Home Community Bellevue Taiko Festival to Return Featuring Japan’s Musical Traditions

Bellevue Taiko Festival to Return Featuring Japan’s Musical Traditions

Akira Katogi of Wariki brings Japanese traditional arts to the modern stage. Photo courtsey of Wariki.

After a successful sold out concert last year, the Bellevue World Taiko Festival will return for the second time. Japan Creative Arts run by Asako and Ringtaro Tateishi of the School of Taiko will present the musical event in January, featuring the Japanese performance ensemble Wariki. Local performers including Chikiri, the Tateishi family’s group, will also take the stage.

Wariki has been exploring the possibilities of transforming Japanese on-stage traditions since 2001. It is led by Akira Katogi, a drummer and dancer, with Shunsuke Kimura, a Japanese flute and tsugaru shamisen player, music composer and director, and Etsuro Ono, a shamisen player and composer. Despite international performing experience, this will be their first appearance in the Pacific Northwest.

Japan consists of many islands, and each region is even divided by mountains and rivers that have served to preserve a variety of different cultures and customs, said Katogi. Expressing rhythm, style, sound and fashion from the depth of Japan’s tradition and rich history, Wariki has transformed their original forms to fill a contemporary stage.

Katogi said that the Japanese traditional arts have developed and innovated in each era for their own preservation, and collaboration with contemporary music and overseas performances are part of this process.

“If we want to preserve and develop our traditions rather than just handing them down, collaboration and such exchange activities are necessary,” he said. The Bellevue World Taiko Festival is aiming to form collaborations with talented artist from Japan, Seattle and the United States, said Asako Tateishi, director of Japan Creative Arts.”Through music, we want to build a strong bridge with Japan and raise more people’s interest in Japanese culture,” she said.

Katogi, who performed with Ringtaro Tateishi over 10 years ago, also said that the concert will be an opportunity to learn how a Japanese taiko drummer from the famous Ondekoza school has been changed and what he still keeps of himself as an artist after living abroad.

In support of promoting Japanese culture in Seattle, Katogi said, “We are also looking forward to finding what potential Wariki can show through the performance.”

The concert will be held at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 16 at Meydenbauer Center Theatre in Bellevue. Workshops for taiko, shinobue and tsugaru shamisen performers will be featured on Jan. 17 at Bellevue Children’s Academy. Tickets and more information can be found on the calendar page or at www.worldtaikofestival.org.