Azama Honryu Seifu Ichisen-kai USA
Classical Okinawan Dance Academy by Master Kinuko Mototake
Born on Yonaguni, the most southwestern island in the Okinawan chain, Master Kinuko Mototake established her dance academy in 1996 on the island of Alameda, CA. She typically returns yearly to Okinawa to enhance and polish her skill with the original Azama Honryu group. She is the instructor and director of the Okinawa Eisa Shima Daiko group. She is also the Goodwill Ambassador to Okinawa and Director of Culture and Arts with Northern California Okinawa Kenjin-Kai. Master Kinuko Mototake will present four performances, including Kuinu Hana, Buno Mai, Eisa, and Kurashima Kuduchi.
Japanese folk music and dance
Ensohza Minyoshu is a Japanese folk performing ensemble based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group performs music and dance that evokes the festival spirit and character of Japan’s diverse rural communities. Ensohza Minyoshu promotes opportunities for community building through training in folk dance and the traditional festival arts of Japan. Ensohza Miyoshu’s dance director, Nina Sazevich, will present their Sansaodori, Iwate’s signature Bon dance, from the 2013 San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival.
Kazanami Yosakoi Dance Showcase
Kazanami was started by Ito Yosakoi 糸よさこい to establish a formal annual yosakoi exhibition in the United States and promote yosakoi as a growing art form, as well as build a broader community among yosakoi teams in the United States. Yosakoi is an energetic dance style from Kochi, Japan. The name “Kazanami” is derived from the characters for flower, chain, and wave. It means a wave of flowers connected by iron chains, symbolizing dancers moving in a parade and the strong connection amongst them. The 2021 showcase extended invitations outside of the U.S., including a total of 15 yosakoi dance groups around the world, and they will perform “Hifumi” and “Soran Bushi,” also known as “Nanchuu Soran.”
Kiyonomoto Ryu USA
Japanese classical dance, minyo, contemporary dance
The Kiyonomoto Ryu USA classical dance group was established in the United States in 1994. Celebrating 27 years under the leadership of head instructor Kiyonomoto Katsunami (Minako Ohara) and Kiyonomoto Katsuno (Kazuko Nishimura), the group has been performing at various festivals, working to represent Japanese culture and tradition, as well as foster a sense of community through cultural learning and appreciation. The group will present a compilation of Kabuki, Koten, and Festival style dances, which encompass their versatility as a dance group as well as the diversity of Japanese culture.
Michiya Hanayagi & Michisuya Hanayagi Japanese Classical Dance Group
Hanayagi – ryu, Japanese Classical Dance Group
The Michiya Hanayagi Japanese Classical Dance Group was established in 1956 and has participated in the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival since its inception. Michiya Hanayagi has been recognized by many organizations in the Bay Area as well as internationally for her contributions towards promoting the Japanese culture through Japanese classical dance and for encouraging goodwill between the U.S. and Japan. Along with her daughter, Michisuya Hanayagi, the two dance groups perform at various festivals and events to continue to educate and share this form of Japanese art in order to help preserve the Japanese culture in America. Michiya and Michisuya Hanayagi will perform “Ame no Shiki” in the 2021 Festival.
Nishikawa Ryu Nihon Buyo
Classical Japanese dance
This group is the California chapter of Nishikawa Ryu, the oldest traditional dance school in Japan. Specializing in Nihon Buyo (classical Japanese dance), students are taught by master Sensei Nishikawa Minosuke V and his delegate instructor, Nishikawa Senshinnosuke. Their aim is to introduce, educate, promote, and preserve Nihon Buyo in its authenticity and in an environment of discipline and etiquette. The group will perform three dances, including Wakamizu (New Year’s Day), Sanosa (love and longing), Gomangoku (feudal lords).
Facebook @ChieKwonMusic, Instagram @utahimequeenchie, Chie’s Music Lesson YouTube
Pure and emotive voice and piano, original songs in Japanese and English
Chié grew up in Kobe, Japan before moving to the U.S., and has been playing the piano since the age of seven. After obtaining her B.A. in Music with Jazz Vocal emphasis, she studied classical voice. Chié discovered her passion for songwriting while working as a music teacher, and she started releasing her original music in Japanese and English. In 2018, Chié released her second self-produced album, “I’m A Canary.” Chié will sing one cover song and two original songs in the 2021 Festival.
