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Taiko (8th Japan Festival In Rio De Janeiro)

A friend of mine begged with glowing eyes (at least the emoticon she used did) for me to go with her to a Japan Festival in Aterro Do Flamengo. I hesitated before I agreed, because the Japanese are all insane and in a species of their own, judging by their sexual taste (something brilliantly covered here and here — NSFW warning) and art output. However, they are great in their insanity. So I couldn’t refuse, plus I hadn’t seen this friend in months.

A quarter to midday and I found myself on the entrance, puzzled at the lack of Japanese people in Japan Festival. Of course, they were there, but much like a light condiment on a huge soup made out of curious Brazilians, to put it very stupidly. I found my friend (and her friends) and we talked while they waited on the ridiculously gigantic queue to get a yakisoba. After talking a bit and watching two of them play a very boring game of GO (which seems like a nice game, provided you’re not just watching), a performance on the stage caught my attention. I got there just in time to see the last bit of a Taiko performance — Japanese drums. The coreography and the sound were simply hypnotic. Visual music. There would be a second performance in two hours. I hurried home to get my camera and returned in one.

Thanks to having been quick, I had to endure two godawful presentations (I had chosen a decent spot to film from and I may have lost it if I left it) — one of them was a fashion show with Brazilian girls wearing Japanese “lolita” outfits. The girl hosting the show was reading her lines from a piece of paper, and when she improvised she was so slow and stammered so much I wished she’d go back to reading the paper. All the outfits, in my opinion, looked ridiculous, so it was still fun to witness the girls parading around in them, one of them wearing long socks with a chess pattern. Even better, there were about eight girls and exactly ONE guy, who was instantly giggled at by the audience — and ironically, he was very into it, probably the most professional of the group, which, judging by what the audience muttered around me, they instantly read as “total faggot”. I, for one, admired how he kept a straight face while looking like he was ambushed by a mean-spirited wardrobe.

The second presentation had no redeeming factors whatsoever. It was an Aikido performance. The performers didn’t even bring a bloody mat. Their teacher — who is one of those people who upon climbing on a stage insists on giving a five-minute long, boring introduction and is unable to shut up for the rest of the show as well — said the students would avoid getting hurt and would be careful when performing the moves. Obviously, this meant the moves were very slow and the falls were simulated, which made Aikido seem like a very, very bad way of defending oneself. The teacher also talked about the “chi” and referred to the area right above the pubis as, if I remember correctly, a “center of energy”. He proceeded to grab this area and show it proudly, in a way that made it look like he was cock-slapping an invisible girl. I have no idea how the entire audience, me included, managed to hold back the laughter. Maybe because the guy was too into it and it would be like taking a toy from a child. Or maybe because only I and my dirty mind found this to be very funny.

(Okay, so I’ll admit that is ONE redeeming factor.)

Finally, the second Taiko presentation, which I filmed and edited in three parts with the five main performances (two intermission performances were cut). Apologies for the inevitably shaky camera (handheld) and for my hand passing past it on the second part — I was distractedly trying to shield the top of it from the rain. Enjoy.

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