Show: Driving rhythms from the Far East: “Yamato” in Dortmund

The taiko ensemble “Yamato” presents its new program “Tenmei”. The Japanese drum show is on tour in Germany from December.

Japanese culture influences life in Germany in a particularly multifaceted way, long after it has left the immigrant stronghold of Düsseldorf. Be it culinary with sake, sushi & co., martial arts and self-defense courses or entertainment with anime, video game heroes such as Super Mario and cult TV series such as “Takeshi’s Castle” – we encounter inventions from the island state everywhere in everyday life. Even the good old “rock, paper, scissors” game comes from the land of the rising sun, although in the original version from the 17th century, called “Sansukumi-ken”, frogs, poisonous snails and snakes still compete against each other.

Also popular: drum concerts. One of the best-known international groups is “Yamato – The Drummers Of Japan”. From the end of December she will be touring through nine cities in Germany, from a North Rhine-Westphalian point of view the guest performances in the Dortmund Konzerthaus (from December 27th) and in the Cologne Philharmonic (from July 11th) are interesting.

“Yamato”: tree trunk + cowhide = drum

In addition to talented musicians, the necessary rhythms require the classic taiko, also known as wadaiko, meaning “thick drum”. These are usually made from hollowed out tree trunks and cowhide. The instruments with the special design actually come from China, but quickly became popular in Japan as part of the export of Buddhism in the 4th to 6th centuries AD.

Many centuries later, in 1993 to be precise, Masa Ogawa founded the group “Yamato”, loosely translated as “the original, historical Japan”, in Nara Prefecture in the southern part of the country. Since then, the ensemble has been touring in 54 different countries all over the world, and TV appearances in Germany on “Wetten, dass..?” (2006) and “Understand You Fun” (2007) were already on the tour schedule.

Yamato: The ensemble trains up to ten hours a day

If you want to play there, you need various qualities in an outstanding form: On the one hand, there would be physical condition and muscle strength – not only in the arms. The drummers begin their training, up to ten hours a day in total, with a ten-kilometer run, followed by strength exercises (often lifting different taiko) and finally regular rehearsals. Manual work is also required, as each member of the ensemble makes his or her own drumsticks.

The willingness to leave your home four walls for a long time is also crucial. In addition to numerous performances in Japan, international trips lasting several months are regularly scheduled – in particularly stressful years the tour schedule is filled for up to ten months.

Extensive and colorful stage design

After all, others take care of the logistics, but this is also hard work in the truest sense of the word. The largest drum played in the show called “Tenmei” (in English “fate”) has a diameter of 1.70 meters and weighs an impressive 500 kilograms.

In addition, there is an elaborate stage design and costumes with traditional and modern garb. “It’s not just another percussion show: we show the diverse possibilities that taiko offers us, powerful and energetic,” promises Ogawa. If you don’t speak Japanese, you have nothing to fear – no one speaks at “Yamato” shows. The musicians concentrate fully on their playing – with peak frequencies of up to 500 beats per minute, they really have no choice.

>>> INFO: “Yamato – The Drummers Of Japan”: 27.-31.12. Dortmund (Konzerthaus, Tue and Thu-Sat 7.30 p.m. + Wed 6.30 p.m. + Sat 2.30 p.m., tickets from approx. €40), 11.-16.7. Cologne (Philharmonie, Tue-Sat 8 p.m. + Sat 3 p.m. + Sun 2 p.m. + 7 p.m., tickets from around €50). show duration:about 120 minutes including a 20-minute break.

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