Sanka’s Autumn Ritual by Ensō Watt – Mixed Media Experimental Event @ UrbanGuild; October 10th

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Well, this looks like something…

ensō Watt Sanka’s Autmn Ritual from PollenRec on Vimeo.

Thanks to Marguerite Paget for sending the following information:

Kyoto Experiment Fringe program 2014 presents the artist collective: Ensō Watt at UrbanGuild from 7.30 pm, October 10th

Initiated in 2014 by the sound designer Samuel André, the Ensō Watt artist collective is born in Kyoto from the encounter of artists coming from different countries and raised in entirely different artistic universe, from classical music to electro, improvisation and sound design.

For Kyoto Experiment Fringe program 2014, Ensō Watt ensemble
performs SANKA’S AUTUMN RITUAL

A hundred years after Stravinsky’s revolutionary “Rites of Spring,” the members of this artistic collaboration pursues the experience-cum-experiment by focusing on Japan’s seasonal cycles, especially celebrated by the little-known mountainous tribe, the Sanka.

SANKA, can be translated from Japanese by “Mountain Cave” or “the one who
come down the mountain”. They are a mysterious, some say magical group of
people, who retreated, wandering in small bands through the mountainous regions of Honshu when the rice farmers arrived from the Asian continent in the third century. The Sanka are sometimes called the Japanese Gypsies. Little is known of their history. Although they are mentioned in Japanese chronicles from the 11th century, much of the information about them is vague.“Being a secluded community their cultural development grew far outside the social framework of the rest of the country. They developed their own language
based on natural sounds ie: the hum of the cicada, and their daily lives became dominated by rituals and esoteric rites.” Chris Mosdell

For SANKA’S AUTUMN RITUAL, Ensō Watt celebrates, autumn season in three acts. The music is inspired by the poetry of Chris Mosdell; it navigates between improvisation and conducted improvisation live by Yannick Paget, based on scored music’s elements. The performers, positioned in the audience, generate an immersive, musical surround-experience (broadcast on 4 speakers). More than just a musical experiment, the event is also shot live via a series of 6 cameras, and is processed and projected on 2 screens during the performance.

The exploration of the season’s cycle started this summer with the SANKA’S
SUMMER RITUAL (2014 July 18th at Urban Guild) :
Act I : rites of dragon fly, driving the dream machine. Act II, rites of the hundred
wind chimes, rites to refresh the earth, rites of the great fire dance. Act III the insect « hum » of humanity ritual, dance of the sacred peach.

Ensō Watt will conclude the cycle next year with winter and spring. A cycle that is meant to continue through years…

Why Ensō Watt ?
Ensō: 円相, in Zen Buddhism, an ensō is a circle that is hand-drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create. The ensō symbolizes absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and mu (the void). It is characterised by a minimalism born of Japanese aesthetics.

えんそう (演奏) means also in Japanese: concert or performance

Watt: reflects the electric energy impulsed by the musicians and the artists of this collective.

Ensō Watt is a space of experiment and overture where frontiers between
musics, classical, electro or sound design melt, where scored music meets
improvisation, where arts (music, image and poetry) enters a free dialogue, where the melting pot of culture is a strength. And so what? with this unique spirit breathed by Kyoto city everything’s possible, isn’t it?

Ensō Watt collective’s members are:
Samuel André (Soundscape, Field recording),
Yannick Paget (classical music conductor, composer and percussionist),
Taisuke Enami (piano & synth effect),
Yuki Nakagawa (Cello & effects),
Ryotaro (Accordion & effects)
Chris Mosdell (lyricist/poet),
Andy Couzens ( live vidéo),
Masato Tokumaru (live vidéo)

For more information and for invitation
Press contact: Marguerite Paget: mgtpaget[at]gmail.com / 090 6556 1974
Event coordination: Samuel André: sandre.constellation[at]gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ensowatt?fref=ts
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Deep Kyoto in The Simple Things Magazine

cover simple thingsTurn to the “My City” section of this month’s Simple Things magazine and you will find my article on Kyoto. My photographs are also used exclusively in the article.

The Simple Things is a lifestyle magazine from Britain with a monthly My City feature in which “one person – clearly in love with their city” is asked “to tell us what makes it so special.”

