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Chichibu-Yatai-bayashi

1. Title of the Project

Inheritance of Chichibu-yatai-bayashi

2. Name of the Performing Art Concerned in the Project

Chichibu-Yatai-bayashi

3. Geographic location of the Community

Nakamura-cho, Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture

4. Introduction of the Performing Art

The Chichibu-Yatai-bayashi is instrumental music mainly played with taiko drums on dashi floats during the Chichibu-matsuri festival, a major annual festival. In 1979, the festival was designated as an important intangible folklore cultural asset under the name of the "Yatai events and Kagura (sacred music and dance) of Chichibu-matsuri". It is comprised of music, dance, and floats, and has been handed down in an integrated manner to the present. Yatai-bayashi is played inside the floats and cannot be seen from outside but plays an important role in directing the movement of the dashi.

The dashi floats are operated by a Yatai-cho-kai group and Yatai-bayashi is handed down by each group in a different form. The instruments usually used for playing Yatai-bayashi are: bass drum, snare drum, gong, and flute. There are no written rules such as musical scores for Yatai-bayashi. Novices learn it by ear through practising while listening to experienced accompanists play it.

5. Problems the community faced before the launch of the project, and the factors which caused the decline of and threatened the performing art

  • Yatai-bayashi was practised only for six days (in total before the actual festival starts), in an old, small and dark storehouse of the dashi floats.
  • The number of children who practised was limited and the practice was very hard.
  • Decline in the number of participants may be caused by diversification of children's interests and the increase of young adults' employment outside Chichibu.
  • Lack of participation by the young generation means successors training is needed, but effective measures were not taken, as the organisations that operated Yatai-bayashi were not formal entities, making it practically difficult to liaison with residents' associations.
  • Enhancement of Yatai-bayashi organisations that have close relations with residents' associations is important because the cooperation of local citizens is essential
  • Creating an environment that makes children feel free to play Yatai-bayashi because it is important to get them to experience festival events and traditional culture at as early an age as possible
  • Creating opportunities for personnel exchange since the children of Nakamura-cho area are divided into two elementary schools/two junior high schools and have little communication

6. Details of the project for solving problems of the performing art, especially who and how it started, finance, and involvement of younger generation

Residents' associations founded the Nakachika Yatai-bayashi Preservation Society. Nakamura-cho received the Saitama prefectural subsidy for succession training, and a studio for practice was built in 1985 with a grant from local government and local communities' donations. The studio can now allow trainees to practise all year round.

Furthermore, expenses of the studio were covered by the community's budget for the festivals. Planning and implementation of the training programmes were delegated to the Taikoren Association. The Taikoren discussed about future training activities with training clubs and other associations.

The number of practice sessions was increased from once a month to three times a month and skills of the trainees improved. As the shrine festival drew near, they worked hard together, being aware of the friendly rivalry with one another, in order to get permission to get on a dashi. Thus, trainees devoted themselves to the practice in a tense atmosphere.

After revision of practice sessions, the elders came to look after young generations such as senior high school students, junior high school/elementary school students. Younger students could learn proper manners and civility in the presence of their seniors.

The number of successors of the performance gradually increased and it has brought about changes in leaders and board members of the Taikoren easily. Some members of the Taikoren became members of a Yatai-cho-kai group, and so the Taikoren became involved from the subsidy granting stage, rather than just receiving the money to operate its administration the festival.

We would like to continue this style of training programme in the future. We wish to educate children so that they may understand and maintain their traditional culture and customs.

7. Project's Outcomes Including Success Stories and Difficulties

Successful Outcomes
  • Hanten uniform for the festivals, given to participating children, to make them feel that they are important members of the festival
  • Increased number of practice sessions
  • Successful creation of children's motivation by many performance opportunities, e.g. performances at nursing homes, summer festival, meetings of elderly citizens' societies, etc.
  • Discovery of children's remarkable progress in drum playing in a short period of time. Many are also able to pick up another type of drumming quickly
  • Creation of good communication among children and students in the same community which were made through practising taiko drums
  • Creation of opportunities for the younger generations to learn manners and civilities in the community which were passed down from generation to generation
  • Great progress of children's skills in taiko drumming by strong through careful leadership of taiko group leaders and instructors and by creating a relaxing environment for practice in cooperation with the community
  • Implementation of drop-outs saving programmes together with parents and those who were successfully continuing practise on taiko drums
  • Participation of adults, including their parents together with their children, which made an increase in the number of community members involved in preparations of events, escorting children, etc.

Video


Performing arts: Chichibu-Yatai-bayashi

 

Interview with the practitioners