It may or may not be fair to equate Hideki Togi with Kenny G, but during Wednesday's concert in the neighbouring town of Naie there was a flair of Mr.G that came through. Here's a clip of Hideki Togi:
But before you go away thinking initially the same as I did, Togi is definitely not your run of the mill guy you'd see playing at your local mall selling his muzak versions of the Beatles or Engelbert Humperdninck. Togi basically brought "Gagaku" back to the modern lexicon of Japanese Music and put it back on the map by using the ancient Gagaku instruments in a modern way. Gagaku is basically the oldest style of Japanese music which was played in the 7th century. Togi is trained in this tradition and was a musician in the Imperial Palace; the guy definitely has talent, that is for sure - and I would say he showed it off some of it at Wednesday's concert. However, he mostly ventured into his maudlin versions of western pop hits with synthesize background music (note: he plays the synthesizer as well and a multitude of other interments).
Here's a clip of Togi again doing his thing. As well as a clip of what traditional Gagaku sounds like:
Togi looking a little more traditional
Traditional Gagaku Ensemble
Also this week we went to the town of Shinkapu where a local traditional theatre group, as well as a professional guest group from Akitaka Hiroshima, put on a variety of Kagura plays. Kagura theatre is connected to Shintoism and the stories are based on stories about angry gods going ape shit, greedy army generals getting their just desserts, or men being lured by beautiful women who are well not women but actually angry gods - you get the picture mainly stories about lust, power, violence and death. It was pretty amazing watching the actors and musicians go non-stop for the four plays they presented with each going on in excess of 45-minute - there was a definitely a marathon of talent happening all at once. There are times when I am in Japan and I think to myself this is why Japan is such a special and cool place and watching the Kagura plays made me feel that way. Taiga was definitely into it, especially when the snakes and the fox came right up to his face to say hello and frighten him!! Here's some videos I found of the same stories that were presented at the festival we attended:
A play about a god who was banished from the heavens back to earth who
eventually helps save a young maiden from a group of overgrown snakes.
"Evil Fox Lady"
An evil fox who presents herself as a beautifully lady lures a unsuspecting monk back to his quarters, where she transforms herself back to her beastly self.
Go 1/3 of the way into the clip to see the "foxy lady!"