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“Earth Celebration 2010: To Beat a Rhythm”

by Maho Kawabe

The summer festival giants of Fuji Rock, Summer Sonic and Rock in Japan are over, but the country’s festive spirit is still alive and kicking.

“I think the audience for Earth Celebration is extremely special,” says event organizer Daniel Rosen. “Unlike Fuji Rock or some of the other larger festivals, EC is really intimate, with only about 5,000 visitors each year.”

Niigata Prefecture’s Sado Island is hosting Earth Celebration for the 23rd time next weekend. The annual festival acts as a showcase for Japanese drum ensemble Kodo, who were founded in 1981 and have performed in 46 different countries. This year, the event has also invited Corsican polyphony group A Filetta to play. Both will be open-air performances surrounded by natural backdrops and covered in a blanket of stars.

The natural setting is something Kodo have taken pains to promote since its inception. Earth Celebration has made it a priority to promote the culture of Sado Island overseas and then reciprocate the exchange through guest appearances by bands from overseas.

“It’s not really that far, but after taking the train and ferry, it does seem like you have arrived in a different world,” says Rosen.

After arriving on Sado Island by jet ferry (65 minutes) or ferry (140 minutes) from Niigata City, visitors may find that the available lodgings have already been filled. There is a campground located 15 minutes by bus from Shiroyama Park (where the performances will be held) and tents will be available for rent, too. Camping out with other fans is a fantastic way to really experience Earth Celebration. The crowd demonstrate their commitment every year with the efforts they make to get involved.

“(Fans) bring their instruments and ideas and actively participate in the festival, as opposed to just being spectators,” says Rosen. “This makes for a really supportive, enthusiastic audience that simply love being at the festival.”

“Earth Celebration 2010: To Beat a Rhythm” will be held Aug. 20-22 at Shiroyama Park on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture. Musical performances begin at 6:30 p.m. each day. One-day tickets cost ¥4,700-5,200. (or an extra ¥300 when bought at the gate). Passes, which can only be bought in advance, cost ¥8,400-¥13,000. For more information, visit www.kodo.or.jp/ec