Boom! Boom! Boom! Dah! Dah! Dah! Dum! Dum! Dum!
Taiko drummers lined up along the banks of the Hudson River to banish the raging tides of Hurricane Sandy last Sunday.
“Oni wa soto, fuki wa uchi!” is a Japanese proverb usually reserved for Setsubun in February, when devils are exorcised and good fortune is welcomed to enter. At the usual Setsubun Festival, roasted soybeans are thrown from windows and doors to banish evil spirits.
This Japanese tradition was retreaded and moved ahead a few weeks by
Biwanko, a troupe of young drummers from Fort Lee, and Mitsuwa Daiko, a volunteer group of Japanese and non-Japanese, under the direction of Taiko Master Hiro Kurashima. Instead of tossing roasted beans, the performers stood at times, and reclined on the cold Hudson banks, to bang their drums loudly enough for all the Gods along the normally scenic and well-behaved River to hear – and obey.
Taiko drums range in size from 12-inches to as large as 24 to 36 inches. They require powerful players to handle the strong “bachi” two-headed wooden drumsticks that beat out a sound, which though not ear-splitting, can easily be heard from long distances.
Taiko drumming is part of the annual Natsu Matsuri summer festival at Mitsuwa Japanese Market, along with BonOdori dancing, childrens water-balloon fishing, and an open air market of Japanese finger-foods.
Kurashima, also known as Hiro-sensei (teacher) reached out to participants from the Natsu Matsuri to re-group and cheer on Mitsuwa and its neighbors.
The drummers set up at the very edge of the now-calm Hudson, just behind Mitsuwa, in the parking lot which a week before was filled with water.
Once the river receded, many residents and businesses had a lot of cleaning up and drying off to do before resuming normal activities.– From Fort Lee through Edgewater basements, boat basins, schools and families struggled to get back to business, turn off the generators, and turn on lights, restore services, provide food and recreation.
To provide moral support as life was returning to normal, and the tidewater, with assorted seaweed and rubble were carted away, the drums and drummers appeared
Mitsuwa, as well as many local businesses, was virtually closed for two weeks. While a generato kept lights on, and, as many local businesses with even some power, offered free charging stations for cellphones and computers, Mitsuwa had to cancel one of its biggest attractions: the annual Sashimi – cutting performance. Hundreds of people look forward all year to this event. A giant slab of tuna, suspended in the center of the Food Court, is cut into 6 – 9 oz slices and packaged on-site for Sashimi fans from miles around.
Fortunately the storm arrived before the giant slab of tuna was shipped from Japan.
Stay tuned to Patch.com for further info on rescheduling.