Jun 9, 2011

WARIKI, A Traditional Performing Arts Group, Became the First to Tour in the Balkan Region!

Wariki (和力)is a performing arts group that has a close tie to Semboku City, which has become the very first group to be allowed to tour around the Balkan countries!

Photo by Senad Gubelic

The group is lead by Akira Katogi (加藤木 朗), a former Warabi-za performer who was born and raised  in Semboku City, as well as Shunsuke Kimura (木村俊介), another trained performer whose works have been employed on NHK, etc. The other two artists are also very talented unique artists to support the group.

On Katogi’s official website, he states Wariki’s Aim as follows:
“We at Wariki aim to play traditional folk entertainment as a theatrical art. Our art is based on Japanese tradition, and every tradition has had its beginnings. There are primordial forms and spirits. These forms and spirits combined, have built the tradition gradually. Our pioneers have refined these forms, so now it is referred to as the tradition. The tradition is not only made up from the essence of experiences and arts , but you have to understand how to use the arts effectively, and what the tradition itself is.
Wariki is a flexible unit. Even the number of members is not fixed. We are searching each world, but at the same time, we are looking for what we cannot accomplish when we perform solo - so Wariki is a kind of symphony.
Improving one's own art, feeling other's power, and appreciating each other - here appears Wariki (the power of harmony).
We hope you enjoy the world of Wariki - the art of Japan (Wa), and the harmony (Wa) of sounds and spirits.”

Musical Backgrounds of Wariki Members:

In accordance with the ideology of Warabi-za, the actors are trained to perform traditional performances such as Nihon-buyo (Japanese Traditional Dance), Kagura (Japanese Traditional Dance), and hayashi (Traditional Drums). As a trained performer, Mr.Katogi also grew up learning the Traditional Performing Arts in all over Japan. So as other members of Wariki, who apprenticed many years under master performers of ningen-kokuho (Awarded as a Living Cultural Treasure).

Eastern European Tours:

Last year they toured in Eastern Europe for the first time. The tour was a great success, so that they were requested to make another tour earlier this year. This time they extended the tour to a few more countries in the conflict-ridden Balkan region. Because of the unstable political and safety situation in this area, the tour had to be well prepared on the route. However, with their strong belief that traditional arts such as performing arts can transcend the ethnic borders and cultural differences, they were sponsored by prominent institutions like Japan Foundation and even the Japanese Embassies!

Overseas Reaction:

Although Wariki is almost unknown in the Balkan regions, they were welcomed by full of audience at sold-out shows! The overseas media also praised Wariki’s performances. Dnevni List in Sarajevo reported that the Wariki performance was the first to have been organized to show traditional Japanese dance and music in the region, but there were many people  asking for additional chairs for the rare opportunity. It also reported that Mr. Katogi commented that he even felt as if they had been performing in front of Japanese audience. “I am very lhappy beause of anyone who was present understood the message and the essence of (Wariki’s) music and dance.

Domestic Reaction:

At home, Wariki’s great success has been featured in the local newspapers as well. Akita Sakigake Shinpo reported that at the tour finale in Kosovo on February 20th, they performed in front of 500 audiences and received warm applause from them. After the performance, Mr.Katogi has commented, “we have toured in the post-conflict zones. We understand that there were many people who were harmed in the conflicts, but hopefully we could deliver some comforting moment.” An audience commented, “Flutes and taikos are similar to some instruments in Kosovo. The similarity made me think closer to Japan.” Wariki communicated beyond cultures through their performances.

Next Wariki Performance in Semboku City:

Now Wariki has come back to the home, Semboku City. They are scheduling a Charity Performance on Sunday, June 19th at Semboku City Audtitorium! It will be a first come-back show after they returned from the East European Tour in winter! More Information

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