To Issahaya With Love

Dawn on the day after the Rainbow Festival at Aso Mountain ended. It had rained hard all night.

Miraculously, Sachiho and I managed the day before to find two saints with automobiles willing to convey us, Yoko Nema, Hiromi Kondo (the harmonium player/vocalist and the percussionist/vocalist of Amana) and all of our instruments and belongings, all the way to our next gig, at a mountain temple in Issahaya in the prefecture of Nagasaki, four hours drive from Aso Mountain, including a ferry ride from Kumamoto. After carrying my gear through the mud to the car in my rice planting boots (with some powerful help from Sachiho’s son Laki and some others), I thank Tako and Rokuro Matsui profoundly and wish them a fond farewell.

Mikiko and Kanako, who had done so much to make sure I was comfortable throughout the festival, come to say goodbye. What wonderful friends. I am very grateful to them both.

We drive down to Kumamoto and board a ferry for Nagasaki…

…and leave stormy Kumamoto behind.

Mizuho, a musician who traveled to the festival with Chiboo (aka Chikao Fujimoto), the generous hospital administrator who translated my song introductions for my set at the festival, bought a stack of my merch, and then elected to help drive us to Issahaya, blows his pianica on the deck of the ferry.

Issahaya’s temple, in the forest at the headwaters of the Tomigawa river, is hosting a music festival featuring me, Amana and Sayako’s group, organized by Miso Tachibana, the monk who cares for the temple.

The photo of me in the poster appears to have been taken last October at my show and booksigning at Kurkku in Tokyo. I’m wearing the same shawl for today’s performance.

Some of the audience is seated in the old temple…

…and some in a tipi, undoubtedly handmade by Tako and Rokuro Matsui.

Beside the big temple is a smaller temple…

And a row of bibbed funerary statues.

I am thrilled to see avant-garde singer Azumi of Rabirabi and her husband again. They had already performed before we arrived.

Azumi’s drummer Nana, with her girlfriend. We all danced together to Sayako’s band.

I played a set by myself.

Then Amana played…

…and then I came back to play some songs with them.

I was happy to see Sayako and her band perform again.

Sayako’s daughter Ariwa read aloud the famous Amazonian environmental fable of the hummingbird who carried water to put out the forest fire one drop at a time because that was all he could do.

After the show, Sayako and I swapped CDs. Sayako told me that in the days when she and Sachiho worked together in Zelda, “Sachiho was like elder sister. Much respect!” Sayako was still in junior high school when she began singing professionally in what became Japan’s first and most famous girl band. Sachiho was no more than 21. They toured Europe, made lots of records, wore Doc Marten boots, and created a trend in Japan. Now they are priestesses, and mothers of young musicians.