Here are some excerpts to give you a taste:

simple things my city image“In Kyoto we’re blessed with plentiful access to nature. We’re surrounded by forested mountains, rivers and tree-lined canals. My personal favourite is the Kamo river, a beautiful nature reserve and bird-watcher’s paradise that cuts right through the city centre. Arashiyama (literally Storm Mountain) is another famed beauty spot, where you can take a boat cruise through the Hozu River Gorge or visit the monkey park. Gosho (the Imperial Palace Park), and the Kyoto Botanical Gardens are also popular picnicking spots.”

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“Kyoto has everything I need from a city with a ready access to natural beauty immediately at hand. The seasonal traditions, festivals and ceremonies of the city are a constant source of stimulation and the historical atmosphere and the rich culture of arts, crafts, music and performance are inspiring.”

To order, subscribe or download The Simple Things please visit their website here: http://www.thesimplethings.com/the-magazine/
You can download a digital issue to your i-phone or i-pad here.

Upcoming art exhibitions in Kyoto

Many thanks to Justin Giffin, who has put me on to two upcoming collaborative art exhibitions by international  & local artists in Kyoto. Click on the flyers for a clearer view of the details:

Viviana (Italy) & Ayumi: Sept 23-18 (opening party Sept 23), Gallery Sokyo, Furumonzen-dori, Gion http://gallery-sokyo.jp/en/shop/

Collaborative Water Colour Exhibition

Walderedo de Oliveira (Brazil) & Tanaka Teruzo: Oct 2-11 (event Oct 4), Kyoto Garou, south of Kawaramachi-Imadegawa http://www.kyotogarou.jp/

Walderedo

鸚鵡小町 – Ōmu Komachi at the Ōe Noh Theatre on Sept 15th

Today we have a guest post from Itsuko Nakamura,

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Meet Ono-no-Komachi, one of the Six Poetic Geniuses who lived in 8th century Kyoto, brought back to life by the most highly acclaimed Noh actors of today on Kyoto’s oldest Noh stage!

Noh, the oldest musical drama of Japan, has been continuously performed for over 650 years (and has been designated as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO.) Enjoy its sophisticated aesthetics, stunning masks, gorgeous costumes, lyric dance and breathtakingly intense musical accompaniment.

Ōmu Komachi (Komachi’s Parrot-Answer Poem)

September 15th, 2014 at the Ōe Noh Stage
(on Oshikoji street between Tominokoji and Yanaginobanba streets)
Doors: 1:30 p.m.
Show: 2:00 p.m. ~ 5:00 p.m. (approximately 3 hours)

Tickets: 8,000 yen (B-seats); 7,000 (C-seats); 6,000 (D-seats, non-reserved seats)
For the seating diagram, please refer to:
www.senuhima.com/senuhima/zuo_xi_biao915_reserved.html
For reservations and more information contact: 5th[at]senuhima.com

Description:
In her old age, the famous Heian poet Ono no Komachi lives in Sekidera, a temple at the border-pass between the capital and Otsu on Lake Biwa. Emperor Yōzei sends Major Counselor Yukiie to enquire sympathetically how she is. His poem ends: “mishi tamadare no uchi ya yukashisa” (Was not life enchanting there / within the jewelled curtains?). Yukiie delivers the Emperor’s poem, but Komachi tells him that she will answer with just one word. To the courtier’s astonishment, she explains how this is possible by changing “ya” to “zo,” so that the answer reads: “How enchanting life was there!” [Roy E. Teele translation]. This, she explains is an “ōmu-gaeshi” (“parrot-answer poem”). The rest of the play touches on the comments made about Komachi’s poetry in the preface to the Kokinwakashū. She describes a dance by the poet Ariwara no Narihira, then dances herself. Yukiie takes his leave and Komachi returns to her simple brushwood dwelling by the temple, her sleeves wet with tears.
Global Performing Arts Database, Cornell University
http://www.glopad.org/pi/en/record/piece/1000345

Introducing Takaokaya — Handcrafted Cushions and Bedding from Kyoto

Today we have a guest post from Michael Baxter of KyotoFoodie and Open Kyoto on behalf of Takaokaya: the only traditional cushion shop in Kyoto that still makes their products by hand…

Takaokaya: Handcrafted Contemporary & Traditional Zabuton Cushions and Futon Bedding from Kyoto Since 1919

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Brand Story
Takaokaya is a producer of handmade zabuton cushions and futon bedding in the ancient capital of Kyoto.

