Samstag, 24. Februar 2007

singing children and burning mountains

the communication with the village people (or actually it's called shuho-town) is so active that it there is hardly time to rehearse my songs. one whole day we spent in the primary school where i was given 20 children, all about 7 to 8 years old. they were all in neat school uniforms and with well combed shiny hair but oh, so sweet and lively! they learnt niko niko maa maa very quickly and even showed real interest towards the land of moomins:) but the best part of the class was when i asked them to show me their songs...and soon we were playing together the "elephant song" (yksi pieni elefantti marssi nain...) and "stone, paper, scissors". in the end they all played mouth harmonica concert for me. after the class was lunch time. i was waiting in the teacher's room while the children were preparing the class room for the meal. when they caught me by the hand for lunch, everything was neatly organized in front of me: miso-soup, bowl of rise, fish, half a banana and a bottle of milk. it was fascinating to see the children eat everything and in the same time asking me to produce animal sounds...i had to be cat, sheep, dog and horse all over again. and while all this was going on, the directress of the school was praising my ability to use chopsticks and a local tv-company was filming close-ups of my eating skill. as a farewell present i got about dozen drawings about me and my japanese translater.
i just hope these children would stay so genuine and lively and not get stiffened up by the modern japanese society as they grow up.
an other communal event was the "yamayaki" or the "burning mountain" which took place this morning. every february since 700 years the village people burn the old grass on the akiyoshidai limestone plateau. the meaning of this ritual is to keep the plateau bare but help the new grass grow healthy. we scattered around this huge area on a circle and set the grass burning all in the same time. the wind was pretty strong and we had to be active hitting the too wild flames with branches to prevent it to escape to the forest. but these people know how to do it; in the end the fire was obediantly eating its way toward the center of the circle. we could just simply observe the fire performance and the black stony soil which the fire left behind.

for the ones who have followed my blog i have to confess that this week i missed the next meeting with the iki iki ladies! they had been waiting for me and i didn't come. i feel bad that i let them down but i still hope there will be a chance to meet them again.

Sonntag, 18. Februar 2007


now there is a name for this mix language i'm creating here: finnippon-go. the name was given by our japanese curator.
yesrterday i had the chance to try it in practise because we had invited local people to come and visit akiyoshidai art village.
i had made a list of some words which excist both in finnish and japanese or have similar sounds. furthermore, i presented one of my new finnippon-go-songs and i indeed got the people to sing it with me! it was a very special feeling to sing with them this song -maiasa maa maa - which does and doesn't make sense in finnish or japanese but fits for both languages. to help to keep the rhythm i used chopsticks. the next station this week will be teaching it at school for 7 years-old kids. so who knows, maybe yamaguchi prefecture is about to launch finnippon-go as one possible languge to study, at least as a song-writing language.

Samstag, 10. Februar 2007

sense of distance

time for a update. i have been very absorbed in my project the last week. my working space must have some very good vibes because it's so easy to concentrate there and i nicely forget the time. i don't have a clock in the studio but every time i leave the space it's later than i thought! my project has become somewhat wider. the jap-finno songs are still the main focus but i started to create movement as well. it started with the writing of japanese letters, hiragana and katakana. part of my daily practise is that i meticulously learn to draw these strange letters. by doing that with my clamsy, shaking hand, i noticed how it was about getting the distances right. all the relationships between the shapes are exactly measured and out of this comes the flow and beauty which specially hiragana has. this somehow nonchalant interconnectedness inspired me to try to bring this quality to movement. this week i also got the chance to visit old dancing ladies who practise popular japanese dances. i noticed the same harmonius flow in their steps. the dances which i saw (and took part in one) were very earthbound and feminine, often with fan or a flower in the hand. furthermore, yesterday i finally saw a piece of kyogen-theatre live. and see, there it was: the same sense of space and distances in it. this form of minimal theatre traditionally played only by men has always fascinated me. i would like to see it performed by women...and i will be commenting on that myself in the upcoming performance here.
hm, it turned out to a "working-nikki"(=diary) today. a propos, if you like to see some photos, you can visit the art village -blog. there are some funny shots and nice text in japanese:)

Donnerstag, 1. Februar 2007

iki iki ladies

today 8 old singing ladies visited me. they were part of a group of 30 women who regularly gather to sing japanese songs. this incredably lively company came to visit me with a collection of songs they like and think i might like, a waterboiler, tea, coffee and various cakes and sweets. among the songs there was also "sakura sakura", a song which i remember from childhood. it was in the school music book and except the word sakura(=cherry blossom) translated to finnish.
i was impressed by their good voice and the curiosity they had towards me. now i'm invited to join their regular meetings!
they call themselves iki iki ladies. it's funny because i'm very busy with this word. in finnish iki means something very old, ancient. in japanese it has various meanings. literally it means breathing but iki has a whole esthetic ideology about the way of being and living. it's rather complicated to describe but basically it refers to simplicity, chic, open-mindness and calmness.
i use iki-word in my songs and hopefully with enough of tact.