The city of Sendai where we live is 350 kilometers northeast of Tokyo. Known as the “the Capital in the Forest,” Sendai is a beautiful city surrounded by greenery. We enjoy singing various songs under the guidance of conductor Saga and pianist Watanabe. Kooza is Sanskrit for treasure chest. For this performance, we will sing nostalgic Japanese songs from our treasure chest and a typical folk song of Miyagi, Tairyo Utaikomi – Fishermen’s Song. As mentioned in the lyrics, Matsushima is considered one of Japan’s three most famous views. In the six years since the 2011 earthquake that devastated the region, we have rebuilt much of Sendai and the coastal areas with the warm support we received from around the world. We are looking forward to participating in the memorable 50th Cherry Blossom Festival.
Deigo Musume is an Okinawan minyo group from the village of Yomitanson. The sisters began their career in show business at a young age under their father’s guidance. Their lively performances include singing and taiko of original compositions that have been featured in television programs and commercials.
Hand Weaving & Patchwork Quilt exhibition by Setsuko Kondo & Harumi Miyazaki
This joint embroidery group first participated in the 30th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival. They have since provided embroidery exhibits and demonstrations in front of the Kinokuniya Bookstore in more than 10 festivals. The group hopes to share the Japanese cultural art form of fabric and create opportunities to communicate with participants through their workshops. Setsuko Kondo and Harumi Miyazaki actively display their work in individual and group exhibits, as well as with their respective regional artist groups in Japan.
Hiro Kimono School’s Kimono Show
Since 1975, Hiro Kimono School has been teaching how to wear and conduct oneself in the tradition kimono. Many graduates continue to enjoy wearing kimono and pass on the tradition to future generations. The kimono show introduces the types of kimono worn during different seasons and events. The kimono show has been well received internationally including Asia, Australia, Europe, and Russia. The group represents Osaka, a sister city of San Francisco, in commemorating this 50th Cherry Blossom Festival.
Japanese Traditional Pattern Exhibition by Ms. Chikako Kuroda and Ms. Masako Mori
Ms. Kuroda and Ms. Mori are traveling from Japan to share two traditional Japanese patterns: yusoku patterned cloth and sashiko pattern embroidery. Ms. Kuroda was born in Kyoto and succeeded her family’s traditional kimono shop. She works to recreate traditional Heian Period kimonos from the noble courts and serves as a consultant to events and festivals requiring authentic historical outfits. She now also operates her own souvenir shop, taking the traditional Yusoku patterned cloth and incorporating them in modern wear and accessories. Ms. Mori was born in Tokyo and studied sashiko pattern embroidery under the famed Ms. Akie Ginza. After winning numerous awards, writing books and curating art exhibitions in Japan, she curated numerous exhibits in the U.S. to share the art of sashiko with the Japanese American community and beyond. Both will host a number of exhibitions and workshops during the festival.
JR-East Band Tohoku
We come from the city of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan that was massively damaged by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Our railways were damaged, too. We removed the railway which had been standing by the seaside to the inland area, and at last JOHBAN line began servicing between Fukushima and Sendai again on December 10, 2016. We thank the U.S. for your countless support and prayers.
JR-East Band Tohoku was established in 1971. Our band consists of about 45 members, including the Sendai branch officer, driver, conductor, maintenance staff, their families, and friends. All member made efforts to reconstruct the railways for six years. This time, twelve selected members of the band will perform memorable Japanese pieces and jazzy rock numbers.
Keiko Saga, Chorus Conductor
Ms. Saga graduated from the National Niigata University’s special music course. She has performed in many operas such as The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, and Messiah. She currently conducts six choir groups and one band. Three groups—Chorus Kooza, Ladies Chorus Laelia, and JR-East Band Tohoku—will participate in the 50th Cherry Blossom Festival. She lost her home in the earthquake on March 11, 2011. However, she performed in the Japan-U.S. Chorus Festival at Carnegie Hall in New York that same May. In 2014, she performed in the first Japanese Mass “Requiem – We will never forget that day” at the St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.