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Our stylish, high quality range of furnishings are designed to harmonize any living space and bring the relaxing Japanese art of ‘Kutsurogi’ to your life.

 Koichiro Takaoka, Takaokaya’s third generation proprietor, says “People in Japan, are re-evaluating their lifestyles and what matters most to them. While mass production has brought benefits, something is missing. That is heart and soul. If we use products with heart and soul, then our lives will be made much, much richer and more meaningful!”

Takaokaya’s Popular Ojami Cushion Collections — A stylish, harmonious blend of old and new
Takaokaya products bring the Art of Kutsurogi and authentic Japanese living into your home. Our products are lovingly handcrafted in Kyoto by our team of meticulous artisans. The ojami is an original cushion developed by Takaokaya over the last decade. The unique shape is inspired by the ancient Japanese beanbag toy called ‘tedama’, or ‘ojami’ in Kyoto dialect.

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The ojami cushion is a funky, modern take on the tedama, a traditional Japanese beanbag toy that was filled with azuki beans. Handcrafted by our skilled Kyoto artisans, ojami come in a rich variety of colors, fabric coverings, fillings, sizes and shapes to suit your taste and lifestyle. Amazingly comfortable and of a unique geometrical shape, functionally these cushions are designed for posture support and correction, and to be a beautiful decorative object suitable to any living or working space. See all Ojami Cushion Collections here.

Takaokaya Collection — Our Product Range
Takaokaya’s range of cushions and bedding includes zabuton and ojami cushions in a rich variety of sizes, shapes, colors, fabric coverings and fillings. Continue reading

Artist Joel Stewart – Open Studio August 16-17

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“Kamigamo” by Joel Stewart

Our friend, the artist Joel Stewart, will have an open studio this Saturday and Sunday from 2pm – 6pm(ish), with a small sampling of prints and paintings from his collection. Says Joel, “Small works available starting in the Y10,000 range. Feel free to come by for a chat, a cool sip of tea and a browse….
Dates & Times: August 16th & 17th, 2pm – 6pm
Address: 41 Nishimomo no moto cho, Shichiku, Kita-ku, Kyoto, 603-8208. Tel
Joel’s Studio is two streets south of Kitayama Street and one street east of Omiya on the south side of Shichiku-kita Dori. “Look for the business sign on south side of street half way down that says:谷田工務店。My rickety old gate leading back off the street is right next door.”
Here is a MAP.
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Flamenco & Piano by Carmen Alvarez & Ikeda Ippei at Bar Sesamo 8/15

Our friend Carmen Alvarez, accompanied by Jazz pianist Ikeda Ippei, will be giving a flamenco song & dance performance at bar Sesamo on the 15th August. The charge is 2000 yen and the show starts at 9pm. Details on the flyers below:
carmen 1 Carmen 2Bar Sesamo is in the basement of the Ebisu Kaikan building, one street north of Sanjo and east of Kawaramachi.

Kyoto’s “Yokai Densha” – Ghost Train Schedule for Summer 2014

A limited Ghost Train (妖怪電車) service will be bringing much needed chills for just 5 days this summer on the Randen Line between Shijo/Omiya and Arashiyama. You can check the dates and times on the flyer below. Just click on the flyer to view as a pdf.

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妖怪電車
Trains will run on the following days: August 13th, 14th, 15th, 23th & 24th.
①嵐山駅 (Arashiyama) 17時05分発 ⇒ 四条大宮駅 (Shijo/Omiya) 17時27分着
②四条大宮駅 (Shijo/Omiya) 17時45分発 ⇒ 嵐山駅 (Arashiyama)  18時07分着
③嵐山駅 (Arashiyama) 18時35分発 ⇒ 四条大宮駅 (Shijo/Omiya) 18時57分着
④四条大宮駅 (Shijo/Omiya) 19時15分発 ⇒ 嵐山駅 (Arashiyama) 19時37分着
⑤嵐山駅 (Arashiyama) 20時05分発 ⇒ 四条大宮駅 (Shijo/Omiya)20時27分着
Fares for Adults: 200円, Elementary school students: 100円
妖怪 (Monsters): 50円

To view a video & learn more about this annual event check this article on Rocket News 24: Get your chills on the rails with Kyoto’s Ghost Train

Time Travelling on Gojō – An Extract from Deep Kyoto Walks by Jennifer Louise Teeter

Gojo Pottery Fair - Click to visit the official site (Japanese)