Facebook @GenRyuArts.SF, Instagram @genryuarts, Melody Takata’s YouTube
Japanese Taiko and Odori, Gintenkai taiko songs
GenRyu Arts was founded as Gen Taiko in 1995 and incorporated as GenRyu Arts in August 2008, and they celebrate their 26th year serving San Francisco Japantown. Deeply rooted in San Francisco’s Japantown and in the Asian American community, its mission is to promote, present and participate in Japanese and Japanese American culture through taiko and other traditional and contemporary music and dance, as well as other cultural arts. Founder and director Melody Takata will present Taiko Kata I: Sukeroku style-introduction to the basic stance and simple taiko exercises for this playing style.
Koto Ikuta-ryu Chikushi-school Ishikawa Shachu
Ikuta-ryu Chikushi-kai School koto, sangen (shamisen)
Based in San Mateo, CA, this group is a chapter of the Ikuta-ryu, Chikushi-kai School in Japan. They perform traditional Japanese music, specializing in the koto and sangen. The group will present excerpts of their 2019 Ishikawa Shachu Summer Recital, including Sandan no Shirabe, Haruyo-koi, Sakura Variation, Seoto, Koto and sangen Kiyu-kyoku, and Nagare. The performers are Kazuma Ishikawa Julia Santos, Kazumitsu Ishikawa, Kazuno Ishikawa, Sarah Hosokawa, Naoko Mori, and Erika Mori.
Matsutoyo Kai 松豊会
Japanese Folk Music and Dance Group
Established in 1966 by Artistic Director Matsutoyo Sato, the primary objective and purpose of Matsutoyo Kai is to pass on the traditional music of Japan and to create and leave a Japanese music legacy. Part of that purpose is to provide instruction in singing, shamisen, taiko, and ka-ne, and to give public performances in Japanese folk and classical music. Matsutoyo Sato moved from Northern California to the Los Angeles area in 1976, extending the reach of Matsutoyo Kai to their current location in Southern California. It has been a nonprofit organization since 2006. Matsutoyo Kai will perform three songs, including Yakkosan-Fukugawa, also known as Old Tokyo (Hauta song from the Edo Period); Mugiya Bushi (song from Mugiya-Toyama Prefecture); Owase Bushi (song from Owase-Mie Prefecture).
SA FU SHI U サ・ふ・し・う
Ensemble Shiki’s Website, Facebook @ensembleshikisf
Chorale May’s Website, Facebook @choralemay
Japanese mixed chorus ensemble
“SA FU SHI U” is an abbreviation for “San Francisco de Furusato no Shiki wo Utaimashou!”, meaning “Let’s sing Furusato no Shiki in SF!” We are comprised of members from Ensemble Shiki, a Japanese mixed-voice choral group, and Chorale May, a Japanese male-voice choral group, and other friends from the general public. The two groups typically meet for rehearsals at the Center/Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC), taught by Ruriko Miura. Since last April, they have been practicing this song online to celebrate Chorale May’s 25th anniversary and Ensemble Shiki’s 15th anniversary. SA FU SHI U will perform Furusato no Shiki, a medley of twelve Japanese traditional songs of the four seasons.
Sakura Minyo Doo Koo Kai
Japanese folk music (Minyo) performed with singers, shamisen players and dancers
Based in Sacramento, CA, a group of Issei singers got together shortly after WWII to sing for each other, and they eventually started acting, singing, and putting on public performances together. The singers of Japanese folk music left the original group and formed their own club. They added shamisen players and dancers, and expanded their members to second, third, and fourth generation Japanese Americans. In the 2021 Festival, Toshiye Kawamura will share a PowerPoint presentation of Sakura Minyo Doo Koo Kai.
San Francisco Taiko Dojo
Facebook/Instagram/Twitter @SFTaiko, YouTube @TaikoDojo
Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka founded the San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968 and introduced the taiko art form to America. He taught taiko with the philosophy of unifying the mind, body, and spirit, and he emphasized the importance of rigorous physical, mental, and spiritual training. Over the years, Grandmaster Tanaka’s students have traveled around the globe, forming new taiko ensembles and establishing taiko as an art form. Grandmaster Tanaka’s style has developed the taiko from a primitive folk art to a powerful, sophisticated synthesis of rhythm, harmony and body movements. San Francisco Taiko Dojo will share their 50th anniversary performance of Onbashira at San Mateo Performing Arts Center.
