home. Everyone had been desperately trying to get a hold of me. Apparently, there was a huge forest fire in the mountains near my home, and it was literally the worst fire in the history of the territory, burning close to 200 homes. I sat in the car, quietly as my son told me he was evacuated by the fire department and was only able to save one very special item as he was forced into his car to get out before the fire took the house. He was safe and that was, of course, my first concern. But then, slowly, it dawned upon me, that possibly, the only things that were left of my possessions were here in Japan with me, in my tour cases.
Watch these clips - my house is on the right hand side of the fire: こちらのビデオを参照までに。 私の家は火の手の右側にあります。
And I also saw this news clip: もう一つ
I had to tell Jimi-san and Shubhendra that I might not have anything to go home to. I was moving in and out of different thoughts; at one moment it was, "I need to let go of all the things near and dear to me, maybe it is a fresh start...", and then I would remember Ustad Sultan Khan's grandfathers sarangi which he had given me, Zakir's many gifts, the hundreds of master copy videos and recordings of Zakir and all the artists we have toured with, my journals from the time I was a teenager, all the masters to all my companies recordings etc... Then back again,,, to the feeling of a deep, painful cleansing of my past, and the possibility of a fresh, clean start, followed again by, "Oh no... what about the sacred items given to me by... " etc...
So, we got on the JR train and traveled the hour up to Nagoya and it was totally a surreal experience. I began to feel an odd sense of freedom along with the sting of the loss of so many sacred, memorable and irreplaceable belongings. But over all I felt calm. I could feel my relationship to the force keeping me alive and present in this world. It is truly the one thing, I knew I could lean on.
So we arrived in Nagoya where my student Jun-san and Shinya-san were ready to meet us. They are so wonderful and giving. They made our time in Nagoya as well as other parts of our tour, go smoothly. We felt very cared for. It was so cute, because by the time we even talked about my house burning down, we had already been together for an hour or two and were having a good time. We were even kind of laughing when we told them and naturally they thought we were joking. But a look at the Internet reports together confirmed the reality of it for us all.
So that evening we went out to dinner with the film maker Tatsuya Saito and his sister Aya Saito (who was our translator for the concert). Tatsuya-san is doing a documentary film focused around our concert there in Nagoya - I look forward to sharing it with you when it comes out.

Shinya-san, Ty, Shubhendra, Jun-san, Aya-san and Tatsuya-san


Our concert was in a beautiful old temple which was tucked back off the main roads and was so beautiful that we really didn't need to play much of anything in order for people to have a rich and meaningful evening. But for me, it was an intensely meaningful evening because of what I was going through. It seemed to put a spot light on my heart and challenged my ability to be present.
I remembered when my mother past away a couple of years ago. Shortly afterwards I was touring in Australia and found myself struggling to find a reason to keep performing and to keep pretending to be a happy, uplifting performer (when I didn't feel that way inside because of my loss). But while standing outside the Bangalow Hall, just before the performance, it sank into me that music, more than any other language, really invites us to be more of who we really are and somehow, allows us to be deeply intimate with each other as souls, even my mom who until that moment felt far away... So, I let go and allowed myself to cry on stage while I played, and the power (weight) of the music became something far greater than entertainment. It became a vehicle to carry our truth.
So this was the case in Nagoya and I felt each and every heart beating together that night. It was a very powerful concert and for me, was the deepest and most beautiful concert of the tour.

We were allowed to play in front of the main alter
It was glowing with a warm energy that came
through the music and reached out to every heart. 

There was room for everyone,
but being over sold, there was room for no more...

This was the team that made the event possible.

Wonderful student and dear friend Jun-chan.

Santoor player and dear friend Shinya-san


We spent 3 wonderful days in Nagoya and then headed off to Tokyo. When we got to Tokyo I heard a possible rumor that the hugh fire fighting planes which were dumping water, might have managed to stop the fires' hungry appetite to the north (which was were my house was). But, since all reports continued to confirm that my home was in the burn area, I did not allow my hopes to get to high.
名古屋で素晴らしい三日間を過ごし、それから東京に向いました。東京に着いた頃、消防飛行機 が水と鎮火用の薬剤を空から撒き、北へ向っていた(北の方に私の家はありました)火の手を弱めているという噂を聞きました。しかし、色々な情報源から私の家がある地帯は既に燃えたと聞いていたので、その噂を軽々と信じることは出来ませんでした。
However, over the next few days they finally opened the roads up into the mountains and my son Shaun was allowed up to our property by the fire department. And... he immediately sent me the photo below. WOW, what an amazing sight... my home was untouched... it was a miracle!!!