Gojō Pottery Fair – Click to visit the official site (Japanese)

Gojō Pottery Fair, in which pottery stalls line Gojō street all the way between Kawabata and Higashioji, begins August 7th and continues to August 10th. Simultaneously, in nearby Rokudo-san temple, is Kyoto’s very own festival of the dead, the Rokudo Mairi spirit welcoming festival. Jen Teeter explores both of these events and more in her DKW essay “Time Travelling on Gojō”, so here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite…

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The evening before the festival, potters were meticulously assembling their stalls. Incorrectly, I assumed they were only preparing the skeletons of their tents and shelves so that they could quickly fill them up with their inventory the following morning. When I stepped outside again around midnight, hundreds of unguarded stalls, all filled to the brim with precious pottery, bordered the expanse of Gojō. The sense of trust that people can have for each other here can be so uplifting.

When I set off early the next day, the normally drab pavement had been transformed into a bustling pottery-lover’s paradise. Upon approaching a stall selling clay incense holders, I was astonished at how a piece that was surely worth 5000 yen was going for a mere 1000. The artisan explained how potters looking to clean out their inventories for the next season are willing to part with their creations for a fraction of the original price.

On a mission, I began to weave my way through rows of crystalline Kiyomizu-yaki kettles and charming Shigaraki chawan. My husband had been looking for large ramen bowls for ages, and I found the perfect ones- leaf-shaped and earth-rusted, the sparkling, aquamarine waves of Okinawa flooding the inside.

“If I buy four big ones and four small ones, can I get a discount?”
“No, but I can give you these four sauce holders to complete your set.”

Score! After collecting my winnings, I carried on up Gojō-zaka. At a small side street called Kaneicho, I took a right and it was just as if I had slipped through the rabbit’s hole. Amidst the forgetful cityscape, there stood the wooden self-built home of master potter Kawai Kanjirō.

Kawai Kanjiro's House

Kawai Kanjiro’s House

The unassuming home dressed with an arched, bamboo inuyarai to keep dogs from relieving themselves on the walls, was the first of a whole street of renovated machiya. Two unpretentious wooden rabbits kissing at the front entrance greeted me as I ducked in. Making my way down the hallway, I clumsily took off my shoes, and gave 900 yen to the woman at the counter, who I would later learn was the granddaughter of Kawai.

Wabi and Sabi:
The beauty of poverty,
Ordered poverty.

Kawai’s haiku radiates his artistry and appreciation of wabi – beauty in poverty, and sabi – elegance in simplicity, emphasizing the intertwining of the human spirit with the imperfection of “perfect” nature. The chestnut walls and chairs of his sturdy house give a sense of permanence, reflecting the strong influence of Kawai on his environment.

My eyes immediately turned to the hearth that dominated the center of the home. An image sprung to mind of Kawai and his fellow artisans gathering around the fire for tea on a frosty, winter day. Exemplifying his ability to lure the extraordinary out of the ordinary, Kawai had concocted the stout chairs around the hearth out of wooden mortars for pounding rice. Next to the hearth was a jolly two-faced wooden statue, and as I continued around the first floor, I kept meeting its Janus-faced relatives hidden in corners here and there. One of them was even posed to give me a peck on the cheek.

Around the house curious items are present in unexpected places. In the courtyard, a miniature stone monk collects meager offerings in front of his person, while a dog-sized, beckoning, stone cat balancing coins on its head welcomes guests at the entrance to the giant kilns. These kilns were once fired up several times monthly and shared by twenty different families in the community.

Kawai seemed to have an affinity for the human hand, the female hand in particular. A hand, which must have been severed off of the Statue of Liberty, adorned one of the shelves near the kilns; there were hands with fingers pointing up; and others were holding flowers. A turquoise ceramic figure, with its rising index finger, seemed to embody the potential of human expression.

Returning back inside, I climbed up to the second floor to find a yet another statue of two rabbits kissing, this time cast in bronze. In the drawing room was a giant tree stump-turned-table, its surfaced smoothed by human touch. Two wooden chairs with seats carved perfectly to support the human buttocks, kept the table company. The vitality of the tree from which this chair was forged emanated from the swirly tree rings carefully positioned exactly where the left and right buttocks hit the seat. After a momentary break in the chair, I headed back downstairs.