Seiha Koto/Sangen Ikuta-ryu 正派邦楽会 (Japan), Seiha Koto/Sangen Masazuka-kai
Koto, sangen (shamisen)
Based in San Francisco, Seiha Koto/Sangen Masazuka-kai is active throughout the Bay Area showcasing their ensemble and solo performances of koto and sangen. This group was established in 1980 by the late Madame Masazuka Sato, and have participated in the NCCBF since its first year. The goal of the group is to share the appreciation for Hogaku, Japanese traditional music, through koto and shamisen. Masazuka-kai will share an excerpt of their 2011 performance of “The Four Seasons of Ishikari-Gawa River,” composed by Yuize Shinichi. Taking place at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, Masazuka-kai collaborated with many guest performers from the Seiha Ikuta-ryu, a 100 year old koto school based in Tokyo, Japan, and from the USA Branch of Seiha Hogaku-kai.
SF Koto Group Hanaikada
This group has been sharing koto music with residents of nursing homes, patients in hospitals, and library audiences in the San Francisco Bay Area. We also enjoy being able to share our koto performances for this Festival and Japan Day Festival. We will share our 2020 Japan Day Festival performance of 花筏 Hanaikada “Flower Raft,” composed by Tadao Sawai and played by Chie Chang, Mamiko Taniguchi, and Shoko Hikage. The description of the song is as follows; the flower raft courses down the river, pausing at the water’s edge, then streaming down again rapidly to come to stand still in a quiet eddy.
The Sound Project
Japanese cover music
Since 2019, this Japanese music band was brought together by seasoned musicians, all originally from Japan and based in the South Bay. Featuring cover music ranging in styles from jazz to rock, The Sound Project’s mission is to deliver soulful music to their audience. In the 2021 Festival, they will showcase three Japanese pop covers, including a special collaboration with IkuMi Band.
Wesley Ukulele Band
The Wesley Ukulele Band from Wesley United Methodist Church in San Jose Japantown was founded in 2004 for fun and fellowship. The group has over fifty members, about half of whom are the active core group. They practice traditional and popular Hawaiian music, and typically perform in church functions such as Aki Matsuri and Yu Ai Kai and Wesley Missions Luau Dinner, and large community festivals. The band currently conducts virtual rehearsals and participates in virtual festivals, such as this Festival and San Jose Nikkei Matsuri. They will present a beautiful ukulele performance in the 2021 Festival.
Theatre of Yugen
Facebook @sfyugen, Instagram/Twitter @theatreofyugen, Theatre of Yugen’s YouTube
Original works of world theatre
Founded in 1978 by Yuriko Doi, Theatre of Yugen is an experimental ensemble with a foundation in Japanese noh drama and kyogen satire — the world’s oldest living style of theatre (over 600 years old). Theatre of Yugen envisions a world in which people are connected heart to heart, without boundaries, by experiencing the beauty expressed by the Japanese sensibility of “yugen (幽玄),” derived from the Japanese characters yu, meaning “profound” and “tranquil,” and gen, meaning “mysterious.” Yugen creates works of world theatre by crafting original material and exploring dramatic and literary classics. In the 2021 Festival, Theatre of Yugen will present an excerpt from “Owl and the Mountain Priest (Fukuro Yamabushi).” The featured performers are Sheila Berotti, Nick Ishimaru, and Ryan Marchand.
Martial Arts 武道
Northern California Naginata Federation
Facebook @norcalnaginata, Instagram @norcal_naginata
Naginata, Japanese polearm fencing
The Northern California Naginata Foundation (NCNF) has been participating in the NCCBF for almost 30 years!! Their various dojos promote both the modern sport form of Naginata and the classical style of Tendo Ryu Naginatajutsu. The NCNF has dojos in San Jose and San Francisco, and Tendo Ryu in El Cerrito. In the 2021 Festival, NCNF will share a Naginata demonstration from the Santa Cruz Japan Cultural Festival.
San Francisco Shorinji Kempo
Japanese martial art
Shorinji Kempo is a martial art based on the concept of integrating body and spirit into a system of self-defense techniques with mental training to promote health. Japanese martial artist Doshin So developed this martial art in 1947 to help individuals develop self-confidence, courage, and a spirit of compassion. San Francisco Shorinji Kempo dojo has taught this martial art for over 30 years in the Soto Zen Mission of San Francisco – Sokoji in Japantown. The dojo will share a Shorinji Kempo demonstration for the 2021 Festival.