Saturday, October 6, 2007


Bugaku dance and music
Miyajima, Japan

Against the backdrop of one of the most iconic scenes in Japan - the Itsukushima
Shrine on Miyajima Island - my father Raymondo and I recently watched the traditional Bugaku dance.

Bugaku is a form of Gagaku, the music and dance originally performed and practiced in the Imperial court in the early 9th century. I’ve heard this may be the oldest extant orchestral music in the world.

Despite the crowds of day trippers and the garish modern architecture visible in the far distance, I felt incredibly moved by the performance, which was performed in honor of a newly married couple.

At the same time I couldn't help feeling we have lost some essential part of our nature. If Bugaku derives from a time of feudal domination, it also symbolizes a time of simplicity, elegance and leisure.

The tempo of gagaku is so slow that it seems almost devoid of a pulse. But the stately pace created by a single drum, percussion and flutes suggests a oneness with nature which is essential to the animist core of the Shinto religion. I don’t share the animist belief in souls, but in a deep metaphorical sense I can appreciate that the unification of matter and spirit plays a role in daily life.

This feeling of communion with nature grew stronger as we climbed the wooded mountainside of Miyajima. The shrines dotted along the way were a constant reminder of the eternal, that in its essence life is a meditation and that family, nature and the universe are in some profound way reflected in each other.


spaewaif said...

Quite a special place,Miyajima.I love Gagaku.
And since you were writing about Hiroshima too,you might enjoy this Cindytalk dj mix,After the Fireflies, which starts with a field recording of a candle ceremony in Hiroshima-beautiful crackling poetry and metaphor- to continue with Gagaku.

After The Fireflies

Complete t/list :
field recording.gagaku (ancient japanese court music).cindytalk.autechre.edward artemyev.somatic responses(renegade hybrid rmx).fenno'berg.asmus tietchens.pita.
plastikman.oval.wasteland(renegade hybrid rmx).public image ltd.cindytalk.ryoji ikeda. main.if then do.ryoji ikeda.japanese folk voices.cindytalk.otomo yoshihide.
wasteland vs aphex twin (renegade hybrid).einsturzende neubauten.cindytalk. ryoji ikeda.robert wyatt.

spaewaif said...

Oh,God! I have just realised! The photo that appears in touchedradio!!!
That was also taken in Miyajima!!!!
There was this radio hanging from a tree for one of the shops along the coast.Delightful.

Shiffi Le Soy said...

Hi Spaewaif, thank you for your comments it's great to hear from you. I remember that radio photo! I'll be checking out the After the Fireflies mix real soon!

Cushion Meg said...

I'm thinking what is "some essential part of our nature" we lost in modernization. If we could regain that, we might save ths planet.