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  • Nigel W. Ruddock

Curious Kasai

Updated: Dec 24, 2019

Notes from the Archipelago - a Japanese Autumn 秋 2019

Sunday 17th November 11月17日..........日曜日


Looking at Tokyo from one of its high observation points, like the Tokyo Skytree for example, it appears rather like a concrete jungle going on forever. It has no skyline as such, like London or Manhattan. However, if you take time and explore you discover all sorts of areas which have their own character. Today I'm going to take you out east from the centre...(which has to be where the Nr. 01 station is.........)

and over the mighty Arakawa river to Edogawa City. I was actually here to see a friend of mine perform in a Tap dance show. A bit out of my usual line of business, but my motto is to be open for everything when in a foreign country. On emerging from Kasai Metro Station I was, as usual, totally disorientated. Buses were going in all directions, and there was a distinct lack of any tourist-orientated signs to help. My attention was drawn to a curious oversized fan on the opposite side of the road.

Having got closer it turned out to be a wind turbine which provided power for a number of multi-storey car parks and goodness what else...It must work hard during a typhoon I thought.....

see that café behind it? well I had a delicious Sundae there. Just thought I would add that important piece of information.

The local authorities here seem quite musically inclined - witness the charming pieces of art in the nearby park....a bass clef....

and, yes, a treble clef....

and, not to be outdone, a quaver.........

Signage is always a challenge in Japan. But one could guess here that you were being politely (yes the sentence ends with "please") dis-encouraged from climbing up here........

well, yes........

Residents do not seem to worry too much about bike theft....witness the token-gesture-bike lock in this picture......

I mentioned tap dancing. Right. Well, Charu Nagatomo is one of those bright spirits lighting up the stage of contemporary tap dancing. I had already seen her perform with her friends in Frankfurt, and was looking forward to more amazing dancing. I was not disappointed in the Kasai Residents Hall. First job was to find a good seat..............

and inspect the programme......

There were performances from a whole host of dance groups from all over Tokyo and beyond. I had never realised that tap dancing was so popular. Most of the choreographies were based on western popular music. But Charu`s group was different. And the audience seemed to recognise this. This was a new take on a traditional Japanese style - complete with beautiful Kimono-style costumes (which she told me were all hand made!). She had taken inspiration from jam improvisation sessions, and also from Shamisen player Kamii Hiroharu. The latter has taken the traditional shamisen beyond its traditional setting and brought it out onto the Rock scene - yes, ShamiRock!

You can see Charu performing with pianist motty in this idiosyncratic video....... wait for the dancing....https://youtu.be/I3zuwwmOCmQ

Post performance photo time......

End of Episode 8
















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