In Summer of 2009, thirteen young Chibi Taiko members with Japanese roots traveled from Vancouver to spend time in Onomichi, the small traditional town where my obaachan was born.
Onomichi people volunteered to welcome the Canadian young people and cultural masters offered to teach them the arts of Japanese traditions.
Chibi members were introduced to ikebana, noh theatre, shodo, tea ceremony and taiko by some of the finest teachers in the area.
Onomichi families opened their homes to the Canadians, taking good care of them between their daily practise sessions with the local powerful taiko performing group, Betchar Daiko.
Practise in Japan is very different from Canada. It’s more demanding and physically more challenging than anything the Canadian group were used to.
After the first practise, the young Chibi hands were blistered and bleeding.
By the second practise, their hands were bandaged and taped.
But they never gave up and were determined to show their willpower and strength to their Japanese peers and working hard to find their own “max power” through playing drums.
New friends were made, the town opened their hearts to the Canadians and the results for everyone involved was extremely gratifying, moving and sometimes very surprising.
In the end, the two groups joined together to perform in public to a large crowd of taiko fans.
When they played the finale piece, Ishizue, it was so excellent and so heartfelt, that the crowd jumped to their feet with a well deserved standing ovation for the Canadians and Japanese players.
Ishizue is the Japanese word for a foundation of stone.