Free Essay

Japanese Culture and Music

In: Film and Music

Submitted By mdbarber23
Words 1050
Pages 5
Michael Barber
Instructor Yao Younge
Japanese Music Video Project
October 21, 2014

Japanese Culture and Music

There are many different festivals in the Japanese culture that show people how unique their culture is. One of these festivals includes The Shinto Music and Dance Festival, which is a very popular festival in Japan. The festival is for anyone to enjoy, it’s a spiritual society where all religions are welcome. The festival’s purpose is to please the gods, which is known as kagura. The Kagura den takes place at the imperial palace in Japan where it is performed every 3 years. Some of the instruments used in the festival are the takebue flutes, which are made of bamboo and the binsasara, which is a bamboo instrument that makes a cracking noise when the performer bends it. During the festival there are a line of shops leading to a Temple at the end of the lane where the final performance will occur. There are people carrying large portable shrines called omikoshi above their heads as they walk around. These shrines are of phoenix birds that are blessed by the priest. The people carry these shrines and lead a large crowd of spectators down the lane towards the temple. Lots of spectators are chanting and dancing while whistle blowers help navigate everyone towards the temple. There are many different plays and ensembles for people to watch on their way to the temple where the final performance will be. The final play that is performed at the temple is called the Orochi taiji, which is known as the killing of the dragon. The plot of the story is that a dragon has killed all of a man’s daughters, so he wants to put the dragon to sleep with the use of Saki, which will poison the dragon. The man makes the Saki and then asks a Kami to slay the dragon after he drinks the Saki. The dragon sees the Saki and tests it with his mane then drinks the whole thing. After drinking the Saki, the dragon becomes drunk and groggy. The bamboo flute accompanies his drunken danced. The kami hits the dragon and the battle begins. After the kami slays the dragon the father thanks the kami for his service. The father then test the dragon to make sure he is dead by putting his finger on his flaming mouth of the dragon to see if it’s still hot. The kami gives the daughter the sword and then they leave the stage so the father can end the play with a dance.
The second video I watched was about the Bunkraku a Japanese puppet performance. The performance involves multiple puppets, which needs multiple puppeteers to operate them. The plot of the story is about a hero and a villain who battle throughout the play. The hero ends up going crazy and starts killing everyone he sees. The music during the play is very linear. Puppet Theater is very popular in the Japanese culture and the puppeteers train hard for it. The puppeteers treat their puppets with care just like they were a person.
The third video I watched was about the Japanese drumming group called Kodo. In Japan the word Kodo means heartbeat, which suits their music well. The Kodo is an extremely talented group of people who train hard to perfect their music. To be a member of Kodo, one’s music ability is not the most important attribute; they have to be strong and fit. Every morning the members are woken up early in the morning from the sound of someone clapping two wooden sticks together. The members wake up and run ten kilometers around the island they live on and then work out their muscles. Before rehearsals begin the member’s bodies have to be fully stretched. When they hit the drum they aren’t only hitting the drum with their drumsticks they are using their whole body to hit the drum. The drummers use every muscle to strike the drum with such power, which is why they must exercise daily. The drummers must stretch the cowhide wrapped around the drum so it will give its unique high pitches. Health and fitness is very important to the members of Kodo so they eat nourishing foods. Each day the members are assigned house and two people are assigned to cook for the house. The members of the house don’t believe in wasting food so they only buy what they need. The group is financially self-reliant. They earn money from their performances and they manage it well. They don’t have a lot of new technology in their house because they believe it gets in between them and nature. They make their drumsticks by hand, which adds more value to their music. The members work so hard and put so much effort into their music so they can perfect it. In the Japanese culture, drumming has a spiritual aspect.
After watching several videos on Japanese culture and music, I’ve learned a lot about their culture as well as how they view music. The Japanese word for music is ongaku, which means the pleasure of sound. In Japan, music isn’t just sounds coming from an instrument; it’s an art form that can be performed in different ways. Music in Japan isn’t just something that people just use for entertainment; it’s a lifestyle for a lot of them and it’s a way for them to communicate with the gods. The Japanese people train very hard to perfect their music or any performance. Music has a very spiritual affect in Japanese culture; they play it at all their religious festivals. The Japanese culture is a “we” culture, meaning they think about everyone not just themselves. This puts the Japanese culture up there as one of the most respectful cultures in the world today. Most cultures today, like the American culture focus on their selves and are very selfish, Japanese culture is the complete opposite. Religion is very important with the Japanese culture, they pray to their ancestors. The past is very important in Japanese culture, they believe one should remember and honor their ancestors from the past. The Japanese culture is very unique culture that one could learn a lot from and implement into their own culture.

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