Drumming for the Crowd
An international tourist destination, like Orlando, attracts people from all over the world.
Many come for more than just the sites. Some of them work here. Some of them immigrate here. Some are families of those who work or immigrate here. And, of course, some are just friends of those already here.
When living in a foreign land, it is comforting to keep in touch with others from your homeland. In this way, local communities from native homelands are formed. Orlando has a lot of these communities. One large community is from Japan.
As part of that community, on Sunday, May 24 2009 at 5:00pm, six different Japanese drumming groups will perform at the Orlando Taiko Festival at The Village of Hunter’s Creek, just 10 miles east of Disney. Admission is free. If you have never heard a group of over 25 Japanese drummers pounding in perfect rhythm–It is worth the trip to Hunter’s Creek.
In addition, each year, in mid December, the Orlando Hoshuko (a Japanese language school) sponsors the Orlando Japan Festival. The language school strives to keep the Japanese heritage alive, especially for those from Japan who, for whatever reason, are located here in Orlando. All funds raised by the Japan Festival support the school.
The Orlando Taiko Dojo (note: Link is to a website written primarily in Japanese) are one of the sponsors of the Japan Festival and the centerpiece of the Taiko Festival. Taiko is a form of Japanese drumming. For over 15 years, Takemasa and Yuko Ishikura, the founders of the Taiko Dojo, would perform their Japanese drumming at the Japan Pavilion in the EPCOT Theme Park inside the Walt Disney World resort.
Four years ago, they teamed up with the Montessori School of Celebration, (the school my daughter attends) to provide Taiko (drumming) lessons for the students. Once a week the students begin with a morning greeting “Ohayougozaimasu” to the Sensei (teacher), a short meditation, stretching with the “Pokemon Ondo” (dancing music), reading aloud the rules of conduct, and then practicing Taiko. The lesson ends with bowing to the Sensei saying, “Arigatougozaimashita” (thank you!)
In mid December every year, the Montessori students perform their drumming along with the professional Taiko group at the Orlando Japan Festival. This May, they will also perform at the Taiko Festival. In previous years the Japan Festival was held at the large Japanese restaurant Rangetsu of Tokyo on International Drive, another festival sponsor. But it has outgrown this venue and has moved to the community park in the Village at Hunter’s Creek in south Orlando. This will also be the venue for the Taiko Festival on Sunday May 24.
In addition to Taiko, the Japan Festival in December features Japanese dancing, Judo, Koto performance, Manzai (skit), a tea ceremony and a greeting from the Consul General of Japan, Hiroshi Yamaguchi. There are also many vendors selling everything from Japanese food samples and drinks to Anime and other cultural items from Japan. Many Japanese groups and businesses also have booths educating the attendees about their products or services, such as additional Japan Festival sponsors–Asia Trend Magazine, IACE Travel, Mickeynet (no idea what this site is, as I can’t read Japanese, but it appears to be an agency that specializes in Japanese travel to Disney World), Pelloni Development and Mitsukoshi U.S.A. (hmm, a clothing store, perhaps?)
Like many festivals, the Japan Festival in December features raffles, street balloons, candy art and many other interesting sites, sounds and smells! A sampling of the booths include the Koukou club, Furuhon Shop Hoshuko, TV-JAPAN, Kitade Wellness Center, PEACHES (Yoga), J. Club, Sushi Tomi, Sushiology, Auto Tech Japan, Ennichi Games and many others.
The Taiko Festival on May 24 won’t be quite as large as the December Japan Festival, but there will be plenty of great food and it is worth attending just to feel the deep pulsating beats of the large number of Japanese drummers.
Both festivals are free and open to the public. Several hundred people from all walks of life attend them every year. It provides an enriching cultural experience and is a great way to spend an hour or two experiencing another part of our world.