Wednesday, February 8, 2012

San Jose Taiko Presents HIMAWARI

San José, CA --- January 26, 2012 --- San Jose Taiko presents HIMAWARI: a unique collaboration with San Jose Taiko and the three members of Hanayui - Chieko Kojima, Yoko Fujimoto, Mitsue Kinjo, and guest artist, Yoshikazu Fujimoto of Kodo.
HIMAWARI (Sunflower) is the union of the performers of San Jose Taiko and Hanayui in a collaboration ten years in the making. Both groups explore their common roots and Japanese ancestry through music and dance: San Jose Taiko coming from the Japanese American community in San Jose, California, and Hanayui coming from Kodo Village on Sado Island in Japan.
The project name HIMAWARI was selected for the sunflower's strength as a symbol of power and energy, and a source for nurturing and sustaining life. San Jose Taiko and Hanayui first came together to create HIMAWARI in 2000 and debuted the program in Hawaii in 2002. The program included traditional folk songs and dances from Japan, contemporary taiko drumming from America, and collaborations that combined all of these elements. The new program will include works from the original program and showcase original arrangements from both Hanayui and San Jose Taiko.
“We’re very excited to be working with our friends at Kodo once again.” explains San Jose Taiko’s newly appointed Artistic Director Franco Imperial. “Their performances are so beautifully soulful. For audiences who have never seen them, their artistry touches on something both foreign and universal. For people familiar with taiko, it will be simply astounding to see these legendary artists all on the same stage.”
“This is a great opportunity for San Jose to witness Japanese artists of this caliber”, states newly- appointed Executive Director Wisa Uemura. “This collaboration concert will feature unparalleled performances of Japanese folk traditions from the senior members of Kodo along with contemporary interpretations of the taiko artform from San Jose Taiko.”
The performance will take place at the San Jose Repertory Theater, 101 Paseo De San Anotnio, San Jose on Saturday, February 11 at 8:00 p.m.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors if purchased at the door on the day of the event. Call (408) 293-9344 by 5:00 p.m. February 10 to receive a $5 discount on each ticket. For more information visit
********* Hanayui is made up of Kodo members Chieko Kojima and Yoko Fujimoto, joined by Okinawan dance expert Mitsue Kinjo. The Japanese word hana means “flower” and symbolized the youthful energy that Hanayui puts into their performances. The word yuimeans “to tie,” and recalls the relationship formed in ancient villages in Japan when families came together to share in both hardships and harvests.
Chieko Kojima was born in Iwafune, Tochigi-prefecture. Chieko first encountered Japanese folk dancing when she joined Ondekoza in 1976. When Kodo was formed, Chieko carved out a niche for herself as one of the few regularly performing female members. She is noted for the original style of her dancing in Kodo's taiko-based performance. Chieko enjoys expanding her repertoire and meeting new and stimulating people in her travels across the globe.
Yoko Fujimoto joined Ondekoza (later Kodo) in 1976. After three years appearing as a koto player, singer and dancer, she stepped down from the stage to edit Kodo’s monthly Japanese language newsletter for the next 13 years. In 1989 she began to sing again and has been Kodo's principal vocalist ever since. In 1996 she toured Cuba and North America with her husband Yoshikazu Fujimoto, Kodo's principal O-daiko player, giving drum-and- song workshops. She also conducts 'Voice Circle' workshops, which help participants to rediscover song and the power of their own voices.
Okinawa native Mitsue Kinjo entered the Okinawan dance groupe "Hana no Kai" in 1979 and was trained by Takako Sato. It was through her activities in Okinawan dance that Mitsue first encountered Kodo. Later, after receiving the Okinawa Times Highest Award for Achievement in the Performing Arts, Mitsue married a Kodo member and moved to Sado Island. Mitsue first participated in the Kodo Village Festival as a member of Hanayui and has continued in to participate as a dancer in other capacities since.
Yoshikazu Fujimoto joined Ondeko-za (later Kodo) in 1972, was one of the founding members of Kodo, and was the group's featured O-daiko player and center-man for the "Yatai-bayashi" climax piece. Yoshikazu is presently Kodo's most senior performing member. In recent years he has played a large role in educating the Kodo apprentices, and is conducting more and more workshops for the general public.
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About San Jose Taiko:
San Jose Taiko, with a deep respect of cultural traditions and a commitment to artistic excellence, is dedicated to the advancement of the taiko art form through the development of its world-class Performing Ensemble and the San Jose Taiko Conservatory. Located in the heart of Japantown of San Jose, the company performs throughout the Bay Area, the United States and abroad.
Since 1973, San Jose Taiko (SJT) has integrated this historical Japanese art form with other world rhythms. All compositions performed by SJT are written or arranged by members of the group. Composing, choreographing, designing and producing costumes, and handcrafting of the drums are part of the holistic process in which all members participate. Through this singleness of mind and spirit, harmony is achieved and the music rings with unity and clarity.
Enrich the human spirit. Connect people beyond cultural and demographic boundaries.
San Jose Taiko, P.O. Box 26895, San Jose, CA 95159    408 293 9344         

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