My unburned Colorado home.
Photo taken by my son Shaun when he first saw it standing.


Shubhendra and I had a nice, cold beer to toast (or not toast) my house being safe!!!! Yeeee Haaaaaa!!! シュベンドラと私は冷たいビールで乾杯をしました!家が無事だったことに!イエーーーイ!!

Kompai (cheers)


I want to take a moment to thank Shubhendra Rao for his friendship and willingness to play with me. He truly is a maestro musician and I have so much to learn from him in this music. His willingness to come on these adventures with me has built a strong bond between us. A few musical friends like Steve, Roshan and Kala have been willing to come and play in these little towns across Australia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, USA, Spain, Paris, Hawaii etc... and even though they are all Carnegie Hall material, they still are happy to play with me in little yoga studios and lovely little places like Green e Books for 25 people. I respect them all so much for that. I suppose for the humble musician, it is all about "heart to heart resuscitation" and that happens one heart at a time.


So, our first Tokyo concert was at IYC which is owned by my good friend Ken Harakuma who is one of Japan's premier Yoga icons. As always, IYC was a beautiful place to hold our concert and many of my good friends came over including Eriko Miyagi and Makiko Itaya who came all the way from Singapore. Such wonderful friends!


In concert at IYC in Tokyo.

The following day we were hosted by Nirmal Yoga in Tokyo for a "Musical Universe" workshop and concert. My assistant Kaori also works for the great yogi Nirmal Raj Gyawali and his studio there, so it was a reunion for us all to come together and spend time with him, his students and the community.
A wonderful group of people showed up and we dug in right away, to try to catch a glimpse of the Nada Yoga world in that short 2 hour span. What an amazing group of human beings!!! We all became family in those two hours and it became odious that we'll continue to go deeper in the years ahead.

Nirmal Yoga's "Musical Universe" workshop in Tokyo.

wow - my dear friends Tania and Rupali from Yoga Hawaii (Honolulu) also came to the concert. They happened to be in Tokyo teaching and they  brought 15 of their teacher training students with them. That was a great reunion!! コンサートには驚くことに、ホノルルのヨガハワイで出会った、 友人であるターニャとルパリが来てくれました。丁度東京でヨガを 教えていたそうで、彼女たちのヨガのクラスを受講していた生徒さん 15人も連れてきてくれました。

Concert at Nirmal Yoga in Tokyo.


Then my busy week started. I played concerts every night of the week and three of them were with my dear friend U-zhaan. He is Japan's premier tabla player and is also famous for his amazing fusion collaborations. He is a brilliant musician and we have become great brothers. I also got to play once again with three other great Indian musicians in Tokyo, Yoshida Daikiti (sitar) and Taro Terahara (bansuri) and Aki Ueda (sitar). These are some of Tokyo's most active and talented Indian instrumentalists.

U-zhaan and Ty after our first concert together with Yoshida-san.
よしださんとU-zhannと演奏した第一日目の夜 コンサートの後で

Tabla duet with Ty and U-zhaan
Taro-san on Bansuri
タブラのデュエット 太郎さんと一緒に


During the week we also had a lovely lunch meeting with sitarist and spiritual teacher Chandrakant Sadeshmukh who brought his wife Pooja and lovely students to lunch. We had a wonderful time getting to know each other and as it turns out, Shubhendra and Chandrakantji knew each other from 20 years back, since they both are disciples of Pandit Ravi Shankar.

Lunch with Chandrakant Sadeshmukh in Tokyo.


Another great meeting I had in Tokyo was with guitarist Yukihiro Atsumi who is an amazing and very creative musician. I was very impressed by his diverse styles of playing and his ability to improvise. We found many common musical grooves where we could meet musically, jumping from hip hop, to jazz to rock and world groove. I will be meeting up with him on my next trip to Japan to rehearse and work on some ideas for a project together for the future. I am excited about working with him - check his stuff out on Youtube.

