Archive for June, 2009

Asano’s 400th Anniversary

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

Last weekend Bryan from TAIKOPROJECT and I went to Japan to celebrate Asano’s 400th Year Anniversary.  I can’t believe there has been a company (let alone a taiko company) that has survived for 400 years.  Can you believe that?

The weekend was filled with performances, drum sales, merchandise sales, meeting many taiko people, and a reception.  Congratulations Julia Asano!

Here’s Bryan in front of a huge odaiko.  At the end of the weekend, there was a fun odaiko jam where we got to play this odaiko.  It was probably the biggest taiko I’ve ever hit in my life and in the process, Yoshikazu Fujimoto, lead odaiko player from Kodo, lent me his odaiko bachi and I totally broke one!  I’ve never done that before.  Maybe I should take lessons from him…



Sampo Game Gardena

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Hiro and I played a game today during a walk (“sampo” in Japanese) around our neighborhood.

Can you guess the game?

sampo_game_1_s sampo_game_2_s sampo_game_3_s


DIY koto case howto

Monday, June 8th, 2009

My old koto slip cover was so old and worn, the fabric would rip with the slightest tug.  So Hiroka and I sewed a new one with material we had around the house and it turned out surprisingly well.

Old cover

Old cover (click for larger ver)

New cover

New cover (click for larger ver)

With the hopes that it will be helpful to someone else, here is a quick howto for sewing a custom soft cover for a Japanese 13-string koto.


Vote for Jon Goldman

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Our music is being used for Jon Goldman’s submission to Netflix’ Find Your Voice competition!  Jon is one of 10 Semi Finalists picked from thousands of applicants and he used “…Strikes 13” a track we did with Patrick Graham for his preview submission! Jon’s film is called Paul Sussman’s Eleven-Step Guide to Self-Actualization.

The films with the highest number of stars will move on the final round and the winner of this competition will get $150,000 plus resouces like film stock, processing, camera rental, and post-production services for a total value of more than $350,000 to make his/her film.

So Jon needs your votes!  You do NOT need to be a Netflix subscriber to vote.  The 5 films that move on to the next round will be determined by the total number of stars.  So go to the Netflix Find Your Voice website, watch Jon Goldman’s 3 minute trailer and be sure to vote at the end!

Yoko Fujimoto in concert

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Yoko Fujimoto, Kodo member and amazing singer, is performing works from her new CD this Saturday at the Japanese American National Museum at 2pm and 8pm.  Yoko gave On Ensemble an amazing private workshop a while back and we’ve been die-hard fans ever since.  Her grace and composure on stage is amazing.  Have a great show, Yoko!


Ume in the Middle review at

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009


We got a nice review from Underwire a popular culture blog at

On Ensemble’s most recent effort, Ume in the Middle, is an interesting hybrid that should appeal equally to fusion aficionados and left-fielders in search of something stranger than the average jazz-hop fare found on indie labels like Ninja Tune.

Wired magazine is one of the few magazines I actually buy.  Usually it’s at an airport for inflight reading material, but being a magazine on all things high tech maybe I should be visiting the website instead.

BTW a lot of my favorite artists are on the Ninja Tune and Big Dada (Ninja Tune’s hip hop arm) including: Anti Pop Consortium, Diplo, DJ Vadim and the Cinematic Orchestra.  So Ninja Tune if you are reading this we are not too strange for you… really… please sign us.

One particular Jason Swinscoe Cinematic Orchestra album that has had an influence on my music is Everyday.  It’s a great album featuring vocals by Fontella Bass and amazing drumming by Luke Flowers.  I blame the track “Flite” for convincing me that, yes odd time grooves with just a bit of melodic material are interesting for six and half minutes.

Great downtown LA restaurant: Shojin

Monday, June 1st, 2009

After the workshop, Hiro and I went to a great restaurant called Shojin, located in the Little Tokyo Shopping Center, 3F.  The staff is unbelievably courteous… the chefs come out to greet the guests, and see them off at the door.  The owner, Tsuguhiro Morishima explained that it has long been his dream to create a restaurant that encourages inter-personal connections; amongst the guests and between the guests and staff.  He spent a long time thinking about what kind of food would be best for the patrons, and encourage the kind of health and well-being he was trying to foster.  Over a long period, he came to feel that vegan and macrobiotic foods were the most in line with this goal.

If you’re in the Little Tokyo area and looking for healthy uplifting food and a restaurant run by caring people, try Shojin!

(click for larger ver)

(click for larger ver)

Chikara Daiko Basics Workshop

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Chikara Daiko invited me to give the group a workshop last night and we had a great time! The theme was “sensitivity”, and we covered shime and nagado basics.  I taught them On Ensemble’s current arrangement of Renshuu.

Chikara is a *great* group of folks and it was an honor and pleasure to be there. Thank you Chikara Daiko!

(click for larger ver)

(click for larger ver)

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