Earth Celebration 2024

AUG. 16






Ogi, Sado Island, Niigata



Key Visual


Special Fringe

Gendai Sangaku

Gendai Sangaku

Featured Event(s)

Photos: Yoshihiro Abe Sangaku is a sort of acrobatic, circus-like performing art that arrived in Japan from the Asian continent, probably originating in India, and disappeared around the ninth century. Ōta Yutaka has tried to revive it in contemporary form with his ensemble Gendai Sangaku (“Contemporary Sangaku”). Its first important event was a performance offering at the Great Buddha Hall in Tōdaiji, Nara, in 2019. The ensemble represents the origins and the features of original Sangaku in multiple ways: it employs various musical instruments from different cultures and ages (the Japanese flute, the shō mouthorgan, the Japanese large drum, Turkish string instruments, even the saxophone), it displays acrobatic juggling, and it makes effective use of storytelling. Ōta will present a history of this genre and discuss his attempts to revive it today and his motivations. Members: Yutaka Ota Gagaku Performer (Flute, Saxophone, Orin / Artistic Director) Yutaka Ota is a graduate from Tokyo University of the Arts who specializes in performing Gagaku—ancient Japanese court music—throughout Japan and around the world. He plays bamboo flutes, the biwa (Japanese short-necked wooden lute), and the accompaniment for samai (Dance of the Left). He also creates music for stage productions using a range of instruments and equipment, including the saxophone, guitar, orin (brass bells), and DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). His diverse creative activities include using orin bells to compose the departure melody played when bullet trains leave Shin-Takaoka Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line. Takeaki Bunn Gagaku Performer (Sho, Violin) Takeaki Bunno was born into a family of Gagaku (Japanese court music) musicians in Kyoto, the Bunno Family, who have been playing the sho (mouth organ)—a traditional Japanese court music instrument—for a thousand years. At 15 years old, Takeaki began playing Gagaku, studying the sho, biwa (lute), umai (Dance of the Right), singing, along with piano and violin. Today, in addition to performing traditional classical Japanese music, he is eagerly exploring the myriad possibilities of the sho through his creative endeavors. Kiyoshi Ohira Turkish Music Performer (Saz) Kiyoshi Ohira has studied an array of local stringed instruments and folk songs in China, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Greece. He performs traditional folk songs from the Silk Road and folk songs from various regions, both as a soloist and with ensembles. Ohira also composes music for theatrical readings and plays. He is a music instructor at Yunus Emre Institute Tokyo. Masayuki Sakamoto Taiko Performer Masayuki Sakamoto became a member of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo in 2006. Throughout his years with Kodo, he appeared center stage and drove the group forward with his strong skills and determination. In 2017, he left the ensemble and began his solo career, giving performances in Europe, North and South America, and Japan to date. Sakamoto is determined to be a taiko player with solid technique and originality, actively collaborating with a variety of musicians and art forms to constantly hone his craft. Tomohiro Morita Juggling Performer Tomohiro Morita began juggling in high school, after which he entered Sawairi International Circus School. While studying there, he won the first prize in the individual division of a national competition, Japan Juggling Festival (JJF). Since then, Morita has also studied dance, mime, and other forms of performance to create his own unique style of juggling. He performs at a wide variety of local and international festivals and events, as well as appearing in stage productions and the media. Tsunehiro Hayashi Narrator Tsunehiro Hayashi hails from Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. He is a narrator for TV and radio programs, commercials, and more, mainly in the Hokuriku area. Hayashi studied under phonetics teacher Yasuhiro Isogai (director of Vocal Arts Service Center), becoming a qualified instructor of the Isogai Method® of Voice and Words. He continues to study diligently, striving to master the art of high-quality storytelling. Hayashi is the director of Kensei-sha, where he also serves as a Voice and Language Instructor.

Iwasaki Onikenbai

Iwasaki Onikenbai

Featured Event(s)

Iwasaki Onikenbai is a folk performing art upheld by locals in Waga-cho Iwasaki in Kitakami, Iwate Prefecture. Onikenbai means “demon sword dance.” This majestic dance is accompanied by the chanting of Buddhist prayers. It features demons powerfully stamping the ground to rejoice journeys to the Pure Land, drive away evil spirits, and pray for peace. According to a book of secrets, the origins of Onikenbai are said to trace back to the Taiho period (701-704). Apparently, the dance was performed by En no Gyoja—an ascetic and mystic—at dusk when a vow had been fulfilled. The dance was shared further afield by mountain ascetic monks during the Daido period (806-810). Another book of secrets dating back to 1732 also includes Onikenbai, indicating that the dance had taken root in local life by the middle of the early modern period. Iwasaki Onikenbai refers to the art form and the name of the group that preserves it. This collective has been teaching the dance to many preservation groups since the Meiji period (1868-1912), and currently guides more than a dozen Onikenbai groups as they study this art form. Onikenbai is actually a set of 16 dances, ranging from courtyard dances for formal occasions to entertainment pieces. In 1993, Iwasaki Onikenbai was designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties of Japan. On November 30, 2022, it was registered as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.


Noism2 is the apprentice troupe of professional Niigata-based dance company Noism.’ Established in 2009, it’s a group where young dancers who aspire to professional dancer careers can train and gain stage experience. In addition to their own performances at Ryutopia, where Noism is a resident artist, they have appeared in joint performances with Noism1, which have included Les contes d’ Hofmann, Carmen, La Bayadere: Land of Illusion, Miraculous Mandarin, and The Rite of Spring to date. Noism2 also performs around Niigata City, making guest appearances at events and giving performances at schools.

Korei no Kai

Korei no Kai is a taiko group in Ogi that celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. Their members range from elementary school students to adults. At the end of August every year, they band together to pull a taiko cart door-to-door throughout the town, livening up the Ogi Port Festival with their drumming and energy. They also participate in other local events and sometimes play taiko to farewell cruise ships leaving Ogi Port.