Kokusai Bunka Gakuen (International Culture School)
The jūnihitoe is a twelve-layered kimono known for its intricacies and elegance. The current form was developed over a thousand years ago. The pieces illustrate the four seasons or motifs of nature. This program provides a rare look at the jūnihitoe, which is presently only worn at specific formal occasions by the women in the Imperial Household.
Ladies Chorus Laelia
Ladies Chorus Laelia started in York Culture of Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture in 1997. This chorus group originally began as a gathering to enjoy favorite songs. Fukiko Noro has served as the group lead since its inception. Seven out of 15 currently active members volunteered to participate in this event. The group performs concerts in hospitals, street corners, choir festivals, and anniversary concerts.
Ladies Chorus Laelia actively visits the city’s rehabilitation facility for the elderly and is known for performing the works of Aomori composers. We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in the 50th Cherry Blossom Festival together with JR-East Band Tohoku and Chorus Kooza, which came about from the 2016 disaster relief fundraising event in Sendai called “Tohoku Uta no Hon” (Songs of Tohoku). Hirosaki Park in our hometown is famous for being one of the top cherry blossom sites in Japan. We would like to enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms in San Francisco during this visit.
Miyagimoto-Style Okinawan Dance Performers
Mr. Takuma Chibana, Ms. Anju Nakasone, Ms. Yukiyo Funabashi of the Miyagimoto School have all traveled from Japan to share traditional Okinawan dance. Mr. Chibana graduated as a trainee of the National Okinawan Theater. He has studied Okinawan dance since the age of 5 and made his first debut performance at 6 years old. Ms. Anju Nakasone is a current Okinawan Arts major at the Okinawa Prefectural Art University. She has received various performance awards for Okinawan Traditional Arts. Ms. Yukiyo Funabashi resides in Tokyo, but also studies Okinawan dance with the school.
Oyako-Tamasudare (Shizu Oyako)
The performance consists of a person skilled in manipulating a special screen (Sudare) made of loosely woven sticks, as well as chanting an accompanying kind of poetry. The performer chants a rhythmic poem as he or she uses Sudare to portray the objects in the poetry without stopping. The Sudare is twisted, folded, extended, etc., in many different ways to portray an object, and then brought back quickly to its original Sudare shape.
“Nankintamasudare” was introduced on the Japanese-TV program “Shouten,” where the creation process was explained. I was in junior high school at the time and made Tamasudare out of curiosity, and have been performing original works since. My daughter became an apprentice at age 6, and has gained more attention than her master performing at retirement homes and events. The duo performs under the catchphrase of BOKE-shishou (forgetful master) and SHIKKARI-mono no deshi (a well-to-do pupil). The father-daughter team hopes to continue Nankintamasudare, a traditional Japanese performing art.
Rakugo with Kaishi Katsura
Osakan-style Rakugo (comedy, storytelling) in English
In honor of the 50th Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, the Government of Japan is proud to present a special 2-day only performance of traditional Japanese Osakan-style comedic Rakugo storytelling… in English! Headlined by the renowned Kaishi Katsura from Osaka. Come experience Japan’s traditional “sit-down” comedy!
Takarabune Awa Odori Dance Performance Group
Takarabune is Japan’s first and only professional Awa Odori dance performance group. Takarabune is currently on their 2017 U.S. Tour, including performances in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. The group does over 250 performances a year and has graced the stage in 12 different countries, including the world’s largest Japanese festival outside of Japan, the Japan Expo in France. In addition to receiving various awards, Takarabune also makes numerous media appearances on national and local networks.
Yakage Town “Daimyo Gyoretsu”
The Yakage Daimyo Gyoretsu was a festival for the town’s recovery from the tropical storm-induced flooding of the town of Yakage in 1975. What started out as a small group of local merchants at the heart of this effort to energize the community has now grown into a larger collaboration of high school students, town organizations, businesses, and participants from abroad. The town of Yakage is famous for its abundant history and culture. Come experience the Edo Period Japan with this event!