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Hayashi drums up a birthday performance

by Rei Sasaguchi

Special To The Japan Times

Eitetsu Hayashi, a pioneer in the field of taiko (traditional Japanese drumming), plans to showcase the results of 40 years of experience at a performance celebrating his 60th birthday next week.

The program is called “Goringu: Ashita no tame ni” (“Five Rings: For Tomorrow”) a title derived from what Hayashi says are the universal elements (earth, water, fire, wind and sky) on which we live, or fight, for the future.

He will perform taiko numbers from his own repertoire. The first of these is a remarkable work titled “Itsutsu no Kōkei” (“Five Spectacles”), which was created in 2009 and demonstrates his ability to handle drums of various sizes. What is particularly striking is the way Hayashi handles the enormous drum he plays. The artist stands directly in front of the drum, facing its flat side, which he strikes with drumsticks. Hitting the drum from such an angle requires a lot of power and is one of the things that makes a taiko performance so exciting to watch as well as listen to.

Another piece Hayashi is scheduled to perform is “Monochrome,” which was composed for him by Maki Ishii in 1975. This remains an important work to Hayashi because it represents the kind of performance he has strived for over the years.

Hayashi will be joined by six members of Fuun-no-Kai (The Society of the Wind and Clouds), a taiko group that he established. When the group plays in unison on stage, it is definitely a sight to behold.

“Goringu: Ashita no tame ni” takes place at Setagaya Public Theater on Feb. 1 and 2 (7 p.m.), Feb 4 (5 p.m.) and Feb. 5 (2 p.m.). Tickets cost ¥5,000 and ¥7,000. For more information and tickets, call 03-5432-1515 or visit www.setagaya-pt.jp.