Performances offer view into traditional culture

Summer in Tokyo: Excessive heat, relentless humidity and languid evenings spring to mind. Rather than fight the elements, visitors and Tokyoites alike are recommended to go with the flow and embrace sweltering temperatures. With the rainy season upon us and sizzling summer days just moments away, “Natsuno Nigiwai Sumidagawa” (Bustling Summer by the Sumida River) is a refreshing and culture-quenching program of Japanese Edo-era performing arts introducing patrons to seasonal stories and rituals.

Part of the Ginza Hanakagami project that seeks to promote traditional art forms in both Japanese and English through the lens of the newly opened Kanze Noh Theater, the program running through July 26 includes Nihon buyo (dance fused with elements of pantomime); hauta (a style of short songs originating from the 1830s); kengi (sword art); and ohayashi. Theatrical music that conventionally accompanies noh, ohayashi features instruments such as the fue (flute), otsuzumi (hip drum), kotsuzumi (shoulder drum) and taiko drums.

A unique aspect of the Ginza Hanakagami project is the up-close-and-personal access audiences are given to leaders in their fields. The stories and vignettes presented in “Natsuno Nigiwai Sumidagawa” are brought to life through original scores and choreography devised and performed by some of Japan’s best artists.

Percussionist Roei Tosha heralds from the distinguished Tosha lineage of musicians and is classically trained as a noh performer. Similarly, award-winning choreographer Yoshie Tachibana is revered as one of Japan’s finest exponents of Nihon buyo. Here, she presides over a charming series of works adeptly performed by dancers Kotoomi Hanayagi and Sumijyuro Fujikawa. One piece conceived especially for this show, “Elegance of Suda,” is performed as part of a risogaku (folk/traditional hybrid) music set arranged by internationally renowned shamisen composer Hidetaro Honjo.

In addition, audiences are provided with ogi fans actually used in Nihon buyo to be given hands-on lessons on moves in the dance and actions of likening the fan to other things, called mitate.

“Natsuno Nigiwai Sumidagawa” (Bustling Summer by the Sumida River) runs through July 26 at Kanze Noh Theater, with the performance starting at 6:30 p.m. The theater is located in the third basement of Ginza Six. It is two minutes from Exit A3 of Ginza Station on the Ginza, Marunouchi and Hibiya lines.

Ginza Hanakagami Office (at Mash Corporation)

www.g6hana.jp

Tel: 03-6450-1238

Nihon Kochiku 2-Gokan Building 5F,

2-7-15 Hamamatsucho, Minato-ku, Tokyo