After watching Drum TAO’S performance at Okajo Castle the night before, we had the opportunity to visit them at their home base “Grandioso” 「TAOの里」 the next morning!
Yet again it was a rainy day and just before arriving at our destination, we were told that they would be putting up a special performance for us, with some acts that they originally wanted to perform at the castle site but couldn’t because of the rain. The drums are extremely sensitive to humidity and will be damaged if they get wet!
Upon arrival, we took in the view of the wide open space and the fresh air at this place which is located in the Aso Kuju National Park.
We were then taken on a brief tour of the grounds. (yes, I was posing for this photo in the rain!)
The juniors’ lodgings are located behind the 2nd Studio.
Seniors’ lodgings are at the top of the slope, with another building which houses an onsen.
We learnt that Drum Tao has their training sessions from 5am-8am daily and a lot of hard work goes into their practice sessions! New apprentices have to be mentally prepared for a tough time during their initial 1-2 years there and some who cannot make the cut will be asked to leave. Perhaps some of the newbies may try to run away if they personally feel that they cannot endure the rigorous training, but as this location is in a rather remote area, it’s quite difficult for anyone to simply “run away” as it is an extremely long walk to get to the main road and public transportation is scarce in these parts! Haha…it sounded very much like being stuck at some Chinese martial arts school hidden in the secluded mountains!
Finally, we were ushered into the Main Studio and there were several drums in the hall. We were thrilled to be at this venue and started taking pictures whilst waiting for the performance to start.
I caught a glimpse of some members of the cast waiting backstage! Ooh…the anticipation started to build at this point!
As we weren’t allowed to photograph or videotape the performance, here are some pictures from WilzWorkz, who was there on an official blogger invite (I was there as a “contest winner” and “tour tester”, so I could sit back and enjoy the show!)
There were some round straw cushions on the floor as well as proper chairs and we were told that you will get a better experience if seated on the floor (i.e. front row). We soon understood what they meant as when the drums were being hit, you can feel the vibrations ripple across the entire floor and it amplified the innermost heartbeat of the drums! I was content sitting on a chair at the back row as at such close proximity, the sound was quite loud! The vibrations could still be felt where I was seated and also in clear view were the facial expressions of the performers and we could even see the sweat glistening on the well-toned bodies of the men!!
This private show beautifully showcased the drums incorporating dance, flags and various other instruments.
They play the Koto too!
This next pose is a good exercise for your stomach muscles! A senior was being “mean” and made them hold this pose for several minutes and some of them were grimacing and a few started shaking a little.
There was a merchandise corner in the room and various Drum Tao merchandise were being sold, some of which are exclusive to Japan only.
I bought a DVD…
…but due to time constraints, we only managed to get one autograph.
At this venue, we definitely had much better seats than the ones we had the previous night at Okajo Castle! I mean – how often do you get a chance to be at such close proximity to the performers? We even had an opportunity to take a group photo with them!
Wow and Double Wow!!… It’s definitely an experience that I will cherish for a lifetime!