Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Abeya Tsugaru-Shamisen US Tour 2012

In commemoration of the Japan-US Cherry Blossom Centennial, the Japan Foundation has been proud to sponsor Japan's acclaimed folk music ensemble Abeya on their 2012 Tsugaru-Shamisen US Tour. American Mishima was present for their second and more informal night which was more of a workshop at UCLA than the previous night's formal performance at the Colburn School's Zipper Hall. By doing so, we were able to get right up close to the group to see their mastery of the Tsugaru-Shamisen at work.

Abeya's founder and patriarch Hidesaburo Abe jokingly likes to refer his group as five weird guys and one beautiful girl.This includes his two sons Kinzaburo Abe & Ginzaburo Abe who both have won the All Japan Shamisen competition. Together with Ryu Gotika, Tatsumasa Ando, and the beautiful Maya Nemoto they comprise one of the most successful Japanese folk music ensembles. 

As seen here Kinzaburo & Ginzaburo Abe posing for our camera.
By doing this workshop the audience was given more of an opportunity to learn the history of Tsugaru Shamisen and what goes into making both Shamisen and the music that spans from the Southern most island of Okinawa to Hokkaido. This included a breakdown of the way a Shamisen is transported and the meanings behind many of the traditional songs once sung during long hard days at work which have since become ingrained into the culture. Having been to a few Yoshida Brother's concerts, I thought I knew more about Shamisen but as they say in many Japanese dictionary's that the more you know the more you realize how little you actually know. To further this point, their American translator invited a 12 year old American boy who they met in Japan that had been studying Shamisen to play. This kid held up his own and could have been a member of Abeya. They later invited members of the audience to join in and do traditional folk dance. あいけない! Had I known, I wouldn't have worn a business suit to the event! 

After the workshop members of the audience were treated to an informal meet & greet with the group and some free sushi. They were fun to talk to and very nice people who we wish them continued success. We at American Mishima enjoyed our evening with Abeya. They will be playing in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, and then in Honolulu before returning to Japan. If you would like more information for Abeya's US Six City Tour please visit the Japan Foundation website.


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