Japanese performance group makes first visit to WKU

Japanese musicians and dancers take part in the “Japanese Dance and Music Education Tour” on Monday night in Van Meter Hall. The Performance gave anyone who wished to come a chance to learn about Japanese culture and even allowed for some participation.

Amanda Young

Van Meter Hall filled with traditional Japanese music Monday night during a presentation from Global Culture Nasu, a group from Japan that travels to educate audiences on traditional Japanese dance and music.

The group consists of nine people: three dancers, three musicians, two staff members and the group’s President.

One member, John Lytton, is American, but has lived in Japan and studied Japanese culture for the last 30 years.

“This is very rare,” said Norio Wada, the group’s president.

The last six years, GCN toured in Nashville, but this is their first visit to Kentucky.

“It is very exciting,” Wada said before the show. “We hope to present a different taste and unfamiliar song and dance.”

The presentation started off with an introduction by Wada.

“Different sound? Maybe. Different taste? Maybe. Different costume? Maybe,” Wada said. “But please be relaxed and enjoy.”

The musicians played many traditional instruments, such as the shamisen — a three-string instrument resembling a banjo — and the tsuzumi — a small hand drum.

In combination with the music, female dancers in traditional dresses and make-up danced to the music of the instrumentalists.

The audience got more than just a taste of Japanese music, however.

Between songs, the instrumentalists introduced the audience to their instruments as well as explained how each is played.

Participants were then given the opportunity to come to the stage and “try to make noise” on the instruments, Wada said.

At the finale, the performers presented a song titled “Sagi Musume.” The dancers donned bright, silk robes and porcelain-white make-up.

While the song was more rhythmic than melodic, the audience stayed captivated by the combination of song, dance and elaborate costume.

“The last dance was my favorite,” Burlington freshman Kelli Hogue said. “The costume was beautiful. I felt like I understood the story being told.”

“Our purpose is to share different cultures to make a better understanding,” Wada added. “Hopefully it will better relationships in the future.”