服部屋敷 八丈太鼓 樫立踊り
|Kashitate odori dance & Hachijo Taiko drumming performance at Hattori Yashiki, Hachijo Island|
(Animated GIF - click if it doesn't start)
Our first stop after landing and picking up our 3,000 yen-a-day rental car with a temperamental starter engine was - thanks to a flyer on the rental car company counter - an old homestead in the south of the island called Hattori Yashiki.
|Hattori Yashiki, Hachijo Island, Japan.|
A dance event there was advertised, starting at 10 a.m. We had nothing planned so it sounded like a good way to start our island experience. Nothing remains of the original homestead, and there is now a sprawling ramshackle building there, one half of which is a workshop and store making and selling Kihachijo silk goods in distinctive yellow, brown and black, dyed using local plants, and a large space with wooden seats and a stage, covered in beautiful flowers. The grounds feature numerous big sago palms.
|Sago palms, Hattori Yashiki, Hachijo Island.|
While waiting, we tried the warm yuzu juice and the coffee on sale, and I got chatting to a friendly middle aged man from the tourist group who had come and sat down alongside us.
The performance began on time. Two old men and two old women did the Kashitate odori dance: a dance that reflects the various origins of those who found themselves on Hachijo Island when it was a place of exile and banishment, and which is now registered as a Japanese intangible cultural property.
Another woman, who was the MC before the performance began, sang while the four danced. I was jolted when she produced her first note. As MC she had an old lady's voice, but as singer she came out with the clear tones of her lusty girlhood.
|Orchids in front of the stage, Hattori Yashiki, Hachijo Island|
Perhaps because the dancers were so old - all at least in their sixties, their personalities came through without any effort on their part to project them, adding another level of charm to the performance.
The two women were typically courteous and amiable in their demeanor. The glassy-eyed old man on the left looked as if he very much liked his sake, and from the way those eyes seemed rested on something beyond, could well have been wishing he was back with his bottle, his bluntly dexterous dancing seeming dutiful and dour. The taller, thinner man on the right was in a different world from the other, as if in the throes of drinking merriment - not its aftermath.
|Old family photos, Hattori Yashiki, Hachijo Island, Japan.|
Next up was a spear dance, that brought a sharp, silvery hint of danger to the proceedings, yet at the same gravity-tethered pace.
We bought a cute little silk owl from the souvenir shop later for 600 yen, and said goodbye to the group from Hyogo (who we kept bumping into for the rest of the day here and there!)
The animated gif above that I made of the event is because I was too busy taking photos to remember to take a video - which also explains the lack of a soundtrack. Imagine and enjoy.
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