When the sun goes down there, it is rising here. When it gets dark here, a new day begins there. We are in diametrically opposite positions in this round world, Japan and Brazil. But history has united these countries in such a way that Brazil has become home to the largest number of Japanese outside Japan.
It all began in 1908 aboard the Kasato Maru, the first ship to bring Japanese to Brazil, where more than 700 passengers squeezed aboard, most of them from Okinawa, an island in the southernmost portion of the Japanese archipelago.
That was the beginning of the first migration wave. Three more followed in the succeeding decades. All four waves are symbolized in the monument designed by the Japanese artist based in Brazil, Tomie Ohtake, on the grand avenue 23 de Maio, which connects the northern and southern regions of São Paulo, near the legendary Liberdade neighborhood, an icon of the Japanese presence here.
The first to arrive were mainly workers from the fields. Then came people from other socio-economic classes and from the most different regions of Japan. And, little by little, the Japanese culture was also brought here by masters of the most diverse artistic languages, through their art and talent. Such was the case of Tomie Ohtake and many others.
In the late 1940s, a master in the art of shakuhachi (bamboo flute), an instrument with a millennial tradition, linked for centuries to zen-buddhist monks, came from there. In the last 150 years, the shakuhachi has detached itself from this history, leaving the seclusion of temples and forming, along with two other instruments (koto and shamisen), the core of what has been called "Japanese classical music". Master Tsuna Iwami came, in turn, carrying the shakuhachi in his bag and the millennial music in his mind and heart.
By coming to Brazil and promoting this movement of extracting an instrument from its original context and inserting it in another, Iwami Sensei – or master Iwami – created a detour, like a gap in the space-time universe, allowing the shakuhachi to gain new technical and, above all, expressive resources. Even though he made an effort to maintain the traditions, form groups and reproduce the cultural heritage left behind in his country of origin, master Iwami opened space for another reality to emerge when he dedicated himself to teaching the art of his instrument.
His interest in the instrument was not restricted only to the members of the colony. One day, in front of him stood a young Brazilian, a restless researcher of new sounds, interested in learning the art of that peculiar instrument. That was me. As a non-descendant, my encounter with that musical tradition provoked inevitable and profound transformations in me, in the instrument and in my music.
Besides learning and performing the traditional songs – alone or in groups – I also started to create new songs using the shakuhachi, mixing it with other instruments, blending its original aesthetics with those of other times and places.
In 2008, when the centennial of Japanese immigration to Brazil was celebrated, I created a set of songs to accompany an audiovisual show that told the story of the journey of those first immigrants. The songs were inspired by the various events and places the Kasato Maru ship had passed through on its journey of a little more than 50 days from the port of Kobe to Santos: departure, stars, storms, calm, vertigo, Malaysia, the Equator, Cape of Good Hope, Brazilian Indians, and the arrival.
Ten years later, in 2018, these songs were rearranged and became part of a new show, called "Tabi, the Journey", now in partnership with my companion Cris Miguel, musician, actress, and puppeteer, who gave that trip an air of a spiritual route, of a journey in search of oneself.
In one of the performances of this show we had the joy of having Wagner Borges in the audience. With all his sensibility, he not only watched the show, but also saw myriads of characters that presented themselves before him, whether on the material-physical plane or on other planes of subtle frequencies. And that vision made him create, that very night, some of the texts contained in this work.
In this book, Wagner invites us to dive into the mind of a lyrical self that lives with one foot in each of the two countries...
And he beautifully synthesizes this historical, cultural, and spiritual journey in the verses:
"I brought the glow of the Rising Sun in my eastern eyes to light my steps in the lands of the Southern Cross."
Thus, during our individual journeys, we find ourselves here and now, in this place and moment, between past and future, in a moment infinitely small and therefore so immense, called "present", and we are then presented by these verses so inspired, which deserve attentive and spiritualized reading.
– Danilo Tomic –
Maestro, composer, shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) master, pianist, and educator.
He is known as one of the main Brazilian inheritors of the ancient art of shakuhachi in Brazil, having performed in numerous theaters in Brazil and abroad. He is the president of the Brazilian Association of Japanese Classical Music.
Author of numerous soundtracks (some awarded) for TV, theater, dance, performance, and CD-ROMs, he has three CDs released commercially and another three independents, all with his own compositions.
As an educator, he now accumulates over 20 years of classroom experience as a Music teacher at various school levels, from Early Childhood Education to High School.
From 2011 to 2018 he created and coordinated Passarim, a social project of collective musical practices, which served more than 3000 children during this period.
In 2019, he inaugurated the Cultural Space Casa Passarinho, headquarters of the company of the same name, in partnership with Cris Miguel, singer, actress and puppeteer, with whom he has been performing since 2014 in various theaters throughout Brazil and the world.
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