Archive for March, 2010

Trip to Vermont, Mar 2010

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

School matsuri

I’ve recently returned from a visit to Vermont to see my sister and her family and to teach taiko at Robinson Elementary School in Starksboro.  The kids did a great job — in 4 hours they learned the basics of rhythm and “kuchishouga”, the verbal teaching system for Japanese music.  They came up with a fun little dance as you’ll see in the video above.

I got to see my sister teach one of her high school classes which proved for me a much-needed refresher course on the basic English sentence types. Thank you, Nicki!

I met with an inspiring farmer, Michael, who is raising three cows for his own food and talked to him about using the skins for taiko. Taiko skins are the one non-vegan thing I consume.  I’m horrified by the torture that animals undergo in the commercial beef industry so I’ve been searching for a source of skins that allows me to verify the cows have been raised ethically.  Michael plans to slaughter his animals in about six weeks and doesn’t have any plans to use two of the three skins.  I now have a lot to learn about preparing skins, but hopefully I can find a way to put these cows’ skins to good use.

And last but not least, my brother-in-law, Dan and I, along with his close friend Brent, made maple syrup from scratch! Strangely, the experience felt somehow Japanese to me; the connection to nature and the season, working at a relaxed pace in the quaint, hand-made shed (called a sugar shack) with the sweet smell of the syrup. It was wonderful!

Thank you to all these friends in Vermont.  I’ve returned to LA feeling energized… and a bit sticky!

Winner of Name This Track

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Last month I posted this short sample of one of the new EP 5 tracks and asked for name suggestions:


And the winner is….  drum roll please…


Next up: Kenny Endo & Friends in Concert

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Hidden LegacyKenny Endo is celebrating his 35 years of being a taiko pioneer with a big concert at the Aratani/Japan America Theater on Saturday April 3rd at 8:00pm and we’ve been invited!  We’ll be appearing as guest artists along with Kinnara Taiko, Kaoru Watanabe (taiko and fue), Wu Man (pipa), Abe Lagrimas (percussion), Derek Nakamoto (piano) and June Kuramoto (koto).  I goes without saying that Kenny Endo has been a huge influence on our band and it will be an honor sharing the stage with such a great roster of musicians!

Just a quick trip to Bellingham

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

We just returned from a quick trip up to Bellingham, WA for a couple of educational performances for 2,000 k-6th graders at Western Washington University.  It was a long long drive from Los Angeles but it was a great program and a huge thank you goes out to Courtney for bringing us back to WWU.

It pretty much rained all through Oregon and Washington but luckily we avoided any snow.  Usually when we get up to the Pacific Northwest it’s during the late spring or summer and it’s so beautiful we all end up wondering why we live in the sprawling urban wasteland known as Los Angeles.  Four days of driving through constant rain only to return to 80 degree sunshine makes Los Angeles feel like paradise!  I celebrated by making homemade lemon rosemary sorbet from lemons and rosemary harvested from the yard.  Tomorrow I plan on enjoying the sorbet on the porch in shorts and I will try to remember not to complain about Los Angeles anymore!

Next up: Western Washington University

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

This week were are headed all the way up to Bellingham Washington for a couple of educational programs for kindergarten to 6th grade students.  This will be our second time going to Western Washington University and we’re looking forward to returning to Bellingham!

Reno, Kris’ Macgyver skills and a new koto

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

When you live in Los Angeles it’s very easy to forget how foul weather can be just a few short hours away. On our way to Reno we ran into a blizzard through the Sierras. Luckily the thoughtful staff at UNR called to warn us about the storm. Still it was hard for me to conceptualize putting chains on our van while reading that email in shorts and 80 degree weather that morning. Thank goodness Maz actually took the warning to heart and packed a proper snow jacket and gloves. We had a horrible time with putting chains on our van and once we got them on they broke! Kris then channeled his inner Macgyver and repaired the show chains by linking the disconnected sections with a key chain ring. All was saved!

It’s a good thing we made it because the performance was fantastic!  The audience was very enthusiastic and the staff and sound engineers at the hall were all top notch.  A big thank you goes out to CJ for bringing us out to Reno and to Chris, Rich, Bob, Scott and the rest of the staff for all of their work.  We worked two new pieces into the concert and reworked another piece dramatically.  I was very pleased with the flow of the second half with the new pieces and feel like our program keeps getting better and better.  We have some recordings that I’ll post in the next couple of days.  Then to top it all off after the concert a woman came up to us and gave us a koto! Thank you Akiko-san for the wonderful gift and we’ll put it to good use!

EP 5 printing

Monday, March 1st, 2010

My brother-in-law is a graphic designer and is designing the packaging for EP 5.  He came up with a great idea to screen print the cd packaging which fits in perfectly with the personal hand-made aesthetic of the EPs and our limited budget:) On Saturday he came over and we did the print run of 110 in our guest bedroom and he put together this cool video to document the process:

Check out more of Brent’s work at!

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