After bidding farewell to the granddaughter and the spirit of Kawai whose presence reverberated through the home, I headed to Toyokuni Jinja, dedicated to daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi . Taking a left I followed the street lined with pottery-filled machiya, passed the stone with the “Don’t pee on me” sign, and turned right at the dilapidated machiya at the end of the row. Down the hill at the next intersection adorned with cigarette machines, I headed south until I arrived at the wall which forms an impressive, stone perimeter around Toyokuni Shrine. Covered with moss, and almost twice my height, I could not imagine how people had managed to schlep the Goliath stones to the temple, let alone assemble them as if they had been forged together by fire. As I was about to ascend the stairs to the shrine, a huge, grassy hill crowned with a granite statue attracted my attention.

Children playing on teeter-totters ignored me as I pulled myself up to the sign in front of the hill. Mimizuka or “Ear Hill” (originally Hanazuka or “Nose Hill”). What on earth could that mean?

Mimizuka

Mimizuka

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Text and photographs by Jennifer Louise Teeter. To read the rest of this story, download our book here: Deep Kyoto:Walks.


DeepKyoto-cover-0423-finalAbout Deep Kyoto: Walks

Deep Kyoto: Walks is an independently produced anthology of meditative strolls, rambles, hikes and ambles around Japan’s ancient capital. All of the writers and artists involved in this project have lived and worked in Kyoto for many years and know it intimately. The book is in part a literary tribute to the city that they love and in part a tribute to the art of walking for its own sake.

About Jennifer Louise Teeter
jen teeterJennifer Louise Teeter is lecturer at Kyoto University in Japan. Born in a suburb of Chicago and having lived in Japan for 12 years, she serves as the Media and Campaigns Coordinator for Greenheart Project which is developing an open source hybrid sail/solar cargo ship tailored to the needs of small island developing states while volunteering as an editor for the Heartwork section of Kyoto Journal (www.kyotojournal.org). She blogs with two other women at Ten Thousand Things (www.tenthousandthingsfromkyoto.blogspot.jp). She is also a “singer in a rock-and-roll band,” called the Meadowlarks.

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To learn more about Deep Kyoto: Walks please check the following links:
About the Book
Extracts
Reviews
Videos
Interviews

Kyoto Tanabata Festival 2014 – River Illuminations & National Food Fair!

Ancient Chinese legend has it that the celestial lovers Hikoboshi & Orihime (represented by the stars AltairVega)  are separated by the vast Milky Way and can meet up only once a year on the 7th day of the 7th month. This festival was brought to Japan during the Nara Period (710 to 794) and became mixed with Japanese Obon traditions of weaving a cloth on a loom to offer to ancestral spirits.  More recently people celebrate  by writing wishes, on small pieces of paper called tanzaku, and hanging them on decorated bamboo wish trees.

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Kamogawa Nōryō includes a highly recommended national food fair.

Ever traditional, Kyoto City celebrates the Tanabata star festival according to the old lunar calendar (which effectively means we get to celebrate it twice) and this year that is from Saturday August 2nd until the 11th.

By the Horikawa river there will be a series of illuminated artworks, bamboo wish trees and the highlight is the “Milky Way of Lights” – which we went to see last year.

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A Milky Way tunnel of love!

For more details of what’s on in the Horikawa & Nijo Castle area visit the 京の七夕 website. Here are some more pictures from our visit last year.

Similarly, the Kamo river also will be decorated with lights and bamboo wish trees, however the highlight for me is the two-day 鴨川納涼 (Kamogawa Nōryō – or “Cool Evening by the Kamo River”). This takes place on Saturday August 2nd from 17:00〜22:00 and Sunday the 3rd from 17:00〜21:30. There will be stalls selling food and drink from around the country, some musical (and magical!) acts and a demonstration of yuzen dyeing in the river. Again, we went to this last year and we really enjoyed it. Check the official 京の七夕 site for more details.

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Here are the lyrics to a rather sweet Tanabata folk song, 七夕さま (Tanabata-sama), and the song itself in a video below. Sing along if you like!

ささのは さらさら
The bamboo leaves rustle,
のきばに ゆれる
shaking away in the eaves.
お星さま きらきら
The stars twinkle
きんぎん すなご
on the gold and silver grains of sand.
ごしきの たんざく
The five-colour paper strips
わたしが かいた
I have already written.
お星さま きらきら
The stars twinkle,
空から 見てる
they watch us from heaven.*

*From Wikipedia.