Yukihiro and Ty in Tokyo - first meeting.


Our next concert in Tokyo was at very nice studio called Mellow Beaute in Azabu-Juban Tokyo which is where our apartment was. Great area for restaurants and shops and their studio was a lovely place to play.


Concert at Mellow Beaute, Azabu-Juban Tokyo.

Three sitarists and one tabla player, nice to be out numbered:)
Yoshida Daikiti, Shubhendra Rao, Aki Ueda and Ty


Then off we went to Niigata which is a 2 hour Shinkansen train journey from Tokyo. (for those of you who don't know about the Shinkansen, it is the world record holder for speed going up to 361mph - it is luxury and speed wrapped up into one train).


So we reached beautiful Niigata to find Jun-san and Shinya-san there to greet us again!!! They had to travel over 8 hours by car in order to arrive there to help host us for the concert. They are amazing people!!! That night we went to a vegetarian Indian restaurant in honor of Shubhendra's diet and as we walked in, I looked to my left and there sat my dear friends Yuichiro-san and Haruo-san. I almost fell over. Yuichiro-san is the eldest son and lead Yosakoi dancer for Suga's Izanai Dance company. Haruo-san is both a Yosakoi dancer as well as a spiritual teacher in and around Japan. They are amazing people and inspired artists who were introduced to me by Akari a couple of years back, they are like family to her. We were all shocked at the random chance we would meet up like this, really a sense of destiny was playing with us...

新潟では、名古屋であったじゅんさんとしんやさんがまた迎えてくれました!彼らは遥々名古屋から車で8時間かけて新潟までコンサートを開催するために来てくれました。彼らは何て心優しい人たちでしょう!その晩はベジタリアンであるシュベンドラのために、ベジタリアンのインド料理やさんに行きました。お店に入るなり、ひょいと左手を見ると、友人の悠一郎さんとハルさんがそこに座っていたのです。びっくりし過ぎて転びそうになりました。悠一郎さんは、Star Nation Projectの創始者國友須賀の長男であります。ハルさんはIzanaiよさこいダンサーであり、またスピリチュアルな指導者として日本各地で活躍されています。彼らは本当に素晴らしい人たちで、周りにいるだけで鼓舞されるようなアーティストたちです。彼らにはあかりを通して数年前に知り合いました。彼らはあかりにとっては家族のような人たちです。私たちはこの予期していなかった再会に心から驚くと共に、心から喜びました。

Haruo-san, Yuichiro-san (in the hat) and Ty
Niigata Japan


Our concert in Niigata was wonderful. It was held in another beautiful temple and our hosts for the night were Saito Isamu (who also is a fine sitarist) and Nishikawa-san (who is a fine tabla player). They are host to many Indian music events down in Niigata. Their company "Spicy Ethno Music" is doing such great work in bringing world music to the Niigata area which was sparked by Reiko Watahiki, an amazing woman who happens to love Indian music. Without the rare and brave people like Saito-san and Nishikawa-san and Reiko-san, who are willing to risk and work hard to bring live events to their community, concerts like this simply would not happen.
新潟でのコンサートはこの上ないものでした。燕喜館というきれいなお寺で行われました。その晩のホストはシタール奏者であるさいとういさむさんと、タブラ奏者であるにしかわさんでした。彼らは新潟で沢山のインド音楽のコンサートを開催していらっしゃいます。彼らのプロジェクトである、「Spicy Ethno Music でぃがでぃな エチゴ」は、わたひきれいこさんと共に、新潟の人々に世界の音楽を提供しています。彼らのように勇敢で忍耐強さのある人たち無しには、今回のような新潟でのコンサートの開催はとても難しいものです。彼らの助けにとても感謝しています。
We had a great time together and I even got a late night opportunity to play a raga with Saito-san in my hotel room. He is a great player and even the dreaded phone call from the front desk asking us to please quiet down, came on the final chakradar tihai (ending phrase) - it was very good timing !!!

In concert in Niigata.

Reiko-san, Ty and Saito-san in Niigata.

Nishikawa-san and Ty in Niigata.


Then, that same night, we jumped on a train and went back through Tokyo to Yokohama because early the next morning I needed to play at the Yokohama Yoga festival arranged by my friend Ken Harakuma.

