GOCOO (pronounced gokuu) is a Japanese Taiko Drum band that, while playing more than 40 Japanese drums, creates the sound and beat of mother earth. The band consist of 7 female and 4 male members who generate their original sound that cannot simply be categorized as traditional, folk or rock music. The sound is more primitive and trance-like and it is beyond nationality and music genre. The core of the band is its leader, Kaori Asano, who possesses the enchanting power of a modern shaman.
Ms. Asano brings her sticks down with full power as she swings her long hair as in a shishi lion dance.
Ms. Asano has said: “On stage, there comes a moment when daily affairs are stripped down to nothing but “love” and “gratitude” - the most genuine feelings of our souls. I think this must be what was originally intended by the idea of having a “festival”. I am often told that I am expressing something new but in truth, the newest things are intimately connected with the oldest things”
The band was formed in 1997 and GOCOO is highly regarded in Japan as well as in other countries. They have performed more than 100 shows abroad, including Europe. Their music was used in the movie, Matrix. GOCOO also performed their music at the opening of the Earth Summit in 2008 as an Asian representative.
Ondrej Hybl was born in 1977 in Czech Republic. He studied Kyogen Ookura style, the traditional Japanese theater, under the influence of Shigeyama Sengorou. In 2000, he started studying at Charles University Graduate School of Philosophy. In 2002, he enrolled in Doshisha University Graduate School of Letters as an exchange student. He began studying Kyogen under Kyogen Master, Shime Shigeyama.
After graduating with a master’s degree from Doshisha University in 2005, he further moved his study and is currently studying for his doctorate at Oosaka University Graduate School of Letters. At EXPO 2005, Mr. Hybl was recognized by the Czech Republic government for his work and contribution as a representative of Czech Republic.
Mr. Hybl, who became fascinated with the Kyogen world which is a quintessential traditional Japanese performing art, became the first Czech Kyogen pupil.
He says that Kyogen requires technique to make people laugh, but that the laughter is not cheap. It is a humor that is kind to people.
Mr Hybyl adds “When people laugh, the boundary between countries disappears. Now that Kyogen is recognized as a world heritage art form, Kyogen has become a valuable asset for people all over the world. Kyogen, which has deep roots in the ancient Japanese world, has the potential to make people in the world rich inside.”
Celadon, or Seiji in Japanese, is a pottery that has a long history dating back to the 1st century in China. Its origin goes even further back to more than 3,500 years ago when China began making real glazed ceramics called “primitive porcelain” during the Yin Dynasty. The techniques of making Seiji, whose distinctive color is created when iron in glass-quality glaze glows a deep blue/green like color during reduction firing, was established during the Later Han period around the 1st century and since then it has been followed rigorously to this day.
Seiji became popular in other countries and, after around the 9th century, it was exported extensively to Japan, the Korean peninsula and other Southeast Asian countries. Especially in Japan where China was highly regarded at that time, Seiji was actively collected and copied, and production techniques were rapidly refined.
Because Seiji tea cup brightens the color of green tea inside, Seiji became essential for use during the tea ceremony and has been much valued by tea masters, feudal lords and temples over the years.
Seiji, with its exquisite graceful hues of blue that evokes the transparent sea and subtle green, enchants people’s hearts around the world.
The ruins of Amagajo Castle are at the top of a 120 m hill in the central part of Takaoka-cho in Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture. The castle was constructed by the Shimazu clan as a fort to defense the border with the territory of the Ito clan, who had sent troops to attack Sadowara Castle in the Shimazu’s territory in 1600, after the Shimazu clan had fought the Battle of Sekigahara on the western side and was defeated by the eastern army led by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The castle was dismantled, however, in 1615 according to the Ikkoku Ichijo (One Castle per Province) order by the Tokugawa Shogunate.
The castle ruins were arranged into Amagajo Park, which is famous as a viewing spot of cherry blossoms. 1.200 Somei Yoshino cherry trees, which were planted 40 years ago, come into bloom all at once in April, after which 5,000 azalea produce wonderful red flowers.
In the park towers the donjon, which is used as a history museum and has become a landmark of the town. From the observatory deck, you can command a panoramic view of the Oyodo River and the Miyazaki Plain, thinking of this short-lived castle.
Walls are built around castles and towers as protection. These walls are usually made of stone, and are mounted within the basic structure of the architecture.
Walled fortresses can be seen in many world civilizations. Although, the styles differ, the basics are the same; some are beautifully made and some have special features, such as ducts for discharging water.
In Japan, walling can be seen especially in castles and castle towns. The Ano Group from Kunie are famous for their designs of fortresses and their beautifully designed walls. Also, in the Ryukyu Islands, it was common practice to put stones on roofs and the surroundings to protect their houses from fierce winds and storms.
The Old Nara Highway (National Road 308) dates to the C8th and is the main road that used to connect with Kawauchi until modern times. Kuragari Tōge (455m) is a mountain pass on the prefectural boundary between Osaka and Nara and was a tollway that once bustled with traders coming and going from Osaka, or pilgrims visiting shrines, or daimyō on their way to pay regular attendance at the Shōgun's court in Edo.
These days, tourists can easily visit this area by driving along the Shigi-Ikoma Skyline road along Mt Ikomayama, where they will see the remains of old stone paving, guidepost, and old rows of houses. There are a lot of historic sites around Kuragari Tōge, such as a monument to the Yanagisawa daimyō of Koriyama and a stone statue of Amitabha Buddha. In the Edo period, Bashō crossed this pass and left an excellent poem describing it.
The views of Ikoma city is superb. And one can see splendid terraced paddy fields extending before one's eyes.
Yonaguni-ori is a textile that shows both an idyllic and a simple flavor. It originated at the westernmost edge of Japan, on the Okinawan island of Yonaguni.
The history of the Yonaguni-ori dates back approximately 500 years. It is reckoned that the Yonaguni-ori was already being presented as tribute in the early C16th.
Various forms of Yonaguni-ori include the figured ita-hana-ori shidati; the graceful Yonaguni-hana-ori; the flat woven dotati, used today in casual wear; and the corded kagannuboo. All are excellent examples of handicraft: their dyeing and weaving exemplify the culture and soul of Yonaguni.
In 1987, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry designated Yonaguni-ori as a Traditional Handicraft.
Yonaguni-ori is a weaving technique that has come down to us today having absorbed various techniques over time. It is a textile that reflects both tradition and history