Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hanryukai Taiko Performance In Choshi

"Mention Choshi, you'll think of fishing port"

the first image
of the town

The very first tour of the year for the newly appointed second batch of Chiba Kun Ambassadors this year took us to a small town in the easternmost region of the Kantō region - Choshi City (銚子市). Before I go any further, just in case you aren't sure what Chiba Kun Ambassadors is all about, they are a group of foreign students and foreign residents living in Chiba Prefecture, appointed by the prefectural office to promote the wonderful prefecture. 

Specifically, they do this by writing Chiba-related articles on their personal blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. This year, there are twenty ambassadors appointed from as many as eleven countries - China, South Korea, Taiwan, U.S.A, U.K, Indonesia, Malaysia (that's me lol!), Mongolia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Italy. When you have these ambassadors, who come from all parts of the world, to gather together, you can be assured that it feels like you're right in the middle of a United Nations meeting with thousand-and-one languages lol!

The journey from Chiba City took us approximately two hours. The first stop was Choshi City Hall, where we were warmly greeted by a group of taiko performers upon our arrival. This fantastic group was gonna perform specially only for us, the Chiba Kun Ambaasadors. How lucky is that, to have a taiko performance arranged exclusively for us?


This taiko group calls themselves Choshi's Hanryu-kai (阪流会).

It was not long before this taiko performance attracted several curious locals who happened to pass by the area to stop and watch the wonderful show with us. The sounds of the taiko certainly had liven up the surrounding area around the Choshi City Hall on a Saturday morning.

Choshi's Hanryu-kai is a member of the Choshi Hane-daiko Preservation Society (銚子はね太鼓保存会). This Hanryu-kai the Hanryu-kai, is just one Choshi Hane-daiko group amongst a handful of groups that make up the Choshi Hane-daiko Preservation Society.

Hane-daiko, literally means "hopping or skipping drum" has been designated as one of the intangible folk cultral properties of Choshi City. This drum culture began since the Edo period, and it was believed that the fishermen during those days held various drums festivals in hope for good catch.


These drummers, in pairs, held up a drum which weighs about five kilograms on their shoulders as they get ready to perform the "hane-taiko" (はね太鼓).


"Hane" (跳ね) in Japanese means "to hop" or "to skip", while "taiko" (太鼓) refers to drum.


This is the most senior member (right) of the group, considered as the leader-cum-pace keeper, making sure that none of his members go too fast or slow.
He'll yell at whenever someone goes beyond the speed limit lol!


Another specialty of this taiko group - the crossed-arm taiko. Notice that they have an unique way of hitting the drum, by crossing their arms.


That adorable leader, performing a folk dance that he claimed everyone from Choshi knows how to dance it. Super cute-lah this pak cik.

The special characteristic about this drummer is that they dance and jump in the air along with the drum beat, making it a spectacular taiko performance. Although I have watched many taiko performances ones in the past, this team from Choshi definitely caught my attention with their unique way of hitting the drum.

On that morning, it was the Hama-chidori-kai (浜ちどり会), one of the groups from the Hanryu-kai (阪流会), that performed specially for the Chiba Kun Ambassadors. Their performance was absolutely fantastic and we were entertained with several pieces of songs of all sorts. By the way, this taiko performance can also be witnessed at the Choshi Minato Festival (銚子みなと祭り) in August and at the Narita Taiko Festival (成田太鼓祭り) in April every year.


The Chiba Kun Ambassadors tried out on the hand-made bamboo flute (photo credit: Kase Fumihiko).


Unfortunately, none of us managed to make any sounds from it and all of us just blew empty air out of the holes, including me lol! 


We were also given a rare chance to try out hitting the drums.


Some of the Chiba Kun Ambassadors trying out hitting the drums but unfortunately, all lari tone one haha! (photo credit: Kase Fumihiko)


Being a fan of lion dance since young, I tried hitting the drum following the tunes of lion dances haha!


Had to get Sikiru, who shares the same height as me to carry the hane-taiko. It wasn't as heavy as we first thought.


 In less than an hour, the Chiba Kun Ambassadors had performed a taiko group, but how well can we play the instrument is another different story lol!


Finally, a group photo with the awesome drummers from Choshi (photo credit: Kase Fumihiko).


And ohh, by the way, we were given some souvenirs by the Choshi City Hall staffs before we leave. 


Inside the goodie bags were information pamphlets on Choshi, soy sauce, sardines, noodles, and not forgetting, stickers that reads, 
"Choshi food is sooo good that you will shed your tears when you taste them" haha wtf! 

After enjoying the awesome taiko performance, it was time to take our lunch. We had lunch at a nice Japanese restaurant called Kamichi (かみち). This restaurant specialises on fish dished and situated just about a minute walk from Choshi Station. We were given choices between three kinds of set lunch - sardines, tempura or sashimi. 

Just for your information, Choshi is one of the fishing towns that boasts the highest catches of fish in Japan. Therefore, the town is famous for its fresh and delicious fish of high quality, such as sardines, bonito and tune. As July is the rainy season here in Japan, it is also the season for sardines, the most famous fish related to Choshi. That made some smart fellas into creating a set meal which is full of sardines, prepared in different cooking methods. Unfortunately, none of the Chiba Kun Ambassadors requested for sardine lunch set; all went for either tempura or sashimi lol!


Super wide roads in the town. The sea is just in the far background and the surrounding does make feel that you're in a fishing town.


I guess this is the first time for the locals to see so many aliens invaded their lovely town lol!


Kamichi (かみち), the Japanese restaurant we had our lunch.


Iwashi (sardine) lunch set (photo credit: Kase Fumihiko).


A closer look at the bowl of rice with sardine topping.


Sashimi lunch set, which has maguro, kanpachi and some kinds of tai.


Tempura lunch set for me, which has ebi-furai (fried shrimp) and vegetables tempura.


A common ritual for the Chiba Kun Ambassadors before they take their lunch lol! (photo credit: Ishizaki Masataka).


Ohh hi! The excited Malaysian Chiba Kun Ambassador with his tempura set lunch.


We stopped by a souvenir center - Choshi Serekuto Ichiba (銚子セレクト市場) to have a look at the local specialties inside.


The super long soba noodles!

One of the famous thing about Choshi is being the centre of soy sauce production; where it is the home to Yamasa and Higeta, the two major soy sauce producers. That prompted someone to come out with the genius idea of selling soy-sauce flavoured soft cream. Sounds like it gonna taste weird, isn't it?

We were curious to know how does the soft cream taste like, which made each of us decided to get one each. My initial guess was that the soft cream might taste a bit salty, because after all, it's a soy sauce flavoured soft cream. However, a first bite on the soft cream brought out a slightly different taste. The soy sauce flavour was hardly present. Instead, the combination of salty and sweetness made us thought of caramel.


The legendary soy sauce flavoured soft cream from Choshi.

The colour of the soft cream is brownish, resembling coffee flavoured soft cream. Therefore, one might not know it is a soy sauce flavoured soft cream if not told. This flavour of ice cream is only available in Choshi, and I guess it is worth a try if you happen to drop by this town.

Since the Japanese has come out with soy sauce flavoured soft cream, I am wondering if it will be possible to sell budu flavoured ice cream in Malaysia lol! Do you think it can laku or not?

~ to be continued ~

No comments: