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NIIGATA

Celebrate Earth with top beats

by Sally Kikuchi

Staff Writer

Enjoy an exciting weekend getaway to Niigata Prefecture for Japan’s longest-running music festival, Earth Celebration. Now in its 24th year, this event takes place on Sado Island, which is home to the internationally acclaimed Kodo drumming group.

Earth Celebration makes it a priority to promote the culture of Sado Island abroad and reciprocates the exchange by way of guest appearances from overseas performers.

This year’s tataku (to beat a rhythm) theme combines the energy of human expression with Sado’s natural splendor.

“I believe that art is the key to moving toward a more sustainable way of life,” says Atsushi Sugano, Earth Celebration’s executive producer.

The festival’s main concert event features Kodo, who have toured 46 countries since debuting in 1981. This year, the Ranaei Family from Iran are the concert’s special guests. Also featured are Ko no Kai, a group of suodori gunbu (group dance in plain, formal costume) dancers, whose appearance will mark their first live collaboration with Kodo. Visitors can also take part in taiko (drum), dance, theater and craft workshops. And if that’s still not enough, participants have the opportunity to enjoy sightseeing tours, noh theater and the harbour market in between festival events.

The three gateways to Sado by ferry are Niigata to Ryotsu, Naoetsu to Ogi, and Teradomari to Akadomari. This year, Sado Kisen is providing special ferry services to facilitate travel back to the mainland after the festival. Book lodging in advance as most facilities will be filled quickly, but there are also campgrounds and tents available.

Earth Celebration 2011 will be held Aug. 19-21 at Shiroyama Park on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture. Concert begins at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 19, 6 p.m. on Aug. 20 and 21. Tickets range from ¥3,500-¥13,000. For more information, visit www.kodo.or.jp/ec or follow Earth Celebration on Twitter: @Sado_EC.