Festival of Japan Opening Ceremony

Excited crowd at Hirafu Mountain Centre for the Festival of Japan opening ceremony

Excited crowd at Hirafu Mountain Centre for the Festival of Japan opening ceremony

In a fantastic boon for tourists and foreign residents alike, this year is the inaugural Festival of Japan, which brings a wide variety of Japanese cultural events to Niseko. It was the opening ceremony last night, with a modest, though enthusiastic, crowd of holiday makers in attendance.

Yotei Taiko

Yotei Taiko

Yotei Taiko

Yotei Taiko

Yotei Taiko

Yotei Taiko

After introductions, the evening began with a Japanese taiko drum performance from local taiko performers, Yotei Taiko. Sitting at the front of the room right by the large drums was a fantastic experience – every beat resonated within my chest and induced a primal trance. The power and energy they put into their performance was incredible.

Komauta Nishikawa

Komauta Nishikawa

After the power and rawness of the taiko drummers, Komauta Nishikawa (her stage name) performed a beautiful, subtle, refrained and intricate dance, showing just how refined Japanese culture can be.

Soubugen

Soubugen

Suginaka-san on the shamisen

Suginaka-san on the shamisen

Soubugen

Soubugen

Soubugen

Soubugen

The final event of the evening was by a sensational duet, Soubugen, featuring Hisao Suginaka on the shamisen and Yuko Sarya singing and dancing. For those not familiar, the shamisen is a traditional three stringed Japanese instrument with a sound somewhat similar to a banjo. Suginaka-san is a demon on this instrument, and his fingers were a fury of movement and hypnotic sound, perfectly matched by Yuko’s dancing.

It was a fun and very rewarding evening, and really isn’t an opportunity to be missed by locals and tourists alike. Be sure to make the effort to get some cultural enrichment before the Festival of Japan finishes. For more information, including a list of events, have a look at the Festival of Japan website.

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