Omiyage Class Week 2 and 3 - Student Perspective

Week 2 classes began with a recap of Omiyage Basic hits, where we focused on arm placement and expression. I’m beginning to learn that Omiyage is a balance between exemplifying both strength and grace at the same time. Yuta has made the analogy that some key moves should look like a stretching rubber band and it’s release. We also began learning a few of the main phrases, deconstructing the movements to fully understand where our body, weight, arms, hands, and core should be for each movement. The class ended with learning the basics of the shime/okedo parts of the main phrases. Yuta shared that he hopes by the end of the course, students can take the piece with them to play and teach their own groups.

Classes week 3 began with Omiyage Basic hits again. I’m finding that each time we run through the basic exercises, I’m always discovering something new about my movements and hits. For example, the space your bachi travels and the speed in which the bachi and arm pull back can convey very different images. It also affects the energy of the hit and how that energy is expressed to the audience. Yuta has taught me to be more conscious about the subtleties of taiko, which has made me a more thoughtful taiko player.

After basics, we ran through the Omiyage lines learned last week and added the right handed bachi-twirl. Bachi-twirls have always been fascinating to me because I have never been in a group or played a piece that utilized many bachi-twirls. Also, I have never been taught how to twirl bachi well or know when to add it into my playing. For these reasons, I’ve avoided bachi-twirls for most of my taiko playing. However, Omiyage is a piece known for it’s movements and bachi-twirls, a concept that fascinated me about the class.

Yuta’s instruction of Omiyage bachi-twirls and concepts behind its usage has really changed my view on movement and taiko aesthetics. I appreciated how Yuta deconstructed the bachi-twirls by first teaching us the hand motion without any sticks. After the whole class understood, we repeated the same motion but with the bachi in our hands. I was amazed that bachi-twirling could be so simple! Yuta said that his belief with bachi-twirls in Omiyage is to make them seamless and unnoticeable to the audience. After reflecting on his words, my perspective of bachi-twirls changed. They are impressive and flashy especially when highlighted in a movement. However, the subtleness of a bachi-twirl and making it an integral part of a movement or piece can result in something more than flashy, but rather beautiful, eloquent and purposeful.

Did I also mention that Omiyage is a great core workout? Goal next week - learn how to breathe better while playing!