Ken Harakuma and Ty at the morning session of
the Yokohama Yoga Festival.


At this festival I thought I was simply going to show up and sing the Invocation chant and possibly play some tabla for the morning yoga class, but there was much more in store for me. When we walked into the main hall where the orientation was going to happen, I saw a trio on stage led by erhu virtuoso Chen Min. (erhu is an amazingly beautiful bowed instrument from China) You have to check out her work if you don't already know about it. You can hear her on many albums and movie sound tracks...
So Chen Min had me come and play a couple of pieces with her. Of course, we had never played together before and had no rehearsal, but it was one of those wonderful meetings where we both could lean in, towards each other and find the common ground. There is a special space that opens up when you meet in this ways that feels like reading each others minds. It is a beautiful space and usually only happens with artists whom you already have a long term relationship. But with Chen Min, it happened right away.

Finding the common ground with Chen Min

Immediately, we decided to create opportunities to collaborate.
We are looking at concerts in 2011.


The yoga festival was a great success. Ken-san does such an amazing job putting together this event. I also got a chance to accompany yoga instructor, Akira Watamoto during his yoga class following the concert with Chen Min. The whole event was fantastic and I look forward to participating again next year.

Big yoga class and audience for Yoga Fest 2010
Chen Min and Ty in the center under Ken-san
who is waving his arms...


As we came towards our last concert in Yokohama, I was reflecting on what an amazing month we had had in Japan. Starting with the Kontaiji Temple Retreat and moving to Kyoto, Gifu and then the fire experience and onto Nagoya and then Tokyo, Niigata and finally Yokohama.


Indeed a very rich tour this year.  And there are many people to thank, but much of what is shared between us and the audiences and workshop participants, is dependant on the translators we are blessed to have. Without them, understanding what we wish to share, and caring enough to put themselves into the communication, we would not reach the hearts and minds of the people. So I would like to thank each one of our translators with a hugh ARIGATO!!!!


Kaori Mizuno - Kontaiji Retreat, Nirmal workshop and concert,
IYC concert and at the Yokohama workshop
水野香織 通訳:金胎寺でのリトリート、ニーマルヨガでのワークショップとコンサート、

Jun Haraguchi - Niigata concert
原口じゅん 新潟でのコンサートにて
Chiho Yamashita - Green e Books concert
山下ちほ 京都のGreen e Booksのコンサートにて

Hisano-san - Kyoto workshop and concert
ひさのさん 京都のワークショップにて

Hiroko Fukazawa - Mellow Beaute concert in Tokyo
ふかざわ ひろこさん 東京メロウボートのコンサートにて


Aya Saito - Nagoya concert and Yokahama concert
斉藤あやさん 名古屋と横浜でのコンサートにて


So we found ourselves at the last night of the tour having a very beautiful "Musical Universe" workshop and closing concert at Studio Yoggy Yokohama. We had friends come from all over for these events including Chen Min and her family, Yukie Satoh and Aya Saito from Nagoya, Babeeta Chhabra from Miakami, Chiho Yamashita from Kyoto and many more good friends from Tokyo including my good friend Koichi Kajima who helped us in so many ways . Even Yoshida Daikiti-san came out to help me with sound (he is one of those musicians who does everything including booking, sound and playing etc...) so I greatly appreciated his help.


Musical Universe group in Yokohama

Final concert in Yokohama - Japan tour 2010


I can't properly say how grateful I am for having the opportunity to share music and the sound workshops with people around the world. My friends and spiritual family in Japan and everywhere have become more and more dear to me as I calm my mind and ease my heart. I am now beginning to feel how inter-woven our vibrations and realities really are.

A friend of mine named Billy Two Rivers (Chief of the Mohawk Tribe) once told me that there is one special ingredient which is most necessary for a sacred ceremony to actually work. That ingredient is "Thankfulness", without which countless rituals, ceremonies and relationships slip by, leaving no impact, like an empty canoe. He and I were on a long road trip across Montana and his words were profound within my spirit. I have felt that the truth in his simple message has grown in strength over time and I find myself at the edge of a sea of thankfulness and gratitude that has no end.
With love and warm wishes,